“Teachers are very very afraid.” — former teacher*
Parents are mobilizing for a showdown at Madison’s Jefferson middle school, which they describe as ruled by virtue-signaling administrators and out-of-control students.
The flash point was on December 3 when a 13-year-old boy shot a girl with a BB gun outside from a bus window. The student had remained in school despite a history of transgressions, include threatening to shoot up the school “and kill everyone” three months earlier.
* Former teacher Mauricio Escobedo told Blaska Policy Werkes that students at Jefferson, located on the same campus as James Madison Memorial high school on Madison’s far west side, must be bribed with candy and potato chips to follow instructions because there are no penalties for disobedience.
School district spokesman Tim LeMonds seemed to acknowledge problems at Jefferson. He told the Werkes: “We’ve been reviewing the culture and climate of that school for a few months now and we are working with the leadership at that school.”
⇒ Parents are targeting a scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, January 23 to address their concerns. In the meantime, parents are asked to contact Anderson@recycleworlds.net to help Peter Anderson petition the Department of Public Instruction for an investigation into the school. Anderson is a Madison parent, grandparent and founder of Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade (now Clean Wisconsin).
No safe spaces for whistle blowers
They are rallying around an ethnic hispanic who said he was dismissed from the faculty for calling out school administrators for covering up disciplinary problems.
“There was a staff meeting where this entire matter of racism was talked about. [Administrators] were talking about how important it was for students to feel safe and for us not to be racist. They even put on a video that said the white race was the single most toxic thing on earth,” Escobedo said.
“I raised my hand and said, ‘Well, I don’t agree. I don’t have skin in the game. I’m not white.’ The educational philosophy of the school district is focused on feelings of safety not on discipline.”
Mr. Escobedo told this blog: “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”
Escobedo feels that school administration blamed him for leaking the disciplinary file of the December 3 shooter to Channel 3000, which he denies. “Instead of focusing on safety policies, school principal Tequila Kurth wrote memos that threatened the school employee/s who divulged this public information.” Kurth is in her second school year as principal at Jefferson.
LeMonds, public information officer for the school district, told Blaska Policy Works no one has been accused of leaking the information. “That was federally protected information, so the district has been actively investigating the release of that record. We haven’t even narrowed it down to a point where we can interview folks.”
Channel 3000 reported that the December 3 shooter had been written up for 25 disciplinary incidents this school year prior to being suspended in December for striking another student with a BB gun on a bus route.
The more than two dozen incidents range from leaving class without permission and refusing to return to class to using physical force against a staff member. On September 17, the student was accused of yelling a homophobic slur at a teacher and shoving a teacher in the chest. The student received an out-of-school suspension as a result, but was in school the next day when he was accused of disrupting a learning environment.
Police said the BB gun used by the student made its way into the school with another student, which was found in a student’s locker the next day. That 13-year-old was also arrested.
A must read: “Schools without discipline will fail,”
by Peter Anderson
In general, “Students are defiant and threaten teachers,” Escobedo maintains. One teacher left because after being “manhandled.” Her smart phone was stolen. Another staffer’s car windshield was smashed. A student was mugged. “Nothing happens to these students.”
Escobedo says that in the month since December 7 five to six teachers have left Jefferson. He alleged that substitute teachers wary of the school’s atmosphere refuse to fill temporary vacancies there.
Put on a happy face
Escobedo said he moved to Madison in March 2019 from Los Angeles where he taught, among other places, at Compton. Before a 30-year teaching career he worked in banking. Escobedo says the reason given for being terminated was that he lacked a Wisconsin teacher’s license. He said he had several months remaining to get one.
Unable to comment on a specific employee, LeMonds said the district works with teachers coming in from other states. But the minimum requirement is to submit the DPI application by December. “In all of that category, there was only one who did not submit.”
Escobedo said: “I come from business and if you’re black or white, I don’t care what race, if you’re hired at McDonald’s and you burn the food, they’re going to fire you because you are not getting the job done. But here in this school, here in Madison WI and in the United States, schools are saying ‘alright students you are failing but we’re going to protect you from failure. We’re not going give you an F but draw you a happy face for effort.’”
Blaska’s Bottom Line: The problems are not confined to Jefferson middle school but are district wide. They stem from the identity politics promulgated by former superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and sanctioned by a left-liberal, virtue-signaling school board.
A Madison liberal activist says
“Schools without discipline will fail”
For Extra Credit: “Two Madisons: The Education and Opportunity Gap in Wisconsin’s Fastest Growing City.” Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.