Final thoughts on how Madison’s schools are losing our kids

Vote Blaska for Safer Schools today!

Hey folks, come by my election night party starting at 6 p.m. at Babe’s restaurant/bar, 5614 Schroeder Road, Madison AFTER you vote Blaska for Safer Schools! Free beer, free food, free angst.

Ann of Althouse has picked up on my pick up of The Capital Times interview with Mr. Rob, the positive behavior coach thrown under the bus by the Madison school district. The irony is that the educator, Robert Mueller-Owens by name, was an expert practitioner of and proselytizer for classroom restorative justice and the district’s bureaucratic behavior education plan. 

What's left of Mr RobAs with the brigands of the French Revolution, Mr. Rob was devoured by the creature he helped create. He attempted to restrain a disruptive student who was whaling on him, they fell to the floor, the district attorney cleared him of any wrong-doing but the school district expelled their loyal teacher. The disruptive kid remains.

Now a pariah, Mueller-Owens said he is changing his appearance. 

“The most painful thing about this besides being betrayed by the school district, the people I worked with — I believed in the agenda that [Madison school superintendent] Jennifer Cheatham and (district administrators) Alex Fralin and Nancy Hanks established for us, and I promoted it and worked toward it as hard as I could — is the leaders in the community who have jumped on the bandwagon that I’m a racist c—, and have said that in their political messaging, their campaigning, their Facebook feeds and all of social media,” Mueller-Owens said…. “I never thought my career would end in disgrace, and it didn’t have to end that way,” Mueller-Owens said.

The commentary on Ann’s blog post is (as usual) delicious. A sampling:

“There isn’t enough racism in this country to meet the demand.”

Mr. Mueller-Owens thought he was part of the solution; instead he (still can’t see) he was part of the problem. The “Woke” virus renders Progressives powerless before primitive tribalism of the [fill in Identity here]. Civilization–education, art, politics, reasoned discourse, law–cannot endure in any tribal area. As well call yourself an “ally” of the Taliban, as these folks.

“I have been in several situations where students have kicked me, spit on me, broke my ankle, and I still did not conduct myself in that kind of manner,” Price said when no criminal charges were filed against Mueller-Owens.

If you’re being physically assaulted and don’t defend yourself, you’re part of the problem. My guess is that her daughter will end up in prison sooner rather than later. And good riddance to her when it happens.

The unstated goal of the public schools is to keep young people off the streets until they’re old enough to be tried as adults.

If [the mother] had severely punished her daughter for assaulting Mueller-Owens then the poor girl might have had a chance. But if she’s stuck in the “school to prison pipeline” then Mom can blame structural racism. Another basis for reparations. Call Ta Nehisi! Call Spartacus!

I cannot imagine hating a kid so much you’d send him to Madison public schools.

On my own Facebook page

Mara Clements — Mueller-Owens did wonderful things and really helped out my son while he was at West high school I have nothing but good things to say about him.

Sue Farkas — My daughter had him as a teacher at Shabazz High School and said he was such an incredible teacher. This is a very sad situation that should be directed back to the terrible behavior of the student.

Cheryl L Woodards — I would like all parents of school age students to spend two hours at a school their child attends. Do not let your child know ahead of time. I think many parents who would say “My child would never do something like that” would change their mind. I spent an hour at a middle school and was ashamed of the behavior in classrooms by students. No respect, completely disruptive, and the teacher informed me this was an every day occurrence. Do you really know your kids like you think you do. If children were taught respect and discipline at home, teachers could do their job far more easily.

Tom Eggert — That’s the problem isn’t it? No matter what a child does, they can never be in the wrong. Defy authority? Then authority was racist. Take away the learning from others? Failure of the teacher or school.

Rhonda Holliday —  I know of this little girl and her mother has no respect for anyone so why should the daughter? Children are a product of the environment.

Nausheen Qureishi — I have had a regular teaching license in my favorite subject, biology, for the longest time. But I do not to take up teaching although there is a scarcity of teachers here in Madison. It’s really scary to even think of teaching after you see such behaviors from kids. No respect, no responsibility. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Margaret Savides Benbow — Mueller-Owens did nothing wrong. The student was violently disruptive, endangering others and herself, and he had to use the last resort of physical restraint. He has been scapegoated, and the non-disparagement clause in his separation agreement is a backstabbing way of protecting Cheatham’s and the school district’s bad judgment.

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Post this on every classroom door in Madison

And vote Blaska for Safer Schools on Tuesday, April 2 

Notice to Students


On Facebook:

Posted in School Board Election 2019, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Sacrificed on the altar of identity politics

Retired MMSD educator Jo Day tells me:

Here is a screen shot of what is left of Rob Muller-Owens page at Whitehorse. So sad that he was made the scapegoat. He did nothing wrong and was penalized for DOING HIS JOB.

What's left of Mr Rob

His colleagues may appreciate Mr. Rob, the positive behavior coach at Whitehouse middle school. But school board president Mary Burke and MMSD superintendent Jennifer Cheatham threw the veteran teacher under the school bus, anyway, to curry favor with the Freedom Inc. crowd. And five of six school board candidates acquiesced.

Snap Quiz: Why would any positive behavior coach respond to an urgent call from a Madison classroom teacher? Why would they choose to end their careers against a school administration that does not have their back?

Posted in Madison schools, School Board Election 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Whitehorse positive behavior coach is a man betrayed & hunted

Changing his appearance because of tolerant Madison’s hate

Kudos to the Madison Capital Times for getting Whitehorse middle school positive behavior coach Rob Mueller-Owens on the record.

“Mr. Rob”had already e-mailed Blaska for Safer Schools on Tuesday:

Thank you for pointing out some of the falsehoods of how my situation was handled. One thing I encourage all parent to do, is to go shadow their child for one day. They will learn a lot.

Rob Mueller-Owens

Before Jen Cheatham (l) defenestrated him, “Mr. Rob”(r) was considered an expert at restorative justice

But I could not get him to come out of the cold. The man had already been thrown under the school bus by Jennifer Cheatham and the Madison School Board. “Mr. Rob,” as his kids at Whitehorse middle school called him, responded:

I’m pretty protective these days.

But Negassi Tesfamichael of The Capital Times got the scoop of the month by getting to “Coach Rob,” as his kids at Whitehorse called him. The story:

…  When the separation agreement was announced, MMSD attorney Matt Bell said the district was still completing its administrative review of the incident. But [attorney Jordan] Loeb said Mueller-Owens was never formally interviewed by the school district or allowed to explain his side of the story.

“The most painful thing about this besides being betrayed by the school district, the people I worked with — I believed in the agenda that Jennifer Cheatham … established for us, and I promoted it and worked toward it as hard as I could — is the leaders in the community who have jumped on the bandwagon that I’m a racist c—, and have said that in their political messaging, their campaigning, their Facebook feeds and all of social media,” Mueller-Owens said.

“It’s been really hard because I have been an ally for a long time and to be rejected this way is very painful.”

Mueller-Owens said he’s been compared to serial killer Ted Bundy and has received threats via email and social media since the incident happened. He said he has had Madison police patrolling his neighborhood at times because of the incident. He asked not to be photographed during this interview because he’s trying to change his look to be less recognizable.

This ending to a 30-year career in teaching is not what Mueller-Owens expected.

“I never thought my career would end in disgrace, and it didn’t have to end that way,” Mueller-Owens said.

And where were our putative school board leaders? Ducking for cover, as always.

  • School Board President Mary Burke declined to comment for this story.
  • School Board member TJ Mertz declined to comment
  • Cris Carusi, declined to address the claims
  • Seat 4 candidate Ali Muldrow [and Blaska’s opponent] was critical of Mueller-Owens’ claims

Kaleem Caire, who is running for Seat 3 on the board, said he would be open to talking with Mueller-Owens.

“(Mueller-Owens) shouldn’t have engaged that young lady like he did,” Caire said. “I think he should feel lucky and thankful that he was able to get a severance and move on with his career.”


Blaska’s Bottom Line: Who has the courage?

Muldrow’s opponent, former Dane County Board member David Blaska, has been critical of what he has described as a rush to judgement when the initial media reports about the incident surfaced. On his blog, Blaska said Cheatham “was premature to castigate.”


Posted in School Board Election 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

‘What has skin color to do with who teaches whom?’

David Blaska began his candidacy for Madison school board
to open up a long-needed debate. My message is that we help no one by playing identity politics at the expense of expecting
behavior and performance of all our students

Thin Man blows smokeSome of the candidates for Madison school board are promising more African-American teachers. Blaska says “go for it!” I’m full on board!

But let’s not blow smoke at the voters. 1) It is illegal discrimination to base hiring on race; 2) the available pool of African-American teachers is not deep — only 7% of public school teachers nationwide. Madison teachers are caring professionals just jones-ing to help EVERYONE succeed.

I’ve selected some of the more relevant comments posted at my BlaskaForSaferSchools Facebook page. We start with:

Ricky Naylor —  You idiots are going to extremes! How would white people feel if all of their kids were taught by 80 to 90 percent of teachers of color? The point isn’t against white teachers teaching black students! It’s about diversity and inclusion! What job are they going to go to that is consistently white? Who can teach them about their culture?

White dominated teaching staffs have consistently had no expectations for students of color! And besides white students need teachers of color too so they won’t grow up thinking most black men are dangerous and commit crimes! It’s time to listen to these students and design schools that best help them to achieve! The current system isn’t working for students of color!

Reeves Smith — I am Black. Actually my birth certificate says “negro.” I taught 27 years in the Madison School System. I am trying to understand [another poster’s] point about what skin color has to do with who teaches what to whom? Is it just children of color that need to be taught by someone who looks like them or does that apply to White children as well? If that is your point, then why did people go to all the blood, sweat and toil to integrate the schools in the first place?

More comments:

Judith Egyes — If there is one phrase that I wish would be erased from the popular-cultural lexicon, it’s “white privilege.”

It’s universally insulting and inaccurate. It’s insulting to people-of-color and white people alike, that succeed in life on their own merits. It’s woefully inaccurate and insulting when finances come into play, when poor whites are shoved to the back of every public-Assistance line on the assumption that they don’t belong there — that they SHOULD be able to make it on their own, because after all, they’re white! While somehow, their counterparts of color deserve the help more because they can’t help but be helpless in terms of rising above their own challenges. 

Richard V. Brown Sr.

Richard V BrownI have always respected David’s ability to listen to reason. He has always supported hard work and dedication to service. I consider him my friend and I support his candidacy for School Board. He is a good and fair man who will govern based on reason, not race


Mike Maxwell — My 34 years as a teacher in public schools that had Behavioral Disorder programs tell me that Mr. Blaska is absolutely correct.

Laurie Peterson — This new disciplinary rule has helped create a lot of chaos. From a friend of mine, a custodian at one of our elementary schools, “the kids can hit, kick, spit at teachers, yell and push them up against lockers, and there is nothing the teachers can do about it.” This is not racial. It is policy that will affect anyone of any color who wants to behave this way. You can show up at class 10 minutes before the class is over and not be counted absent. These are the life skills being taught due to our downtown administration. All I know is that you couldn’t pay me enough to teach in this climate. Mr. Blaska does not necessarily have my vote. I just wanted to state what I have heard. I encourage anyone ANYONE to spend one full day at any of our schools.

Brandy Larson — As a fully trained and licensed teacher working as a substitute, I had my glasses broken, … had tires of my car in the parking lot at La Follette slashed …. One kid threw a book at me, that wasn’t reported either. One kid threw chair across the classroom, not sure what the consequences were for that, though he was removed from the classroom. I don’t know the answer to the problem of children acting out is, but disrespect is something that needs to be dealt with so teachers can teach and students can learn in school free of threatening, disruptive behavior.

Joe Vitale — I’m with you David ! Again just ask a school bus driver or a school bus attendant what kind of words come out of there mouths and how they behave way out of aline. They can’t keep drivers & attendants it’s so bad !

Hildegard Andrea Wagner — Dave, you have my vote. I’m tired of my kids being assaulted at school. I’ve had my kids assaulted out of the blue at every single Madison school they have attended, by chronically aggressive kids. The MMSD school board gaslights every single one of us who expresses concern about the ongoing chronic disruptions going on.

Blaska leaves the final word to William Fuller — I taught in MMSD for 30 yrs and race was never an issue with my approach to my students.”

Visit BlaskaForSaferSchools and Vote Tuesday, April 2.

Posted in Madison schools, School Board Election 2019, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Stu Levitan, you’re making me cry

When the WI State Journal’s remarkable cartoonist, Phil Hands, draws the prototypical Madison liberal, it sure looks like Stu Levitan.

Which is only fair because Stu IS the prototypical Madison liberal. A reliable Democrat, progressive propagandist, city government insider, and occasional candidate. He’s also abrasive, caustic and irascible. He makes Paul Soglin look like a warm puppy, which is why I like old Stu. I really do.

But he is such a blockhead!

Stu LevitanStu is all in a dither because I wrote that Jennifer Cheatham “broke down in tears” at the March 30 Downtown Madison Rotary.  Stu insists, over at the BlaskaforSaferSchools Facebook page (come on over!), that “She did not ‘break down in tears.’ She got emotional and took a few seconds to compose herself.”

This issue has been weighing on Stu because 15 hours later he revisits the subject: “You ever going to acknowledge you misrepresented the facts about whether Cheatham “broke down in tears”?

Stu, the woman cried. Did she sob? No. She broke down in tears, albeit briefly. O.K.? As I wrote at the time, “Jen Cheatham broke down a little bit, as she warned her audience she would.” Part of her act included screening  cloying pictures of little Jennifer Can-Do (thanks to “white privilege”). But nice attempt at sidetracking the real issue, Stu.  

I wrote that:

Jen told how her Chicago-born father “came from nothing.” How her parents instilled in her a love for reading, how she drove 2,000 miles cross country to take her first teaching job in the racially mixed East Bay area of California. Inspiring stuff, and I can believe Jen Cheatham was a wonderful teacher. She is a great speaker, with a sprinkling of humor.

Then she spoiled it. Supt. Cheatham attributed her success to “white privilege.” Not “hard work” or “perseverance”? Not grit and determination? Did her working class parents pay off an admissions coach to get her into college? No. Then why the guilt?

Stu, it’s up to you

Are you ever going to acknowledge that Madison’s superintendent of schools blamed her success on white privilege? (Read those words again: the superintendent of schools BLAMED HER SUCCESS …!)

  • Are you ever going to acknowledge how destructive that message is?
  • That she is telling black kids, in so many words, she’s got white privilege and you ain’t. So there’s your built-in excuse for failure. You can Blame Someone Else.
  • You didn’t do your homework because … white privilege. You’re trashing Lakeview Library because … white privilege. 60% functionally illiterate because …?
  • You don’t want four minority-race cops in our troubled high schools because … white privilege.

Stu Levitan, do you even get the point? Isn’t this whole identity politics, institutional racism thing THE issue in this school board election? That all this to-do about race is hurting, not helping? While we’re at it, I received this e-mail from an educator whose name I am sworn to protect:

“One thing I encourage all parent to do,
is to go shadow their child for one day.
They will learn a lot.”

Isn’t that a bit more important than whether Jen Cheatham turned on the waterworks at Rotary full-bore or just a trickle?

Stop being a blockhead, Stu Levitan. But maybe you can blame it on your white privilege.

Blaska’s Bottom Line: Stu, I don’t see your name on my campaign donors list.

Posted in Progressives, School Board Election 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 10 Comments