Thursday, July 31, 2014

Duey Strobel's New Ad

One reason I think Rep. Duey Strobel will win the Republican primary in the 6th CD is because of his ability to sink a TON of money in the race while running TV ads defining his opponents.

Today, he released another. Don't laugh too hard at the voiceover and graphics, or the fact he's attacking Sen. Grothman for actually saying he's compromised on legislation.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

These Two Guys Get It! Candidates 74th AD Candidates on Retaining Teachers

The Democratic candidates running to replace Rep. Janet Bewley in the 74th Assembly District have it figured out when it comes to 2011 Act 10, teacher turnover, and the long term affects it will have on our schools. This is particularly true in the far north woods. 

The two Democrats running in an open far-northern Wisconsin Assembly seat have both come down hard on Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 law, saying it’s causing teachers to leave the state. 
When Walker pushed Act 10 through the Legislature in his first few months as governor in 2011, he called it a tool for local governments and school boards to balance budgets because it took away almost all union bargaining power. 
One of the Democratic candidates in the 74th Assembly District is Graham Garfield of Mason, a spring graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He said his classmates are hitting the road in search of teaching jobs. 
Didn't you just hear Mary Burke talk about that the other day in Fond du Lac about the Neenah graduate? Think it's just all talk? DON'T! Trust me, there are lots of people my age looking at the Twin Cities and Minnesota as destinations. Some of us who can't bear to leave Wisconsin (unless the absolute right opportunity comes along) are doing other things like move to districts where we can be insulated from the affects of the law, but we are ALL doing something as young teachers.
“They wanted a job in Minnesota or Michigan, where teachers make $7,000 more a year,” said Garfield. “Without strong teachers from Wisconsin working in Wisconsin, we’ll never be able to support the kind of high-quality, world-class education opportunities that Wisconsin has afforded in the past.” 
Oh, but I'm sure Gov. Walker and the other WOW County Republicans who get inundated with Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling have everything figured out when it comes to students from La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, and Hudson. Yep, they've got it ALL figured out...
His Democratic opponent Beth Meyers of Bayfield said Walker’s push for more vouchers for private schools and Act 10 will chase teachers away. 
“In this district is the Wisconsin high school teacher of the year, Rick Erickson,” said Meyers. “After Act 10 came down, it will take him six to eight years to get the same pay that he had in his take-home pay before Act 10. That’s not how you say ‘thank you’ to a teacher.” 
DING, DING, DING!

Don't even get me started about how other younger teachers are being affected by various district's different scales of teacher compensation. Some are so bassakwards it's little wonder they don't realize they are chasing people away from even applying. Us Millennials are notorious for quickly moving and not feeling tied down anywhere. If you want to constantly keep retraining new teachers to your district, a sure-fire way is doing everything in your power to not try and attract and retain quality young educators.

Mary Burke on WFDL's "Between the Lines w/Greg Stensland"

Just in case you weren't completely washed away with watching last night's 6th Congressional District debate, you could listen to Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke who was on the radio in Fond du Lac yesterday.

You can listen to her interview HERE. 

It covers things like the recent Marquette Law poll, and Gov. Walker's 250,000 jobs promise, and her own proposals to affect job creation. It's not a whole lot that's new, but it's worthwhile to know that she's out there messaging.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let the LOL's Commence! Fond du Lac's 6th Congressional District Debate

I'm not sure if I should be scared, laughing at the hilarity, or crying at the fact that Mark Harris as the likely Democratic nominee is going to be trying to debate the person coming out of the Republican 6th Congressional District primary.

Tonight in Fond du Lac, the FDL Republicans put on a debate featuring their three most serious Republican candidates, State Sen. Glenn Grothamn, State Sen. Joe Leibham, and Assembly Rep. Duey Strobel, and their positions on key conservative issues.

When the person doing the introductions, Ronn Bishop, says something to start off the forum's setting like:
"... we thought we'd be best off to having a panelists of conservatives. Not mainstream media people types trying to trip up our candidates"
You know it's going to be a gong show.

But I digress...

Thankfully, WFDL UStreamed the debate and has it posted online.

It can be viewed HERE:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Here's what you should know about this debate. First, it was hosted by Brian Schimming (yes... eye roll now) and the panelists asking questions were doozies: Chuckles Syke-o, former Assembly member (and almost certainly certifiable), Michelle Litjens, and Reid Ribble's district chief Rick Sense.

You should also know that WisPolitics' Jason Smathers was live-tweeting (with a TON of tweets) so a few of them help give some flair to what transpired.

Just a FEW select ones:

First, on the boarder crisis:


So much for "compassionate conservatism".
Oh I forgot, there are Americans, and then "REAL" Americans.

The education section certainly gave me a #ragestroke:


That sound you heard faintly in the distance a while ago was my head exploding while I'm here in Spokane, WA...

Yes, the American Dream is dying because people have decided that living off the government is their version of the dream. Give me a damn break.
As someone who works in Milwaukee with teenagers, I couldn't disagree with that statement any more when it comes to marijuana.
Yes, like lots, and lots, and lots of doctors and other research over 30 years. 

Now, what about younger voters? How should Republicans target them?
Yeah they will. They're trying to figure out why the government won't act Keynesian...

Impeachment? Oh, of course they covered that:
Yes folks, that's Glenn Grothman saying that you can't impeach the President because his approval ratings are too high. If they keep trying to knock his approvals down, then they can impeach. (Heaven forbid we talk about high-crimes or anything of the like...)
So, the election matters in terms of timing with impeachment? Which means your impeachment would be politically motivated? Am I getting that right?

Hey ladies! These guys... These guys....
Umm, okay. Except, you are because you making medical decisions for women is waging a war on them.
The fact that the room clapped at that is what really scares me. Is it because women are making more money and doing better in society? Or is it because they think men need someone representing them more? I'm scared to get an answer to that...
Oh wow.

The next bit of political analysis from Mr. Smathers is important to note:
Sen. Grothman on healthcare:
Doesn't it give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? Now for an "lol" from Glenn:
Would you believe there was actually some back-and-forth debate over the 2001 budget repair bill?!?! 2001!!! TWO THOUSAND AND ONE! I was in 8th/9th grade in 2001! Not 2011, 2001!

When you get that far down in the weeds, you might as well ask what their stance was on the Bennett Law...

Here's an interesting one:


As a social studies teacher, I'm baffled that Glenn Grothman was the only one who actually got the answer right. That's the point of the Bill of Rights and Constitution, which he went to elaborate on.

Towards the end of the event there were a few random tweets that I found interesting:
I've said for awhile now, Sen. Grothman ALWAYS says what he thinks and I respect him for that. He does call out his own party on things like that, and rent-to-own. I'm not saying I'd vote for him, but it's worthwhile noting.
Must be nice taking on Milwaukee all the way from the comforting confines of West Bend... Err... Now Campbellsport there Senator.
Can't come up with that on your own?

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd call that "coded language". If I were a conspiracy theorist. "Our behalf" as opposed to helping "everyone".

And there you have it, a brief synopsis of the debate.

If you're a Dem looking to throw a vote into this primary, give it to Sen. Grothman. He's my endorsement in this race for those who like to "mix it up." The man says what he thinks and that means lots, and lots, and lots of campaign rhetoric ;)

Schools Run Like a Business? We've Heard It All Before

Run schools like a business. You've probably heard that before, and if you have I HIGHLY suggest reading this excellent op-ed from North Carolina. So much of it is applicable anywhere in public education.

Read the article HERE.

A brief sample:
In response to Donna Martinez’s July 6 column, “North Carolina teachers have something we don’t,” I would like to post a scenario where “job performance and value” are based on the following objectives and conditions:

* You are meeting with 35 clients in a room designed to hold 20.

* The air conditioning and/or heat may or may not be working, and your roof leaks in three places, one of which is the table where your customers are gathered.

* Of the 35, five do not speak English, and no interpreters are provided.

* Fifteen are there because they are forced by their “bosses” to be there but hate your product.

* Eight do not have the funds to purchase your product.

* Seven have no prior experience with your product and have no idea what it is or how to use it.

* Two are removed for fighting over a chair.

* Only two-thirds of your clients appear well-rested and well-fed.

You are expected to:

* Make your presentation in 40 minutes.

* Have up-to-date, professionally created information concerning your product.

* Keep complete paperwork and assessments of product understanding for each client and remediate where there is lack of understanding.

* Use at least three different methods of conveying your information: visual, auditory and hands-on.

Journal Sentinel Editorial Board Finally Figures It Out? Maybe...

Today, in what I found to be a rather humorous column, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board decided to call Gov. Walker out on the fact that he's more than willing to say or do just about anything to get in office.

You can read their column online HERE. 
Gov. Scott Walker is no economic populist though he plays one, it seems, in the campaign for governor. Since he was elected in 2010, Walker has been the state's biggest cheerleader for business.
There's an understatement.
And that's why his campaign's recent attack ads over outsourcing are so laughable and why his support for a proposal to make outsourcing a factor in the awarding of state grants suspect.
But, but, WHAT?! The Journal-Sentinel calling it suspect? What's so funny to me is that this is the article that "didn't endorse" endorse Walker for election not once but twice. It's also somewhat hard to believe they are only now catching on to his style of changing his tune whenever it suits his needs.
The campaign's recent television ads have attacked Democratic opponent Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and member of the company's founding family. But those ads also attacked Trek, a respected Wisconsin business founded by Burke's father in 1976, whose contributions to the state Walker has so far declined to acknowledge.
Well, so far declined to acknowledge during this campaign, something his WEDC did only a few short years ago as an example of a great Wisconsin business.  
"Mary Burke is trying to sell us on her experience at her family business, but she forgot to mention they make 99% of their bikes overseas, in places like China, where her company has outsourced jobs for years," says a narrator in one of the ads.

Walker's defense? Burke criticized his administration for giving tax credits to businesses that then sent jobs overseas, even as her own company did the same thing. "We're not criticizing outsourcing itself," Walker said in a recent interview. "We're pointing out the hypocrisy of the Burke campaign."
Except for, a private company shipping jobs over seas (while not something me as a liberal likes to see, admits there are economic realities they have to live by), is 100% different than me as a taxpayer giving a company tax dollars to create economic development in Wisconsin by shipping jobs overseas and forcing more of my tax dollars to go to work for the company's displaced workers.
But there is a difference between answering the demands of competition — as Trek has — and taking a state hand-out only to turn around and ship some of that same work to an overseas plant.

With heat from the outsourcing controversy threatening to singe Walker, the governor on Monday said he would back a proposal by Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) to block state money and incentives from going to companies that move jobs abroad. Is that a proposal he would have backed during his "Wisconsin is open for business" incarnation earlier in his term? Probably not.
Probably?!?! How about an emphatic "hell no!" Gov. Walker would say exactly what I just said about the economic realities of manufacturing something like bicycles in Wisconsin.
We're sympathetic to Barca's proposal, but the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the public-private agency responsible for economic development in the state, should take into account the realities of doing business globally.

Companies often find that they need a physical presence abroad in order to do business. The logistics of delivering a product to market efficiently, or local requirements, may demand it. Yes, the state should hold businesses receiving assistance accountable, but a business that is providing jobs in Wisconsin might be deserving of help even though it also is adding jobs in another state or country. The demands of world markets are complicated and aren't easily reducible to a blanket policy.
So 100% true, but there's "outsourcing" and then there's outsourcing. Dumping production to a place like China does happen, but it's hardly as egregious as something like what Mercury Marine tried to do where they were playing Wisconsin against Oklahoma. Now, that wasn't under Walker's tenure, but deny that the same principle holds true is to deny another type of outsourcing from Wisconsin the WEDC needs to watch out for.
Wisconsin's manufacturing belt continues to face fundamental questions because of the competition from low-cost rivals in places such as India and China. Manufacturing remains a core competency, especially in the southeast region of the state, and manufacturing output has soared since 2010. But employment has stalled. If fewer products are made in the state, what replaces the jobs that are no longer needed here in manufacturing? What role can state government play? Burke and Walker should debate those questions — and not only in cutesy 30-second television spots.
Mandatory overtime to mandatory rolling layoffs, to hiring people who are desperate for a job meaning they can be paid wages that reflect why our economy has stalled and the middle class has lost massive value since the 1980's...
A close race is driving Walker's new-found populism. The latest Marquette University Law School Poll shows that the governor is in a dead heat with Burke. The dynamics are different for Walker this time around, as the Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert pointed out in an article last Sunday. In two previous campaigns against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker hung the city's deep problems with crime and poverty around Barrett's neck. And Barrett's long political record provided plenty of fodder.
Which was incredibly funny how none of Milwaukee's issues were able to be hung around Walker, but that's another story.
But Burke doesn't have much of a record. And her business background may appeal to some swing voters.

Walker erred by not acknowledging Trek's contributions to the state even while criticizing one of its former executives. If it was any other company, he'd have been fawning.
That's a damning line, but also a 100% correct one. It's something more people need to point out as this campaign goes on.
Trek is the sort of company that Wisconsin needs: It exports products worldwide and brings profits home to the Badger State. It employs hundreds of well-paid engineers and designers in Waterloo and Whitewater but builds most of its bikes in Germany, Holland and China. In 2011, Trek's sales were more than $800 million, according to John Burke, the company's chief executive and Mary Burke's brother.

Do we wish that Trek, Briggs & Stratton, Harley Davidson and all the other Wisconsin companies that make products offshore would make them here? Of course. But that's simply not possible given the demands of supplying world markets and the competitive pressures on doing so efficiently and at a reasonable price.
And there you have what really matters when it comes to economic development. Sure, Harley's going to outsource some jobs, but they shouldn't be getting breaks from WEDC to only then dump production after having gotten money. However, if Harley builds their Wisconsin workforce, but in the process has to restructure and dump some production, that's a lot harder road to tread for either candidate. But again, it's economic reality.
"The bottom line is there is no major bicycle production in the U.S.," Marc Sani, writer and former publisher of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News told PolitiFact Wisconsin.

As John Burke noted in a recent full-page ad in the Journal Sentinel, the company employs 1,000 people in the state and has an annual Wisconsin payroll of more than $52 million. Burke claims that "we manufacture more bikes in the United States than any other bicycle company."

That would have been a simple point for Walker to acknowledge even as he was criticizing Mary Burke.
But you know Walker... It's KILL, KILL, KILL!
WEDC needs to tread carefully as it writes policy in the midst of a heated political campaign when one of the candidates (the governor) is chairman of the agency's board. And both Walker and Burke should commit themselves to having a serious debate over the fundamental challenges facing Wisconsin's economy.
And ultimately, that's something where Mary Burke should show her business experience as a European manager of Trek (not exactly a conservative business climate) and lead on what a positive policy for the WEDC would look like. There's lots of fertile ground for Burke to cultivate if she wants as the campaign carries on.

Either way, to quote Bruce McClain from that cultural landmark move Die Hard, hey Journal-Sentinel "Welcome to the party pal!" You finally figured out Gov. Walker's all talk?

Mary Burke w/Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown"

While I'm sitting in my AP institute (and trying to pay attention to all of the things my presenter is saying that are scatterbrained and wholly inapplicable in my situation), I found out that Mary Burke was on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown." I have to admit, I haven't watched it yet, so I'll update this when I get around to it at lunch time.

But, in the interest of getting you the latest content when it comes available, here it is:

Mary Burke's New TV Ad - Jobs Promise Bites Gov. Walker Again

Mary Burke dug up Gov. Walker's infamous Up Front interview where he said that his 250,000 jobs promise was "absolutely" something he wanted to be judged against. In fact, it was something I brought up a long time ago as a clip that would hamper the Governor's reelection efforts this fall.

The more Gov. Walker keeps attacking Mary Burke via proxy of her family's company and a land deal in Kenosha she made while Commerce Secretary that has been held by a company paying taxes and holding for possible future expansion, Burke will continue to hit Walker on what he said he wanted to be judged against.

Monday, July 28, 2014

School Choice in Chicago Affecting Milwaukee?

Erin Richards, education reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had an interesting story today about Chicago's school choice system and tracking students into high and low achieving high schools. Needless to say, this has ramifications within my employer MPS, and how our schools can be so schizophrenic when it comes to achievement across the district.  You can view the article HERE.

In short, you bet your @$$ tracking of students happens in MPS... Right, wrong, or otherwise, it just happens. Trust me, I'm an MPS high school teacher.
Chicago's school choice system appears to be tracking eighth-graders into high- and low-achieving high schools, according to an analysis of test-score data by Linda Lutton of WBEZ 91.5 Chicago. 
The story has implications in Milwaukee, where the city operates under a similar school choice system. 
(To clarify, this is school choice in the broad context, not school choice as it relates to the private, mostly religious schools in Milwaukee and Wisconsin that receive public money. Two terms for those schools - voucher schools or choice schools - are used interchangeably.) 
In other words, MPS is a district where students can, generally, choose the high school they go to. There are certain busing restrictions and where MPS will provide busing to students for going from south to north side schools, but in general, students can either apply to schools with a focus (like Arts, Languages, Reagan College Prep) or they can choose schools that are "traditional" schools. (Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Vincent, etc.) It's not a perfect comparison as some schools like Bradley Tech have a focus, but they don't have the entrance requirements like HS of Arts, but you get the idea.
School choice in the broad context is to allow parents the freedom to send their child to just about any school they want. In the suburbs, where you live determines what public school you would attend. Generally, home prices are more expensive in areas with higher-performing school systems. 
But in urban city systems with widespread poverty where parents may not have the means to move to a community with better-performing schools, school choice was meant to allow parents the ability to still get their child to a better-performing school, if that wasn't their neighborhood school. 
This is much of the reason why you have schools like Vincent and Madison where over 50% or more of their students are bussed. In fact, lots of students from areas close to Washington or the old Custer school are bussed there because of students and their parents choices. The south side is similar, with respect to places like Bay View or Hamilton.
The Chicago story shows that most Chicago high schools enroll either mostly low-scoring students, or mostly high-scoring students. Few high schools were a true mix. 
Sounds like MPS. When law makers complain about MPS and look at their high school achievements, they don't look at schools like Golda Meir, Ronald Reagan, or Rufus King, which constantly rank extremely extremely high on state and national rankings. It's the North Division, South Division, Washington, SCTE, Bradley Tech, and Madison's of the world you see on lists of "persistently low performing." Looking at the middle schools or K-8 schools that flow and filter into those schools is VERY interesting FYI.
Lutton used freshman test score data from a standardized exam called EXPLORE for her analysis. Wisconsin high schools will all start administering that exam - along with exams for other grades that are part of the ACT suite - in the 2014-'15 school year.
In other words, before you start bashing MPS at all levels, it's worthwhile looking at specific schools, where their students come from, and asking questions about why certain students go to certain schools that are located certain places.

No, this doesn't even begin to talk about Chapter 220 transfers out of MPS or the voucher program, which again draw students to schools. This is specifically within MPS. Choice is a good thing in many respects, but there are lots and lots of drawbacks.


There was  a Frontline episode on recently that explored this with respect to school integration issues. Considering Milwaukee's position as a segregated metropolitan area, it's important to recognize that there is segregation within the segregation. The special is WELL worth the watch and has many parallels to draw with MPS and the area.


The special is called "Separate and Unequal?" and can be viewed HERE.

Additionally, there is a supplemental article from PBS that deals with integration and the episode, and it can be read HERE.   

He's Really Pinning His Hopes On This?

Governor Walker's campaign released another TV ad today, his fifth negative ad of the summer, and second one to try and paint Mary Burke's tenure as Commerce Secretary as riddled with a boondoggle project in Kenosha.

I've covered this before HERE.

His new ad is below:



Gov. Walker's main line of attack is trying to paint Mary Burke as having wasted $25 Million in funds to try and lure an Illinois manufacture to Kenosha, even though the project never really was what the Walker Campaign says it was, and locals haven't described the project as a huge problem.

But really, Walker trying to campaign on wasting money?

Has he not forgotten the train?!

Sure, Walker had statewide support for not accepting the $810 Million in federal funds for a Milwaukee to Madison train line. But, there was more in that money than just that line, including upgrades to the very strongly supported and viable Milwaukee-Chicago Hiawatha line. This includes him wasting nearly $45 Million in rejecting something that there is absolutely nothing to show for, as opposed to Burke's land deal which is being utilized in some fashion.

He's really pinning his hopes on this line of attack? He's got nothing does he...

No Post - Spokane

No post this morning. I traveled most of yesterday to arrive here in Spokane, WA for this week's conference and need some recoup time. We'll see what this afternoon holds for news.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

You May Have Missed This - Teens and Milwaukee Jobs

You likely missed a story that appeared this past week on JSOnline from a teen intern at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It had to deal with not only Milwaukee's jobs crisis, but how that directly impacts teens and exacerbates many of our city's problems. As a high school teacher of students who are sophomores, I'm on the front lines of seeing this problem first hand. 
Too many teens in Milwaukee and the surrounding communities can't find work. It's a situation that prompted one industry expert to call the decline in employment for teenagers a national emergency. 
I know. I'm a 16-year-old Messmer High School junior looking for summer employment. 
And I'm not alone.
The author is  one of the lucky ones. Even though it's only an internship (likely unpaid or very, very lowly paid), it's still something to put on a resume. Any employer or college will be able to search the JSOnline archives and find something she wrote.
While the unemployment rate for adults is 6.2%, for teenagers 16 to 19 years old, the rate is 21%, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
And that's a damn shame. No, it's not just that those people aren't looking for jobs, those are students who are actively searching for work and unable to find it. Conversely, if you have a bachelors degree, the unemployment rate is around 4.5%, which strongly suggests to me that you have a hell of a an "underemployment" crisis too with college graduates. Trickle down may not work as an economic policy, but it sure as hell happens in other facets of the world.
In March, Andrew Sum, the head of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, said if the employment rate went down 20 percentage points for adults, like it did for teens from the year 2000, it would be considered a national crisis. 
The question is, why don't we care? 
That sounds like a hell of a question if you ask me!

Because, if we really cared, we'd be admitting that battling the teen unemployment crisis would require some heavy lifting on the part of congress, state legislatures, and ultimately society itself. We also have a lot of baby-boomers and Gen-Xers who don't see this as a problem because they are still convinced that people working at McDonalds and other fast food restaurants are just teenagers instead of people trying to support families.

The liberal in me says that in order to alleviate this crisis, we either need to remove those who are older and currently holding traditionally teenage jobs and help them into more medium-skill, medium-pay jobs via some government intrusion into the economy, or set up a program for teens themselves and have them get paid by governments to perform a job. Cleaning up parks, painting buildings, WPA for teens type program.

But that's damn near communist 80 years removed from the Great Depression apparently.
Teens who can't find work have a lot of free time on their hands. Too often, those with nothing to do find trouble to get into. 
No kidding. It's no different in a suburban community as it is from the inner-city. The only problem is that those in the suburbs have a support system and people around them who understand the ramifications of wandering too far astray and messing up college or career opportunities with dumb teenage decisions. All too often, those students who live in inner-city Milwaukee don't have such a support network.

What really chafes me are the same people who complain about all the teen violence in Milwaukee are the same people who complain about them not having jobs, and have absolutely no clue what they do to try and find one. More on that in a bit.
In Milwaukee, a summer job can be a lifeline for a teen. Earlier this year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Wisconsin dead last in educational and financial achievement for African-American children. Jobs for some of these teenagers would help. 
Beyond help, it would transform our whole community.
I started looking for employment months before school was out and my friends did, as well. I've filled out so many applications that I have lost count. 
Some of the places I've applied for include McDonald's, Wendy's, Walmart, Red Lobster. The list goes on. 
And here is where I will go off on people who complain about students who don't want to work and live in the inner-city.

I teach sophomores at a north side MPS high school with students who are just coming of working age.  I want to flip out on people who say things about lazy students who don't want to find a job. They don't see what I see. They don't see the students who are trying to find a computer in the lab during their lunch to do a job application. They don't see my students who don't stay on task with a week long geography project so they can meet a Summerfest application deadline. They don't know how many students ask me to be a reference on an application.

Bozo's who complain about inner-city laziness in finding a job, especially as teenagers, have no jack-wagon clue what they are talking about! I have students who after six months of filling out applications, an no, not just four of them, become so despondent from not hearing anything it's little wonder why they think it's pointless after a while.
I was fortunate enough to land a four-week summer internship at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through my school. The internship is giving me a chance to find out more about the field of journalism, and it is giving me an opportunity to make a little money on the side. But I still would like to do more. 
I don't think people from the suburbs or other parts of Wisconsin who comment on Milwaukee issues such as teen unemployment, have any clue what it takes for teenagers to even get to a job if they are lucky enough to get an interview. Bus rides of up to an hour, lack of flexibility by employers for school age students,  and competition against people their parents age (or their parents themselves) all impact teen employment in Milwaukee. Opportunity is scarce and such a hard commodity to come by.
People tell me that it was much easier to get a job 30 years ago than it is today and that teens are not getting jobs because there are fewer opportunities. 
DING, DING, DING. We have a winner!

I help my students constantly when trying to find jobs. Sadly, their understanding of what jobs they can get is limited. Yes, their lack of reading comprehension and use of a computer instead of a smartphone hampers their ability to apply, and their understanding of mathematics is a problem. Oh also, don't even get me started with students who start out only applying to places they think would be fun to work at. But their desire and drive to find work is strong. It's not easy to find someone who will take a student with drive and help nurture them.
"Employers need to be comfortable and open to having teens on the scene," said Vincent Lyles, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. 
Lyles told me that if teens are never given the chance to learn skills on the job, then it makes it even harder for them as they get older. 
Gee, ya think?! The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee is one of the best examples of an employer who does great things with hiring teens and giving them opportunities. I see it all the time.
For example, when I first walked into the Journal Sentinel newsroom, I didn't know what to expect or what would be demanded of me. That can be a bit intimidating, but after my first week or so, I started to feel a bit more comfortable. 
We do a #!$$ poor job of training our students for what it takes to be a professional in any line of work. Sure, we talk about professional dress, but students often times will reject even dressing up if it doesn't mean they can't express themselves. Yes, I realize there are certain things teens need to learn to adapt to, but overall I don't think we do a very good job of having businesses or employers of teenagers come into our schools and show them what's expected.

We as a school culture, also are failing our students in setting them up for expectations of a job, but that's a WHOLE different line of discussion about schools, grading, and culture. (Don't get me started.)
I'm sure the same thing can be said for other teens looking for work. They just need a chance to gain experience and knowledge of what they will be doing. 
It builds confidence and character. 
It's no different the color of your skin, the location of your home, or the language that you speak, the pride and confidence that comes with a job builds character and changes the way you act.
Summer employment not only provides a teenager with a paycheck, it pays much larger dividends: responsibility, discipline, maturity and much more. We need the chance to learn and grow as young adults but that has to start with the adults. 
Lauren Lee is a student at Messmer High School. She is working at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as an intern.
And we as a society have failed our teenagers, particularly our inner-city teenagers, miserably.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wisconsin Legislative Dem's Ask Leg. Council About Common Core - Today's Answers

The top Democrats on the Senate and Assembly Education Committees released a press-release and memo from the Legislative Council about the ramifications of repealing the Common Core State Standards and/or having a moratorium on the Smarter Balanced assessments students are scheduled to take this spring.

It's a LOADED document for a Friday.

First, their press-release: 
“We are concerned that the governor was very short-sighted in his recent CCSS statement and is in effect asking his Republican friends in the legislature, in the middle of the next school year, to usurp the constitutional powers of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.” Lehman said. 
“Having served on the Common Core Task Force it is clear to me that the goals and efforts of extreme political factions, in an attempt to further their agenda, are being advanced at the expense of Wisconsin students, teachers, and taxpayers,” said Pope.
Sounds an awful lot like what happened back when SB 619/AB 617 was being debated this past February. In fact, Leg. Council at that time chimed in on many of the same issues that are being brought up in this latest assault on Common Core by Gov. Walker, Sen.'s Vukmir and Farrow, and Rep. Thiesfeldt. Leg. Council also was involved with hearing about the CCSS when the committees were put together last fall, something Rep. Thiesfeldt noted in a radio interview last November. (And people wonder why I flip out when people like the Representative from the 52nd keep drudging this stuff up.)

But anyhow, let's look at their memo to Sen. Lehman and Rep. Pope from today: 
CURRENT LAW REGARDING ADOPTION OF ACADEMIC STANDARDS 
Current statutes do not generally govern the adoption of model academic standards,
except to require them to include certain items.
Which is why Superintendent Evers and educators in general have been flipping out lately on the legislature trying more and more to take DPI matters under their purview.
For example, under current law, the model academic standards for social studies must incorporate the history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process. [s. 115.28 (55), Stats.] 
Those standards (which I have to reference on an almost daily basis as a high school social studies teacher), can be found HERE. They date from 1998 and are still the standards used in schools for the social sciences. That becomes important in the next paragraph of the memo.
Wisconsin law requires each school board to adopt pupil academic standards in
mathematics, science, reading and writing, geography, and history. [s. 118.30 (1g) (a) 1., Stats.] At the time the current statute was enacted, school boards were required to adopt standards by August 1, 1998. School boards must adopt academic standards, but have authority and autonomy to determine which academic standards to adopt. 1
Let's reiterate that last point, school boards must adopt standards but have authority and autonomy to determine which ones to adopt. Local school boards have local control over the standards and curriculum they operate under. Now, that little "1" was a subscript in the memo, and it's VERY important:
1 It should be noted that the State Superintendent has authority to adopt or approve examinations that measure pupil attainment of knowledge and concepts. [s. 118.30 (1), Stats.] Therefore, while the State Superintendent cannot mandate that individual school districts adopt the CCSS, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) can adopt assessments aligned with CCSS. 
That is ultimately what people like Rep. Thiesfeldt are angry about but talk in circles trying to say - The State Superintendent has the authority to adopt or approve assessments that are aligned with a certain set of standards. So, when Sup. Evers "adopted" Common Core in 2009 he really said that those were the standards that he wanted statewide assessments to be based upon. Again, something fully within his constitutional authority.

Back to the body of the memo:
The State Superintendent has adopted model academic standards, but is not specifically authorized to require individual school boards to implement or adopt these standards.
Again, local control...
The model academic standards cover 21 content areas, such as technology education, business, science, and world languages. However, certain of these model standards only exist for grades  4, 8, and 12.
Look at the social studies ones above for an example. I only have standards that say "by the end of 12th grade, students will..."
In addition to the 21 content area standards, the State Superintendent has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts, mathematics, and literacy in all subjects.
In other words, Sup. Evers decided to supplant the 1998 math and ELA standards with the Common Core. Additionally, all subject areas are now supposed to be incorporating the Common Core literacy standards in their subjects, but that's easier said than done. However, they are certainly covered in ELA classes.

So, what about the authority to adopt standards, who gets to approve them, an all that jazz? Let's dive into that a little further:
AUTHORITY TO ADOPT OR AFFECT STANDARDS 
A discussion of legislative authority to adopt or affect academic standards must involve consideration of the authority of the State Superintendent and the Legislature. 
In Wisconsin, the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a constitutional office. Wisconsin Constitution, Article X, Section 1, provides: 
The supervision of public instruction shall be vested in a state superintendent and such other officers as the legislature shall direct; and their qualifications, powers, duties and compensation shall be prescribed by law. The state superintendent shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the state at the same time and in the same manner as members of the supreme court, and shall hold office for 4 years from the succeeding first Monday in July. The term of office, time and manner of electing or appointing all other officers of supervision of public instruction shall be fixed by law.  
Okay, sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. But really, our state constitution doesn't provide a real outline of what the Superintendent of Public Instruction's job is all about. That falls to case law. (Boy, don't you wish you paid more attention in your high school civics class? No worries! Mr. Soapbox is here to help!)
The meaning of the above provision was analyzed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Thompson v. Craney. In that case, a law that created a state Education Commission, a state Department of Education, and the position of state Secretary of Education was challenged. Under the law, the State Superintendent was the chair and a member of the Education Commission. The Court concluded that the law “unconstitutionally [gave] the former powers of the elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction to appointed ‘other officials’ at the state level who are not subordinate to the superintendent.” [199 Wis. 2d 674, 678, 546 N.W.2d 123 (1996).]
So, there is case-law that backs-up the fact that the DPI Superintendent has authority over education matters in Wisconsin and not someone like a "Secretary of Education."
In the case, the Court reviewed the statements of delegates to the Constitutional Convention and found that there were two consistent themes regarding the above provision:  “first, that the system of education required uniformity; second, that the [State Superintendent] was to provide this uniformity in an active manner by implementing the system of education.” [Id. at 688-689.] In that case, the Court also interpreted the “other officers” reference to mean local officials who are subordinate to the State Superintendent. [Id. at 698.]
In other words, those local subordinates are District Superintendents and school boards who must carry out things directed by the DPI Superintendent like standardized tests.

Now, we get to the real meat, what about changing the powers of the Superintendent of Public Instruction? Is it like the Secretary of State who's powers have been steadily reduced by the legislature over the years? (Ask Sec. La Follette what he thinks about that), or is it different?
Regarding whether the Legislature may reduce the powers of the State Superintendent, the Court stated:
Under our holding in present case, the legislature may not give equal or superior authority to any “other officer.” This case does not require us to decide the extent to which the [State Superintendent’s] powers may be reduced by the legislature, and we reserve judgment on that issue. [Id. at 699-700.] 
Reserve judgement? Hmmm, are there any other cases that can help clarify?
In another case, however, the Court held, “Because the constitution explicitly authorized the legislature to set the powers and duties of public instruction officers, Article X, sec. 1 confers no more authority on these officers than that delineated by statute.” [Arbitration between West Salem & Fortney, 108 Wis. 2d 167, 182 (1982).] 
I'm-a confused.

It's situations exactly like this where you'll have one side say "the Constitution protects (X)" and the other side says, "but it also says (Y) can happen."

However, it's for situations like this that the Leg. Council exists, to help bring some clarity and discussion from a non-partisan point of view, to the table.
DISCUSSION 
You have asked whether the Legislature has the authority to repeal the academic standards adopted by DPI. It appears that the Legislature would have the authority to direct the State Superintendent to repeal the standards and replace them with other standards. However, there may be legal challenges to certain approaches that could be taken to achieve that goal. 
Hmmm, let's make sure we understand that paragraph correctly.

First, the Legislature doesn't appear to have the power to in and of itself adopt, repeal, or authorize any type of academic standards for Wisconsin students. However, it does have the authority to direct the State Superintendent to do it, but there would be legal challenges that would come up with it. (And BELIEVE ME, when you talk about the legislature directing DPI to do something it's never had a hand in before, there will be legal challenges.)
First, the method of replacing the standards, or creating new standards, established by the Legislature could be constitutionally suspect given the holding in Thompson v. Craney. Specifically, if the Legislature adopted a law that directed an officer, other than the State Superintendent, to adopt standards, such a law might be overturned as an unconstitutional grant of authority.
In other words, if the Legislature passed a law and directed the Governor to adopt standards, that would be a problem.
Similarly, a board appointed to adopt or revise model academic standards could raise similar constitutional issues if the State Superintendent does not have sufficient authority regarding the outcome of the board’s actions.
And THAT ladies and gentlemen was the problem with SB 619/AB 617 earlier this year! It gave the authority of standard creation to a magical council that was appointed by the legislature, Governor, and Superintendent and then gave final authorization to the legislature with them having the power to overrule what was given to them. It was one of the several reasons why the bills never moved out of Committee in the Senate, and Sen. Luther Olsen certainly took one for the team of education in Wisconsin for it.
Second, as discussed above, in Thompson v. Craney, the Court reserved judgment on the extent to which the Legislature may reduce the powers of the State Superintendent. However, even though the Court has not provided guidance to the Legislature as to its authority in this regard, it appears that legislation that would require the State Superintendent to replace the current model academic standards with a specified set of academic standards may be found to be an unconstitutional reduction of the powers of the State Superintendent to supervise public instruction.
Oh, so that's where another legal challenge could happen. Essentially, what that says is that the legislature doesn't have the authority to compel the Superintendent of Public Instruction to repeal or replace standards because that is them taking the ultimate authority of standards away from the Superintendent, and putting it on themselves, meaning it's an unconstitutional move.
It is also possible that a less comprehensive directive regarding adoption of standards would violate the State Superintendent’s powers under the Constitution.
Wow, so that final sentence is essentially saying that almost any intrusion by the legislature into the Superintendent's authority over standards could be considered a violation of the Superintendent's constitutional authority.  But wait, it gets better with respect to legislative intrusion into DPI matters.
Other than concerns of legal authority regarding the state standards, there are also
concerns regarding implementation of new standards.
What you're about to read is why Sen. Olsen and Rep. Kestell have flipped their lids over their party's ideology taking over instead of desire to form solid educational policies.
First, the waiver to the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that Wisconsin and other states have received requires the state to demonstrate that it has college and career-ready standards in at least reading and language arts and in mathematics.
The ESEA has been around since the 1970's, but when it was reauthorized under the Bush Administration, it became known as "No Child Left Behind." So, when you see NCLB, you are looking at the latest version of ESEA.
The U.S. Department of Education provides that these standards must be either: (a) standards that are common to a significant number of states; or (b) standards that are approved by a state network of institutions of higher education which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the post-secondary level. [Wisconsin ESEA Flexibility Request, U.S. Department of Education, amended May 20, 2013, p. 28.] The CCSS are common to a significant number of states, so they meet this definition. If legislation next session were to result in standards that vary significantly from the CCSS, it is possible that they will not meet the definition of college- and career-ready standards unless they are approved by a network of institutions of higher education.
So, if we repeal the CCSS in Wisconsin as the measure that our standardized tests are used against, we seriously jeopardize our waiver to NCLB. The only way we avoid this is if we put together standards that are approved by a network of institutions of higher education. Heaven forbid if we have to try and put together a committee with representatives from different colleges in Wisconsin and how political that would become.
Second, the ESEA waiver requires the state to participate in the Smarter Balanced Consortium or the Partnership Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium to annually measure student growth.
Okay, so this really goes to what Sen.'s Vukmir and Farrow were originally aiming at last week after Cedarburg repealed the Common Core, they were interested in stopping implementation of the Smarter Balanced exams this coming school year. But even doing that would likely mean we are no longer able to have a waiver to NCLB.
Other options for measuring student growth include developing statewide high-quality assessments that are aligned with state academic standards. These tests must be administered beginning in the 2014-15 school year. [Wisconsin ESEA Flexibility Request, p. 46.] Wisconsin schools are tentatively scheduled to administer the Smarter Balanced assessments between March 30 and May 22, 2015 for the 2014-15 school year. [http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/files/oea/pdf/2014-15WiAssessmentScheduleTentative.pdf.]
When you see politicians say, "I don't see why this is such a big deal" or complain about how long it takes to put together standards and standardized tests, you should immediately question their knowledge of what it all takes to implement education policy.
DPI is required under state law to approve a statewide pupil assessment for the 2014-15 school year that measures mastery of the CCSS. Specifically, s. 9137 (a) of 2011 Wisconsin Act 32 provides:
Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the department of public instruction shall replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination with pupil assessments developed by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium or by an entity selected by the department through a request for proposals process. The new assessments shall be standards-based; measure mastery of the common core standards; be designed so as to begin the transition to online testing; and allow for the results of multiple-choice questions to be provided within one week and the results of open-ended questions to be provided within 6 weeks, or as soon as practicable.
Let's read when that was passed again... 2011! The 2011 State Legislature, from what I can remember after standing outside though most of February and March, wasn't particularly liberal and most certainly a conservatives best dream. Doesn't it seem weird to you that only now there is some massive "uproar" about Common Core and now screams of "it was rushed through"?
If legislation relating to the state academic standards did not affect current law relating to pupil assessment in the 2014-15 school year, it appears pupils would be required to take the Smarter Balanced assessment in that school year.
In other words, if there is legislation that is proposed to affect the standards but not the Smarter Balance, students would still be required to take the tests. (But remember about all those legal challenges to having the legislature meddle with DPI Superintendent's authorities.)
If the legislation were to prohibit the administration of the Smarter Balanced assessment in that year, it seems unlikely that another assessment could be developed quickly enough to replace the Smarter Balanced assessment. If no assessment were completed, the state would be in violation of its waiver.
Which means a whole host of problems from the US Dept. of Education and a LOT of local school districts that will openly rebel against the legislature if it means them having sanctions from NCLB.
Also, if the Legislature enacts such legislation in the 2015-16 biennial session, pupils will be at least halfway through the school year, and many of these pupils will have been taught using the CCSS during that year. Therefore, the Smarter Balanced assessment should be an appropriate assessment of student achievement for that year of learning.
In other words, Leg. Council is subtly saying, they've been taught according to the CCSS, why wouldn't you use the Smarter Balanced exams for measurement this spring?!
Third, according to testimony at the public hearings held by the Senate and Assembly select committees on the CCSS, schools have invested resources into curriculum materials and professional development during the last three to four years to implement the CCSS and would likely be required to make curriculum and instructional changes if new standards are adopted. [See testimony in favor of the CCSS at: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/thiesfeldt/Pages/CCS-hearing-documents.aspx.]
Which is to say, before the legislature decides to make some massive change at point where the tests are being printed and almost about to be shipped to schools, let's think about the teachers and students who've been preparing for them!

So, lets review:

- Almost any legislative intrusion into approving or repealing educational standards could be seen as a constitutional violation and would likely see litigation

- The legislature can try down that road and repeal the CCSS, but would have to be very careful to not void our waiver to NCLB

- Repealing both CCSS and the Smarter Balanced exams would almost certainly mean we would lose our NCLB waiver and see litigation

- Repealing the Smarter Balanced exams and not CCSS would be in violation of 2011 Act 32 and violate our NCLB waiver

- The most sane and logical route would be to not do anything that affects the 2014-15 school year

Is it any wonder that Gov. Walker is tied neck-and-neck in the polls? Does this man have no clue what his words meant and how he is running against someone who sits on a local school board who's subject to state authority?!

And now you know why Rep. Kestell and Sen. Olsen call all this Common Core repeal "silly season." 

RPW's Latest Anti-Burke Ad - Desperation Sets In

I wasn't going to touch on the Republican Party of Wisconsin ad that I saw online yesterday, but now that the Wisconsin State Journal's chimed in, I think I will.

First, the ad in question:



Wow, looks pretty damning. I mean, heaven forbid that any other politician anywhere has ever missed a routine meeting to campaign.

Democrat, Republican, Progressive, Socialist, Communist, Constitution, Liberty, I don't care what political party you choose, from whatever era of politics you choose, candidates who already hold elected office miss meetings. Maybe that's just me being someone who likes to think he understands politics and how government works a little better than some others, but it's just truth.

So, what's up with this ad? To the Wisconsin State Journal: 
The Wisconsin Republican Party's latest attack ad against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke uses misleading video to suggest Burke didn't attend Wednesday's School Board meeting. 
In fact, Burke participated in the closed meeting by telephone, Madison School District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said.
It's never been beyond the RPW to use a little misleading and false advertising, but the ultimate problem is that the picture they use is not from the day in question:
And in a photo used in the video showing Burke's School Board name placard in front of an empty chair, Burke's purse and winter coat can also be seen, Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki said.
This is the type of 3rd grade student council campaign mistake that you wouldn't think a statewide campaign/party would open themselves up to. Sadly, I guess they aren't that quick.
But while Burke was physically absent, she did participate in the meeting by conference call, board member Dean Loumos said. 
"Mary participated in this fully," he said. 
The photo of the School Board meeting is not from this week, according to board members. In fact, Wednesday's meeting was closed to the public as the board was discussing Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham's evaluation, Strauch-Nelson said. 
Board member Ed Hughes said the members' name placards shown in the video were not used at Wednesday's meeting, nor did did board president Arlene Silveira sit in the spot the photo shows her in. 
All simple things to be cross-referenced with other board members and things that reek of a politician who's clearly worried about his poll numbers. If Walker and the RPW are resorting to these types of things in July, what's going to happen in October should Mary Burke widen her lead? Especially when the story about pictures from meetings don't end there:
Loumos said an unidentified man attempted to take pictures of the Wednesday meeting before being told to leave.

"And he came back, trying to sneak taking pictures from outside the window," said Loumos. "This is really low-level type of stuff."
It's only July....

Traveling Next Week - Friday Music

I'm off to Spokane next week!

Who says that the life of a teacher ends in summer? I was at school three days this week organizing and setting up my classroom, and now this coming week I'll be learning how to teach an AP class for the following school year. Life is hardly over in summer!

Spokane is home to one of my favorite Hollywood types of all time (No not Bing Crosby) Chuck Jones! Chuck's style of animation of instantly recognizable and influenced animation for over 60 years. When you think of "Rabbit Season, Duck Season, Elmer Season," "Marvin the Martian," or "Roadrunner v. Coyote," you think of Chuck Jones.

More on him can be found in today's Newsweek

However, one thing that Spokane lacks are bands that I'm musically interested in. (Sorry again Bing.) So, we'll slide over to Seattle for some classic Heart: