If I was still a practicing Catholic I would vote for David Blaska and then rush to the confessional to confess a venial sin and get my comeuppance of three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys.
And it’s a Hail Mary that I will toss up when I cast my write-in vote for Blaska for Madison School Board. It’s not so much that I think he can win, and he’d probably demand a recount if he did. I just want an opportunity to voice my strong opposition to the current direction of this Board, and I won’t have a better opportunity to do that than to vote against Board President Ali Muldrow. Blaska is running against not just her — he says that he likes her, personally — but the entire direction of this Board. If I had a lot of choices I’d probably be somewhere in between, but given a choice between Muldrow and Blaska, I’m on Blaska’s page.
I have written several times in this space about the breakdown in basic safety in the Madison public schools since the current regime took hold, and School Resource Officers (uniformed cops) were removed from Madison’s high schools. Massive fights involving both students and parents. Kids bringing loaded guns to school. Special needs kids being beaten. An official policy, enthusiastically endorsed by Muldrow, that actually discourages calling police when a child is beaten.
People, this is nuts. This is just bat-shit crazy. And Ali Muldrow is the leader of a board that embraces this direction.
As Blaska correctly points out, there is no real diversity on this Board. Most of the members buy into an essentially Marxist vision of education. There are oppressors. There are the oppressed. The oppressors can do nothing right. The oppressed can do nothing wrong — not even when they beat their classmates who are on the autistic scale.
There are one or two members who don’t take this view, but they’ve been intimidated into silence. One thing about Blaska: he’s not likely to be intimidated.
For the record, David Blaska is a Never Trump Republican, for which he’s been attacked by some of his old friends. He’s a former reporter (for the Capital Times, no less) and an excellent, if acerbic, writer. He sometimes lets his talent for phrase-making get the best of him, making himself an easy target for leftist broadsides. I think he actually enjoys that. I wish he wouldn’t. It earns him the title of “gadfly,” which I think understates the validity of his point of view. It’s possible that about one out of three Madisonians would agree with him most of the time. When he ran against Muldrow three years ago he got 30% of the vote. That makes a sizable minority that deserves to be heard. If he joined the seven member board he’d make up under 15% of it. (This points up why we shouldn’t elect all seven members citywide, but that’s another debate.)
Yeah, he’s a lot more conservative than I am, but that does not change the simple fact that what he’s saying about school safety is true. He wants to make the basic safety of students and staff a priority. He would return the SRO’s and get rid of the wrong-headed Behavioral Education Plan, which discourages staff from calling the police even when there’s physical violence. These things are just common sense.
I also want to make progress on the achievement gap, but you can’t even begin until classrooms are calm and fundamental safety is not something you even need to think about. Giving every kid a chance to learn and meet her full potential in a safe, orderly environment — that’s the very basis of social justice.
Look, if David Blaska were about to form a conservative majority on the board, I don’t know, I’d have to think about that. But Blaska would be just one voice out of seven.
Aren’t liberals supposed to be for diversity? Aren’t we supposed to be for the clash of different points of view? Don’t we believe that when strongly held beliefs are aired out, the better arguments will prevail? Isn’t it good to have the majority’s policies questioned? Since when did we become afraid of challenges to our ideas?
I’m voting for David Blaska. God help me. But God help us all if we continue down the path laid out for us by the current board without at least someone to challenge the status quo.
Postscript: This is not just a Madison problem. Liberal San Francisco voters recently recalled three hard-left school board members for similar issues. And today long-time Milwaukee Journal Sentinel education reporter Alan Borsuk reports on what’s going on in Milwaukee’s public schools. To quote part of his story:
Referring to students, (an MPS teacher) went on to say: ”Teachers at Grantosa are in abusive relationships that are only escaped by quitting. … We see the individuals committing these abusive acts return to our classes repeatedly without consequence. We struggle to make contact with parents as many of their phone numbers change weekly.” And when they do make contact, “some teachers are not met with support, but blame and further verbal abuse.”
The letter continued, “Today I have a student who I’ve developed a great relationship with cussed me out and threatened me for stopping her from watching Netflix” in class. The students had found a way to get around the system in place to block that.
“These examples have become ‘the small stuff.’ Teachers are trying to put out the ‘bigger fires;” the fights, the furniture being flailed, protecting their students from bodily harm, and preventing property damage. I’m seeing my colleagues give up. They have come to the point where they are hopeless, therefore go on enduring the toxic environment they are in.”
Borsuck notes that the Department of Public Instruction found this school, in which less than 10% of students perform at grade level, “meets expectations” in its annual DPI report card.
Want more of these surprisingly conservative views from a liberal? Well, now there’s YSDA: The Book. That’s right. You can order Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority on Amazon right here.