God Help Me, Blaska for School Board

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.

God help me, I’m voting fo this guy. It’s gotten to that point.

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.

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

34 thoughts on “God Help Me, Blaska for School Board

  1. I submitted this LTE to both the Capital Times and the State Journal a week ago today, to date neither has chosen to print it:

    Muldrow Supplies Attacks, Not Answers

    ​“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

    Then: Spring 2019 Ali Muldrow lied about current MMSD Seat #4 Write-in candidate David Blaska: Muldrow’s Accusations Against Blaska Are Baseless: “My opponent would like to do all kinds of things to black students: punish them, humiliate them, hurt them, silence them, suspend them, expel them— pretty much anything but teach them.”

    Now: The Candidate Q&A: Madison School Board Seat 4 indicates she’s up to her old tricks; “The write-in candidate is a Trump/Scott Walker supporter who as far as I can tell is obsessed with punishing and dominating students.”

    It’s easily confirmed that is Blaska is neither a Trump supporter nor does he seek to punish and dominate students. Confirming Muldrow’s claims? Not so much.

    With two children in a private school, apparently Muldrow doesn’t trust them to be educated by the schools she’s been elected to oversee. Any progress with the students she’s been tasked to help would be charitably described as less than good.

    The current school board has/is/will continue to confuse good intentions with results. If you prefer the latter, write in David Blaska for MMSD Seat 4 on April 5th.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura Simkin, a candidate for Seat 3 is also someone who believes, at this point, that SRO’s need to return to the schools. Things have gotten out of control. As a former MMSD teacher, I totally agree. Make sure to vote. Elections do have consequences. It is trite, but true.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Progressive “woke-ism” has dumped you into this pot. Now the stove is on HIGH, and the water is becoming unbearable. Are there enough reality-grounded frogs left in Madison to at least turn the stove DOWN?

    Excellent column.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have no kids and thus no direct stake in Madison schools. But I do pay a huge amount of property taxes to fund Madison schools which I’m happy to do. But I’m disappointed and even somewhat angry at how the district is being administered and run. I don’t see a good return on taxpayer’s investment in our schools and I hold the Board and administration responsible for that. I know they deflect criticism and blame students, they’re environment, etc. I don’t buy it. I think the Board needs some significant self examination. And no, I don’t mean by forming another committee. Let’s have them rate their own performance and see if we agree. I’m also dismayed at the lack of transparency for both the Board and Administration. Stonewalling and refusing to share data only serves to make me wonder why they feel the need to hide such. I hope parent’s of Madison school kids begin to rise up and assert their rights and needs until the Board and Administration finally listen and respond.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said Dave.I’m in agreement with you, particularly your assessment of the abysmal state of our schools. Our schools have been under the direction of the radical left for quite some time. Long enough to say it: enough is enough. I will also be voting for David and I would vote for him if he would be the establishing member of a conservative board. Our children are being left behind. Far behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How sweet it would be to have David Blaska, beat the School,Board Chair! It would send a very strong message to the rest of the Board, that change is needed! I’m voting for David because he believes that students come first over the craziness of renaming schools as a bigger priority than returning Schools Resource Officers back in our High Schools! He also believes that student achievement should dominate conversations over the latest “woke” issues like CRT and sexual identity policies. The reason kids are not achieving is that the basics are being replaced by leftist woke nonsense. There are only so many hours in a day that students have to learn and when the basics are kicked to the curb, then school academic achievement isn’t far behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Why isn’t Blaska on the ballot? Did he forget to go through the usual channels, like get enough folks to sign for him, pay the application fee or what? Gotta be some reason. What is it?

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    1. Blaska and Peter Anderson, former public intervenor, beat the bushes for a candidate, preferably of color. To clear the way, I announced I was not running so don’t count on me. Ran 3 years ago, on the ballot and spent $20,000. No sale.Got to the point we would have settled for a Norwegian. No one else filed, so I did. True story.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love diverse viewpoints so I don’t mind your endorsement one way or the other. As I’ve highlighted, I hope both you and he can develop actionable, detailed proposals that are rooted in fact and logic. The issue is complex (if it were easy it would be solved) and it’s not as simple as “do the opposite of what liberals want”.

    My critique today is in your description of an either/or “oppressed” or “oppressor” (not to mention throwing a “Marxist” in for good measure – that one never fails, especially for people who’ve never read him). I’ve never seen credible thinkers on the topic put forward the concept in a simplistic binary. I doubt many of those you’re accusing think of the concept in the way you allege. But if it’s to be used as a smear it has to be described in the way you did – propaganda 101. I’ve always interpreted the concept within specific contexts, where an individual can play either role in various contexts and even both roles simultaneously.

    Buying cheap goods from China? Likely acting as an oppressor. Working for a wage? Likely acting as an oppressed. We don’t inhabit the idealized free market where these acts are undertaken in complete freedom and in isolation. Humans do still use their relative position and power to maximize their own self interest at the expense of others’. I’m sorry to anyone who is uncomfortable with this and doesn’t want to talk about it, who might just want to make off-limits any talk of oppression at all.

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  8. Thank you, Mayor Dave, for weighing into this very important school board race. Never should any student have a beating so severe on school grounds that surgery is required and the student decides not to return to that school. To not candidly address this larger topic has been my reason for being vocal about the need for change on the board. You have added gravistas to the city conversation as ot why David Blaska should be elected.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Whilst shocking, Mayor Dave left no doubt as to why a Blaska win would be a positive for the students. And after all, that’s our main concern. Get the students a peaceful environment and they can learn so much so quickly. I send sincere thankful applause to the former mayor; one of few who actually cares about the future of our schools and community.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fact check: Blaska is not a “Never Trump Republican”: https://davidblaska.com/2020/10/26/blaska-is-voting-for-that-bastard-trump/

    And I wonder, between you and Blaska, who was last inside a Madison school during the school day and when? You both seem to have plenty of time for blogging, yet you rely on a guy writing from 90 miles away for a view of what life in schools is like these days. I know you have a pretty packed schedule, what with all the blogging.

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    1. I was last in a Madison public school classroom in May of 2019. I witnessed just the kind of breakdown in order I write about here and I talked with staff who felt undercut by the administration. Blaska rejected Trump and has been banned from shows like Vicki McKenna because of it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, I held my nose and voted for “The Bastard” in 2020 after being a Never Trump alternate delegate to the 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland. Voted for a registered write-in that year, Evan McMullen. If you are riffling through the archives, you might have encountered “We dare call it treason” posted two days after the intifada of January 6, 2021. https://davidblaska.com/2021/01/08/just-go-away-donald-trump/

      “Liz Cheney stood up, why can’t the RNC?” http://davidblaska.com/2022/02/06/liz-cheney-stood-up-why-cant-rnc/
      “Maricopa County confirms Biden beat Trump” http://davidblaska.com/2021/09/24/maricopa-county-audit-confirms-biden-beat-trump/
      “Wrong we can handle; stupid, we can’t” http://davidblaska.com/2021/06/17/wrong-we-can-handle-stupid-we-cant/
      “This just in: Trump really lost the election.” http://davidblaska.com/2021/02/10/this-just-in-no-fraud-trump-really-lost-the-election/
      “Censure the bastard!” http://davidblaska.com/2021/01/10/censure-the-bastard/

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  11. Thank you for taking the final step into clown territory, Dave. There is nothing that race-baiting wingnut welfare case WHAAAA-ska offers that would help this City or School Board. He’s a performance artist with no real answers.

    You know ZERO outside of the little bubble you’ve cocooned your comfortable self into. Turn off the TV and the Internet and get a clue, and go take a long bike ride and figure out how you got to this foolish place.

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      1. “[S]ome of the most prominent Founding Fathers regularly used the shield of pseudonyms in political essays during the era of the American Revolution: Thomas Paine, John Dickinson, Alexander Hamilton, Arthur Lee, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Influential texts such as “Common Sense,” the Federalist essays and the “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania” essays were all published without an author’s byline.”
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/08/anonymous-criticism-helped-make-america-great/

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      2. Guessing you’re John Jay. Am I close? The lost Federalist Paper! Maybe the author of Gilgamesh, uncredited. Was your screed written in parchment by Benedictine monks? I would guess “Beowulf” but your syntax is all wrong. Going to rule out scribbling on Stall #3 in the Men’s room at Red Letter News as not being creative enough. Give us a clue.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Predictable. Expected no less, though perhaps not at this level of pomposity. To the stately manor born. Arrogance, thy name is Blaska.

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  12. As a Blaska observer over the years, I have watched him don a hail-fellow-well-met persona at various protests. Smiling, joking around, then within a few hours posting belittling statements/judgment about them on his pretentious blog. Not my cuppa tea.

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  13. I was about to write a letter to the editor of the WSJ taking them to task for their insipid refusal to allow write-in candidate Blaska to make his case for the MMSD Board in their last print forum, which included all of the ballot candidates, and found Cieslewicz’s outstanding blog, which I had not known existed.

    Cieslewicz’s remonstrance on the sad state of public education in Madison and the current totally ineffective school board could not be more thoughtful and articulate. Why wasn’t it published as a guest column in the WSJ? Unless it was and I missed it, it certainly should be.

    As long time Madison residents with 3 children who obtained superb K-12 education in Madison in the 1970s and 1980s, we are deeply saddened by the inexorable decline and current dismal state of the MMSD which has become an emperor’s clothes syndrome.

    I too will vote for Blaska ( and encourage my friends and colleagues to do likewise).

    Like

  14. Few people are aware that MMSD, MPS and RUSD comprise the “Bermuda Triangle” of reading achievement for African American children in the entire United States — not just Wisconsin (Detroit also ranks at the very bottom). Much of this can be attributed to disproven constructivistic theories about how children learn (see the “Tools of the Mind”-based curriculum Art Rainwater used to brag about). Not vetting superintendents hasn’t helped, nor has having the newspapers function as public relations mouthpieces for the district. Because I don’t believe people are well-informed at all about a lot of things here, I’m recording a series of backdrop videos on a range of topics including education — at https://robertmeyerforgovernor.org/media. I might not agree with everything David Blaska advocates, but I do believe he would bring an important balance to the board, and, some much needed willingness to confront what’s not worked.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think the problem that both Daves have is that they think violence and disorder can be only solved by cops, without offering solution that it the root causes.

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    1. No, I think we need both. The problem is that right now we’re not doing the urgent thing, which is the enforcement part. We’re only looking at the root causes part, which will take a very long time to fix, even if we can determine what those causes are.

      Liked by 1 person

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