Top Ten Posts of ’22

It was a pretty good year here at YSDA. Readership was up by 30%, though in truth the month-over-month increases trailed off to nothing in the fourth quarter. So, it’s possible that the readers we’ve got are the readers we’re going to have and the growth spurt is over. If that’s the case then please don’t die next year.

I thought you might be interested to know which of 2022’s blogs attracted the most reads. I was surprised to find that six of the top 10 had to do with the Madison public schools. Here they are in reverse order.

— 10 —

Put Cops in High School Neighborhoods. This was about Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes’ proposal to put neighborhood cops in areas surrounding four public high schools. His idea was in response to some pretty serious incidents in and around the schools. To their credit, alders approved his proposal using a federal COPS grant.

— 9 —

Bice Opens the Door to Questions About Barnes. I’m so rarely right about my political predictions, that I need to savor this one just a little bit, even if I’m sorry I was correct. My point in this blog back in February was that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel political columnist Dan Bice had done Democrats a favor by reporting on damaging statements made by Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes about defunding the police and abolishing ICE. I thought that Barnes’ primary opponents now had a chance, even an obligation, to test him on that. That didn’t happen. Barnes was left untouched in the primary and so he got the nomination leaving him open to those very attacks from Ron Johnson. And guess what?

— 8 —

The Unforgiving Hard-Left. In late September, moderate Madison Ald. Gary Halverson felt compelled to resign because he was outed for having once belonged to the Oath Keepers. For about a month. Long before they became infamous. And after he denounced them. Halverson was hounded from office by the hard-left, but my point was that his apology and obvious embarrassment should have been accepted at face value. If his constituents disagreed they should have been given the chance to vote against him had he decided to run for a second term.

— 7 —

Why is MMSD Losing Students? My concern in this blog from earlier this month was that the Madison schools are losing market share to private schools and surrounding suburban districts. I suggested that part of the problem is a lack of discipline and good order in our schools and that parents concerned about those things are more likely to quietly leave then take heat for criticizing the MMSD’s priorities.

— 6 —

He Got Fired For That? I wrote a few times this year about the controversy surrounding Sennett Middle School Principal Jeffrey Copeland, who was fired for complaining about the communications skills of a teaching candidate. This particular blog came after the district released the letter in which Copeland was dismissed and the recording that he left, inadvertently, on the candidate’s voice mail. It indicated no racism, just a legitimate concern about the candidate’s qualifications. Copeland was reinstated by the School Board in December.

— 5 —

Tim Michels: Jerk. This one came in the summer after the Republican gubernatorial candidate released his first ads, going after migrants — never mind the governor has virtually nothing to say about that national issue. What I found off-putting was not just the message (which was pretty openly racist), but how it was delivered. There was this smug, condescending, know-it-all guy tone. You know, like the tone in most YSDA blogs. Anyway, I thought he came off like a jerk. Wait a minute…

— 4 —

Blogs on Madison schools got the most attention from readers this year.

Why Are White Liberals So Obsessed With Race? This is an interesting one because I posted it in October of 2021 and yet it actually had more reads this year. In fact, I notice that it gets a few hits every month. My question in this post was why, according to polls, white liberals care more about race than Black people. My theory is that affluent, college-educated white liberals are so focussed on race because it’s really their education that provides them with “privilege.” By blaming race for everything it obscures the more significant advantages they enjoy, not be virtue of their race, but by virtue of their degrees. Race allows them to downplay their own true advantages while casting blame at blue collar white folks. I like to touch the third rail once in awhile, but this one is grabbing onto it and hanging on. Hence the continued interest in it, I guess.

— 3 —

Where Is Jeffrey Copeland? My first mention of Copeland, I wrote this one in the blackout period where neither the District nor Copeland was explaining why it was that he had been fired after only a few weeks on the job and despite his popularity with teachers and parents. I also took the opportunity to ask why Superintendent Carlton Jenkins wasn’t front and center explaining why this happened, a theme that I’ve continued ever since. Now, instead of asking where Jeffrey Copeland is, a better question is Where Is Carlton Jenkins?

— 2 —

Madison School Board Out to Lunch. In mid-March my frustration with the Board boiled over in this blog. The Board looked oblivious to issues of safety and good order in the schools. After melees at East High School and other incidents the Board responded by appointing a committee. This led a couple weeks later to the most read post of the year. Drum roll…

— 1 —

God Help Me, Blaska For School Board. This was by far the most read blog of the year. That didn’t surprise me too much. Fellow blogger and former local elected official and journalist David Blaska has his own following, and then there were others just curious to know why I’d be supporting this high-profile conservative’s quixotic write-in campaign. What did surprise me was how many liberals told me (in confidence) that they had voted for him. There is a real undercurrent of dissatisfaction with what’s happening in our schools. I think that voting for a change in direction is a whole lot better than quietly pulling our kids out of the schools and giving up. Blaska lost, of course, but all is not bleak. He was running against Board President Ali Muldrow. She won easily as expected, but she has also done at least a couple of encouraging things since. She led the Board’s move to reinstate Copeland and she provided the tie-breaking vote to keep stand-alone honors classes.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that almost all of these most-read posts had at least something to do with race. I think that topic generates so much readership because I say things on that issue that a lot of liberals (at least ones my age) think but are terrified of saying out loud. And that point of view is that we’re against racism and discrimination. We think everyone should have an equal shot at the American Dream. But we’re against discrimination in all its forms. We’re not for new discrimination to make up for past discrimination. Discrimination was and is the problem. It is the solution to nothing. I still believe in equality and I’m not necessarily on board with everything that falls under “equity.” And, believe it or not, that is a very controversial thing to say out loud these days, especially in places like Madison.

But whether I grab onto third rails or not, the truth is that I’d still write this thing if only my mother read it (and she often does). Still, it is nice to have an audience and to hear from you either in the open comments section or in emails. I try to be what I think writers should be: clear, honest and, when it can be managed, interesting and even entertaining.

Thanks for reading. It means a lot to me. And please, stick with me in 2023. If you go you may not be replaced.


Published by dave cieslewicz

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: