Monday, January 7, 2013

Whose Schools Are They?

I want you to think about this the next time you hear someone say there needs to be "greater community involvement" in our public schools:

Last week, a State Court of Appeals ruled that two parents in the Mukwonago School District could not sue the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction over an order to change the high school's mascot.  The decision reversed a ruling by a Waukesha County Judge that found the DPI employee that conducted a "public hearing" on the mascot order was unfairly biased against those seeking to keep the team name.

The Appeals Court judges didn't say the two men couldn't sue DPI because they didn't live in the Mukwonago School District (they do).  And the judges didn't decide the plaintiffs couldn't sue the DPI because they didn't have kids enrolled in the district (they did).  No, these parents couldn't sue because they themselves did not attend the kangaroo court--I mean "public hearing" conducted by the DPI employee in question.

Now, you should probably keep in mind that all of the hearing attendees that spoke in favor of maintaining the high school mascot lived in the district--with many still having kids attending Mukwonago schools.  The two men who filed the lawsuit were the only ones willing to take on the financial burden of suing the state--in what always proves to be a drawn-out, expensive process.  On the other hand, ALL BUT ONE of those who spoke against the mascot DIDN'T ACTUALLY LIVE IN MUKWONAGO!!!!!  With the main proponent for the name change NOT EVEN LIVING IN WISCONSIN!!!  (And those sharing the perspective of the DPI are having the legal bills to defend those positions footed by us, the taxpayer.)

This entire process shouldn't catch anyone by surprise.  As anyone who has tried to affect change on public schools--but is not employed within the field of education--will tell you, school boards and administrators really don't care what you have to say.  Unless of course, you agree with their visions for public education. 

The Oshkosh School District is kicking off a new "visioning" process this week--and that process will include public "listening sessions" where we the "stakeholders in the schools" can share our views.  But how much consideration will we actually be given if we all turned out and said "we want supply-side economics taught to our children so that they aren't led to believe that long-term deficit spending is good government"?  Or "we want the state-required 'history of labor unions' replaced by the 'history of Wisconsin soldiers in American wars'"?  Or "how about we replace all of the time lost to early dismissal days for 'teacher collaboration' with extra periods focusing on math and writing skills"?  I can guarantee that we would be poo-pooed and told that "it's the job of the school to produce 'well rounded citizens of positive change'"--as opposed to graduates actually having skills desired by employers in the real world.

Despite all their "listening sessions" and "open houses" the only time public education officials really want us to be involved in "our schools" is when they have a referendum on the ballot and really just need our money.


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