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Issue of the Week: Finding a New MPS Superintendent

Plus Heroes and Jerks of the Week

Aug. 12, 2009
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The Milwaukee Public Schools board is in the process of recruiting a new super-intendent who will hopefully have the experience, vision and leadership skills to move the struggling school system forward. This is serious business because our future, the children, depend on our making the right choice. Leading an urban school system with all of its social issues resulting from poverty and racism is not an easy task. Layer on top of that the dubious voucher experiment, which siphons over $100 million from the public school system, and the already difficult job of superintendent becomes even more challenging.

But, there is good news. For the first time in well over a decade we have elected a school board that is no longer split 5-4 along ideological lines on the critical issue of funding private voucher schools with public tax dollars. The current school board now votes 6-3 in support of public schools. We also have a school board where one third of the board members are educators with doctorates. We also have a school board president, Michael Bonds, who is not political, but rather a highly trained educational technocrat with extensive budget and financial experience. But just as things were beginning to look up for MPS, the mayor and the governor, neither one an educator, are talking about trying to take control of the school system from the democratically elected school board, who, by the way, were elected by the same people who elected the mayor and the governor. The mayor and governor want to give control to some non-elected cabal that they appointed.

We need the school board to focus on their most important decision, which is hiring a real leader for MPS. This talk by the mayor and the governor of suspending the democratically elected school board members creates a level of uncertainty that might make it difficult to hire the best possible candidate.

We think it is important for the mayor and the governor to publicly state that they will respect the democratic process and leave the elected school board and focus on other issues. There is certainly no shortage of other serious issues.

Jerk of the Week: UW Law Professor Ann Althouse

UW Law Professor and conservative pundit Ann Althouse took time out from her honeymoon in Colorado—she married Laurence Meade, a commenter on her site, last week—to support Sarah Palin’s completely false statements about Obama’s “death panels.” Althouse wrote: “Now, I’m not picturing him or one of his minions coming over to murder me, but I am afraid that as I get older and need expensive care to keep me alive that I will be told I cannot have it, because at my age, in the government’s opinion, there’s not enough life left in me to be worth the money that I would take from the system that needs to pay for everything.”

The problem with Palin and Althouse’s fears? They’re based on a lie. According to Politifact.org, the nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning, fact-checking Web site run by the St. Petersburg Times, “We have read all 1,000-plus pages of the Democratic bill and examined versions in various committees. There is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person’s ‘level of productivity in society’ to determine whether they are ‘worthy’ of health care.”

Too bad Althouse sounds more like the Palin-inspired extremists than a thoroughly briefed law professor.

Hero of the Week: Super Volunteer Sitlalic Aguilar

Sitlalic Aguilar is a super volunteer at Voces de la Frontera, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of low-wage and immigrant workers. Aguilar is involved with its student wing, Students United For Immigrant Rights (SUFRIR), where she works to make the dream of American citizenship accessible for others. The 19-year-old full-time worker and full-time student, first at Alverno College and now at Milwaukee School of Engineering, still finds time to organize and encourage young people to get involved in the movement for immigrants’ rights. Tirelessly advocating for passage of the DREAM Act, which would offer citizenship to undocumented students through education or military service, Aguilar has inspired students and community leaders to contact Sen. Herb Kohl, urging him to co-sponsor the latest version of the act, first introduced in 2001, and which is currently languishing in committee. To learn more, go to www.dreamact2009.com, and ask your elected representatives to support this progressive and fair path to citizenship.


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