I had been thinking about a post asking and speculating why Madison would have two consecutive school board elections without contested seats (I’m still interested in the lack of candidates, may post on it later and would love to read your thoughts in the comments); instead I get to write about the contest between Board president Arlene Silveira and newcomer Donald Gors Jr.
If you follow school politics in Madison, you already know enough to have formed an impression of Arlene Silveira (mine is complicated and contradictory, I think she is solid, caring, I share many beliefs with her but also disagree on some things in both policy and governance style…). Gors is a mystery.
A little Internet searching sheds some light.
In 2004, in the midst of a difficult budget season, Gors testified before the MMSD finance committee. I’m not sure what to make of what he said, so I’m just going to quote the minutes:
Don Gors, parent, stated that the district should be expanding services to children and the need for flexibility in meeting the needs of society, however, things could not be done in the same way. Suggested that the district stop late buses and cab rides. He asked that they not do what constituents think but involve the teachers more and change the delivery of services and make the community accountable.
Maybe it made more sense when you heard the whole thing?
Dors and his spouse also had a letter on Mathematics education published in the State Journal in 2005. Again, I’m going to quote the entirety:
Children are confused
My three children attend Madison public schools in grade 10 at Memorial High School, and sixth and eighth grades at Jefferson Middle School. We have seen how the introduction of numerous elementary and middle school math programs have negatively impacted our children during these past 10 years.
We have noticed that if your child is in grades four, six, eight or 10 (the years our children are tested), that during the first two months of school our children are exposed to an explosion of different math challenges that seem to be all over the map. Our children come home confused and mad, and when we look at the math they are struggling to learn, there appears to be no fundamental building block for the learning of it. My wife and I have come to the conclusion our children are exposed to the variety of math challenges because they may be on the test.
Be careful when you hear the data being thrown around by our administrators and our Wisconsin DPI. We know when our children are struggling. If our kids can’t do the basic math of addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, fractions, decimals (without a calculator) and do four-step word problem-solving by the end of grade six your child needs help!
One size never, ever fits all. When will our educators take it as their failure to teach and not our children’s failure to learn?
I like the skepticism toward the test data, and the call not blame children for their lack of progress (although all students need to be encouraged to take charge of their educations) but the rest seems, well “confused.”
The last thing I’m going to share a letter that Dors and his spouse sent to the County Board in June of 2008 (full County Board Minutes with letter here, letter extracted here). It is too long to reproduce, but I do want to give the flavor with a relatively long excerpt (I do suggest reading the whole thing):
Dear, All Dane County Supervisors:
What happens when times get tough …. all the issues which have been given less attention start to come to the top.
(Land Purchases, RTA, Smoking Bans, Building Jails, Lack of Accountability Methods Over Safety -Security-Basic Needs!)
Just watch as a perceived good company goes bad…what causes it to go bad? Does it happen over night or is there signs that things are going south? Maybe that’s why people say follow the money…it has been learned that is true….in all Business and Government Operations!
South..Bad…Sour…Politics before Process, maybe this is the direction that some of this Counties Supervisors are allowing Dane County to be taken…
What I mean here is when times are good more and more things are not looked at or looked after because moral is up, perceived money is coming in and money is being spent but….then all of a sudden when things slow down the money has been over spent on things that are not center to it’s core business of operation…accounting faults are found and then what …whose left with the problem?
In business the first thing that goes are employees the last thing that happens is management is dismantled and then the business is shut down.
In government the first thing that happens is a request to increase Taxes surfaces. An attempt to remove the focus from what needs to be focused on. (What Dane County spending money on?). Past and Present!
Then some will try to bring others around to what’s important (Accountability, Responsibility) then all of a sudden a spin surfaces scaring others that Services will be diminished if Taxes are not increased.
Children will begin to suffer, those who you have made dependent on Government are made the main focus when the focus really should be on You, The Administration, A Public Accounting …where has the money gone, what has the money been spent on?
You see Government never looks at itself first, how Government is spending the money, is there a value for the majority when Government makes a decision on what to spend money on?
You get further and further away from asking yourself one question: Will this expense or decision help or hurt our tax paying community?
The kicker comes about two pages later:
No new taxes until we the Public have been given a full accounting of all money spent from 2000 to 2008.” (emphasis in the original).
Looks like Arlene will be getting my vote.
Thomas J. Mertz