This is from the bottom of today’s front page of the Wisconsin State Journal. Please go vote as this is Spring Election day in Wisconsin, Polls stay open until 8 P.M. To read the entire article click here.
Some speculated it was going to happen. And today it did.
Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz added his voice of gravitas and endorsed the write-in candidacy of David Blaska for Seat 4 on the Madison School Board. The election is Tuesday, April 6th.
In what can only be termed as direct and unequivocal the former leader of our city summed up the present situation that our school district now finds itself.
People, this is nuts. This is just bat-shit crazy.
Cieslewicz gets to that point in his endorsement after reminding readers of what we read in our newspaper all too often.
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.
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.
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.
Madison’s logical core of voters surely are saying, “Thanks, Dave”.
I have for decades argued for pragmatism in our politics. When first cutting my teeth in politics in Door County up to this moment for truth when addressing violence in our Madison schools. I am so pleased that Mayor Dave is standing resolute for common sense and honesty as we enter the final days leading to our Spring Election.
And so it goes.
I wish to make two points about the upcoming Spring Election, which includes a Madison School Board race of consequence.
In Seat 4 David Blaska is waging a write-in campaign in an effort to drive home the need to talk about some foundational issues of education. I ask that you support his candidacy and vote for him on Tuesday, April 5th.
For me, the curbing of violence at our city schools ranks as issues Number One, Two, and Three. Earlier this year a high school student was beaten so badly on school property that reconstructive dental surgery was required. There is no way I can simply assume that the current school board truly cares about curbing the violence. I do not see any evidence that the board even recognizes the growing frustration of the city due to its lack of concrete measures to deal with the problem.
In a candidate forum, Blaska said what many taxpayers feel.
“I don’t think the police criminalize those kids. I think the kids, through their own behavior, did…. Getting rid of the school resource officers, that was the capstone of a decade-long assault on school discipline. I would initiate a number of programs starting with returning the school resource police officers back to the schools. I would also jettison the Behavior Education Plan. Seven years in, it’s not working.”
On whether the school board needs to address the use of cellphones in the classroom, Blaska held up a paper grocery bag and said, “cell phones go in the bag and [students] can get them back afterwards.”
“This is a perfect example of how we’re running headlong away from [holding] kids responsible. There used to be guardrails for kids called adults,” said Blaska. “And yes, it’s in the kids’ nature to test the limits. But we keep moving the guardrails farther and farther out when they test the limits and what is the result? We have almost daily fights now and not just at East High School.”
It should be noted, and much to the dismay of many folks in Madison, that Ali Mudrow is so removed from just basic common sense she can not even bring herself to call for the end of cellphones in the classroom.
Muldrow dismissed concerns expressed by teachers and parents that cell phones are causing kids to check out while in class and may be contributing to online bullying that leads to high-profile fights that have made headlines all school year.
Clearly, we need some sanity on the school board.
Now, to the second issue, I wish to address.
Muldrow claimed in a separate Q and A column that Balska was a “Trump/Scott Walker supporter”. Using such a label is meant to alert voters in Madison to be wary. As a liberal Democrat, I call that unrelated malarky. In addition, it is not factual.
While it is true that Blaska is an actual decades-long conservative Republican it is also clear from his own blog and spoken words that he can not be lumped with Trump. After all, Trump is not a true Republican as he lacks any regard for fiscal accountability, free trade, or international alliances. Read Blaska’s own words since January 6th if you have any doubt, whatsoever about his views of Trump. I know how opposed Blaska was to Trump in 2016, and know he did not cast a ballot for him in that election.
Why it matters to bore down on this issue for a moment is because it demonstrates how Muldrow goes about her work on the taxpayer’s dime. Wild broad brush strokes at every issue–from rising violence at schools to dismissing cellphones, and assuming everyone within a political party must carry water for everyone else.
Meanwhile, working on board policy requires attention to detail, not just mouthing words to play to the loudest elements in our city. We simply must have a school board tethered to the best interests of our students, but we simply do not have that today. And it is placing students in unsafe classrooms with a reduction in class time learning.
When it comes to this school board race I am confident Balska is the best candidate because he does care about kids getting an education. He is determined to bring back order and discipline to the schools. How can anyone argue in favor of disruptive and violent schools?
Look, history is filled with the best steps occurring, both in our state and nation, when folks from both sides and with competing ideas focus on the mission at hand. No one can say there is not a growing level of violence in our public schools, or that teachers and students alike are not concerned–and at times frightened.
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 topic has been my reason for being vocal about the need for change on the board.
I ask you for your support and write-in vote for David Blaska for Seat 4 on April 5.
Every resident of Madison has a stake in our public schools. We probably know a student, teacher, coach, or school bus driver. Through those connections, we have a good view of the condition of our schools, a measure of the educational programs, and knowledge concerning the overall character of the students. There are reasons to be proud of the mission teachers take with their lives and we can be equally proud of graduates who have benefited from the educational system.
But we also are aware, from too frequent situations that make for headlines, of the violence and breakdown in social norms that occur at some of our city schools. We expect to see school buses near the curb of such buildings but should not consider it normal to see a number of police squad cars arrayed near a school so to break up fights and try to bring order from the chaos.
Most taxpayers take it for granted that schools should be learning centers that are safe for the students and staff. But they would be wrong if they thought this was actually the case in all of our city schools.
As we move toward the April 5th Spring Election in Wisconsin voters need to be aware of the most prominent issue facing the school district. That is the safety of kids, teachers, and staff. Not only is physical safety an issue, but the need for a calm learning environment in our schools so teaching can take place with learning to follow.
This issue demands more than just headlines after yet another fight or major altercation at a school. The school board needs someone who will highlight the issue and fight for the students who are nervous about heading to classes. Or teachers who are fearful to go to work on days when they have heard rumblings about a flare-up from some students.
Enter David Blaska.
Once again, Blaska is placing his name for consideration as a school board member. His write-in candidacy is for Seat 4, the one now held by Ali Muldrow. The race has drawn some attention, given the recent headlines.
Blaska correctly argues that a school resource police officer should be present in each main high school as a proven way to stop violence and keep classrooms and hallways safe for everyone. Muldrow was an advocate of removing those officers in 2019. Three years later she is now just considering the merits of convening a committee to study school safety. Might I state the United Nations is known to work faster?
We have seen the results of dithering and meandering on this issue. Riots at East High School and just off campus; guns at La Follette, awful violence at West High School. A brutal beating that left a 15-year-old with “three teeth in the front of his mouth that was actually jammed up into his gums”. Very high dental bills will result for the family and as his mother told a local news reporter, “He’s been very depressed. He has talked quite a bit about committing suicide”.
Might it be time for violent students to be held accountable for their actions?
Might it be time for one strong voice on the school board who will stand on behalf of the students and city residents who need to be heard and represented when it comes to outlandish behavior on school grounds?
I did not need very long to consider how to write this post after watching the Saturday night news report about this young man facing an outrageous and unconscionable situation simply because he attended school. Let me put this issue into somewhat of a personal narrative and bring it full circle as to why safety matters and Blaska’s election is warranted.
As a high school student, I was relentlessly bullied. My best friend committed suicide after being bullied. I dreaded school days, was stressed about everything, and though a bookish type of person did not excel academically. I know how it feels to be uneasy in a classroom setting. As such, I can find complete empathy with students in our local schools who are at times fearful about safety at school.
As an adult with life experiences behind me, I know how those years could have been handled. Additionally, it would have been wonderful to have had at least one voice on my local school board standing up for students who faced threats and violence from their peers. We sometimes forget how important it is for each kid to know they have a fighter in their corner.
David Blaska wants to be that fighter for kids who crack open the books and have dreams for their future.
It is completely absurd that any Madison student in 2022 needs to think about anything other than getting high marks. Our youth with college dreams should not have an hour siphoned off their classroom time due to disruptive behavior from those who have no intent to learn.
Let us be honest and state we have a problem with too much violence in our public schools. Let us also be honest and say some on the Board play to the loudest voices in the public square, rather than the need for a solid education for all students.
Finally, I know David to be a great conversationalist, a smart and witty person, and principled. I also know in these highly polarized days it might seem all uphill to ask Madison to give Blaska a fair hearing, and then election to the Board. But I come from a background that I strongly suspect many of my fellow Madisonians know very well.
When confronting an issue that demands to be resolved the coalition of people in support of it may not be the same as the group opposed or in support of another issue tomorrow. But we are adults and know the greater good is what matters. We unite to solve a problem. And folks, we have a very real problem with violence and truly unruly and even dangerous students in our schools.
I suggest parents of students and those who truly yearn for our schools to better perform listen to the words of David Blaska.
And then write his name in for Seat 4 on the Madison School Board. The election is April 5th.
And so it goes.
It goes without saying much of the nation looked aghast when Donald Trump came down an escalator in June 2015 to begin a presidential nomination quest. Over the following months, we watched as the hijacking of the Republican Party took place as credible anchors of the party, like Jeb Bush, were rejected.
On January 6, 2021, the nation witnessed a horrific riot at the nation’s Capitol in an attempt to undermine the counting of the Electoral College votes. The process-driven path our republic must take for the succession of presidents was threatened in a way that has alerted folks of all political stripes that our democratic foundations are being threatened.
It is true the vast majority of elected Republicans have not only supported the Big Lie created by Trump to thwart the will of the electorate, but also in some cases doubled down to further erode the confidence citizens must retain in the electoral process. As a consequence, most Americans have not thought so much about the gravity of democracy since their civics schoolbook days.
It is understood, without my needing to write here, that Republicans are, as a group, verbally thrashed for what has happened to the once Grand Old Party. The entire lot of them are castigated for what a majority of the base condone. But we need to reckon with the fact, that not every Republican or conservative abides with the base when it comes to these fundamental issues.
One of the Dane County Republican voices that now leads from a decades-long background of institutional memory is David Blaska. The recent events of the RNC in repudiating two of their members of Congress are most troubling. After all, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger merely had the ‘effrontery’ to stand up for a process of sound and fair elections and agree with George Washington about the need in a republic for the loser of an election to step aside for the winner.
Blaska put his views about this topic online at Blaska Policy Werkes.
The Republican National Committee is a clutch of craven cowards. The RNC voted Friday 02-04-22 to formally censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for “actions in their positions as members of the January 6th Select Committee not befitting Republican members of Congress.”
Blaska, a dues-paying Republican of 30 years, wants to know how Wisconsin’s three RNC members voted. Party executive director Mark Jefferson responded:
“How’s everything at the Stately Manor, Dave? I believe it passed on a quick voice vote. … The censure was pushed by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and the vote was overwhelming, passing without any public debate. It took all of one minute.”
Poisoning the pooch takes all of one minute. A quick voice vote — instead of a roll call — is how cowards avoid taking responsibility. The RNC called out Cheney and Kinzinger by name. Blaska calls out WI National Committeewoman Maripat Krueger, National Committeeman Tom Schreibel, and state Party Chairman Paul Farrow. How did you vote? This state GOP convention delegate demands accountability.
I fully understand (and thrill to) the passion of politics and campaigns along with the sparring over policy creation in legislative bodies. All that is not only a grand part of our history but a necessity in a democracy. Blaska’s writing brings forth another point we must also understand and take note of in these frothy partisan times.
He has repeatedly over the many months looked for sanity from his party. He has not been shy about his views on the events that have developed since Jan. 6th. What should be our response to Republicans who are speaking out about the events playing in the headlines?
We must be mindful of the thoughtful voices and credible people who–though in the minority of the GOP at present and though we may differ with them about policy issues–are seeking a return to normalcy.
In any legislative body, the coalition of people in support of one issue today will not be the same as the group opposed or in support of another issue tomorrow. Today the one topic that unites people from varying political perspectives is the threat to our democracy. Let us, therefore, listen to all the voices and what they have to say. And work together for a path forward.
We really do need to be honest and say there are thoughtful Republicans. Most just do not have a blog!
And so it goes.
The Madison School Board needs to find a more diverse board. Not in terms of ethnicity. But in terms of common sense.
I was most embarrassed when my favorite daily read, The New York Times, had to report this morning on the happenings at Madison West High School. I am never pleased when the city where I live, and which I love, has news of this type which everyone is talking about.
Even Cher! Yes, her!
Many residents of this city are stupefied at what happened this week. A black security guard at West High School said he was defending himself from a student who called him the N-word, repeating the word as he told the student not to use the slur, which led to his termination.
This story is so ridiculous that any book editor would scold a writer from creating such dribble. But what passes for outlandish to everyone else is a policy at Madison schools. The matter of being too pure has once again met the reality test. And the whole city gets tarred in the process by those looking in at us.
The purity test, such as with language, is never a good idea. It just always underscores the lack of awareness about an issue in an attempt to ram-rod rigidity into a code of conduct. When an employee of the school district used the ‘n’ word in an attempt to create a teaching moment with a student who had hurled all sorts of words, including the ‘n; word, the hand of the all-knowing code of conduct fell hard.
As this now national story underscores there is a problem at Madison Schools. This school board is out of touch. With their zeal to be so strident against racism and inequities, they have also thrown out common sense, logic, and reason.
They have, however, reaped the scorn of just about everyone who has read this act of stupidity, which now has a legal angle that will doubtless arrive and be costly. That is fine with me as stupidity should cost money from those who need to learn a lesson. Otherwise, as Sheldon might say, “How will they learn?”
Late today the Wisconsin State Journal posted their story about Cher coming to the rescue with fiancing for the lawsuit.
As West High School students walked out of school Friday to protest the firing of a black Madison security guard for using the N-word to correct a student, the former employee got a major boost from an unexpected corner.
Celebrity dynamo Cher sent a tweet to her 3.7 million followers Friday offering to pay the legal expenses for Marlon Anderson, who was fired Wednesday for the incident earlier this month.
I wonder if others in this city now think perhaps a vote for David Blaska for the board this past April would have been a good idea. I supported his bid and know my vote was the correct one.
Now more than ever.
I am not sure how to post this and make it look humble. Perhaps there is no way to achieve it. But I post the following with sincere gratitude.
I have tried with the best of my ability to call the balls and strikes regarding the issues of the day on this blog. Sometimes people agree with my opinion pieces, other times they vehemently disagree. Reading history proves why our nation moves forward with far more reasonableness when we seek out issues to work together on, and strive for consensus. The recent spring election is a case in point.
David Blaska was a Madison School Board candidate who ran a tough race as a conservative in a very liberal city. I firmly believe the issues he talked about, and the ideas he advanced regarding our schools and students, were what voters needed to hear. His stances were in the best interest of education. I supported him with an endorsement and was proud to have his lawn sign up for the election season. I have written on this blog how that sign allowed for discussions that might otherwise have not occurred.
But if you want the Policy Werkes’ nomination for Courage Under Political Fire, read the name of Greg Humphrey. Greg is an openly gay man living on Madison’s isthmus in the Wil-Mar neighborhood represented by Ald. Marsha Rummel, Progressive Dane.
Early on, the proprietor of the Caffeinated Politics blog backed Blaska’s candidacy. What’s more, he stuck a Blaska campaign yard sign in his front lawn, within sight of Lake Monona. He did something that a great many other liberals told the candidate personally that they wanted to do — “but my neighbors would …”
But I am still scared of spiders.
David Blaska has a strong–and correct– view about OutReach’s decision not to allow law enforcement to march in the Madison Gay Pride Parade. Not only did OutReach not permit cops to march as professional men and women, but the organization then allowed, ranter T. Banks, a microphone who excoriated law enforcement.
I strongly suspect that had all of Dane County been able to stand alongside as the parade marched the general tone would have been one opposed to Outreach’s decision, and in favor of the men and women who serve in law enforcement. By their actions over the past two weeks OutReach has undermined gay rights in favor of their choice to side with those who verbally bash police.
Blaska’s blog post today includes this on-the-parade route perspective from Gary Kriewald.
However, I did have a swell time shouting epithets (e.g., “Your True Colors Are Hate”) at OutReach and a contingent carrying a banner that identified them as being behind the ban on cops. My first encounter with them was on State Street while they were waiting for the parade to start. The looks on their faces were priceless; it was clear that no one had EVER dared to call them haters or probably to call out their bigotry in any way. I then followed along the route and did the same thing two more times.
The final time was on the Square where there happened to be three cops guarding the intersection at W. Wash. After t finished shouting, I said to them, “You should have called in sick today instead of guarding a bunch of bigoted assholes.”
They just laughed and shook their heads. They were talking to two (young!) people decked out in rainbow garb, who, it turned out, were letting the cops know that they condemned the whole cop-hating theme. A small but encouraging sign.
The other encouraging sign was that a couple people in the crowd came up to me wanting to engage in a serious, civilized discussion of the issue. I’m not sure I changed anyone’s mind, but they both thanked me for sharing my views. My main regret is not locating anyone from the local media. All three channels, I’m sure, were covering the event. It was quite a spectacle to see all those “Love Is Love” banners at an event that excludes a group based on employment status. The hypocrisy was so thick you could cut it with a knife — in other words, tailor made for Madison.
A good many of the contingents were sponsored by local businesses, including American Family Insurance. I plan to write them tomorrow cancelling my policies and explaining that I’m not in the habit of patronizing businesses that engage in blatant displays of bigotry. Never realized that protesting could be so therapeutic!