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Like Old Bob La Follette, Scott Walker is a reform governor

Last week, Gov. Scott Walker proposed expanding school choice vouchers to nine large school districts that have failing or under-performing schools. Good Madison libs, who have been running Madison’s high-priced public school system for decades into an ever-widening achievement gap for minority students, are coughing up a collective hairball. 

Now, for the wayward scholars attending Blaska Remedial Tech and Detention Hall, this pop quiz:


Q. Why do liberals fear school choice?

A. Because they do not trust public schools to compete in a free and open marketplace. Parents might not choose their government-run, union-encrusted schools.

Q. But we already have school choice. Parents can take advantage of the state’s open enrollment program to choose public schools in other districts. Over 4,000 more students attend private schools in Madison, alone. Why do we need private school vouchers?

A. Over 1,000 Madison students are using open enrollment toattend other public schools; more would if the program were at all publicized. Even so, to take advantage of the program, they have to transport their kid out of town every school day. Parents can choose private schools in the city but first their parents have to pay the public school district. Old Daddy Warbucks could only dream of a can’t lose business model that sweet!

Q. I thought Democrats were for the common man?

A. They are, unless their interests conflict with those of organized labor, which provide money and other resources to re-elect them. The wealthy can afford to pay two schools for one education; the average Joe and Jill cannot.


Q. Aren’t you for local control? State Senate president Mike Ellis wants each school district to hold a referendum before permitting school choice.

A. How much more local can you get than the family dinner table? Senator Ellis, I don’t care if the referendum vote is 99 to 1. Why deny that one family control over their lives? Most choose a Microsoft PC computer;should that deny the minority their Apple iMac?


Q. But Sen. Ellis says school choice will cost schooldistricts when students leave and take their state stipend with them. Is thatfair?

A. It’s more than fair, it is therapeutic. If a school district cannot hold its own students, it deserves to lose them. Of course, they could also take the exodus as incentive to fix what they’re doing wrong.


Q. But what would happen if the public schools went out ofbusiness?

A. That’s what happened in New Orleans, with a shove from Hurricane Katrina. But the school district made lemonade from lemons to end its bottom-feeding schools and contract education services to a wide variety of charter schools. New Orleans today graduates a greater percentage of its students than Milwaukee public schools.


Q. But shouldn’t we defend the public school system?

A.  Let’s keep our eyes on the prize. The goal, the end result is NOT public school systems. The goal is educating our children. Let a thousand flowers bloom.


Q. Do you think anyone really believes that you or Scott Jensen care if the kids on  [poverty stricken] Allied drive get an education or not??? We all know the answer.(Actual question from Monona Grove school board appointee Jeff Simpson via the lefty website Forward Lookout.)

A. Nice play of the race card, Jeff. Do I care if the kids on Allied Drive get an education? YER DAMN RIGHT I DO (if I may channel Ms. Tammy Baldwin). But they aren't getting a good education now under liberal management. Or is Kaleem Caire of the Madison Urban League lying about only 48%of black students graduating in Madison? If those children were getting a good education, they could escape poverty and contribute to the community and lead satisfying, happy lives instead of being generational victims dependent on the good graces of liberal handout programs. Jeff, you have another question?


Q. There is a reason ... the DeVos [family] and the Walton family spend millions of dollars lobbying in Wisconsin to privatize schools ...It is not because they "care too much" its because they want in onthe looting. We know your motives Dave, its plain for the world to see which is why there is such strong push back!

A. In your list of villains, Jeff, you forgot that rapist and pillager Bill Gates, who is spending millions of his fortune on school choice because — what? — he wants to assure functionally illiterate customers for his high-tech products?


Q. Surely, you don’t think schools should make a profit?!

A. Not necessarily. But if the the schools were making a profit, that would mean they were satisfying customers with a) product b) service and c) price. Can all our public schools say the same? I’m not so much worried about the corporate takeover of our schools (just think what Apple or Google could do with the Madison Metropolitan School District!) as I am about the incestuous closed circle of insiders who have been running the show for some 30 years now. And stop calling me Shirley!


Q. Gov. Walker’s budget increases core funding for public schools by 1 percent (although with incentives for additional funding) while choice schools see increases of up to 20 percent. Is that fair?

A. It might be, if you consider that parental choice schools currently receive about half as much per student as the ineffective Milwaukee Public Schools.


Q. So, why do you say Scott Walker blazing a trail as a reform governor in the historic mold of Fighting Bob La Follette (or, for that matter, Tommy Thompson)?

A. First, he hobbled the teachers unions, which has siphoned off increased education spending and held veto power over performance measures and accountability. Secondly, by proposing school choice, it doesn’t matter how much the Madison school district whores after the teachers union, or its remnants. Parents can choose alternatives in the existing or new privately operated schools in Madison that will blossom with the increased demand. Scott Walker has placed his trust not in institutions, not in the education establishment elite or in government coercion, but in  leaving the people free to decide forthemselves.

That is as Revolutionary as the Founding Fathers. Class dismissed.

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years working for daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times  if you can believe it. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.