Low-Turnout Election

You may think the education of city kids doesn’t affect you, or that “they” don’t deserve a good education.  You may believe that because your children are no longer of school age or because you choose private schools, you “shouldn’t have to pay taxes for public schools.”  People I know have expressed these beliefs to me personally, so I know they’re being said.

Do you shop at a grocery store?  Put gas in your car?  See a doctor?  Dine at restaurants?  Order goods from Amazon?  Visit a park?  If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you want educated people to populate an educated workforce. Since most children attend public school, it should follow that public education matters for the greater good.

Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order. We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated popula.png

Author John Green had it right.  The full body of the quote is this:

Public education does not exist for the benefit of students or the benefit of their parents. It exists for the benefit of the social order.

We have discovered as a species that it is useful to have an educated population. You do not need to be a student or have a child who is a student to benefit from public education. Every second of every day of your life, you benefit from public education.

So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school: It’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.

Five seats on the Milwaukee Public Schools Board of Directors are up for grabs in  Tuesday’s election.  Candidates who lean toward support for school privatization and an increase in charter schools are receiving campaign funds from outside the city, from groups favoring charter schools and school choice.  Why do you suppose funds are being made on their behalf?  Hmmm.  Do you think maybe there’s money to be made?

You might not know this, but taxpayer money in our city goes to fund students attending private schools, including religious schools, so that whole separation of church and state thing, ya know, whatever. . .  Public funds also get diverted to charter schools, which while public, don’t exactly play under the same rules that public schools do.  Public schools are responsible for teaching every single student that comes through its doors; as public schools, charters are also supposed to, but not all can or do.  Do you find it curious that the percentage of special education students in district schools is upward of 20% when the percentage of US citizens with disabilities as a whole is less than that?  Why do you suppose that is?

Walk into any charter or voucher school and you’ll find a shockingly low number of students with significant intellectual disabilities, autism, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, hearing impairments, or emotional-behavior disabilities.  Like none.  Maybe one.  Public schools don’t get to pick. Students with profound disabilities (envision what in the old days was known as “residential care” and now envision those students rolling off their buses into public schools every morning), heck, students with even mild-moderate disabilities, get sent back to the public schools.  Look at enrollment numbers between first day of school and shortly after the counts for state funding are done in mid-September for proof.  Once the money is secure, city schools see a spike in enrollment as kids return to the district from other types of schools.

Special educators and related services personnel like nurses who administer tube feedings, occupational therapists who assist with fine motor skills development or sensory integration, physical therapists, or orientation and mobility teachers AND the equipment/supplies needed for kids with disabilities don’t come cheap.

It is not a level playing field, no matter how the tales get spun.  And now that they finally are required to report outcomes, those outcomes in parochial, private, or charters are not consistently, appreciably better.  Some charters and vouchers are excellent and absolutely are “beating the odds” (as are some public schools), while others have maybe 3% of their students demonstrating proficiency in reading and math (as do some public schools).  Poor achievement anywhere benefits no one everywhere, and if you’re any good at math, you can see that doing more with less results in a negative integer.

I’m not terribly linear here today, and Google can help you can easily locate better sources of data than me on school choice and charters, but the main idea is this: Our students deserve to be represented by a school board 100% in their corner.

If you live in my city, please vote Tuesday. Please vote for candidates who’ve demonstrated their commitment and support of our students and educators.  Why would one even consider the office of Milwaukee Public Schools board director if you didn’t?  (Wait, I know the an$wer to this one, and I bet you do too.)  Spring elections in odd-numbered years tend to the least well-attended elections, so get to the polls!  Need a ride?

 

#444

I voted yesterday.  Four hundred forty-fourth in my ward.  Maybe my new lucky number?

I remember learning about civics and government as a middle schooler. I was a nervous student of the social sciences; I recall my teacher imparting, with what I perceived to be immense gravity, the import of what we were learning. I wanted to get the facts right.  I mean, sure, I constantly pursued the ‘A,’ but how could I let down our founding fathers? Or worse, the suffragettes?

I’d perform poorly now on tests of the subject matter that captivated and awed me as a young teen. This is not a point of pride, but fact. I’ve arrived at the juncture of life where I have forgotten more shit than I’ll ever learn from here forward.  Also not a point of pride, but fact.  My short term memory is breaking up with me, and it’s getting ugly  She doesn’t even want to be friends.  *sigh*

I distinctly remember my seventh grade teacher telling us that participation in the democratic process allowed us to keep the biggest, most important secret we’d ever have.  She told us that no matter what, no matter who, no matter where, no matter nothing! that no one, NO ONE, could make us share the names of the candidates for whom we voted.  You could be thrown in a torture chamber, held at gunpoint, but no one had any right to force you to divulge your vote.  Being able to vote elevated you into a secret society, and the secret was yours to hold forever.  Pinky swear, cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.

Pre-teen lack of guile, middle school innocence?  Call it what you will, but her lesson stuck.  I thought it was so, so, so what?  So neat that one day I would get to vote, and you could ask me, but I’d never have to tell you who I voted for.  Even if you said please.  “Neat” is how I came to think of my little secret.  I still kinda do.

You know how I voted yesterday though.  I can invoke my nifty privilege to keep mum, which I intend to because middle school social studies class, you guys!  But you already know.

I hope you voted yesterday.  Social media and 24-hour news networks allow few secrets to be kept these days. You don’t have to share on which side of the aisle you sit, stand, or filled in those little Scantron circles–you too get to keep that private.  Forever.  I slept poorly last night–want to watch/can’t watch/have to check/don’t want to know election returns returned–stole my sleep, but I woke today with a smile.  And the teensiest ray of hope.

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One of my heroes, HEROES, Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, sharing reason 348,734,992 why you should vote.