Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Mississippification of Wisconsin

Bruce Murphy has a great piece in Milwaukee Magazine on the latest move by Governor Scott Walker to destroy Wisconsin's education system. Having gotten legislative approval (on hold by the courts) to devalue public school teachers, to tie school districts' hands when working out their own budgets, and to increase the diversion of Milwaukee public school money to private "choice" schools, he now wants to remove all accountability by those choice schools.

While public schools are required to administer standardized tests to all students to measure whether children are learning anything, Walker proposes that choice schools should no longer be required to do the same. He must want to cover up results like this:

The proportion of students who were proficient in reading and math was just 12 percent and 14 percent at Texas Bufkin Christian Academy; 17 percent and 6 percent at Travis Technology High School; 20 percent and 7 percent at Washington DuBois Christian Leadership Academy; 23 percent and 9 percent at Right Step, Inc.; 18 percent and 0 percent (Did no one take the math test?) at Dr Brenda Noach Choice School; 16 percent and 9 percent at Destiny High School. You get the feeling some of these schools worked harder on creating their name than educating the students.

Granted, as Murphy points out in the third part of his column, some choice schools, particularly Notre Dame Middle School, actually score above the state average. But I'd be surprised if even one public school did as badly as the six named above.

Meanwhile, as pointed out in another article today by Dave Zwiefel for the Capitol Times, Walker and the Republicans are following the Chamber of Commerce directive to deregulate business, depress wages, and shift the tax burden from those who make money to those who work for it. The Chamber, and their Republican minions, say that Wisconsin has a bad business climate. They would like to refashion Wisconsin in the style of, say, Mississippi.

[I]n its wisdom the U.S. Chamber ranked the state of Mississippi high on its list of places with good labor and employment policies.

Never mind that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mississippi has the lowest per-person income in the country and the lowest life expectancy. Its education system is ranked 47th among the 50 states and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which measures states on how well their children are treated, says that Mississippi is the worst state in America.

Cheer up, Mississippi! As long as Scott Walker and his Republican legislature have anything to say about it, Wisconsin is joining the race to the bottom!

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