WI OSPP Law Has Been OOPS To Date

Demond Means tried to ‘partner’ with the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) system and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) in a collaborative effort under the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP), and that blew up in his face.  So, he has cut bait and resigned as the first Commissioner of that program.  Now Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has to find another ‘savior’ for MPS and more importantly for the students.

This all flies in the face of the new state law intended to help the ailing MPS system and its under-performing schools.  So, the process will be re-started unless there is further legislation or reaction from state officials.  And, nothing will have changed in MPS and, apparently the MTEA officials find this as something deserving of applause; the teachers’ union officials see this as a victory.  Never mind the students who get less than a decent education.  Never mind the teachers who face verbal and physical abuse day in and day out in the MPS schools.  Never mind the new state law that requires MPS to participate in the process it describes in an effort to save the system, apparently from itself, and deliver for the students.

MPS has ignored a state law.  There will likely be some repercussions from the legislature and there may well be legal action resulting from one or another quarter.  If Demond Means could not pull off a ‘partnership’, who will County Executive Abele find as his second choice that will have the magic wand that makes the MPS School Board and the MTEA officials take notice.

Even the NAACP played a role in decrying the new law.  One would think that organization would be supportive of a law intended to benefit Milwaukee students, many of whom are black.  The next person selected will probably not have such a cooperative ‘partnership’ approach in mind.  After all, that was tried and rejected by the other parties.

Now, with the state law “bluff” being called by the entrenched system, where does this go besides back to the drawing board with a subsequent new appointment by Abele?  The law requires that up to five under-performing schools per year be identified with control of those schools being ceded to the control of the ‘commissioner’ who would turn those schools over to outside operators.  There appears to be little problem in defining what an under-performing school is; the problem seems to be recognizing what isn’t working and finding an approach that will work.  That will, it seems obvious, continue to be a threat to parts of the ‘status quo’ system, but the ‘status quo’ system isn’t solving the problems that exist.

The ‘status quo’ system is threatened as was the intention of those passing the law.  Nothing else seems to have gotten the attention of those in power over MPS since nothing changes other than possibly to devolve further with every passing year.  Apparently, the ‘system’ needs another warning shot across the bow and a legislature that has seen its law ignored may be in the mood to fire that shot.

EU and Britain Tangling Over Vote

The European Union (EU) is seeking Britain’s plans for the break-up and wants those plans now, but the current Prime Minister, David Cameron advises that he’ll leave the break-up details to his successor who won’t be known for some time to come.  Other EU member states were quick to point out that they do not expect there to be any change under a new Prime Minister, so they reason that the process of Britain leaving the EU ought to be going on right now.  From their perspective, the vote was the vote and they want the actual break-up to occur sooner rather than later.

Some of this may simply be the ‘payback’ for the  British voters’ decision that they wanted Britain to leave the EU.  It no doubt has stung the remaining EU member states and there may be concern amongst those states that their own populace will get the same idea. Britain was the largest military power of all the EU members and represents the second largest economy so the hit to the EU is significant.

There is obvious animosity over the British voters’ decision, and there may well be some concern over what this departure will do to the negotiating clout the EU will have remaining.  There is some concern in Scotland where voters have shown their desire to remain a part of the EU. That further muddies the already cloudy water.

Whether the EU minus Great Britain will be able to remain self-sustaining on the world stage remains to be seen.  There is probably some potential for the exit of one or more other EU members simply depending upon the positions of the majority of the voters of each current EU state.

Not mentioned so far is the potential for this fracture in the EU to be exploited by other nations.  Would this be seen as an ideal time for Russia to make some moves?  Vladimir Putin has shown his propensity for taking advantage of situations as those are presented to him.

Unless I have missed it, I don’t recall anything in the nature of a statement by the U.S. Lack of a position being taken by us would seem to add another dimension to the issues to be confronted by the remaining EU states.

Pesky voters have the potential for shaking up all kinds of nations and their grand plans. We are reminded that our world is potentially a volatile world given the various nation states and their individual thoughts about power over other countries.  The U.S. national elections might also cast a shadow on these international issues given the persona of Donald Trump seemingly subject to change from time-to-time.  We are in a bit of a lame-duck status given our national election process.

There is never a lack of excitement or, at least the potential for excitement.

Report of the Benghazi Committee…

Rep. Trey Goudy (R) has served as chair of the committee established by Congress to find the facts surrounding the Benghazi tragedy.  The Republican members of that committee, a majority keeping with the make-up of the House, delivered their findings this morning before the press and the cameras.  The Democrats obviously were not present since they apparently disagree with the findings of the majority.  Facts are facts. Suppositions and opinions are just that.  The FACTS are damning as they have been from the outset.  That the facts are what they are seems lost, potentially, on the balance of this committee since those members did not participate in this press conference.  I suspect they will hold their own conference and they will spin whatever they can find to spin.  That is a part of our political system and it leaves to each of us the final decision as to which set of so-called facts we choose to subscribe.

There are, from my perspective, immutable conclusions.  As Rep. Goudy so ably stated, he and his group dealt with the who, what, where and when questions.  His and the majority Committee members’ report did not deal with the why.  Another, to me, immutable conclusion was this: the press’ questions showed a decidedly liberal leaning and a decidedly accusatory tone aimed at the Republican majority.  The press’ questions were framed to portray this as a political witch hunt just as the Democrats would have us all believe.  This was the same press, of course, that refused to call attention to the childish behavior of the minority in the House who held their good old fashioned sit-in rather than function in the roles to which they had been elected.

Will this Committee report have any bearing on the coming national election?  That is highly unlikely in my opinion since there seems such a small number of people in the truly ‘undecided’ column to be swayed in one direction or another.

As a Republican voter, but more correctly as a concerned conservative voter with no other real choice, this charade was to be expected.  We have lived this type of thing over and over again in my lifetime. The liberals pronounce something and it becomes the equivalent of ‘gospel’.  The conservatives pronounce something and it is instantly the source of rebuke and further questioning by the very press members whom we are to believe as having only the facts as their concern.

We will soon have available the report as delivered by the Republican members of the “Benghazi” committee.  That will be complete with facts and we will then be able to read and draw our personal conclusions, the 1/10th of 1/10th of a percent, if that many, who read the report.

Hillary Clinton has not demonstrated that she has any sense of personal shame over anything, so this report will just be poo-pooed as usual by her and her minions.  This report does nothing to change the fact that good people lost their lives at least partially, if not more significantly, due to the ineptitude of the people above them in the chain of command.  There is a reason for having a ‘chain of command’.  That keeps people from going their own direction AND it establishes responsibility for both good things that happen and it establishes responsibility for the terrible things that happen.

This ‘chain of command’ seems to have been truncated in that it was comprised of only two people; the President and his appointed Secretary of State.  Everyone else either took their directions from this chain of command or were left to their own decisions and devices by the neglect that flowed from this chain of command.  We have no recourse, other than through history books, to reprimand or punish the senior member of that Chain of Command, but we certainly do not have to permit the second in that chain of command to skate free and clear and ride her “success” into the Oval Office.

If the watchdogs of the press were not simply the lapdogs they prove to be over and over again, they would’ve been aiming very difficult questions at Hillary Clinton over this huge diplomatic embarrassment rather than aiming their ‘gotcha’ questions at the Republican head of the Benghazi study group.  She has, in my opinion, proved herself, many times over, not of the quality nor level of trust we need in our Commander in Chief.

Hillary…In Spite of Her History and Bill

Hillary Clinton continues to lead in the polls over Donald Trump.  That is due at least in part to Donald Trump, but it totally ignores the history Hillary carries with her every step of the way to the White House.  And it ignores the philandering and money-grubbing of her husband…due to become the “First Gentleman” if she wins.

One would think, even in a contest determined by the ‘lesser of evils’ barometer, that Hillary would not be moving, seemingly inexorably, toward the Oval Office and yet she is on that march.  There is enough garbage, more than sufficient shady deals, and endless money-grabbing in the lives of she and her husband that it seems an impossibility ‘we the people’ could even begin to think that she deserves to lead our country.  And yet, that seems to be what the polls are telling us.

We ponder the wisdom of the Brits given their rush to leave the European Union, and yet we seem to ignore our own apparent lack of wisdom that results in Hillary, in spite of all her warts and shady dealings and money grabbing, leading anyone in the polls for the presidency.  The Milwaukee Brewers’  “Hank the dog” should poll ahead of Hillary Clinton and maybe he would if he only had the chance.

I continue to hope and think that, sooner or later, Hillary will stumble and not recover.   Obviously, my hoping and thinking seem not to be slowing Hillary down in her quest to become our first woman President.

We the people may, in fact, be heading to the point where we ‘get what we deserve’ as some would say, but I don’t believe any of us actually deserve President and Mr. Clinton. The Arkansas scandals, the 100 to 1 investment miracle in cattle futures, the women maligned and then ignored, the shady characters in their two lives, the body found in the park, the blue dress, the State Department e-mail scandal, the Benghazi debacle, the money-laundering she has orchestrated from her position as Secretary of State all fly in the face of Hillary Clinton becoming our first female President.

And yet, she leads in the polls by anywhere from 1 point to double-digit points.  Even Donald Trump as the Republican candidate cannot be thought entirely to blame for the errant belief too many American voters seem to have that puts Hillary in the lead…over and over again.

Even if we do this to ourselves, I will remain unable to believe that this is what we deserved.

State of Education in Milwaukee…

WI Senator Alberta Darling (R) penned a column printed in the Sunday, June 26th Milwaukee Journal Crossroads section concerning the state of Milwaukee’s pubic schools. The first three paragraphs sum up the issues quite succinctly:

In the last school year, roughly 28,000 students in Milwaukee Public Schools attended a school that fails to meet expectations.  That’s about the population of Stevens Point.

Last year there were two MPS schools with zero students proficient in math.  Zero.

More than 30 MPS schools have 90% or more of their students who are not proficient in math.  Ten percent or less of students are proficient in English language arts in a dozen MPS schools.

This is the same school system that has refused to participate in a state-driven effort to help those students, apparently because the effort is state-driven and not MPS-driven. And yet, the schools that are controlled by MPS are not delivering the level of education to all the students needed to survive once they graduate…if they graduate.

This piece was printed about ten days after a local Milwaukee radio station, WISN 1130, provided additional insight into the MPS system as seen through the eyes of teachers in that system who were interviewed only after being promised that their names wouldn’t be used and that their voices would be disguised to protect their anonymity.  This series documented the lack of concern on the part of the MPS administration as it relates to student discipline issues.  Teachers told of being harassed with bodily threats by students and harassed verbally throughout the typical day of teaching because students knew they were never going to be punished as the result.

There is a state of anarchy that grows ever more pronounced since there is no punishment of students engaging in this physical and verbal abuse.  This is aggravated by the fact that MPS refuses to accept offers of help and additional funding offered by the Wisconsin Legislature.  Apparently, the MPS Superintendent and the School Board are unable to see any problems, or they are afraid to admit they see problems, and continue to tacitly, if not actively, promote the lack of discipline through this institutional ignorance of choice.

If we accept that this is not the way Milwaukee’s school system ought to be operating, we can more easily understand the failures cited in those three paragraphs by state Senator Alberta Darling.  All this is in the public domain and yet nothing substantive is being done to correct these very serious problems.  Teachers fear for their personal safety and are forced to withstand verbal assaults of a vile nature day in and day out.  And they know the students in many cases will not be properly educated when they are turned loose from the educational system, yet the system will do nothing to correct these problems.

How long will it take for Milwaukee to become the next Detroit or the next Baltimore or next Chicago?  Not long at all at this rate.

‘Brexit’ Vote Touches Many…

The Brexit vote underscores how economically knit together our world is today.  Several smaller manufacturing firms in Wisconsin, for example, were directly impacted by the vote as the result of their ties to English companies.  Imports and exports will be affected either for the worse or for the better depending upon the direction of trade in each instance.  We have a tendency to think that somehow we are insulated from actions taken thousands of miles away from our shores, but we are globally-connected, like it or not.

Ripples from this decision will flow through the world’s markets for some time to come if comments from affected U.S. businesses and economists are to be believed.

There is a very real ‘global’ economy.  We have witnessed companies moving headquarters from the U.S., from Wisconsin in fact, to elsewhere in the world due to the economic impact which certainly also includes more favorable tax situations.  Those moves, while justified from a stockholder perspective, have impacts on our own employment numbers. We lose or gain jobs based upon the economically-driven actions of employers trying to satisfy their stockholders.

Many are prone to decrying these kinds of actions by employers, but those very actions are necessary if the management is to deliver the best outcomes for its investors.  Tax climates, here vs. elsewhere, are often at the heart of decisions taken on the movement of headquarters, facilities, etc.  Too often, some in our political ruling class are ignorant, intentionally or unintentionally, of the actual impacts that will occur from their votes in Congress.  Just as those votes impact the rest of the world to one degree or another, votes such as that taken on the Brexit question impact us.

The further impact of the Brexit vote will only be seen several years from now.  There is almost certainly going to be a political impact in Britain with the Prime Minister, Cameron, already saying he was done in October since he led the charge for Britain staying in the European Union (EU); that political impact will affect us in ways we cannot begin to imagine since we don’t know the ultimate shift in political direction this might indicate for Britain, and for other EU countries.

Our other international relationships are also subject to things such as this election.  Russia will make whatever hay it can while the Brexit sun shines.  China will certainly exploit any areas it sees available and given our debt load which China holds a significant share of, that Brexit impact could be substantial, as well.

Some days we are the driver and other days we are the passenger.  In many ways, we are along for the ride as passengers in this situation as much as we’d like to think we’re in control.

House Democrats & The Good Old Days…

We witnessed a throwback to what, it seems, the old & new school Democrats think of as their “good old days”.  This, of course, refers to the shut-down of the House by the Democrats over the lack of a gun control vote.  Speaker Ryan recognized that the votes in the Senate were not there since that body had voted, and found no reason to go through a dead-end process even though the minority faction had its hopes pinned on the long, tedious process it desired.  They longed for the ‘great theater’ they knew they’d be afforded if only the nasty Speaker would give in.

So, they decided, instead, that it was time to disrupt the business of the House and conduct a good old fashioned “sit-in”.  This delighted the press corps which just can’t seem to get to the point of neutrality in its coverage of the federal government.  And, all those who wish Paul Ryan weren’t the brightest guy in the room engaged in their mutual love fest.

All this was going on while across the pond the Brits were voting in what has been labeled the “Brexit” consideration and they decided they wanted no further part of the greater European initiative.  The contrast between what was occurring in our House of Representatives and the historic vote being conducted in Great Britain was stark.  That point was, unfortunately, lost on the Democrats who were enjoying the role of the pouting youngster.

Ours is a democracy and we accept that with all its good and not-so-good connotations.  It is most unfortunate that not everyone in the House of Representatives can conduct themselves in the manner that august institution deserves.  We can and do disagree without going into a snit fit.  We are, for the most part, adults and we know we do not always get our way.  We expect better from our elected representatives especially at the national level, no matter their party affiliation.  We are nearing the end of an eight-year period where we have seen political posturing at our highest elected level, and that has enabled those at the next level to believe they can also use that tool. No matter the level of government at which such actions occur, it is demeaning to our democracy.

Purely political posturing can be and often is ugly.  That is precisely what we saw yesterday.  Some will lay the blame for that at the feet of the Speaker of the House.  Others of us will see the fault where it actually lies.