Saturday, June 25, 2011

Issue #4- June 25, 2011 News of the Week

What This Is…
Issue #4- June 25, 2011
News from the week of June 20th.  Articles I found interesting with a few comments. 

Education News…
Voucher Debate Continues
Supporters of expanding voucher programs use lower costs and higher returns as their defense of the plans.  However, these arguments don't add up.  Voucher programs will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run and leave public schools struggling to meet the needs of students.

This article refutes most voucher supporter claims very well.

Rhetoric from the budget. "Expand Educational Options. The budget expands the Milwaukee private school choice and independent charter school programs in support of improved educational outcomes for all Wisconsin students. The cap on the number of participants in the Milwaukee private school choice program is repealed and the income eligibility limits phased out to allow greater participation in this important program. Independent charter school authority is expanded throughout the state, with any University of Wisconsin System four-year campus authorized to create a charter school. All public schools (including virtual charter schools) are also enhanced by removing the student participation limit and expanding the open enrollment application period."

This same budget allows for the state to , " Replace the mandate that charter school teachers be licensed by the Department of Public Instruction with the requirement that they have at least a bachelor's degree."  Of course non-licensed teachers will obviously do a better job.

Statewide Actions to Defend Education

Interesting and sad how our current political climate eliminates reasoned debate and provides rhetoric instead.  Many of the cost "savings" proposed in the recently passed budget may end up costing us more in the long run.  Combined with the lack of input from anyone who may disagree with the governor it leads to only one option for political change, recalls.

The Republicans realize the only real threat to their domination of Wisconsin politics are the recall elections.  With domination of all three branches of government they can pretty much pass any measures that they wish to without recourse for the minority viewpoints.  The push is on to try and consolidate their power.  I tend to agree that recalling elected officials simply for voting on policy is not a practice we want to become a regular part of our political landscape.  However, in this case the gross misconduct and blatant ignoring of public opinion merits recalls of Republican Senators and Gov. Walker.

Along with voter id these efforts are clearly designed to cement the power grab.

One reason the Republicans want to keep legislative control.

Remember, the governor admitted that the union busting parts of his legislation don't save money.  Quoting from the budget itself, "As a result of the increase in school district employee contributions toward their pension and health insurance benefits, estimated to save nearly $1 billion over the biennium, local schools will have the tools to manage these cuts without having to compromise services or affect staffing."  Notice, no mention of collective bargaining, just concessions from public employees.

Other News Items…

It saddens me that the only consensus between political parties centers on beer.  While it is a vital issue, it doesn't seem to be as important as education and health care. 

Conceal Carry- I spent some time looking up statistics and it is very difficult to find unbiased sites on guns.  I looked on the United States Dept. of Justice site and found a few stats that were shocking. 

For example, in 1993 African-Americans made up 54% of victims of firearm violence and only 12% of the population.  

In 1997 40% of Americans reported having a gun in their home.

Most gun violence involves young adults with 15-24 year olds being the most likely targets.  17 year olds made up 75% of homicides involving guns.

Most striking were the connections between gun violence and poverty.  Maybe, we need to address the conditions people live in and not arm everyone?

High Speed Rail- Was talking to a neighbor who travels regularly to China and loves the convenience, comfort and efficiency of the rail system there.  Someday we will regret not developing our mass transit systems better.  If we could go back in time I'm sure that Gov. Walker would have opposed the creation of the Interstate Highway system too. 

Same Sex Marriage- Republicans and Democrats working together with a governor who worked to unite diverse opinions and achieve a positive result after healthy debate. This is what democracy looks like.  Listening to Gov. Cuomo talk about the virtues of New York makes me miss my old Wisconsin.

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