“Organizations like WPRI — and the others mentioned in our report — push an anti-government, anti-corporate responsibility, pro-privatization agenda generally and education privatization specifically.”
Really? I cannot speak for the other organizations, but I can tell you a little about my experience at WPRI. I wonder what led to the conclusion that we “push an anti-government” agenda?
The reality is WPRI is a place that welcomes and encourages a diversity of thought, opinion, and high-quality research. I feel fortunate that there are funders out there that see value in WPRI and other organizations that research and write on issues important to our diverse state. This type of work is, in my opinion, essential to a high-functioning democracy.
A key question in Governor Walker’s proposed voucher expansion is how many students will be affected in the communities of Beloit, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Sheboygan, Superior, Waukesha, and West Allis. There are several factors to consider when estimating potential usage of the program. The first is income eligibility.
The expanded choice program would be limited to students in households with incomes at or below 300% of the federal poverty level. Using census data, it is possible to estimate the program eligibility threshold for the average household size in the relevant communities:
Fond du Lac: $49,981.9
Green Bay: $51,322.7
West Allis: $48,641.1
As you can see, every community sits right around $50,000. The census also provides income distribution data showing the percentage of households earning below $50,000 annually in all of these communities except Superior. Using this data it is possible to get a good estimate of the percentage of households in each community that will meet income eligibility requirements for the new choice program.
Fond du Lac: 42.3%
Green Bay: 57.6%
West Allis: 55.5%
Pretty sizable coverage; in most communities over half of households will meet income requirements for a voucher. However, the program also requires that students be enrolled in the public school district in the prior year, new to school, or entering Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 9th grade in order to get a voucher.
This means the vast majority of students using vouchers will be switchers from public schools. Hence a rough way to estimate total program eligibility is to multiply the percentage of eligible households in each community by district enrollment (with the exceptions of Beloit, where free-reduced price lunch eligibility is used because the school districts population is poorer than the community as a whole, and Superior, where only free-reduced price lunch eligibility information is available). Below is the estimated number of eligible students in each potential voucher district:
Fond du Lac: 3,218
Green Bay: 11,886
West Allis: 5,151
Note there are two big assumptions here, first that the socio-economic make-up of the community mirrors the socio-economic make-up of the school system, and second that the numbers of Kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 9th graders receiving a voucher that would have gone to private school even without the voucher are minimal.
So in total a good estimate is that 66,198 pupils will be newly eligible for vouchers if the budget passes as is. Given the program is capped at 500 students in year one and 1,000 students in year two, I think it’s a pretty safe bet the cap is hit. Of course the big X factor is school supply, if the Milwaukee experience is any indication schools will ease their way into any new program.
Now what if the whispers are true and voucher eligibility is dialed down only to students attending schools failing to meet expectations under the state report card? If that happens the voucher expansion will impact fewer students, but could still have substantial reach. The numbers below are the number of low-income pupils attending the 64 schools potentially eligible for vouchers in the following districts:
Fond du Lac: 796
Green Bay: 7,214
West Allis: 908
So, even if the voucher expansion is limited to students within certain schools there will be, on a low-end estimate, 24,307 children newly eligible for vouchers.
As the news of the Connecticut school shooting trickled in Friday, I, like everyone else, struggled to comprehend the news. The mood on the CNN set that night brought to mind the coverage of September 11th; seasoned professionals that have seen in all struggling to maintain their composure while reporting an unimaginably horrible event.
Naturally, the shooting has brought gun control to the forefront of public debate. I myself, having always lived in or near urban areas, have never fired a gun. My only meaningful experience with a firearm was staring down the barrel of a handgun during an armed robbery in Milwaukee…obviously not a positive experience.
Still, I can accept that, and even understand why firearms have a place in American life. Hunters, for example, demonstrate every Wisconsin deer season what it means to own and use guns responsibly. I even agree with the argument that the problem is not guns; the problem is violent people that use guns irresponsibly. However, a violent person with a gun can do a heck of a lot more damage than a violent person with a knife or a baseball bat. And that is why I cannot understand where assault rifles, such as the one used in the Connecticut shooting, fit into American life.
Why does anyone need an assault rifle? For that matter, why does anyone need multiple handguns? I am not posing these as rhetorical questions, I am really wondering if anyone has a good answer to these questions. Perhaps I am biased because of my lone extremely negative experience with a gun, but it sure seems past time for increased gun control in the United States. It is possible to respect the spirit of the second amendment while placing reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.
Guns did not cause the Connecticut shooting. The 99.9% of responsible, legal gun owners in the United States certainly share no blame. But I cannot get around the fact that the availability of an assault rifle and multiple handguns made a terrible tragedy worse.
Admittedly I did not expect much. Upon review some parts pleasantly surprised me, but I am not holding my breath that it is the answer to MMSD’s achievement gaps. It is a classic example of what I call a butterflies and rainbows education plan. It includes a variety of non-controversial, ambitious, and often positive goals and strategies, but no compelling reason to expect it to close the achievement gap. Good things people will like, unlikely to address MMSD’s serious problems: butterflies and rainbows.
What follows is a review of the specific recommendations in the MSSD plan. And yes, there are good things in here that the district should pursue. However, any serious education plan must include timelines not just for implementation, but also for results. This plan does not do that. Nor does it say what happens if outcomes for struggling subgroups of students do not improve.
Recommendation #1: Ensure that All K-12 Students are Reading at Grade Level
The good: The plan recommends the use of differentiated instruction to reach students at different reading levels, as well as a research-supported reading recovery program. It also recommends the use of assessments three times a year to trigger reading interventions for struggling students.
The bad: The plan calls for a move toward a common curriculum for all K-3 students. This is too restrictive, even the highest quality curriculum can be expected to leave some students behind.
The unknown: The quality of the interventions given to struggling students will determine the success of this recommendation.
Recommendation #2: District-Wide Focus on Third-Grade Students
The good: Recommends putting a reading interventionist at every school to help struggling students, and offering tutoring through outside entities.
The bad: The details are mostly nonsense. The paragraph below, for example, is little more than an enthusiastic “trust us”:
“We have the staff and volunteers to create a laser-like focus as a powerful new chance to help children, parents, communities, and schools unite in closing the achievement gaps while also raising the bar for our third-grade students.”
The unknown: Like the first recommendation, the key questions are the quality of the tutoring and the quality of the reading interventions.
Recommendation #3: Extend the School Day
The good: It sounds good; it is logical that giving students more classroom time can provide an academic benefit.
The bad: The district has no actual plan to extend the school day. The specific recommendation states:
“A committee of district staff, community members, and parents will be formed to examine extended school day. Further study of the concept of extended school day will be explored and recommendations from the committee will be brought to the Superintendent.”
In other words, it is an idea that sounds good but is impossible to implement, hence it is being relegated to committee purgatory.
The unknown: What will the committee conclude? As with most government committees, I doubt it will matter.
The good: Expands the availability of summer school as well as virtual summer school options to Madison students.
The bad: These programs already exist. Why would the expansion of existing programs in a district struggling with achievement gaps be expected to close those gaps?
The unknown: Will the students that need the most help take advantage of summer programming now that it is being expanded?
Recommendation # 5: Develop an Early Warning System
The good: According to the document:
“[T]he Early Warning System will identify students based on five key criteria: attendance, grade point average, D’s and F’s, suspensions and credit deficiency. Each criterion and a composite score will have an associated tier based on severity.”
Teachers and principals need good information to make instruction decisions. Knowing which students are struggling and in what subject area is a crucial prerequisite to a successful intervention. The plan also promises enhanced data tools, which too can improve instruction strategies.
The bad: It is vague. What will be done with the information? The plan states:
“This regularly run report will be available to principals and administrators, who will use this information with staff and parents/guardians to plan appropriate instructional responses and interventions.”
The unknown: Will the early warning system tell teachers anything they do not already know? Will the planned interventions be appropriate?
The good: Finding new ways to effectively reach struggling students is a necessity in a district failing subgroups of its students.
The bad: This recommendation is mostly nonsense, and it too calls for the creation of a committee. The recommendation states:
“Schools will be encouraged to explore and submit innovative program and design proposals for consideration. These proposals will be reviewed by a school district/community member committee.”
The unknown: Will schools submit innovative programs for consideration? If they do, what will this new committee do?
Recommendation #7: Develop a System of Shared Accountability
The good: Hey, accountability is good, and so is sharing! Ok, the plan does call for increased support for principals from central office administrators. Central office administrators might be a valuable asset for principals.
The bad: Central office administrators might not be a valuable asset for principals. After all, they have been running a district with the academic struggles that necessitated the plan to begin with.
The unknown: Where is the shared accountability? What happens if outcomes do not improve at individual schools?
Recommendation #8: Prepare All for Life After High School
The good: The concept is sound. The point of high school is to prepare students for what comes after high school.
The bad: The cart is a little before the horse on this recommendation given MMSD’s dismal minority graduation rates. In addition, the specific recommendation is simply that high schools hire a .5 fte position to “focus on the expansion of career exploration opportunities.”
The unknown: Will hiring a half-time employee with a vague charge do anything to close the achievement gap?
Recommendation #9: Implement ACT College Entrance Test and ACT Test Preparation
The good: Recommends expanding ACT testing preparations and implementing universal ACT participation. This is hugely positive, it will give a more accurate portrait of district performance and ensure students satisfy a necessary prerequisite to college.
The bad: Nothing.
The unknown: Will the ACT preparation offered be an asset to students? Will universal ACT testing be implemented as planned?
Recommendation #10: Expand Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)
The good: The AVID program is both a course and a set of teaching strategies designed to improve academic performance for groups of struggling students. MMSD has had some success with the program on a limited basis and provides evidence that the program is successful elsewhere.
The bad: It’s not free, but MMSD says they can fund the expansion in part by keeping students that otherwise would have left the district.
The unknown: How large and how successful can the AVID program be?
There are seven other recommendations that I will group together:
Implement Comprehensive Diversity Training for All Staff Including Promising Practices Cohort
Create Cultural Practices that are Relevant (CPR) Model School
Integrate Cultural Relevance into District-Wide Professional Development
Support the Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Development of All Students
Increase Options for Restorative Practices
Implement a Comprehensive Family Engagement Program and Provide Parent Liaisons
Recruiting, Selecting, and Retraining a Diverse Workforce
All are important in building a MMSD that is representative of and respectful and responsive to the populations that it serves. Though there are specifics that I quibble with, the seven recommendations generally call for a shift in the mind-set of MMSD. Such a shift is clearly necessary given MMSD’s persistent struggles with a growing segment of the district’s student population.
There are some good things in this plan, universal ACT testing, increased use of programs with good track records, and increased responsiveness to all families will improve MMSD. However, the plan has a whole lot of filler and reads more like a response to criticism than a plan that will close the achievement gap.
As I wrote at the start, any mention of what happens if achievement gaps persist despite the existence of the plan is notably absent. Also, too many of the specific progress indicators are the creation of plans or committees to address problems. Where progress indicators do rely on academic outputs time limits and corrective measures for failure to meet indicators are non-existent.
State aid, curriculum, technology, school boards. All are important factors in K-12 education; none educate a single child.
That task is of course in the hands of teachers. It follows that teachers are the most important employees in schools, and arguably the most important employees in the public sector. After all, hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites send their kids to spend the bulk of their childhoods learning from these employees. It only makes sense for the public to treat teachers with respect. But, as Alan Borsuk argues convincingly in the Journal Sentinel Sunday, this is not always the case.
I have written numerous times about the increasing financial burdens placed on teachers in the Milwaukee Public Schools and across the state. In general, districts offset some or all of last year’s 5.5% per-pupil reduction in revenue limits by increasing employee contributions to health and pension benefits. This means that teachers across the state received a cut to their take-home pay totally unrelated to their performance. It is easy to see why teachers felt they were being disrespected.
In one district, New Berlin, there appears to be some blowback. According to the Journal Sentinel, “50 of New Berlin’s 314 teachers have resigned or retired so far this year.” Even more interesting are the reasons why; notably absent from the list is the reduction in take-home pay:
“Based on interviews with more than a dozen employees, the resentment appears to stem from feelings that their input doesn’t matter, that the administration doesn’t communicate well with them, that they aren’t supported or appreciated by people in the district, and that changes meant to be good for kids are poorly executed and fail to improve teaching.”
What happens when you take a high-performing school district and replace a third of its teachers?
Take a look at the stats (from the Department of Public Instruction) on New Berlin public schools:
The district’s four-year graduation rate is 95.5% (compared to 87.0% statewide).
About 90% of New Berlin students score advanced or proficient on state tests in reading and math, well above state averages.
The district’s average composite ACT score is 24.3 (compared to 22.0 statewide), and their ACT participation rate is 86% (compared to 60.4% statewide).
Cleary New Berlin teachers are doing something right. More impressively, performance indicators have remained high despite an upward trend in the percentage of economically disadvantaged students served by the district. In 2001 only 4.2% of New Berlin students qualified for free and reduced lunch, today 12.1% do.
It is difficult to see how the district will be able to continue its impressive track record when a considerable number of the employees actually educating students are gone. Schools are also likely to see substantial changes in their cultures because of the significant teacher turnover; that too is worrisome.
The next couple of years will reveal if the blowback in New Berlin negatively impacts student performance. I am hoping it does not, but logic suggests it will. As of now it is a cautionary tale on the need for mutual respect and collaboration between district administration and teachers. While elected board officials have every right to govern as they see fit, teachers, as New Berlin demonstrates, have every right to leave a district in favor of one that makes them feel respected and appreciated.
Personally, I prefer to have my children in front of a teacher that feels appreciated. I do not think it is a stretch to assume most Wisconsin parents feel the same way.
The front page of this morning’s Journal Sentinelfeatures an article detailing UWM professor Marc Levine’s latest report on black male unemployment in Milwaukee. The numbers in the report are depressing. Levine uses U.S. Census data to show that just 44.7% of working age black males in Milwaukee are employed, only Chicago and Cleveland have lower rates.
Levine’s number differs from the traditional unemployment rate because he includes people that are not in the labor force among the ranks of the unemployed. These numbers are particularly disturbing, 26.5% of black males between the ages of 24 and 54 are not even in the labor force. Levine cites high disability and incarceration rates as factors contributing to this dismal statistic.
My initial reaction to the report is to blame Milwaukee’s education system. No doubt the city’s poor performance on the Urban NAEP is related to this low employment figure. Levine confirms the link between education and rates of employment, but offers a caution:
“The black male employment rate has fallen continuously since the 1970s, even as the percentage of high school graduates among black males in the region has more than doubled, and the percentage of black males with college degrees has tripled.”
My hunch in explaining this paradox is that the growth in educational attainment among black males has not kept pace with the scope of the decline in the manufacturing sector. That sector has, as Levine shows, bottomed out since 1970.
Levine proposes several familiar policy strategies to address the litany of social issues that are both rooted and manifest in black male employment. Ideas include “public job creation,” “drug policy reform,” and job training and placement. None of these are bad ideas, just stale ones.
Buried deeper in this morning’s paper is an article chronicling a sparsely attended national meeting of black conservatives that included Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Clarke expressed the need to find black conservatives to go into “the gallows of our urban centers” to address issues like unemployment. Clarke’s comment begs the question, why is there no comprehensive conservative urban policy?
Milwaukee, like most cities, is dominated by a single political party despite the entrenchment of social problems like unemployment under their watch. Conservatives have advocated policies like school choice that benefit urban areas, but overall have not articulated a clear urban vision. To not do so is a missed political opportunity for conservatives, but more importantly a missed opportunity for city residents that might benefit from conservative policies.
Political reality likely means Conservatives will give preference to policies geared toward their political base, which lies outside cities. Nonetheless, a goal of mine on this blog going forward will be to articulate an alternative Conservative approach to urban policy problems like those highlighted in Levine’s report.
“The so-called loophole was inserted into the state budget at the final stage of approval in June by members of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. The last-minute language allowed voucher schools to expand from their sole location in Milwaukee to Racine.”
It is worth pointing out that the while the language enabling the expansion of school choice to Racine did occur near the end of the budget process, expanding the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) to Racine was hardly a new concept. A proposal to bring vouchers to Racine was included and passed in the original Assembly version of the 2007-2009 budget (it was eventually removed during the budget process).
Anyways, what the article refers to as a “loophole” is really the statutory language used to identify Racine for program eligibility. Cities cannot simply be named in a budget when legislators wish a state program to apply only to that city. Instead, legislators use criteria to identify places without explicitly naming them. To identify Racine for vouchers, several criteria were used, including being a city of the second-class and qualifying for poverty aid.
Milwaukee is similarly identified in the statutes to be eligible for the MPCP. Technically, the program is available to all cities of the first-class, however Milwaukee happens to be the only one in the state. Madison, by virtue of having over 150,000 residents, could go through a legal process to join Milwaukee as a city of the first-class. Doing so would make Madison eligible for vouchers and other programs currently limited to Milwaukee. The city of course has chosen not to seek the first-class distinction, likely because it would make a host of statutes currently impacting only Milwaukee applicable to Madison.
Just as Madison could theoretically meet the criteria to become eligible for the MPCP, a number of cities could meet the criteria to become eligible for the Racine voucher program. It is really not a “loophole,” nothing suggests legislators had the intent of setting certain identification criteria as a backdoor to more vouchers. In fact, Senator Mike Ellis and Representative Robin Vos introduced legislation after the budget passed (see testimony here) to ensure the program does not expand beyond Racine. Governor Scott Walker committed to signing this legislation.
Though I quibble about calling the situation a loophole, it is hard to fault DPI for wanting legislators to finish the job. So why haven’t they? It appears that this bill, a boring measure to confirm legislative intent with no visible opposition, is another casualty of Wisconsin’s ongoing political paralysis.
Unsurprisingly, the new WPRI report on reforming teacher compensation (authored by yours truly) has some critics. The response from the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) in today’s Journal Sentinel was disappointing, but totally expected. WEAC calls my proposal a distraction. President Mary Bell states it is unfair to administrators who, among other things, do not have time to “develop a system for distributing funds.”
Opposition from WEAC to $50 million in new funding for teachers on the grounds that administrators will not have the time to find a way to spend it was a surprise. The real threat of the proposal, I imagine, is that it ties additional funding to school performance, and allows principals in successful schools to manage as they see fit.
More disappointing was the reaction from UW-Madison professor Allan Odden in Sunday’s Capital Times. Odden has done extensive high-quality work on teacher compensation and motivation. He tells the Capital Times, “it’s much better to have a salary schedule based on effective categories than to give money to the principal and the principal decides who gets rewarded.” I disagree with the notion that a set of categories defining a quality teacher exists; the range of needs for Wisconsin students is too large for a single framework.
It is also essential that the development of compensation policies, like all education policies, begin with the goal of raising measurable student achievement. The reasons teachers are successful matter less than that they are successful. In the report I point to a quote by Economist Eric Hanushek, with which I could not agree more:
“For a long time, we’ve tried to find out what it is about schools that leads to higher achievement of kids and whether schools can be a good instrument in closing achievement gaps. That research has gone on now for over 40 years and my summary of it is pretty simple: Good teachers are the one resource that is important. Yet we don’t have any descriptors of what a good teacher is. While some teachers are much more effective than others, we can’t necessarily identify what it is about them — is it their experience, their training, their personality?
Also quoted in the Capital Times article is UW-Madison professor Adam Gamoran. He points to a RAND Corporation evaluation of a merit-pay experiment in New York as evidence my proposed approach will not work. The experiment provided bonuses of up to $3,000 per-teacher in New York City schools that met performance targets. After three years, RAND found participating schools did not outperform non-participating schools.
The program was similar to what I propose in that it gave schools some leeway in how to distribute bonuses, and that it rewarded school success. However, several key differences make its conclusions immaterial to the potential of my framework. First, money was distributed as cash bonuses to teachers. As Gamoran points out to the Capital Times and as I a point out in the report, teachers are often motivated by things other than money. That is why I proposed giving principals the ability to spend the money on teachers as they see fit; including for things like development, release time, or anything else that improves the school’s work environment.
Also problematic in the New York experiment was the use of a formal school committee to decide how performance-based funds would be distributed to teachers. Not surprising, most schools just gave every teacher in their building a slight bonus. My framework allows a principal to make management decisions both on the front end when hiring staff (through the elimination of tenure), and on a day-to-day basis. The goal is to incentive a positive collaborative relationship between management and staff, not just give teachers in good schools a little more salary. There are numerous other differences including the scale of the additional resources offered (an extra $1,000 per-pupil versus an extra $3,000 per-teacher) and the way school success is measured.
Most important, my report does not propose nor advocate merit pay. The advocated framework seeks to normalize the teaching profession by giving managers the flexibility and resources to lead, and teachers their rightful position and influence as the most important factor in raising student achievement.
John Gurda wrote this weekend on the Socialist roots of the Milwaukee Public School’s (MPS) Department of Recreation and Community Services. The department offers sports programs, community education, and various other activities for the Milwaukee community. Gurda argues, and I agree, that Milwaukee Recreation is an asset to the city and its residents. The question I have is should it be part of MPS?
I do not question the ability of MPS to run the department, just the rationale for having a program not directly related to the education of MPS students housed in the school district. Maybe the task of providing recreational opportunities for residents of Milwaukee would be better placed at the City or County.
Perhaps more important, Milwaukee Recreation is funded through MPS; 4.4% of the 2010 MPS tax levy ($13.3 million) was for this department. This raises a broader question, should the MPS tax levy be used to raise funds for anything beyond educating MPS pupils?
In 2010, only about 80% ($244,262,102) of the MPS levy went towards regular district operations.
13.2% ($40,476,118) paid a portion of the costs of pupils in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program
2.6% ($7,914,072) paid a portion of the cost of pupils in independent charter schools
4.4% ($13,334,418) paid for the Department of Recreation and Community Services through the community service levy
All of these programs serve Milwaukee citizens and it is logical that Milwaukee taxpayers contribute to their funding. However, using the school district as the taxing authority to pay for non-MPS programs complicates education reform efforts.
Debates on the merits of school choice, for example, inevitably bog down on the issue of what has been deemed the funding flaw. The funding flaw refers to the fact that MPS levies for a portion of the cost of pupils it does not get to count for purposes of property valuation. While an issue for Milwaukee taxpayers, it has absolutely nothing to do with improving student achievement.
A key component to improving education in Milwaukee and elsewhere is removing the distractions that too often prevent efforts for real reform from beginning. Those seeking to raise student achievement levels in Wisconsin would be wise to consider what a school district should and should not be, and not let issues unrelated to student performance derail positive change.
Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel features a story about how “civility” has been lost in Wisconsin due to the conflict over collective bargaining rights. The article goes out of its way to show that both sides are guilty of incivility, with UW-Madison political science professor Dennis Dresang declaring that “nobody’s got a monopoly on rhetoric and threats and incendiary language.”
Of course, this attempt to find equivalency between the actions of the Right and the Left in Wisconsin is pure nonsense. The attempt to show “both sides do it” falls apart if the reader has any recollection at all of the events of the past eight months. Let’s take a quick look at the Democrats’ “profiles in civility:”
Democratic state Rep. Gordon Hintz yelling at fellow Rep. Michelle Litjens “you’re f***ing dead.”
Sen. Spencer Coggs said Walker’s bill was “legalized slavery” and Rep. Joe Parisi said Walker was “calling the National Guard out on the people of Wisconsin.”
Fourteen state senators fled the state to block passage of Walker’s collective bargaining bill (including Tim Cullen, who decries the loss of civility in the MJS article.)
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched on the Capitol, many with profane signs comparing Walker to Hitler, bin Laden, etc. (Remember this lady? (Language Warning.) See anything like this at Tea Party rallies?)
Aggressive, militant activists have been following lawmakers everywhere they go, filming them, verbally harassing them, and pouring beer on one.
The “solidarity singers” have been yelling every day in the capitol rotunda, forcing things such as blood drives to move to places other than the Capitol.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court likely leaked a story to the press accusing one of her colleagues of choking another justice – a story that was completely debunked, and the accused justice was eventually exonerated.
Committee hearings have been disrupted, with people being dragged out by their feet – one woman chained her head to the railing of the state senate parlor with a bike lock.
Illegal activity has been rampant, whether it is liberal activists providing ribs for votes doctors providing fake sick notes notes, or otherwise.
Protesters disrupting every Walker public speaking event, including a Special Olympics ceremony.
In the most toxic campaign ad of 2011,the Left tried to make it seem like Supreme Court Justice David Prosser was the best friend of pedophiles, digging up a case Prosser prosecuted as a district attorney 30 years ago. (There were no similar ads run by any Republicans either in the Supreme Court race or the state senate recalls.)
Teachers pulling their kids out of school, shutting down Madison schools for 4 days, and bringing the kids to capitol rallies.
The desecration of the state capitol, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.
Marching not only at Scott Walker’s home, but at the homes of individual legislators that don’t have any police protection.
And probably most uncivilly, Democrats refused to participate in this year’s staff versus legislator softball game.
I am really making an honest attempt to find anything from the Right that matches anything on this list. At one point, a friend of former State Senator Dave Zien allegedly tried to punch a solidarity singer. The reports of collecting signatures and shredding recall petitions is merely a rumor; there’s no evidence anyone on the Right caused the “cyberattack” that liberals are complaining about.
And honestly – let’s say some right-wing hacker caused this “cyberattack.” What’s worse – that, or the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court likely planting a fake story in the paper in an attempt to smear a fellow justice?
So the real story here isn’t that civility on both sides has been lost; it is that Walker supporters have maintained their composure amid an avalanche of poisonous actions by union loyalists.