Where Is The New American Diaspora?

During the campaign, one of the continuing narratives (and continuing today) was the lack of jobs for blue collar workers.

Some of the election coverage around Wisconsin talked about lack of blue collar workers in the smaller cites, places like Wausau, where the population no longer supports the needs of local manufacturers. But we know of large areas in the state with high unemployment…one of them particularly urban. So why isn’t there a concerted effort to recruit, relocate and retrain the necessary talent to the factories? Well, we can guess why. But since capital investments are hard to relocate it only makes sense to draw labor from other areas to your jobs.

And during interviews in the Kentucky coal mining region, a welder was complaining that he was laid off because his employer, a mining equipment repair firm, didn’t have work since the mines were closed. For the past year we’ve read on any number of occasions in the local press that Wisconsin manufacturers are having issues finding experienced welders. Why aren’t they recruiting the skilled work force they need from the areas in decline?

This wouldn’t be an unprecedented event. Companies hire and relocate individuals all of the time. And the first 60 years of the 20th Century saw mass migrations of labor from the rural south to the industrial cities of the mid-west or east coast. And dust belt migrants from Oklahoma and Texas to California. Aren’t companies willing to do that anymore? The frackers in the Dakotas seem to get it. Or are people unwilling to move for a job in the 21st Century? That doesn’t seem correct either as we watch millenials move to exciting urban or tech areas after finishing their educations.

So how do we get the blue collar workers to the blue collar jobs that do exist?

Campaign Training for Potential Progressive Candidates

In a number of fairly recent posts I have been urging new faces to get involved in party politics. Well the other shoe in that equation is to run for elected office at the local and state level to help make the changes that you want to see. But that is a daunting task for those who aren’t quite sure how it all works. So if you have any interest, here is how you find out how to do it:

Wisconsin Progress is the premier campaign training organization in Wisconsin. Over the past five years, we’ve trained hundreds of candidates, volunteers, and local elected officials on how to run for office and on how to be more effective in their roles. From Superior to Racine, the support and feedback for our trainings has been great!

Now, more than ever, local elections are the best way to affect change in your community, and we want to give you the tools to run an effective campaign that will allow you to be the change you want to see in the world!

Upcoming Training Opportunities:

Saturday, December 10, 2016 – Webinar – 1 PM

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Saturday, January 7, 2017 – Reedsburg, WI

Sunday, January 8, 2017 – Menomonie, WI

Sunday, January 8, 2017 – Marshfield, WI

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – River Falls, WI

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Sunday, January 22, 2017 – Wausau, WI

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If you, or someone you know is running for office this April, this is the training to attend!

This training covers everything from how to organize your campaign to how to raise money to fund it.

RSVP: http://www.wisconsinprogress.org/trainings

And for those of you not inclined to run for office but want to support new candidates consider this request from Wisconsin Progress:

P.S. We in-kind our trainings to candidates, which means candidates pay nothing to attend our trainings. But to keep these trainings free of cost, we need support from people like you. CLICK HERE to donate to our campaign training program!

This Might Not Be Possible In Five Years:

Here’s a feel good human interest story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A curious Wisconsinite follows up on family stories to track down the deep woods northern Wisconsin crash site of a Cold War era B-52 bomber.

Fifty years ago this November, a B-52 Stratofortress bomber crashed into a hill in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, killing all nine people on board.

Residents and hunters gathering for the gun-deer opener the next morning heard and felt the low rumble and crash. A forest fire watcher named Roger Langham, whose farm was just west of the site, climbed a lookout tower to help searchers locate the wreckage.

Langham’s great-nephew, Tom Sybert, wasn’t born until six years later, but he grew up hearing stories about the tragic crash when he visited family living near Hauer in Sawyer County. Sybert is still curious about the plane crash of the gigantic bomber but couldn’t find anyone who remembered exactly where the B-52 skidded into the earth.

After years of searching the internet and scouring Google Earth, Sybert, of Northbrook, Ill., filled out an online request form for a map library in Madison.

It took Jaime Martindale just two hours to do what Sybert couldn’t — find the crash site.

The Arthur H. Robinson Map Library in Science Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has a half million items in its print collection, including maps, globes, charts and atlases. The print collection includes 250,000 aerial photographs dating to the 1930s.

When Sybert emailed a Google map with a rectangle of the general area, Martindale, a map and geospatial data librarian, requested more information. As she waited for a response, she began to do what librarians do best — dig.

“I found some newspaper articles that had been scanned online and local histories of Sawyer County that all described the event and provided details, not only the details of the location but what happened,” Martindale said in a phone interview.

Sybert was ecstatic to learn Martindale had solved the mystery. The remote spot where the plane skidded and crashed is partly owned by a friend of Sybert’s family and partly Lac Courte Oreilles tribal land.

Sybert paid for a plaque honoring the Air Force members who lost their lives: Capt. Curtis E. Robertson, pilot; 1st Lt. Darrick R. Negron, co-pilot; Capt. Edward E. Kamph, radar navigator; 1st Lt. Jerome P. Calligari, navigator; Capt. Michael J. Dunlap, electronic warfare officer; Airman 1st Class Gerald D. Turney, gunner; Lt. Col. Jack Atherton, instructor pilot; Maj. James H. Crook, instructor navigator; and Master Sgt. Lonnie Woodard, electronics and maintenance engineer.

The map library is named after a professor who taught cartography at UW-Madison from 1947 to 1980. Arthur H. Robinson was director of the map division for the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA, during World War II, and the library has a nice collection of World War II intelligence maps.

The service Sybert used is popular among members of the public who may not be able to drive to the Robinson Map Library in Madison, said Martindale, who has been a map librarian at UW for 13 years.

But this might not be possible in five more years…why yes the technology will still be there if not even better than what we have today.

But the online archives for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessor papers the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel just went behind a pay wall…and even the Milwaukee Public Library is being asked to cough up $1+ million dollars to have access…a library who provided 30% of the source material for the Sentinel archives. So how much longer before all of the newspaper archives on the internet disappear in a similar manner…when only the wealthy can access knowledge online. How would Ms. Martindale have faired without access to those local papers. (How can a newspaper retain rights to articles that have already been in the public domain…or that are decades old?)

Then we have the Robinson Map Library…how many more budget cuts will the University of Wisconsin endure before services like these get cut or become inaccessible because of staff reductions? Will Ms. Martindale or someone like her even hold a map librarian position in 5 years? How much many more cuts can UW sustain before auxiliary sources like this begin to disappear?

Where Was Governor Walker On Sunday?

Actually Governor Scott Walker was in Glendale (a Milwaukee suburb just north of the city) on Sunday attending a Support The Blue Day rally. I don’t have an issue with that.

But considering the events in Milwaukee Saturday night and his proximity to Sherman Park what he didn’t do is an issue.

He didn’t meet with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett…although according to the media he did talk to him about activating the National Guard per Sheriff David Clarke’s request…but I have found nothing about an actual meeting.

Likewise the media suggests he talked with the sheriff about the National Guard as well…no meeting.

Nor a meeting with the Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn nor Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton nor any other elected officials or community leaders.

He didn’t visit the Sherman Park neighborhood and observe the devastation nor the people from the neighborhood, city, county and neighboring areas that were cleaning up after the riots and holding person to person dialogues in the streets and parks.

As a man of faith he didn’t stop to join a variety of prayer circles organized by both city and suburban churches.

And he didn’t hear what the people most affected were saying about the events or their hopes or their needs.

He didn’t promise to bring some of his 250,000 jobs to Milwaukee’s northside. He didn’t promise state financial help to a beleaguered city of Milwaukee. He didn’t promise additional state aid for education in Milwaukee. He did not offer to find federal grants or aid to help rebuild Milwaukee’s crumbling inner city.

He didn’t for a single moment display any sense of leadership…

OP ED: Politician-made perfect storm could damage our kids’ schools

This is being reprinted with permission from Save Our Schools Wauwatosa. It originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and OnMilwaukee.com and was written by Mary Young. Most of you know how I feel about public schools and I think this bears reprinting here:

There’s a perfect storm heading toward our kids’ Wisconsin public schools. If nothing is done, the damage will be widespread. For most urban and suburban kids, there may be no shelter to hide. The damage done would be 100% man-made by Madison politicians. Let me share three reasons why I’m so worried, why you should be, too, and what we can do about it.

State revenue is down, way down:Wisconsin’s budget already is under water. Gov. Scott Walker has already delayed $101 million in debt payments. And according to the Wisconsin Budget Project, state revenue — which funds our kids’ public schools, among other priorities — is $90 million below projections as of May 2016. Despite low unemployment, the state isn’t seeing increased tax revenues. Why? WBP speculates that either the jobs numbers being touted are wrong or “the jobs being added are low-wage and not adding much to income taxes.”

If we don’t have revenue, we can’t support our kids’ K-12 schools. Without correction, the storm’s floodwaters will deepen our state’s already-underwater budget.

The floodwater looms despite repeated promises from state Rep. Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield, who infamously predicted in 2014 that the state’s tax cuts would beam sunshine on the economy and drive new revenue to fund schools. Those blue skies never came.

A year later, in a room filled with concerned public school parents, including me, Kooyenga again predicted that tax cuts would create plenty of revenue, bring budgets above water and fully fund our kids’ K-12 schools. Again, those blue skies didn’t come.

We nonpartisan suburban public school parents aren’t ideological advocates for either tax cuts or tax increases. But we do believe in sound budgeting. We do it all the time — and we put our kids’ needs first. If a politician looks parents in the eye and says, “Believe me, there will be blue skies over your child’s school,” and then deeper darkness arrives — twice — that politician should apologize and work to right his wrongs.

Politicians such as Kooyenga inevitably will leave citizens to fight over the life rafts. They’ll say there’s not enough resources to help protect all Wisconsinites from the storm. We can’t have schools, roads and care for seniors, they’ll say. But we have news for the politicians. We parents will not be lured into a false fight with our friends. We will stand together and question politicians who appear unable to manage our state’s finances and keep our state’s priorities afloat.

School boards can’t fully fund schools: Legislation currently prevents locally elected school boards from levying enough property tax revenue to adequately support our kids’ schools. A revenue cap — set by politicians — regulates how much revenue Wisconsin’s school boards can raise.

When the storm hits, budget floodwaters deepen, and our kids’ schools are cut or closed. Surprised parents may turn to their school boards for support. However, these local officials are currently forbidden by the state to offer shelter from the storm.

One simple solution would be to raise the revenue cap, enabling locally elected school boards to raise enough revenue to protect their schools. For so many reasons, it can and it must be done.

Expanded private school vouchers: Every dollar we spend on private school vouchers is a dollar that no longer supports our kids’ public schools. And over the next decade, the state will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on this program that — despite 25 years of trying — hasn’t improved education in Wisconsin one iota by any meaningful measure. One simple solution is for Madison politicians to stop the expansion of private school vouchers until Wisconsin’s budget isn’t under water.

Man-made storm clouds are heading towards our kids’ schools — but the good news is that there are solutions. We need leadership from politicians such as Kooyenga if we’re going to keep our kids’ public schools safe from the storm.

Mary Young of Wauwatosa is president of Support Our Schools Wauwatosa.

When the GOP Thinks Tenure is Good and When Tenure is Bad

Along with the reduction in state funding for the University of Wisconsin System, the Walker administration and GOP legislature gutted faculty tenure. They had all kinda reasons why it was bad and holding back the university. Well the new tenure rules are causing an exodus of experienced faculty to head for greener pastures…and the conservative supporters all applauded the changes!

But wait just a second…one of their sacred cows got gored by Marquette University…and the right is all over supporting him and helping him sue the school…and one of the things they are all up in arms about his the revocation of his tenure.

I am not going to pursue this any further…it just some times amazes me the way the pendulum swings insider their heads.

Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program Doesn’t Go Far Enough

After reading the article in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the shortage of teachers…and the inequality of per pupil spending across the metropolitan area…I realized that the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program just underway out of the county executives office doesn’t go far enough.

Instead of taking over a few failing Milwaukee Public Schools and handing them over to charter and voucher school operators…all of the municipal and district public school systems in Milwaukee County should be abolished and combined as one countywide system with every student a free agent who can apply to any school in the county…first come first served.

UWM’s Participation In the 2016 Presidential Campaign

With Wisconsin still in play before the April 5th primary election, both parties were very active around the state. And the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee played a pivotal role in the campaigns.

The Democratic Debate visited campus on February 11th and utilized the Zelazo Center which is an arts performance center on Kenwood Blvd directly across the street from the Fine Arts Building and the student union. Media overflow was housed in the ballroom of the student union. The debate was sponsored by PBS NewsHour and Facebook and the two sponsors reimbursed the university for the use of their facilities and catering for the media and presenters. Other than obstructing traffic and parking around the campus I don’t remember any complaints about the event.

On April 3rd, GOP candidate Donald Trump spoke on the main stage of the Fine Arts building. This was rather surprising in a number of ways…the first it doesn’t seem like a solid venue for his message and second it doesn’t seem like it would be big enough for the types of crowds that he pulls in. But that’s neither here nor there…it was his decision.

But there was some controversy around the Trump event. Faculty and students didn’t want him to appear on campus in the first place…but rightly the university allowed him to appear. And rightly his appearance drew a reported 70 to 100 protesters (although that seems low to me). And Fox News is paying for the extra security that was required.

But UWM did do something wrong with the Trump event…and as I said they rightly allowed him to appear there…but remember what I stated above about the Democratic event? That overflow media was housed in the UWM Union. Here’s what was wrong:

Trump’s April 3 town hall at the UWM Arts Center, which had a ticketed audience but did not include media beyond Fox News Network…

UWM should never have allowed an event to be held on their campus that excluded the general media. Never…this isn’t a private facility per se…it is a very public university…one that prides itself in being an urban school involved with its home community. Any event there should be open to whatever media group is interested in covering it…I can’t imagine that a few of the local TV stations outside of Fox6 wouldn’t have liked to have been there…I can’t imagine that the insecure and lost its way Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wouldn’t have liked to be there.

Universities have a responsibility to present all viewpoints to their student body and let them choose who/what they want to support…but they should never let one media outlet control coverage of events on their campus. They need to support free speech AND freedom of the press in the same breath.

Remember That Time Abele Said He Wasn’t Going To Take Over MPS Schools?

Many of our local readers are probably aware of the history behind the state-mandated Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program – or OSPP. Essentially the state has required the county executive to take over 3 underperforming Milwaukee Public Schools per year and hand them over to private operators. The county executive also needs to provide a commissioner and board to oversee these schools and select the operators. And of course the state has provided no funding for these schools nor for the commissioner position. The money is to come from the normal state support for charter and voucher schools.

So last fall, County Executive Chris Abele enlisted Dr. Desmond Means as his commissioner. Dr. Means is currently the Superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District, one of the highest performing school districts in the state.

At the time Dr Means and Exec. Abele proposed a high performance kindergarten program and providing additional support and advice for underperforming MPS schools. This was wrapped around a promise to not actually take control of any schools. Such a takeover is opposed by the MPS Board and the MTEA of course.

But State Senator Alberta Darling, one of the key authors of the bill authorizing the takeover, predicted that Exec. Abele’s view on taking over schools would change after he was re-elected county executive.

Guess what?

Editor’s Note: the official term for Dr. Means position in the state law is commissioner. So I changed my usage of superintendent to commissioner.

Where Education Is Taking A Wrong Turn

There is a truism in management philosophy that “What you measure is what you get”. It sounds like we are seeing a subset of this in education.

There apparently is a movement afoot to drop algebra from high school education…because…well…it’s just too darn hard…and students drop out and don’t graduate because they fail algebra. So the goal is to graduate everyone…a goal I don’t find objectionable…but since algebra is so darn hard…let’s drop it from the curriculum to improve graduation rates. One more opportunity to dumb down education to reach the wrong goal…a superior education resulting in a valid diploma that will actually be worth it’s weight in gold should be the goal…not just the piece of parchment itself.

But here is some of the rationale:

Who needs algebra?

That question muttered by many a frustrated student over the years has become a vigorous debate among American educators, sparked by a provocative new book that argues required algebra has become an unnecessary stumbling block that forces millions to drop out of high school or college.

“One out of 5 young Americans does not graduate from high school. This is one of the worst records in the developed world. Why? The chief academic reason is they failed ninth-grade algebra,” said political scientist Andrew Hacker, author of “The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions.”

Hacker, a professor emeritus at Queens College, argues that, at most, only 5% of jobs make use of algebra and other advanced math courses. He favors a curriculum that focuses more on statistics and basic numbers sense and less on (y – 3)2 (equals) 4y – 12.

Obviously I disagree or I wouldn’t be writing this post…but yes I bet that a lot of jobs don’t use algebra everyday. But most jobs and life in general could certainly use the thinking skills acquired from working with algebra…being able to see and define relationships…following logic from top to bottom. Very useful skills.

But then there’s this add:

“Will algebra help you understand the federal budget?” he asked.

If I were Groucho Marx or Danny Thomas, that one would deserve a spit take! No algebra won’t help you understand the federal budget but basic math and quantum physics won’t either.

“Every study I’ve ever seen of workers in whole bunches of fields shows that you have to understand formulas, you have to understand relationships,” said Philip Uri Treisman, a professor of mathematics and of public affairs at the University of Texas. “Algebra is the tool for consolidating your knowledge of arithmetic.”

Bill McCallum, a professor at the University of Arizona who played a lead role in developing the Common Core standards for math, said he would oppose any division of K-12 students into an algebra track and a non-algebra track.

“You might say only a certain percentage of kids will go on to use algebra, but we don’t know which kids those are,” he said.

This last quote goes back to my philosophy on education just a bit. Yes, critics are correct, not every kid will go on to college…but when they graduate from high school they should have the knowledge and skill sets to pursue college if they want…or an apprenticeship…or a career…regardless. We can never know who will end up using actual algebra.

In New York City, home to the nation’s largest public school system with 1.1 million pupils, just 52% of the students who took last year’s statewide Regents test in Algebra I passed, mirroring statistics elsewhere in the country.

Rather than scaling back on algebra, New York City educators have announced an “Algebra for All” initiative that aims to keep students on track by providing specialized math teachers in fifth grade, before algebra is introduced.

“We believe in high standards,” said Carol Mosesson-Teig, director of mathematics for the city Department of Education.

Now of course I am a little biased. I am a computer programmer…and on a practical side…I use the logic and thought processes I learned in math classes every day on the job…I even use algebra to develop some of the code that I have written over the years. It’s a rewarding and lucrative field.

But the United States is having its lunch eaten by China and India in this field. They have the math skills…they can do algebra…and they are going to be writing much of our code in the very near future. Our students just can’t hack it (pun intended). So dumbing down STEM education another notch is just plain stupid…or we aren’t going to hold onto the real jobs coming in the remainder of the 21st Century.