Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
During Tuesday's election, you will choose the future of path of Wisconsin. You will select the person who will lead our state as Governor for the next four years (well, maybe just two) .The contrast between the two major party gubernatorial candidates has never been more stark and clear-cut.
A lot has happened in Wisconsin's gubernatorial race during the last week. Much of the news has been bad for the incumbent.
During Friday night's gubernatorial debate, Scott Walker mentioned Jim Doyle fully nine times and "the previous administration" many more. Walker blamed Doyle for everything from his own endless delay of the Kenosha casino decision to his own abysmal jobs record. I was just waiting for Doyle to get blamed for kicking Walker out of Marquette, for Walker's illegal campaign coordination with dark money groups, and for Walker cutting public education more than any other US governor.
School board elections matter. There have been several recent examples of what can happen to suburban schools when a group of far-right extremists takes over their board. In Jefferson County, Colorado, a 3-2 board majority tried to re-write the AP US History course to reflect their desired interpretation of reality. The board wanted to avoid lessons that discuss "civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law". They wanted to promote lessons that focus on the benefits of the free enterprise system, American exceptionalism, and respect for authority.
Actual American history is filled with stories of patriots who have questioned authority, stood up to injustice, and righted society's wrongs. After all, Elizabeth II is not our queen and Texas is not still part of Mexico. Women can now vote, and we no longer have separate water fountains or a 60-hour work week. Ironically, the board has somewhat backed-off on their plan to whitewash US history after widespread protests by students, teachers, and parents. Videos of the protesting high school students have given me renewed faith in today's youth.
Springboro, Ohio, is a suburban community much like Germantown. In that village, a far-right school board came to power and attempted to push the teaching of religion, under the guise of Creation "Science", in science classes. The board also sponsored a religion-based Constitution class. This blog has discussed the wake-up call that the fiasco generated in the community. Residents fought back. They organized, petitioned, and fielded candidates. Ultimately, they replaced the radicals and installed a board whose top priority is education rather than indoctrination.
There has also been a far-right take-over of the Germantown School Board. Last December, this group made the rash decision to drop our district out of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The rationale was that we would develop our own, more rigorous standards- a so-called "Germantown Way". Yet, little progress has been made on these new standards in the 10 months since dropping Common Core.
At an August Board meeting, the Ad Hoc Standards Committee chairman said, "Progress is a little slow...we are trying to define what a standard really is...It is going to be a long process". So while all other Wisconsin school districts are implementing their new standards and are going on to other issues, Germantown is busily debating what a standard is. However, the glacial progress of the committee may be a blessing in disguise. I worry about what District-wide turmoil may be on the horizon as the Board finally develops and attempts to implement their standards.
The Standards Committee consists of Superintendent Jeff Holmes, the Director of Teaching and Learning, and three School Board members. Who are the Board members? We pointed-out the far-right leanings of Chairman Brian Medved in an earlier article. Member Bruce Warnimont was highly vocal in the drive to abandon CCSS and gave our district brief national notoriety when he suggested not purchasing Chromebooks because some Google managers support the US President. Member Sarah Larson came to office in 2012 as part of the "Conservative" slate of three candidates that replaced less partisan members of the Board.
After dealing with the relatively non-controversial subjects of Math and English, the group plans to take-on the more politically-charged Social Studies and Science standards. Based on the unbalanced and far-right ideological make-up of the Standards Committee, it is entirely possible they will try to put their partisan slant on our curriculum. Germantown could well become the next Jefferson County or Springboro. Our community must be vigilant for that possibility. I hope I am wrong.
While we are on the subject of Common Core, you are probably wondering about the red octagonal "Stop Common Core" signs that have popped-up in a few Germantown yards. The Germantown School Board has already stopped Common Core in our district, so what gives? The signs are evidently being distributed by an anti-CCSS group, "Protect Your Child's Future" (PYCF).PYCF held an anti-Common Core rally on Sunday, October 5 at the Kennedy Middle School. This rally was advertised on many Tea Party websites. Speakers included Germantown School Board member and PYCF President Brian Medved, professional CCSS critic Sandra Stotsky, a speaker from the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute, and a speaker from the far-right Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.One wonders whether holding the anti-Common Core rally on District property amounts to a tacit endorsement of this organization. Granted, District policy does allow for use of facilities by outside groups, as long as that use "is harmonious with the purposes of this District ". I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether use of our facilities by heavily partisan and controversial groups such as "Protect Your Child's Future" is indeed harmonious with our purposes.
In one month, we will go to the polls to select our governor for the next four years. After much debate and thought, the staff at Just Sayin' has decided to endorse Mary Burke in this race. Why Mary Burke? There are many reasons for our selection, but here are our top five: