Friday, January 07, 2005


As GoBigEd reported this week, a parents’ group in Ohio got “unrecognized” recently for staying neutral in a school tax increase vote instead of shilling for it. That’s a telling example about how everyday parents and taxpayers who are just trying to do what they think is best for kids and schools often get a kick in the pants for their trouble when their views conflict with the education establishment’s, as they often do.

It reminds me of three local parallels:

1. Linda Weinmaster, the mother of three boys, lived in the Millard (Neb.) Public Schools and as a parent volunteer helped start the much-appreciated Millard Core Academy in that district, offering a traditional 3R education, quality curriculum, phonics, and so forth. She moved to Lawrence, Kan., but before she did, she tried very hard to convince the Nebraska State Board of Education to adopt learning standards for English class that were absolutely excellent, instead of the mishmash they wound up approving, that were panned this week by the Fordham Foundation. Mrs. Weinmaster recalled that she had held a series of meetings with Nebraska bigwigs including Kiewit chairman Walter Scott, now-Congressman Tom Osborne, and other very influential people. They all gave her letters of support for the high-quality standards she advocated for before the Board. She did it out of good citizenship, putting a lot of time and effort into it, and believe me, she built a tremendously convincing case that her standards would be better for kids. However, the powers-that-be wanted the State’s proposed standards, which fit with their push to put Outcome-Based Education in place statewide. In a last-minute, back-room deal, the vote went the other way – and the board member responsible wound up with a new, high-paid job. All Mrs. Weinmaster’s friends could do was advise her to bite a towel; that’s the way the cookie crumbles, when you try to do something good for kids and buck the educrats.

2. Paul Dorr, my friend and school-finance consultant from northern Iowa, who has defeated dozens of unnecessary tax-lid overrides and bond issues, is just a drop in the bucket in the multi-billion dollar school finance big picture. But he was the target of a workshop teaching school officials how to defeat political opposition to their tax increases at November’s Iowa State School Boards Association convention. Iowa taxpayers paid the way of the 1,400 people in attendance at that meeting, of course. Now, he’s heard that they’re taking the workshop to a similar, national event. The trouble is, you can’t use taxpayer dollars for a political purpose like that, especially if the purpose is to defeat the very taxpayers and voters who pay your salary, and send you to fun conventions and workshops and stuff! So Mr. Dorr has filed a complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, and I’m going to send him a towel to bite, too.

3. Our third sob story, though it’s more humorous than the others, involves a family named Williams. We used to live in Omaha’s District 66, and our children attended the Westside Community Schools. One of the reasons we left is how we were treated after I spoke out against a tax-lid override and a big bond issue to remodel the high school. I shared some financial data about both issues that the district was not making public. My side lost both of those battles by a narrow margin, but at least I tried. Well, then I got a nassssssty letter in the mail from the head of the gifted program in the district. It seems, he said, that our children had suddenly become “ungifted,” and were being dropped from the program. I knew it was a brutal attempt at political harassment on his part, to punish me for opposing the party line. Instead of getting mad or sad, though, I wrote him back a funny letter in which I said I was sorry he had learned about their LOBOTOMIES . . . !!! Shortly thereafter, we moved out of the district. Too bad he’s retired now, or otherwise I’d send him a copy of his letter along with our oldest daughter’s Phi Beta Kappa certificate from her top-notch university, and our next daughter’s big-dollar Presidential Scholarship from her college, the 5’s they both got on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam, and the third one’s standardized test scores in the 99th percentile . . . you get the idea. Bite a towel? Why ruin a good towel? I just use my teeth to smile at guys like that. Eventually, that kind of behavior winds up biting them, and you know exactly where.

By no means are all educators this nasty. But by no means should we pretend these nasty things aren’t happening. They need to be exposed and talked about, and the tax-paid school employees who are doing these nasty things need to be disciplined, corrected, straightened up and made to fly right.

Or else we’ll just be forced to give them . . . LOBOTOMIES!!!

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