Will parents rise up and take back control of our children’s education?
Or will the education establishment and those who wish to divide us win again?
The pandemic exposed to parents and taxpayers the underbelly of what is being taught in our schools and the misguided direction of our education system in general. Parents began to engage, asking the education establishment why our children fell so far behind during the pandemic and more importantly, what our schools were going to do to catch all of our kids up. Parents also asked for basic information about the use of the hateful and divisive Critical Race Theory principles in classrooms. They have been asking for more of a say in their children’s education and for change that will improve education. But across the state, their opinions were rejected.
Worse, they were told they had no right to question the “experts” in the schools and on the far left.
The battle rages on, with parents seeking to win seats on school boards so they can’t be shut out and shut down. And the left continues to demean and reject their input.
Lee Snodgrass tweeted (then deleted) the overarching belief of the left:
And Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly said parents don’t have opinions of their own about what goes on in schools but are simply having their emotions manipulated by legislators and outside groups. It’s easy to understand why she believes this – the education establishment has spent decades trying to manipulate parents into believing things like more money = less money, low scores = high performance, and poor kids = dumb kids.
Underly is also desperate to keep attention away from the abysmal academic achievement scores and the precipitous fall in learning during Covid. Despite billions of new federal dollars to prevent learning loss and to keep our kids on track academically, Fs increased dramatically and now over two-thirds of our children are not proficient in math or English language arts. Proficient simply means that your child is operating at grade level. GRADE LEVEL. Not advanced or really good, but grade level. While Underly and the mainstream media try to tell anyone who will listen that the parent revolution of 2022 is just a culture war, many parents have been compelled to speak up because of the damage the education establishment is doing to our children and their futures.
Next week’s school board elections across the state are some of the most contested we’ve seen. That’s a good thing. Parents are engaged, but so are the educational establishment and the radical CRT movement, seeking to retain their stranglehold on curriculum and your tax dollars.
Here’s a round-up of some of the things happening in districts across the state that show what is at stake.
Failing Students, Budget Mismanagement
Beloit schools dropped to receiving 1 out of 5 stars on the state report cards. One star is the lowest score possible and denotes a district that fails to meet expectations.
The Executive Director of Teaching, Learning, and Equity blamed the poor results on the pandemic, but the previous score two years ago was 2 stars, indicating they met few expectations and have been failing students for years.
Between 2021 and 2022, Beloit lost about 9% of its enrollment. Though they are educating fewer children, their state aid remained stable, and they received a windfall of federal pandemic funds – $30.5 million on top of their regular funding – which amounts to $5, 287 more per pupil.
With much more money and far fewer students, the board still demanded more funding from the legislature last summer and claimed that they face a budget shortfall of between $10 and $14 million in 2021-22 – which is more than 10% of their total budget.
Parents in Beloit are asking why the school board is prioritizing administrators over basic student literacy.
And yet, the board is adding a new administrative position, an Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This new administrative position is so important to the board that, while claiming to be in the red, the board is contracting with a consultant to head-hunt the position for $100,000. The consultant proudly declares that skills, education, and experience are not as important in a job candidate as empathy, a sense of humor, and flexibility.
Since the board doesn’t believe skills or education are important to their students, it’s unsurprising they wouldn’t consider those important qualities for their staff either.
Does it sound like Beloit has a lot of “Executive Directors”? They do. In a failing school district, Beloit has far more administrators per student than the statewide average. Statewide, there is one administrator for every 188 students but in Beloit, there is one administrator for every 152 students.
Teacher Tapes a Mask to a Student – School Officials Attack his Parents
In November 2021, the school district canceled classes across the entire district because of a possible protest about an incident where a special education teacher taped a mask to a child’s head.
The teacher admits she put tape on his face, and multiple students confirm that they saw the teacher do so, but the school superintendent accused the parents and their supporters of “hate speech” for complaining about the actions of the teacher, who is black.
I’m Your Mom Now!
In March, parents were shocked to see an image of a poster on a teacher’s door proclaiming “I’m Your Mom Now” if they have a conflict with their parents.
This comes only days after Eau Claire school district teacher training that instructed teachers that parents were not “entitled” to know about their kids’ identity, information about children should be withheld from parents until they “earned” the right to it.
EC Area school board president Tim Nordin said the training was ‘taken out of context’, and was joined by Superintendent Michael Johnson, and school board member Marquell Johnson in making public statements against the concerns of outraged parents.
Parents and school board candidates Corey Conrath, Nicole Everson, and Melissa Winter put out a statement strongly supporting the rights of parents. Now, incumbent school board member Erica Zerr is attacking them as racist.
Parents and Churches are the Enemies
Training Teachers to Lie and Hate
Taxpayer-funded training taught by UWEC personnel taught educators that parents who disagree with their kids about their gender identity are guilty of abuse, religious communities are often responsible for discrimination, and they must be “willing to go to jail with” their students.
Teachers were trained to see microaggressions, demeaning, hostile, and derogatory actions, which include:
- Saying America is a melting pot.
- Denying your own racism, sexism, or heterosexism, because voicing such a thought is proof of its falsehood.
- Saying things like “the most qualified person should get the job.”
- Asserting “white dominance” by avoiding racial discussions in a work or school setting.
- Forcing people to choose between Male and Female on basic forms.
In short, UW Eau Claire personnel taught Eau Claire public school teachers that parents and churches are bad for children and that a teacher’s job is to protect students from them.
All the Eau Claire controversy in early 2022 follows a story we reported on in October of an elementary school teacher who uses mislabeled crayons to teach transgenderism to 4th-grade students. The teacher explained that the district is in the middle of a push to center curriculum on race, identities, and how students can “use their own voices.”
Currently, less than 40% of students in grades 3-8 in Eau Claire perform at grade level in English, and less than 50% in math.
Parents in Eau Claire are reeling from these continued revelations, questioning why their schools are spending tax dollars to train teachers to see parents as abusive and racist, and “centering” gender identity studies for elementary school children when across the district and across age groups, the majority of students are performing below grade level on basic reading and math.
Lies, Intimidation, Threats
None of this is new. As we reported in September the Madison School District was taken to court by parents outraged that teachers and staff had been empowered to withhold important health information about their children. Even when a court issued a restraining order preventing the district from concealing such information from parents, the district issued guidance telling teachers to simply remain silent.
What’s remarkable is that Eau Claire educators feel so empowered to double down on training teachers to hide important health information from parents even while the injunction is still in place for Madison schools.
And in 2020 when BLM was pushing schools to remove SROs from schools, the group placed flags defaced with obscenities in the yard of the Madison school board president, a former police officer, because she favored keeping STOs in schools. Days later she voted to remove the SROs. Since then the police have been called to the high schools over 300 times, and the police are seeking to bring SROs back into schools, because of safety concerns due to response times.
Imagine you are a parent in the Germantown district and want to raise concerns to your elected school board. Then imagine you learn that a parent who recently took the time and effort to speak to the board had a complaint filed against her with her employer.
Then imagine that the person who tried to intimidate her by contacting her employer was a candidate for the school board.
Germantown School Board candidate Pam Schulz gave a clear window into precisely how she feels about parental involvement in their kids’ schools when she filed a complaint with the employer of a parent who spoke in favor of keeping the schools’ mask policy optional at a recent school board meeting.
As we reported, Alyssa Pollow, a Nurse Practitioner, spoke for under one minute about keeping masks optional, focusing on the difficulty of properly fitting masks to children, and speaking about the toll masks are taking on children.
Schulz, a pediatrician, didn’t do any of the things we hope our leaders – and our kids for that matter – will do when faced with an opinion that differs from their own: listen, calmly discuss, or even ignore.
Instead, Pam Schulz decided harassment was in order, found out where the parent worked, and filed a complaint with Children’s Hospital through their portal reserved for reporting serious problems like patient rights violations or unsatisfactory care.
Children’s Hospital had to spend valuable time investigating Schulz’s spurious complaint, and after reviewing the video of Pollow’s testimony, took no action, rejecting Schulz’s complaint. This alone speaks volumes about the legitimacy of Schulz’s actions.
With this single act, Schulz proved beyond all doubt that she sides with Lee Snodgrass and Jill Underly in believing parents should sit down and shut up and let the smarter people make decisions for their children.
One can only hope Schulz doesn’t try to intimidate the parents of her patients similarly.
It also must be noted that the Germantown District is one of the first districts in the state where the Superintendent was caught lying to concerned parents in an attempt to hide from them the use of CRT in their children’s education.
Bullying Kids and Parents
The Beloit and Germantown bullying incidents are not isolated. The trend of bullying, threats, and intimidation from the education establishment and their supporters on the left is growing, often triggered by mask policy.
- A Poynette teacher’s classroom temper tantrum was caught on video where she berates a student, calling him a dummy, a jerk, telling him he’s not a special person, that people don’t like him, and people like him don’t get very far in life.
- Another special education teacher in Milwaukee was recorded belittling a student, calling him dirty and telling him to shut up. The student recording the incident was reprimanded and suspended for “inappropriate use of electronic communication.”
- An Oconto Falls teacher went on an anti-Trump rant to elementary school students.
- An Appleton student was bullied and harassed by his teachers starting when he was 12, because he volunteered for Republican candidates. He details a pattern of partisan rants and bullying from teachers that took place over years.
When teachers are bullying students, and parents are being told to mind their own business, it’s little wonder so many parents are running for school board or moving their children out of public schools.
Student scores are dropping and DPI recently changed the scoring on school report cards so that lower-performing schools could look better. That is how we end up in an alternate universe where two-thirds of our school children are operating below grade level but over 90% of our schools are given a good grade for their education of those same failing children.
DPI is funding training to teach educators how to get CRT into the classrooms. And parents across the state are grappling with how to have a voice in the education of their kids.
The school district has an overall accountability score of only 59.8, with only 32 of Wisconsin’s 422 districts scoring lower. They’re rated as Meeting Expectations, but if DPI had not covertly changed the grading curve, they would be Meeting Few Expectations.
Dozens of parents have been flocking to the Manitowoc school board meetings in recent months to address their elected board about falling scores, masking policy, and critical race theory. The board has threatened to move to a separate room and conduct business virtually to avoid parent input.
More Staff, More Money, Fewer Students, Lower Scores
Scoring even lower than Manitowoc on the school report cards, Green Bay schools are also slipping, in spite of an over 10% increase in student to staff ratios – including a 13% increase in the administrator to student ratio – at a time when enrollment has declined over 9% in the past several years. Federal pandemic funds to the school district to alleviate learning loss amount to over $75 million.
Board Puts Parents in Time Out
The Stevens Point School Board shut parents opposed to masks out of a board meeting, forcing about 70 people into another building for the duration of the meeting. This was after the board asked the police – who refused – to remove people from the meeting for not wearing masks. Multiple complaints were filed with the DA’s office about this violation of the open meetings law.
The district is rated as Meeting Expectations, and like Green Bay, has declining enrollment, more staff, and getting a boost of $9.7 in federal pandemic funds on top of the increase in state funds.
Pressure-Spraying the Audience
Police were called to a school board meeting when a mask advocate was allowed to bring a pressure washer into a meeting to ‘demonstrate’ the efficacy of masks and then sprayed the audience, many of whom were there to advocate for making masks optional.
Again, this district just Meets Expectations, outscoring Manitowoc by 9/10 of a point. The district is getting more state funding and over $7 million in federal funds. Despite stable enrollment, they have increased staffing, including a whopping 12%+ increase in the student to administrator ratio over the last several years.
More Money, High Staffing Levels, Struggling Students
Antigo has seen a 15% enrollment decline over the past several years. But that hasn’t stopped the district from increasing the ratio of students to staff.
In spite of more teachers per student, more funding – almost $8 million in federal pandemic funds alone, just shy of $4000 per pupil – Antigo schools Meet Few Expectations and scored in the bottom 10 of 422 schools in the state on the state report card.
Of the districts covered above, only one made it into the 250 districts that exceeded expectations and just one was in the top half of Wisconsin’s 422 school districts. Only 2 were able to break into the top 300 schools and most are clustered near the bottom 10% of district scores.
Added to the concerns about CRT, and COVID policies, it is clear parents have reason to be concerned about their schools.
But there are similar problems in high-performing districts as well. These three schools rank in the top quarter of schools, but are pushing material that parents reject:
Elmbrook parents have had to fight schools for a hyper-sexualized curriculum. Students there have been given access to instruction on how to use sex apps, along with explicit illustrations, as well as sex surveys, asking about the number of sexual partners and substance use during sex. The district has failed to keep in place filters for explicit material on iPads, allowing Kindergarteners access to explicit materials.
The district also refused to communicate with the parents of a student unless the administration was given access to the student’s healthcare information and permission to speak with her physicians. The parent began to attend school board meetings and noted they focused entirely on non-white and low-income students and offered accommodations refused to her daughter.
In response to her concerns, the district claimed white students are not protected against discrimination.
The district is pursuing an agenda to shift to a CRT curriculum that “prioritizes marginalized communities’ and “de-centers whiteness.’ The Superintendent of course assured parents that CRT was not being taught in the district despite direct evidence that it was. When these Equity Principles – a plan to treat students differently based on their race – met with opposition, teachers were told that the district would rename the plan and move forward. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) provided a letter to the school district explaining that all people are protected by nondiscrimination laws.
- American dream opportunities denied
- Systematic denial of indigenous culture and language
- Failure in the American education system
- Historical development of nonstandard languages or home languages in their communities
The Cedarburg district has seen engagement from parents who objected to reading materials and LGBTQ displays they felt inappropriate for grade level. A local equity group filed a complaint with DPI that the district’s curriculum violates state law because it lacks sufficient foundation in CRT principles. DPI has not responded since the complaint was filed in December, but WILL issued a letter to the school district making clear they cannot legally be required to adopt CRT concepts.
The school board race there has been heated, with vandalized yard signs and harassment so severe one candidate suspended her campaign. A Washington DC research firm made open records requests for 40 years of information about police calls related to the husband of one of the board candidates, Senator Duey Stroebel.
Though Cedarburg ranks high on DPI’s accountability scoring, 20% of Cedarburg High students require remedial education at the UW.
Last year a parent group rejected CRT indoctrination in their district where students were taught that the US is a racist nation. Parents discovered $42,000 had been spent on equity materials, and as we reported in September, the district was working with the ICS equity firm, which embraces CRT as a foundation for completely restructuring education.
Citing declining enrollment, test scores, and lower overall academic achievement while the tax levy continued to increase, the group collected signatures for a recall election. Then the harassment began. The police were called to remove a banner from the parents’ folding table, claiming it violated an ordinance.
Meanwhile, while Mequon ranks high in the DPI accountability ratings, the UW reports that nearly a quarter of students from Homestead High required remedial education. This is after several UW campuses stopped tracking remediation.
Two sets of parents in Kettle Moraine are suing their district for concealing information about their children’s gender identity and mental health.
Teachers assigned students to write about how higher partisan support for President Trump is correlated with higher death rates from COVID-19.