Thoughts on the School Board Candidate Forum – Defining the Issues

I attended the WUSD School Board Candidate Forum Saturday morning. I took my son let him chill with a tablet and headphones while I listened to a fairly interesting discussion.

The forum is here (below). Note I may have to reload this as I do not believe it is getting sound:

LWV School Board Candidates Forum 01/28/23 from Whitewater Community TV on Vimeo.

I give all the candidates a lot of credit for the prep work, and putting out their thoughts on kids and schools. Honestly, the LWV did a pretty good job hosting the event.

Thirty thousand foot view of the forum… there are a lot of tough problems with regard to the school district right now. I did not hear all that many solutions proposed. I write this not to throw the first stone; however the issues need to get to the point where there are problems defined and goals. There is so much passion for the schools, as opposed to the city (which does not even have a contested election this spring). I believe residents, especially conservatives, do not agree totally with one another on how to move forward. I am fairly supportive of Caroline Paty-Hefty. I would not want her job. As one of the very few people that regularly attend school board meetings, I believe the direction of the board and the schools is headed in a better direction than it has any time in the last ten years…. and there is plenty of opportunities for improvement.

So…… I will make the assumption you have watched the forum and get started on my comments. To be clear, I am still in the process of forming opinions on candidates and issues, so my thoughts are subject to change as I work through the issues over the next few years. I will be mindful here not to call out candidates by name (with a couple exceptions) out of respect for their willingness to put themselves out there.


Immigration was discussed quite a bit, with a couple examples of the impact it has had on students. I do not believe I heard any proposals for solutions.

The closest idea to a proposed solution was to teach all our our students Spanish. I can appreciate that the majority of immigrants speak Spanish. I believe I am empathetic to their desire to prosper; however I believe Spanish should be an elective.

Quite honestly, I cannot say I have seen the problems fully defined here.

  • Is communication the issue?
  • Is lack of education the issue?
  • Is discipline the issue?
  • Is poverty the issue?
  • Is integration the issue?
  • All of the above?

This is an issue for which I have passion. We have an opportunity as a community to be a standard bearer with regard to immigration.

This is not just a school board issue, or just a school issue. This is an issue waiting for a leader to step up. We have multiple groups and committees and people here in Whitewater committed to this cause and we seem to be spinning our wheels with immigration.

Academic Achievement

Academic achievement is a big topic, particularly for those that push for huge change. Again, clarity with regard to defining root causes seems to be the first step.

  • What is the relationship between low test scores and immigration?
  • What is the relationship between low test scores and discipline?
  • What is the relationship between test scores and home life? Are these problems beyond scope of schools and boards?

At this point, I am just asking questions….. maybe these problems have been defined and I am not aware. Can we have an honest discussion regarding student achievement? I don’t know that the world allows for an honest conversation here….


I am always wary when government says it is not properly funded. Whitewater has a very high per pupil cost, compared to surrounding areas. Complaining about state funding (and the Republican legislature) is simply a reminder that we are “not a village” or a community; that we are beholden to bureaucrats at the state and federal level and their worldly whims.


I thought the discussion regarding bullying was “interesting”. It started with Chuck Mills saying bullying is a non-issue and several people jumping on him about it.

Do I think bullying is a top five issue in our schools? No.

Do I think bullying is a top ten issue in our schools? Maybe (note I am open to this being a bigger issue than I currently believe)

There is a practice in politics of some combination of populism and victimhood. So easy is it to tell people they are victims in order to get their votes. “Your kids are bullied. We can do better. Vote for me!”

Bullying has been around as long as man. Bullying is a matter of the heart. Bullying will be fixed on a one on one level. It cannot be legislated.

Again, I heard no solutions to bullying. If I had a solution, it would most likely be mentorship. And Jesus 🙂 . I am serious about both solutions.

“Afraid to speak….”

I am making an assumption here that these type of comments are directed at leadership (not peers or spouses or the community as a whole).

I put this in the same category as bullying. I have heard many times, anecdotal stories of teachers and administrators “afraid to speak.” Every single time I look into the incident, there is an entirely other side of the story. The story can involve accountability. Someone was held accountable for a failure. The story can also involve a total misunderstanding.

And, for the record…. I do not speak out against my boss at work. It goes with the territory of being subordinate.

  • Has anyone been fired for speaking out in WUSD?
  • Has anyone been disciplined for speaking out?

I am not yet on board with this narrative. The woke in the school district are sure as hell not afraid to speak, from what I see. I get tips from time to time. If you have a tip for me regarding this, let me know. Again, I think it is easy to be populist and claim victim.

Similar to this is the teachers leaving the district; I do not know enough of the details here, but I could come up with a lot of questions if people really want to have an honest discussion here. It is an interesting topic.

And in conclusion….

(Note the subtle, dry humor there) Again, overall it was a great discussion in my humble opinion. I am going to tackle the last part of the discussion regarding identity politics on a separate post.

So my podcasting equipment has arrived. In about a week or so I should know how to use my fancy mixing board and software. I am hoping to have discussions with candidates. Email me if you want to talk. I hope to hear from a variety of diverse candidates.

And…. subscribe here….

Interesting note that I was comparing views and visitors to Fort Atkinson online and my few posts (like one every ten days) gets more action…. Alright, Peace OUT,


Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV

16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

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