David Blaska

Blaska

Family: Married, one son, a Madison schools graduate

Occupation: Retired journalist and state Revenue employee

Lived in the district since: 1990

Political experience: Dane County Board for 12 years

Essay questions

Why are you running?

Two years ago, social justice warriors intimidated Madison schools into expelling school resource police officers. The district had already substituted “restorative justice” for discipline. The results: Massive student brawls, student-to-student beatings, shootings, kids as young as 14 and 15 stealing cars and wrecking them on our streets. 

MMSD reported 2,081 “behavior incidents” to the the state for school year 2019-20 compared to 2,023 in 2016-17, despite smaller enrollment. The nature of those offenses are more serious: 863 assaults in 2019-20 compared to 72 just three years earlier. Weapon offenses have doubled.

How do you think the district has handled COVID-19 this year, keeping kids in school and keeping them safe?

The question is how will the district get kids caught up after a year away. Keeping kids safe? The district’s 111-page safety plan is a bewildering corn maze of 23 possible action steps that begin with “Notify Central Office." Try finding “Call 911” despite state law requiring notifying police.

How can the district help reverse the continuing enrollment decline?

Parents are sending their kids to schools where they can feel safe and excel academically — to suburban schools through the Open Enrollment Program and to private schools like One City Schools started by Kaleem Caire. Madison’s public schools must reinstate the same rigorous behavior and academic standards.

How can the district close achievement gaps between white students and students of color?

In the 2017-18 school year, 30.2% of students tested below basic performance in language. In 2020-21, that dysfunction worsened to 31.7%. In math, 33.2% of students were below basic; now 38.0% can’t add or subtract. 

Kids who’ve never been read to, from unstable families are a challenge regardless of race. Treating these children as members of a victim class instead of as individuals teaches them to blame but doesn’t teach them to read and write. Our teachers give extra attention to under-performing students but they cannot do the learning for them. Schools must demand personal accountability.

How can the district support student mental health?

Counseling is important but so is school safety. Discipline is the key to learning. Language, mathematics, music and more are rightly described as “disciplines.” All have distinct rules — right and wrong answers. Discipline is mastering a skill, finishing an assignment, peaceably resolving disputes. We must teach that precious skill. 

 

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