January 7, 2006

New Blog Service For You The Reader.

I have turned Real Debate Wisconsin into a giant virtual dictionary.

Just double click any word on this page and a new window will open giving you a dictionary listing for that word.

Just another fine example of fine customer service from your Real Debate Wisconsin staff. (All one of me)

January 6, 2006

RUSD, the results. UPDATED

We promised reports on the coming days on the reports issued this week on Racine Public Schools.

Today we shall focus on results.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires testing of students in grades 4, 8 and 10. According to the report RUSD has never met the State average in test results.

In grade 8 State averages for math and reading are 85% and 73%, RUSD averages 71% and 55%.

In 10th grade, the State average is 74% and 72%, Racine comes in at 59% and 54%.

In comparing other state averages the only district that underperforms Racine on a consistent basis is Milwaukee.

The report goes on to indicate that changes in teaching models and a new learning strategy introduced four years ago has begun to make positive changes. Additionally a large number of teachers supposedly send their own children to the district which shows support of the educational process by those involved in it. There was no statistical data to show how that activity compared with other districts.

My own personal experience with that is the exact opposite, everyone I know who works for or is a teacher in the district sends their children to private schools. I do understand who I know means exactly a statistical nothing.

So what do the results tell us? Perception is close to reality. The perception in the community is that Racine public schools are not putting out a very good product. The NCLB testing shows exactly that, results at RUSD are bad.

I have written about this before, but how many people are willing to pay more money for a bad product? Are they willing to pay more money on a promise of things will get better? Some yes, some no.

More to come on these reports there is lots of interesting information within.

UPDATE: I got curious about which schools were doing well, and which were not. On the following schools I will list in order reading proficiency %, math proficiency % and the ratio of students to teachers.

21st Century Prep - 55, 33, 18.1
Case High School - 58, 56, 16.9
Fine Arts Elementary - 93, 83, 18.7
Fratt Elementary - 60, 48, 13.4
Giese Elementary - 64, 34, 11.8
Gifford Elementary - 85, 73, 17.2
Gilmore Middle School - 60, 25.5, 15.1
Goodland Elementary - 61, 31, 13.1
Horlick High School - 54, 43, 18.2
Janes Elementary (year round school)- 70, 70, 13.9
Jefferson Lighthouse - 96, 94, 21.2
Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary - 77, 59, 14
Jerstad-Agerholm Middle - 77, 33.5, 19.1
Johnson Elementary - 78, 50, 13.4
Jones Elementary - 79, 63, 16.2
Knapp Elementary - 65, 52, 15.4
McKinley Middle - 73, 29.5, 18.3
Mitchell Elementary - 65, 52, 16.5
Mitchell Middle - 69, 26, 16.2
North Park Elementary - 88, 72, 14.1
O Brown Elementary - 85, 79, 13.5
Park High - 62, 58, 17.8
Red Apple Elementary - 81, 77, 16.8
Roosevelt Elementary - 85, 53, 17.5
Starbuck Middle - 77, 23, 17.1
The Real School - 89.3, 42.1, 18.9
Wadewitz Elementary - 74, 52, 14.6
Walden III High - 90, 90, 20.4
Walden III Middle - 98, 43, 19.1
West Ridge Elementary - 69, 47, 15.9
Wind Point Elementary - 84, 79, 14.3
Winslow Elementary - 75, 25, 15.5

Observations. On the whole Racine schools do a fairly decent job in reading, math is deplorable. Also we have a sum total of two schools with just over 20 students per class.

The next time I hear someone complaining about large class sizes I will likely have a hissy fit.

In addition, we have some schools that are truly doing an outstanding job, others should be ashamed of these results. Oddly, the two schools with the highest teacher/student ratios turned in some of the best results. Are we realy holding accountable for results those schools that are doing so badly? If we are someone please come forward and let us know, to my knowledge we are not. (Hello Brian Dey are you out there?)

January 5, 2006

Spice Blog. I'm not convinced.

Spivak & Bice are out with Spiceblog. The point of this? As they put it, "trudge through the scores of local political blogs so you don’t have to. Here’s a peek at the good, the not-so-good, the truly offensive or the just sort of interesting"

There were positive comments around the Cheddarspehere about this. Like this, this, this and this. Frankly I am somewhat more cautious.

Why the cautious thoughts? From the second post ever on Spiceblog we get this.

Whoever said religion and politics don't mix never spent any time in blogland. Take a look at Democratic congressional candidate Bryan Kennedy's essay dealing with his family’s conversion from Catholicism to the Mormon faith -- an odd disclosure to a heavily Catholic electorate.

On the blog response we get this.

Doesn’t matter, Kennedy’s posting has sparked not one but two attacks from the right. Kennedy countered today with a wordy response.

Let me tell you something, in the first 7 words of his "essay" Brian Kennedy managed to insult Christians. That might offend some people, would you not think? Brian Kennedy is running for Congress in a VERY conservative district. What he published here at the very least was monumentaly stupid, though obviously an honest reflection of his beliefs. To Spiceblog, it was just an essay with an odd disclosure.

By the way the 7 words, How is it that conservative religious zealots. I do not really care what else he had to say. My point is in 7 words he managed to insult bunches of Christians by calling them zealots. Not a great way to start an open dialouge is it?

However, when two highly respected conservative bloggers respond and offer their comments, they are not offering opinion, they are on the "attack". The Spiceblog statement also implies two responses from this post by Kennedy was somewhat excessive by saying, not one but two.

Let me clue you guys into something on this "new media", we write on what interests us and we do not talk to each other before we post.

Here is my question, are you going to try to play Spiceblog down the middle, or continue with the usual left leaning writing we get from your paper?

By the way Spiceblog, by my pointing out that Kennedy insulted Christians in the first seven words in his post, am I on the attack or making an astute political observation?

Racine Unified Schools Report

Yesterday raciness Independent Commission on Education's report on Racine schools was released. This was a 23 page document accompanied by an 82 page consultant report from Deloitte. Oh, and let us not forget the one page dittie from The Unified Central Office.

For those who are not aware the Independent Commission was put together with various community leaders including business and labor. These groups have an obvious stake in Racine schools, their future workers will come from them!

In the spirit of the commission I have asked The Texas Hold 'Em Blogger to join me on this story. We swapped an email last night, and he was also reading the report. Now I am sure of one thing, they really did not expect anyone to read this.

dissecting these reports will take time. The reports seemed fair in some areas, unfair in others we will provide examples in the coming days.

The bulk of the report said this. Racine Unified Schools try hard, they care about education but their results are lacking. In addition, the district bows to pressure too easily and control, management and budgeting processes are sorely lacking.

The two immediate needs of concern for out of control spending according to the report, special needs education and employee benefits.

So the net effect, the district needs cash and the community does not trust the current system.

Oh, and there is that pesky little thing about the 30 year adversarial relationship between the district and its teachers. One might think they should have a common goal.

We will provide statistic and example over the coming days. But until someone starts paying me to do this, I gotta go to work now.

January 4, 2006

If anyone cares, The Bar Association rates Alito.

The result, unanimous well-qualified. The story.

Hearings start Monday.

Jenna gets Abramoff

Jenna has this figured out. If this guy is going to name names, it will get messy on both sides of the aisle.

Yes I acknowledge the fact he would be most likely harmful to the right than the left so please refrain from the obvious. To just make this a rightie issue though is silly.

Voces de la Frontera Editorial.

On January 1 an editorial was printed in the Milwaukee paper by Darlene Mendez, yet another member of Voces de la Frontera.

Her point, same as everyone else. Her rhetoric, ditto.

Applicants (for drivers licenses) from other countries would have to show proof of legal permanent or conditional residency, a valid visa, an application for asylum, valid refugee status or an application for legal permanent residency. Their licenses would expire when their residency runs out. People who are undocumented immigrants would not have access to a driver's license or state identification.

Undocumented immigrants = illegal aliens.

This legislation will have broad repercussions, not just for undocumented immigrants but for legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who might not be able to prove their citizenship under current guidelines.

Huh? If you lost your birth certificate it is not hard to get a new copy.

This is racist legislation that already has resulted in increases in discriminatory actions against Latinos who are U.S. citizens.

I do not believe this legislation has any racial connotation. If most of the illegal persons are Latinos they made the illegal choice to come. If they are illegal Irish, or Chinese or South African this would make no difference.

Further, the legislation undermines national security.

This I gotta hear.

Under the current system in Wisconsin, undocumented immigrants applying for a driver's license or state identification card provide information about their real identity. If the legislation becomes law, the state will no longer have a database identifying a larger pool of people since they will be forced to hide their identity.
The fewer people who are identified through the licensing process, the larger the population of unidentified people that law enforcement must sort through. Immigration status-based restrictions on licenses will only increase the black market for false documents.

I have no idea what she is talking about. Clue on this Darlene, the Drivers License is the Wonka Golden Ticket to this society. You need it to buy cold medicine, board a plane, vote (no scratch that). Issuing this form of ID has the net effect of legitimizing an illegal activity. That is bad precedent.

The issue of driver's license availability is a crucial issue for all residents of Wisconsin, immigrants and non-immigrants alike.

Well at least she did not call it life or death like her pal Christine Newmann-Ortiz. I agree with Darlene, it is crucial that this stupid legislation be stopped.

The JS adds the following tag. Darlene Mendez is a member of Voces de la Frontera, a community group that works on immigrant and workers rights issues.

The JS fails to ask why a 501 (c)(3) getting over a quarter million dollars in public funding a year is spending so much of their time engaged in political activity. Also absent any mention of the Voces de la Frontera unplanned open house at the Stepp house.

I see if this story is going to stay alive, it is going to be up to RDW to do it.

Racine School Board Candidate and the Voces de la Frontera Connection

In starting my research into the newly announced candidates for the Racine School Board, I found something interesting.

Candidate Diana Garcia appears to be attached at the hip to Voces de la Frontera.

In this link she appears to be representing Voces.

Earlier she was listed as being among the people who went with Voces to lobby for drivers licenses for illegals.

We will not speculate as to Candidate Garcia's participation in the unplanned open-house at the Stepp Residence.

Oh and Diana, if you know Christine Newmann-Ortiz would you please ask her to return my email. The one asking why a 501 (c)(3) seems to spend so much of its time doing political lobbying? A 501 (c)(3) that gets the vast majority of its funding from us the lowly taxpayers.

Additionally, if you see this please tell us your opinion on the whole Stepp matter.

Have a nice day.

UPDATE: She was apparently thrilled with Doyle's creative use of the veto pen as well.

January 3, 2006

Racine School Board Elections.

Well the candidates are out and we have 11 people in the running for the 3 open seats for the Racine County School Board.

There will be a primary on 2-21 and the top 6 will go onto the general election on 4-4.

They seem a very diverse lot from different backgrounds and career paths. Several have accounting backgrounds and several have accounting backgrounds.

We would ask as many as possible to answer the following questions.

1. Do you support limiting referendums to increase school spending to one vote per year?
2. Would you support limiting referendum votes to major election dates when possible?
3. Do you support the repeal of the current spending caps on educational spending?
4. Should there be caps on school choice?
5. DPI head Elizabeth Burmaster just sent a letter to every school in the state encouraging schools with Indian nicknames to change them. With all the issues in Wisconsin schools, was this the best use of Burmaster's or the schools time?
6. Speaking of DPI, in the last election Elizabeth Burmaster ran against Greg Underheim, did you vote in that election, and who did you vote for?
7. Are you a member of a political party? If so, which?
8. What specific ideas do you have to bring spending under control?
9. Racine Unified School District has been accused of spending too much money on consultants and retreats, do you feel the spending on those items is too small, too large, or just right?
10. In ten words or less, why did you decide to run for this office?
11. In another ten words, why should we vote for you?

60 Minutes Report.

In February 2000, CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft introduced a report on the Clinton-era spy program, Echelon, by noting:

"If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there's a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country's largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it's run by the National Security Agency."

NSA computers, said Kroft, "capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world."
Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told "60 Minutes" that the agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."

Mr. Frost detailed activities at one unidentified NSA installation, telling "60 Minutes" that agency operators "can listen in to just about anything" - while Echelon computers screen phone calls for key words that might indicate a terrorist threat.

The "60 Minutes" report also spotlighted Echelon critic, then-Rep. Bob Barr, who complained that the project as it was being implemented under Clinton "engages in the interception of literally millions of communications involving United States citizens."

Thoughts? I have a couple. I'm going to see how other folks feel about this before sharing.

January 2, 2006

Bad day to have the first name Coach.

Fired in the last day.
  • Green Bay Packers Coach Mike Sherman
  • Minnesota Vikings Coach Mike Tice.
  • New Orleans Saints Coach Jim Haslett
  • St. Louis Rams Coach Mike Martz
  • Houston Texans Coach Dom Capers


  • Kansas City Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil

Already Sacked

  • Detroit Lions Coach Steve Mariucci

Rough profession.

So who will be the Packers next coach? My prediction. Steve Mariucci. Why? Brett Favre likes him.

January 1, 2006

Predictions Worth Reading.

I love New Years Predictions. Some are better than others.

PLEASE read Jib's. Really inspired work.

James shared some truly amazing resolutions.

Peter shares some wishes.

Thanks for the predictions guys!

Samuel McClain and Voces de la Frontera, The Common Thread.

So what do these stories have in common? Come on now you can do it.

Need a hint?

Oh heck I'll just tell you.

Yesterday the slime started on the Samuel McClain story. It came out this was apparently a drug deal gone bad. Does this make the beat down Mr McClain took any less of a horrible event?

What has bugged me about the Voces de la Frontera story is they are trying to slime Cathy Stepp saying she did this or that and we had to go to her house. Um no you could have waited until Monday. Additionally, if you think someone else did something bad, that does not excuse your bad behavior.

This is a pattern out there folks. Excusing bad behavior by blaiming something else.

We are far from done with the McClain story. Expect the apologists to come out of the woodwork on this and find some root sociological causes. How about we try something different this time? Let us blame the hooligans who did this and prosecute them fully for a change. No deals, no compromises, no excuses.


I was tooling through the Kurt Vlach controlled Democratic Party of Racine website.

Just a hint Kurt but you might want to change a few things.

The following is from the Calendar of events.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006, 8:00:00 AM
General ElectionGo VOTE!
Senator Kohl
Sowa for Congress
Governor Doyle
Lt. Governor Lawton
State Senator Lehman
Representative Turner and Mason
District Attorney
County Partisan Offices
Referenda (if required)

Again Kurt this is a friendly reminder. As a Chair you are not supposed to endorse any candidate in which multiple persons are running for the seat from your party until after the primary.

I am not sure if Justin Sowa is still running, but we have a 7 time contender from Janesville and Tim Daley entering the race. To me that would say a minimum of 2, perhaps 3 candidates. Perhaps you should just say 1st Congressional District seat and call it good. You could go ahead and put up a picture of Paul Ryan draw some devil horns on him or something, but you should drop the Sowa mention.

I know you think you are ruling with an iron fist, but you might want to take a little peak at the rules of the office you hijacked

05 Newsies

I asked for nominations for story of the year and got a couple of nominations, here are my thoughts.

Most over-covered story (here included): Cindy Sheehan. The anti-war folks found what they thought was a sympathetic figure. We all share her grief for the loss of her son Casey. However, Cindy Sheehan turned out to be a Grade-A First class nutburger, and it took the MSM way too long to acknowledge it. In fact they never did acknowledge it, they just dropped her. 15 minutes, over.

Oddest dropped story: Samuel Alito. Once the Senate wimped out and said they could not do hearings on Alito until January this story faded so fast it was not funny.

Worst blown up story: Katrina and the ridiculous claim by Louis Farrakhan that a levy was exploded to flood a black neighborhood to spare a white one. Runner-up, also Katrina and the over-hyped death numbers, claims of cannibalism, etc.

The we still don't get it award: Journalists in Iraq hiding in their hotels only sending back bad news. There is good news and bad, I have no issue with bad news coming out, ignoring the positive either shows laziness, bias or bad judgement. You decide which.

The class act award: Brett Favre.

THE RDW STORY OF THE YEAR IS.......(drum roll please) The Supreme Court. Judge O'Connor retires and is to be replaced by John Roberts. Chief Rhenquist passes and John Roberts is elevated to Chief. Harriet Miers is nominated and defeated by Conservatives who are not sure of her credentials. Samuel Alito is nominted to replace Miers, the Senate wimps out and delays hearings. The Supreme Court activity (which kind of resembles a soap opera) will have a lasting impact on this country that really will not be understood for years.

Prediction for '06: You think politics has been nasty of late, you ain't seen nuthin yet. This will be the nastiest Congressional campaign ever.