No more gift horses
I see by the paper that Frautschi and Rowland have more big ideas for State Street ("Overture Extends Reach," 10/7/11).
In light of the notable success of their previous downtown project, I believe the city should respond politely, "Thanks, Pleasant, Jerome, but no thanks; you've done enough for us already - unless you should want to assume full responsibility for the budget of the Overture Center."
Ted Voth Jr.
A difficult choice
Larry Kaufmann suggests in "What's So Bad About School Choice?" (10/7/11) that those opposed to school choice measures are simply knee-jerk in their opposition because they are trying to protect a monopoly.
I want to see education improve as much as Mr. Kaufmann does. My concern with the many school choice proposals out there is this: When taxpayer money is put into the hands of families to shop for their children's education on the open market, those who can afford to pay more than what their voucher provides will get the best education and those who have no extra money to spend will get whatever is left over. What is left over will most likely be worse than what we have right now. How is this improvement? The primary achievement will be to funnel public funds to the restrictive private institutions that currently do not have access to them.
If voucher programs were to address this potential inequity and ensure that education would improve for all children regardless of economic status, I would welcome them with open arms.
Matt Korda, Poynette
The use of school vouchers is being promoted as something positive for public education, when it actually will be its death.
School vouchers remove money from the public education district and pay it to the private institution that accepts the transferring student. I understand that people are drawn to this idea because they see a whole district as failing. I agree this is a serious problem.
School vouchers are promoted by various PACS, including the American Federation for Children, the Alliance for School Choice and the Walton Family Foundation. These PACs are supported by various wealthy conservatives, including the Koch brothers, DeVos family and Walton family. They are doing it to promote their political agenda.
The private schools the students go to do not have to adhere to the same regulations that public education systems do. Their teachers do not have to have teaching licenses. They can refuse students. They do not have to participate in mandated state and federal testing used for assessments.
When has a local, state or federal government saved money by privatizing? It will end up putting a lot of taxpayer money in the hands of already wealthy people, and accountability will be lost.
Would it be risible to say that any decline in the quality of education would be somehow related to the increasing neglect and deliberate stiffing of funding for education over the past 30 or so years by the corporately owned Republican and neo-Democratic parties on the federal and state levels?
Not only does that free up more public money for corporate subsidies and tax breaks, it leads to a more ignorant, gullible populace, and it has the additional merit of proving the right-wing proclamation of the inherent incompetence of government; never mind the incompetence is all their own.
Ted Voth Jr.
The voucher program in Milwaukee takes half its budget from the Milwaukee Public Schools budget and the other half from the statewide school budget. This means public schools must do with less.
There are schools in the choice program in Milwaukee that charge more to voucher students than to their regular students, so they are ripping off the taxpayers. Private schools can turn away disabled children and minorities. Public schools must accept everyone. So they must deal with these kids - and educate them as best they can, while their budgets gradually shrink.
Teachers in private schools are less educated than those in public schools. Many only need high school diplomas. And it has been shown that students in private school do not do any better than students in public schools.
Larry Kaufmann states that "opponents are waging a misinformation campaign." Then he blatantly omits the important fact that for every student that is switched from public schools to charter schools, the money that is earmarked for that individual student is no longer available to pay for maintaining facilities and instructors in the public schools. This undercuts the ability of the public schools to supply a quality education or facility.
The whole point of taxing the general population is to provide for inclusive education of all our youth, thus benefiting the entire society. Harming public education is not the direction that we should be going in.
Dennis McKernan, Mineral Point
Bring on the green!
Local "green sports" decisions show fantastic leadership in the business of recycling, reuse and waste reduction ("Gimme a G!," 10/7/11). It's all about commitment, communication, marketing and education. For those who argue against it, only enforcement of regulations and cost analysis will be persuasive enough to bring serious waste reduction to large-volume producers - stadiums and outdoor events. Now all we need is an infusion of funds into municipal and county efforts so every facility and event will get on board with the fun.
Paul Abramson, Madison/Sierra Club Recycling Away From Home Project