Note: this appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update on September 4, 2018Subscribe

Dear Readers,

In the immortal words of that great philosopher David Lee Roth, “Tardy? I don’t feel tardy.”

Today’s been a bit thrown out of the normal routine, to say the least. I started the morning getting ready to make my weekly radio appearance on WTMJ on the “wrong day.” Because of the Labor Day holiday, I was on the Steve Scaffidi show on Tuesday instead of Monday.

I also had additional dad business this morning. Last week my daughter started school for the year. This week, it’s my son’s turn. It’s his senior year of high school. And like most teenagers his age, getting him up for the first day of school involves borrowing ACME dynamite from Wile E. Coyote.

Of course we did the obligatory “first day of school” photo. Normally, I’m not very good at this but he has only one more year of school before he graduates. When he does, I’m going to throw myself the biggest party for getting him through school. I’m sure we’ll do something for him, too.

Unfortunately I don’t have any “first day of school” photos from my days in school. We didn’t have phones back then that could take the photo and Matthew Brady was unavailable. I just have cherished memories of walking a mile uphill each way in frigid temperatures that made my daily peregrination resemble the Shackleton expedition.

The destination of these daily walks may surprise some of you. I’m a graduate of Milwaukee Vincent High School. We won’t mention the year, but we’ll point out the school still had that new school smell (as well as urine in the stairwells, etc.). The school is evidence, if anyone needs it, that money and a new building do not add up to academic performance.

Yes, it was possible for me to get a good education there, in part because I sought it out against the odds. I spent my lunch hour my senior year hanging out in the Social Studies study lounge and my other free time in the math department office. I rewrote my school schedule to eliminate gym class starting my sophomore year so I could take extra academic classes and managed to find a guidance counselor to sign the new schedule.

Somebody had to look out for my education.

The school has only gotten worse since my days there. The school “fails to meet expectations” according to the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction and it’s not even close. Yet nothing will be done about Vincent and 999 kids will be trapped in a failing school this year. Some students will succeed but the odds are horribly against them. But at least it’s a union school, right?

So imagine my surprise when, thanks to the Facebook page for an upcoming high school reunion, I learned the school is getting a new $5.7 million stadium. The stadium will have artificial grass and a new track for WIAA events. The report I saw didn’t mention metal detectors, but it would be a good idea.

The new stadium is part of an $11 million improvement in athletic facilities for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), presumably so the little convicts can have the best facilities before being sent to the penitentiary.

So the next time someone tells you that MPS needs more money, remind them that more money does not mean a better academic performance. And if they ask for evidence, ask them if $5.7 million could be better spent than on a new stadium for a failing school. And then ask them if the students would be better off with a new track instead of shutting the school down entirely.

At least the artificial turf matches the artificial concern of Wisconsin’s Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers, for the well-being of MPS students. Perhaps the new scoreboard can flash the number of kids being pushed through the system without learning anything – not that any of the students will be able to read it.

James Wigderson


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