Wisconsin Legislators talk too much.


Today was the “public” hearing on Wisconsin republicans’ school accountability bill.  I wish somebody would have told me that by “public” they meant that the “public” gets to watch legislators talk to each other and that at some point during the day any zombie left in the room would get a chance to say something.

Like most of the “public” that showed up, I was there early and was supposedly registered to speak at 10:30 am.  However, after 2 and 1/2 hours of listening to a hearing where the “public” was supposed to get a voice, it was obvious that anybody that had any responsibility outside of sitting in a room listening to legislators talk at each other, that “public” comment would occur when the real important people were done.

I sat for as long as I could but my professional responsibilities required that I leave the “public” hearing before the “public”—me and all the others—got a chance to speak.

I complained on my way out the door and was informed by a shadowy figure some guy that this was obviously my first “public” hearing.  “Real people don’t really get a chance to speak at public hearings.”  Obviously that wasn’t literally true but unless you had nothing to do—other than sit for hours and lose feelings in your lower extremities—you were not going to be heard.

I have a suggestion for the legislature.  When you call a public hearing please be specific about when the public will actually get a chance to speak.  Most of us are accountable to our careers and families.

Phew! That feels better.  Now I can get the point of this post.

Here’s what I was prepared to say at 10:30 am.

Thank you for this opportunity.  My name is Tim Slekar and I am here with a large group of educators.  Between us we have over 200 years of experience as educators.  But more importantly, we have all actually taught children in public schools.

All of us examined this bill and found nothing educationally beneficial for the children of Wisconsin.  Therefore we can only come to to 2 conclusions.  1) You (the authors and sponsors of this bill) just didn’t know enough about education.  Or, 2) You knew exactly what you were doing.

Sadly—based on the evidence available—we can only conclude that the authors and sponsors of this bill new exactly what they were doing and had no intention to improve the educational experience of Wisconsin’s children. Because if you did you would have consulted and then implemented the vast research that constantly points towards the conditions that support learning.

Kids need nurturing. Kids need health care, Kids need good nutrition. Kids need access to books.  Kids DO NOT NEED accountability and their communities DO NOT NEED their public schools sold off.

Please stop calling this a school improvement plan for Wisconsin’s children.  Call it what it is…. A dismantling plan for Wisconsin’s public schools.

When and if the time comes and any legislators really want to work to “improve” schools please feel free to contact us or any of the thousands of teachers is this state.  We would love to work with you to strengthen the hearts of Wisconsin’s communities—our public schools!

Footnote: Representatives Pope, Sinicki,and Barnes at least asked the right questions.