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There’s only one conclusion that can be drawn after reading this article. Milwaukee will soon experience a substantial outmigration in population because the tyrants running the Milwaukee Public Schools are a) running failing schools and b) doing everything possible to prevent the opening or expansion of charter schools. First, here’s some foundational information:

In 2013, St. Marcus, a highly regarded school that accepts voucher students through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, needed to add a second campus.

Its classrooms, from the K3 program serving 3 year olds through those for its oldest students in eighth grade, were full. The school had a waiting list of more than 300 students whose parents were eager for them to attend. There were plenty of vacant MPS school buildings available. There still are, as a new report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty documents.

The Democrats’ attempts to stifle school choice are breathtaking:

Tyson set his sights on the building that previously housed the Malcolm X Academy. The 170,000-square-foot property would provide St. Marcus with plenty of room to grow. Tyson contacted then MPS Superintendent Greg Thornton about the building. “He expressed an interest in selling and told me to write to the school board,” Tyson said. “I did.”

Then he waited.

After three months of waiting, Tyson finally received a response. “I got a single line response that said they weren’t willing to sell us the building,” Tyson said.

Get yourself a cup of hot chocolate or a cup of coffee because we’re just getting started with the Democrats’ chicanery:

“Milwaukee officials have chosen to block the expansion of choice and charter schools into unused and underutilized buildings. This hostility comes in many forms: local administrative policies that ban sales of facilities to certain non-MPS schools, the failure of MPS to keep a public list of what buildings are empty and underutilized, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s insistence of charging a ‘school choice tax’ as a condition on selling or leasing empty buildings, and the creation of last-minute ‘deals’ done solely to thwart the sale of facilities to schools in the choice program in high demand by Milwaukee families,” the report asserts.

First, Tom Barrett was the Democrats’ candidate against Scott Walker in the recall election in 2012. There’s more to the Democrats’ chicanery:

School board president Michael Barnes unveiled an ambitious and convoluted plan for the building. Malcolm X would be sold to a real estate developer who would convert part of it into apartments and the rest into a community resource center. MPS would then lease and eventually buy the community resource center.

The WILL report describes this deal as “a sham transaction done solely to prevent St. Marcus from obtaining the building.” This was an opinion held by many at the time, particularly after it was revealed the developer had not secured the financing needed for the project.

Calling this a “sham transaction” is an insult to scam artists. Still, we aren’t done with the Democrats’ corruption:

Tyson continued his talks with city officials. A price of $880,000 for the building was agreed to and St. Marcus was also set to pay a PILOT — payment in lieu of taxes — for the property, since as a private school it would be exempt from property taxes. “We agreed to that because we understand that any property in the city, even one owned by a nonprofit, uses city services,” Tyson explained.

The PILOT was expected to be $204,151.

The next obstacle appeared at what Tyson thought was going to be the final meeting with the city officials to set the terms of the sale. “This second obstacle was hilariously tragic,” Tyson recalled with a rueful laugh. “The mayor’s assistant gave me a piece of paper with a second PILOT on it. They wanted us to pay an additional $1.3 million to cover what they said the city would lose by students using vouchers to go to our school,” he said.

That the unions and other Democrats are doing everything possible to undermine charter schools isn’t surprising. Likewise, it won’t be surprising when people start voting with their mortgages and start leaving Milwaukee. In fact, it’s inevitable.

Frankly, I’d love to hear that the Republican majority do something to entice Milwaukee charter school parents to leave Milwaukee for cities with lots of charter schools.

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When I first skimmed this NY Times article, I thought it was a decent article, in part because of this analysis:

Nonetheless, there will be demand for an alternative to Mr. Bush, even from within the so-called Republican establishment. Since Friday, attention has focused on Mitt Romney, who said in a meeting of top advisers and donors that he was considering a third run.

But the more compelling challenger may be Scott Walker, the battle-hardened governor of Wisconsin. He has made moves toward running, and on paper, he’s the type of candidate who should deeply concern Mr. Bush.

A study of the 2012 election suggests that Jeb Bush has nothing to fear from moving to the right during the primary season.

Unlike the flawed but better-known conservatives, Mr. Walker has the potential to have broad appeal throughout the Republican Party. Mr. Walker, born in Colorado Springs, is an evangelical Christian who defeated public employee unions in a high-profile battle over collective bargaining rights and who made big budget cuts in a state that has voted for Democrats in seven consecutive presidential elections.

First, I disagree that Gov. Bush “has nothing to fear from moving to the right” during the primaries. He isn’t a conservative anymore. Admittedly, he had a reasonably conservative record as governor but he’s wandered quite a bit since leaving office almost a decade ago.

The analysis is right in that Gov. Walker’s appeal is substantial for quite a few reasons, starting with the fact that he’s taken on some rather large challenges and won. It’s also because Gov. Walker’s supporters across the nation feel passionately about him and would run through brick walls for him. That’s something that other GOP presidential candidates can’t tout, including Rand Paul.

Ron Paul’s supporters were willing to run through walls for him but Rand Paul isn’t like his father. He’s a polished politician, not the conscience of the Libertarian Party.

Yet unlike most conservative heroes, Mr. Walker has the record, résumé and temperament of a candidate who could attract significant support from the establishment.

In short, Gov. Walker has a substantial list of conservative accomplishments. Many of those accomplishments are reforms that Wisconsin’s needed for years. People think that Gov. Walker’s only accomplishment is union reform. Few people talk about his expansion of charter schools and school choice options.

Those are accomplishments that translate well to the national stage.

This is where they went wrong:

Some question whether he has the charisma to distinguish himself in a crowded field. He could end up like the former governor Tim Pawlenty, another Midwesterner, who was thought to be a strong challenger to Mr. Romney in 2012 but who ultimately failed to gain traction in Iowa.

Gov. Walker is nothing like Gov. Pawlenty. Gov. Pawlenty’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t really an accomplishment. Gov. Pawlenty prevented the DFL from raising taxes through the roof. It’s the right thing to do but it isn’t an accomplishment.

The other difference between Gov. Pawlenty and Gov. Walker is that people supported Gov. Pawlenty but Gov. Walker’s supporters would run through walls for him. Simply put, the charisma argument isn’t credible.

In 2012, the DFL campaigned on the promises of taxing “the rich” to pay for “middle class property tax relief” and to increase funding on education. By April of 2013, then-Speaker Thissen issued this statement. Here’s the heart of that statement:

The House DFL Education Budget invests in what works: fully funding all-day, every day kindergarten and investing $50 million in early learning childhood scholarships. All-day K and early childhood education are proven tools to improve test scores, close the achievement gap, and prepare students for future academic success. The House DFL Education Budget also increases the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by four percent over the biennium, an increase of over $315 million, or $209 per pupil. The school shift payback will be included in the House Taxes bill.

“The House DFL education plan will boost our economy for generations to come,” said Representative Paul Marquart (DFL–Dilworth), Chair of the House Education Finance Committee. “Building the world’s best workforce will bring jobs, new innovation and economic growth, but to get there we have to invest in efforts and strategies with a proven record of success, set benchmarks, and help our schools succeed while also holding them accountable.”

The House DFL Education Budget also contains a new strategy to close the revenue equity gap and reduce property taxes. The bill enhances the equity formula guaranteeing all districts at least $300 per student of equity and referendum revenue, and raises and indexes operating referendum levy equalization factors to reduce property taxes.

Notice how Rep. Thissen’s statement predicted that the DFL’s “education budget” would “reduce property taxes.” Thissen’s prediction was spin, a DFL specialty. I wrote this post to highlight how the St. Cloud School Board raised property taxes:

St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy.

District officials say the increase is needed to pay for a spate of improvements to facilities.

I wrote this post to highlight the Princeton School Board raised property taxes:

The Princeton School Board, in a split vote on Dec. 16, increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.

This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

Taxing the rich didn’t provide middle class property tax relief. It just raised taxes on “the rich.”

Check back later today to learn more about how the DFL lies on other issues.

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Mark Sommerhauser’s article is additional proof that the DFL was full of BS when they said that taxing “the rich” would provide property tax relief to the middle class:

St. Cloud school district has imposed its largest tax levy increase in six years for 2015. The district’s property-tax levy will increase by $3.3 million, or 14.75 percent, to nearly $26 million. The school board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the 2015 levy.

District officials say the increase is needed to pay for a spate of improvements to facilities.

I’ll give it to the DFL in the sense that they come up with appealing chanting points. I just wish they put a priority on telling the truth. Unfortunately, they don’t. The DFL’s highest priority is to say whatever they need to say to win elections, then spin their asses off when they brake their campaign promises.

The DFL knew that they couldn’t stop property tax increases. The DFL knew it because property taxes are set at the local level. The DFL just used that excuse to raise taxes elsewhere.

This shows, too, that the DFL’s boasting about making “historic investments in education” were campaign spin, too. I’m not disputing that K-12 spending increased. That’s indisputable fact. What I’m saying is that the money didn’t get spent on things that improved educational outcomes. Most of the increased spending was Education Minnesota’s wish list. It won’t do a thing to close the achievement gap. In fact, the DFL’s “investments” will short rural school districts.

What’s worst is that the taxpayers who get punished by these property tax increases don’t have a say in the matter. The school board can write itself additional funding whenever it wants. That’s just wrong.

Board chair Jerry Von Korff said he doesn’t expect a taxpayer backlash in response to the increase. One taxpayer attended Thursday’s board meeting to protest the tax hike. “We always do everything we can to keep taxes to a minimum,” Von Korff said. “We’ve got a ton more students and we’re adding on to buildings. The vast majority of this increase is to pay for those buildings.”

Von Korff emphasized at Thursday night’s meeting that the increase isn’t covering operating expenses. Instead, it will be used almost entirely for the building projects, he said.

This legislature must repeal the law that gives school board virtually unlimited spending and taxing authority because it’s stripped that authority from the taxpayers. The taxpayers must have the authority to stop out-of-control career politicians from taxing the taxpayers into submission.

Taxpayers literally had a say in these decisions for decades. Now they don’t. That must change ASAP.

Next, it’s disgusting that Von Korff thinks that the school board can do whatever they want. It’s exceptionally disgusting that the school board doesn’t think that their first responsibility is to serve the people. With that arrogant statement, Van Korff told St. Cloud that he isn’t a public servant. Van Korff declared that members of the school board aren’t public servants.

Finally, it’s time that a) school board elections happen on election night in even numbered years and b) we make school board elections partisan elections. The DFL’s stranglehold on school boards isn’t a secret. It’s time to make these elections partisan.

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In 2013, the DFL said that they were raising taxes on “the rich” to pay for property tax relief for the middle class. I wrote here about how that failed…miserably:

The Princeton School Board in a split vote on Dec. 16 increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.

This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

A 25% increase in property taxes isn’t property tax relief for the middle class. That’s a gigantic, crippling middle class tax increase. Thank God the Princeton School Board exercised some restraint. If they hadn’t, the property tax increase would’ve been almost 34%.

I wrote this post to question why this historic property tax increase was needed in light of the DFL’s constant reminder that they paid back the school shift and raised per pupil spending. If I had $5 for every time the DFL, ABM or the Dayton campaign ran an ad talking about making an “historic investment in education”, I’d be wealthy. Either the DFL’s “investment in education” isn’t as historic as they’ve repeatedly said or the Princeton School Board is spending money recklessly.

Actually, there is another possibility. It’s quite possible that the DFL’s historic investment in education shafted outstate schools to pay for increased education spending in urban and suburban school districts. It wouldn’t be the first time the DFL shafted outstate school districts. Just ask Rocori if they’ve gotten fair treatment. (Hint: they haven’t.)

This fall, the DFL insisted that it didn’t shortchange rural Minnesota. The DFL insisted that they’d paid off the school shifts while increasing education funding. The DFL insisted that they’d raised taxes on “the rich” so they could cut property taxes for the middle class. The article in the Princeton newspaper is proof that a) the DFL still shortchanged rural Minnesota, b) the DFL’s tax-the-rich policy didn’t lead to middle class property tax relief and c) the DFL’s supposedly historic investment in education is more campaign rhetoric than reality.

Finally and most importantly, the DFL’s spending spree didn’t shrink the achievement gap nor did the DFL increase accountability in education. The DFL eliminated the requirement that teachers pass a basic skills test that the GOP first passed.

Rep. Thissen said that the DFL legislature should be called the education legislature. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s call them the ‘they shafted us again legislature.’ After all, the DFL’s spending did nothing to improve educational outcomes.

When I wrote this post, I forgot something that needs highlighting. Last fall, the DFL constantly reminded us that they’d paid off the school shifts and that they’d increased funding for education.

Apparently, the Princeton School Board didn’t get the memo. That’s odd because the DFL budget went into effect July 1…of 2013. If the DFL increased K-12 funding and paid off the school shifts, Princeton shouldn’t need to raise their property taxes. The Princeton School District especially shouldn’t need to raise their levy by 25.16%.

Then-Speaker Thissen issued this statement about the DFL’s “historic investment” in education:

The House DFL Education Budget invests in what works: fully funding all-day, every day kindergarten and investing $50 million in early learning childhood scholarships. All-day K and early childhood education are proven tools to improve test scores, close the achievement gap, and prepare students for future academic success. The House DFL Education Budget also increases the basic funding formula for K-12 schools by four percent over the biennium, an increase of over $315 million, or $209 per pupil. The school shift payback will be included in the House Taxes bill.

After reading that statement, it’s amazing that the Pope didn’t declare Speaker Thissen a candidate for sainthood.

Seriously, let’s summarize. The DFL raised taxes by $2,100,000,000 initially with the intent of paying for property tax relief for the middle class and to make “historic investments in education.”

What Minnesotans got in return were some middle class tax increases, virtually nothing in terms of property tax relief and big property tax increases to pay for K-12 funding. Minnesotans didn’t see the achievement gap close. Minnesotans didn’t notice a change in school boards’ spending habits, either.

The harsh reality is that Minnesotans got ripped off by the DFL’s tax increases, the DFL’s paying off the K-12 school shifts or from the DFL’s “historic investments in education.”

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The DFL’s insistence that they’d delivered property tax relief is BS. It always has been. This article is additional proof that the DFL was lying about property tax relief:

The Princeton School Board in a split vote on Dec. 16 increased the school district tax levy by 25.16 percent for taxes payable 2015 to fund the 2015-16 school year.

This was a departure from the board’s originally proposed 33.87 percent hike. The total levy will be a little more than $6.091 million, a $300,000 increase over this year’s levy. The original proposal would have increased the levy $724,000.

The disgusting thing about the DFL’s property tax increase is that voters didn’t get to approve the increase. Thanks to some legislative trickery a few years ago, this property tax increase was passed by the Princeton School Board.

What’s especially disgusting is the rate increase hike. The Princeton School Board trimmed down the tax increase from 33.87% to ‘just’ 25.16%. Raising people’s taxes by $300,000, especially in a small community like Princeton, will get noticed. Hopefully, regular people in Princeton will run for the school board to replace these taxaholics:

School board members Deb Ulm (chair), Eric Minks, Chuck Nagle, and Howard Vaillancourt voted yes.

It’s time for Princeton to take control of their schools again.

Darrell Downs’ article is must reading for the House and Senate Higher Ed committees, the MnSCU Board of Trustees, Gov. Dayton, Commissioner Pogemiller and every taxpayer whose son or daughter is attending to thinking about attending a MnSCU university. Here’s the opening of the article:

The icy standoff between campus faculty and the leadership of the Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) needs to end — but let’s first get to the root of the problem.

MnSCU has been leading an experiment to change campuses into quasi-private franchises for years. Producing more degrees more quickly and more cheaply has been its hallmark. Never mind that the quality of the education may suffer when change is put in the hands of political appointees and corporate advisers.

To gild the lily of misguided privatization, MnSCU also pays for multimillion-dollar consultants, such as McKinsey and Co., to manage system planning, regardless of faculty and student objections. And it’s only a matter of time before we learn how much is being spent on consultants to “rebrand” the system.

It’s long past time for MnSCU leadership to step outside of its ivory towers. I’ve followed the higher ed reform beat for the better part of 4 years. I’ve seen documentation that verifies as fact that none of the MnSCU Trustees has ever held a townhall meeting in their congressional district. They certainly haven’t met with faculty members.

It’s foolish to think that an outside consultant is better equipped to suggest improvements and implement changes than are the people within the system. If the people that make up the system aren’t qualified for that initiative, then that’s a management failure to hire high quality administrators.

For the record, I’m positive that some of the universities’ administrators are more than qualified for putting a plan together while working with faculty and listening to students’ concerns. It’s just that Chancellor Rosenstone picked the wrong people for putting the reform package together and implementing that package.

Instead, Chancellor Rosenstone brought an adversarial attitude to the project. That attitude led to him secretly hiring McKinsey’s consultants, which spent $2,000,000 that shouldn’t have been spent. Chancellor Rosenstone decided that Charting the Future was the right initiative without meaningful input. Then he hired expensive consultants to implement his initiative.

Isn’t it a bit ironic that a reform initiative is implemented by doing what past administrators have done for decades? When the CEO of MnSCU puts the ‘reform’ package together, why should I think that he’s on the right path?

Downs is exactly right in highlighting expensive consultant-driven ‘reforms’. Nothing about that process sounds like a process that produces thoughtful, forward-looking reforms. Check back to LFR on Sunday for Part II of this series.

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After watching this video, it’s clear that Jeb Bush doesn’t have a clue about conservatism:

This post shows that Paige Lavender, a reporter/commentator for Huffington Post, is utterly clueless. Before we get into Jeb Bush’s statements, here’s what Ms. Lavender said:

PAIGE LAVENDER: We’ve seen in the last 2 election cycles that the Republican primary tends to favor the more conservative candidate.

In 2008, there weren’t any conservatives in the race. Of the liberals, John McCain was the most liberal. He got the nomination. In 2012, the GOP candidates were marginally more conservative. Mitt Romney wasn’t as liberal as McCain but he wasn’t a conservative, either. He was simply the least liberal of the liberals running.

The good news is that Republicans will have a handful of conservatives to pick from in 2016, starting with Scott Walker, then adding John Kasich and possibly Mike Pence. GOP activists won’t have to hold their noses when supporting one of these candidates. Conservatives will be able to enthusiastically support one of these three candidates.

The last 20 seconds of this video will hurt Gov. Bush:

Here’s what Gov. Bush said:

GOV. BUSH: I kinda know how a Republican can win, whether it’s me or somebody else and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive, much more willing to, you know, to be practical now in the Washington world, to be willing to lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.

Jeb Bush, like Mike Huckabee before him, doesn’t have a clue about conservatism. True conservatism has a healthy libertarian streak to it, mixed with a healthy skepticism of Washington, DC-run programs. We prefer smallish programs administered at the local level because that’s the best way to ensure accountability. Gov. Bush enthusiastically supports Common Core, which is federalizing education curriculum and standardizing tests nationwide. It’s even telling school boards which text books fit with Common Core’s curriculum.

Conservatism is about giving people lots of positive options, whether we’re talking about families’ health care decisions or telling parents that they can send their children to schools that aren’t failing students.

For the last 6-8 years, Republicans had to play defense because Democrats controlled the agenda. The next Republican president will work with GOP majorities in the House and Senate. That means they’ll be setting the agenda. Their first assignment must be to fix the messes created by President Obama, Sen. Reid and Nancy Pelosi. That means finally getting the fed to shut off the QE2 spigot. That’ll require the GOP to starting over with health care reform. This time, it’s imperative to get it right. Getting America’s economy requires siding with construction unions while ignoring environmental activists on pipeline projects.

There’s no shortage of things that need fixing. When a Republican governor is elected to become the 45th president of the United States, he’ll have lots of things to fix or to get started on. Hopefully, the 45th president won’t be Jeb Bush.

It’s difficult to determine how much Zach Dorholt’s dismal debate performance last night will affect his race against Jim Knoblach. Still, for people watching the debate either on TV or from the City Council Chambers got proof that Zach Dorholt is an empty suit. The gravitas gap between Dorholt and St. Cloud businessman Jim Knoblach was frequently on display.

When Sylvia Scheibel asked how jobs were created, Dorholt had the first response, which was a jaw-dropper:

Through demand. Demands build toothpaste. Companies don’t build toothpaste.

That’s absurd thinking. Did demand create laptop computers, iPhones or MP3’s? Did the stimulus create a growing economy? That was the foundation of President Obama’s stimulus bill. GDP didn’t start picking up, if you can call it that, until after the Federal Reserve started pumping $1,000,000,000,000 a year into the economy through quantitative easing. Even then, economic growth has been anemic, the worst recovery since WWII.

Earlier in the debate, Dorholt talked about how Minnesota had to “invest more money” to match skilled workers with the needs of Minnesota’s businesses. Later, Dorholt reversed himself, saying that, under DFL control, the Higher Ed committees “did a good job” in matching businesses with the skilled workers that they needed. It’s impossible to do both.

Saying that Dorholt isn’t an impressive speaker is understatement. Saying that he’s a better orator than he is a policy wonk is accurate. The best thing I can say is that he’s a typical politician. That isn’t the type of trifecta I’m hoping for.

Jim Knoblach was clearly the most informed candidate in that matchup.

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