Friday, March 20, 2009

Taking the Public Out of the DPI

As she has been running to head the Department of Public Instruction, Rose Fernandez has said that she supports public schools. But you wouldn't know it if you looked beyond her campaign rhetoric. A 2005 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about her children attending a Virtual School, revealed that they had previously been homeschooled. Some of her older children that were featured in that story now attend a private school. So there was homeschooling, then virtual schools, then a private school. This pattern seems to show that she has never been a big fan of public schools - that is until she decided to run for public office. Apparently we are supposed to just accept her campaign rhetoric without asking why Public schools were never good enough (at any point) for her own children.

Unfortunately Rose Fernandez has zero track record to look at beyond her campaign promises and current rhetoric. Let's face it, Rose Fernandez has zero experience with or investment in our state's public schools. This seems odd since she wants to lead the Department of PUBLIC Instruction. Voters are really being asked to take quite a big leap of faith indeed. They are being asked to take a person that has zero experience as an educator at any level and allow her to lead the entire state's education system. The public is being asked to make someone the head of the Department of Public Instruction that has never shown a real commitment to, well…public instruction.

If Rose Fernandez severe lack of real-life support is not enough, just look at some of her stated positions. When responding to questions from the wildly extreme Wisconsin Family Council, Fernandez sounded all of the right anti-public school talking points that they prefer to hear. In that document she supports not only removing the cap on the number of voucher schools in Milwaukee but then expanding it all across the state. In doing this she would essentially be lifting money out of the pockets of our public schools all over the state and handing it over to what she truly prefers – private schools. Her comments to the Wisconsin Family Council are unmistakable and they clearly show that she plans to "voucherize" Wisconsin schools.

Rose Fernandez not only has a preference for private schools but also apparently has a soft spot for private and for profit out-of-state companies. Rose Fernandez is connected in several different directions to the for-profit, Virginia-based company K12, Inc. She actually started surfacing in news stories, such as the one referenced above, directly in relation to K12 and virtual schools. K12 contracts with school districts using virtual schools and has made a handsome profit on Wisconsin dollars. In one K12 prospectus (pg. 69) the firm bragged about possibly capturing some $5 million dollars from the State of Wisconsin in the fiscal year 2008. Making this kind of scratch, K12 certainly has been able to fund all sorts of lobbyists and others to protect their Wisconsin gravy train. Rose Fernandez has been a loyal supporter of this private company and they would like nothing more than to see her gain a position that could realistically translate into even larger profits. It makes me wonder if they have or if they will invest any more of their loot into this race in one way or another.

Rose Fernandez wants to take over the Department of Public Instruction, even though she has never shown any observable support for public schools. Over the years she has personally avoided them, she has zero investment in them, and she supports taking away funding from them to prop up private schools and even a private company. One thing is now painfully clear, Rose Fernandez plans to take the Public out of the Department of Public Instruction.


Anonymous said...

Um, DPI isn't only responsible for public schools, you do know that right? If you do, then why do you make that the only faux qualification for Superintendent?

Not to mention the fact that Rose may very well be tired of many public schools NOT being good enough for ANYONE's children, ergo the reason why she, along with tens of thousands of other wisconsinites, feel that an outsider needs to change the way our public schools are run. Those who are entrenched within the system, like Evers, have no real desire to do anything that will upset WEAC or change the status quo in favor of reform that would provide a better education for our children and relief for our parent's POCKETBOOKS. Don't blame Rose for Rose, blame the establishment. The same establishment that you claim a Superintendent needs to hail from.

In it's current state, my kids will probably never go to a public school. I want to know why people like you think parents should not be able to use their own tax dollars to send their children to any school they want. Those against vouchers may not be racists, but they sure have no problem being discriminatory.

I bet you have no problem that the Obama's send their kids to a private school. And don't give me the security issue, since their children never went to public schools even when Obama was a nobody.

Thanks for making the case for Rose, she will be a breath of fresh air.

Publius said...

You will likewise admonish the 29 percent of Milwaukee teachers that send their children to private schools, as well?

Emily said...

Oh c'mon, this isn't about "school choice," it's about gutting all funding for the dirty, liberal public schools and doing away with the idea that a quality education should be affordable and available to everyone.

Private schools, virtual schools, homeschooling - that's all peachy for those that want them and wish to fund them. But taking public, state funds away from public schools to do that is a terrible idea. Instead of off-loading education to for-profit institutions, we should be focused on bettering the public system. Does that mean some of the status-quo needs to get seriously shaken up? Absolutely. But this insistence that the only real solution is to just bail out of public education is wrong-headed and dangerous.

A healthy, free society can only exist with a well-informed citizenry. Rich, poor, black, white--it shouldn't matter, we should be making sure that every child has a shot at a good education. Public funds should be used for public education, not for-profit businesses. This is, after all, only the long-term well-being of our children and our society being talked about.

Anonymous said...

So... the lady who wants to change DPI has zero experience with public education and home schools her kids? What a fraud.

Anonymous said...


That was nice rhetoric, but as usual no substance. You act as if those who want to use their tax dollars for more choice in education aren't responsible for the taxes that fund public schools. Why should "public" funds not be used the way the public chooses to use it?

Your argument is reactionary and not what the "public" needs from those in charge of education.

Why should a public school get paid for a child who doesn't attend school there?

That's just stupid and as the last guy said, a "fraud."

Anonymous said...

Hmmm . . . I wonder how many politicians send their kids to public schools.

Anyway, if sending your kids to public schools is the ultimate test that one truly cares about public education, then we have a whole lot of congressmen, senators, and our very own messianic president who don't care about our public education.

Anonymous said...

Your title is correct: remove P from DPI and replace it with DEI--Department of Excellent Education.

It's time to throw out the old stale method of teaching in Wisconsin and consider new ones.

The Milwaukee Public Schools graduates less than 50% of its students under DPI's control. What a failure.

Rose Fernandez is the right person to lead this new organization and look into more vouchers and home schooling.


Cory Liebmann said...

I didn't say anywhere in this blog posting that simply sending your kids to private schools was a bad thing, so please stop the jerking knees long enough to actually read what it says.

The problem is a combination of things...not just one.

She has zero background in education...would you ask your plumber to take out your appendix? This is just about as absurd.

She has avoided public schools like the plaque but somehow pretends to know what is best for them.

By "knowing whats best for them" she means taking funds from them and giving them without limits to her friends in the private world.

And she has all sorts of connections to a private special interest that has their out-of-state fingerprints all over this entire situation.

None of these things are good for public schools in Wisconsin and the fact that she hasn't darkened the door of one is only the tipping point, not the entire issue by itself.


These teachers that you speak of are not asking to head DPI (although all of them would be more qualified). Also these teachers are working every day to improve education in our schools. They have a vested interest in their success. what vested interest does Rose Fernandez have other than trying to get elected?

Cory Liebmann said...

I think that Rose Fernandez probably shares your view germantown-kid. i just hope that she starts being honest with the public and says it in her first ad.

we have many great public schools in this state, with many skilled teachers and accomplished students. I don't think that the vast majority of people want to just scrap it all.

Anonymous said...


You obviously don't know much about Rose, did you even read her bio on the website? Or, you don't respect any type of educational experience that isn't under the "public" (not to mention liberally Madison controlled) system (probable).

Rose was the Leader of a grass roots parent-student-teacher coalition that fought for the rights of virtual schools, AND WON! She also enrolled her older children in a PUBLIC charter school.

You don't know diddly, you make false accusations and you obviously respect only those who have a record in certain "public" schools, the same public schools that aren't worth a damn.

Wake up, and quit being such an ideologue.

Cory Liebmann said...

Yes, I have looked at every inch of her website. I'd feel very safe in saying that I probably know much more about her than most people.

Running an advocacy org funded by special interest dollars does not equal knowing how to educate kids...sorry. And btw, I'm not against private schools or the teachers in them...actually any of them would be much more qualified than Rose. I simply don't like people favoring them over public schools and taking public dollars to do so.

I suspect that you didn't read the linked mjs story or listen to her closing remarks in the debate tonight...perhaps its you that doesn't want to know diddly. Its much easier to be an adoring fan.

Anonymous said...

I have met with Rose 3 times in the last 4 weeks and know her much better than you. But that is besides the point.

I would love to hear, someone like you, finally give a straight answer on why it takes almost twice as much money to pay for a kid to go to a public school than a private school?

Please, tell everyone how that is even the slightest bit fair and rational to tax payers and parents, who actually PAY the majority of taxes. And why shouldn't the tax payers decide where they want there tax dollars to go, instead of the WEAC?

I have a funny feeling that you will just skirt around the question and create a diversion so that you don't have to address the absurdity.

Why should you decide where my tax dollars go and how much property tax that I should have to pay, which approached $10,000 this year?

Zach W. said...

"Your title is correct: remove P from DPI and replace it with DEI--Department of Excellent Education."

Uhhh....night wanna check your spelling, superstar. Department of Excellent Education would be DEE, not DEI.

Thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

Someone asked a question about why it costs more to educate a child in public school rather than one in private school. At least part of the answer is accountability.

Mandates cost money; testing costs money; crunching the numbers to produce a district report card costs money; fulfilling Individual Education Plans for students with special education needs costs money; Because let's face it, most kids with special needs end up in public schools; private schools can reject them. And qualified teachers cost money too.

In voucher schools in Milwaukee, you only need a GED to "teach." If you only have a GED, I guess you can't demand as much compensation. You're just desperate for a job. And this is the program Fernandez wants to expand statewide?

It's not OK to give public money to private schools when they aren't transparent. I can look on the DPI Web site and see detailed statistics for any public school in our state. Many districts, including MPS, post their report cards on their Web site's home page.

And lastly, I'm sick of seeing this 50% graduation rate peddled around by public school bashers. The MPS graduation rate is 68% - pretty close to the national average. Sure, MPS has more work to do, but the district has made significant progress in this area in the last several years.

If you're going to badmouth public schools, at least get your facts right. Unless, of course, you're not interested in facts.

Anonymous said...

My facts are correct, Germantown_kid made that statement about 50%.

Your argument about public schools needing more money to achieve worse results than private schools is ridiculous. It just proves my point that there is too much bureaucracy in the public school system and it needs to be overhauled.

Thanks for making another case for Rose Fernandez.

Anonymous said...

The "50%" graduation rate was published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Also, there is another study that shows an even lower graduation rate for Milwaukee Public Schools.

The problem pointed out by the last Anon is that public school tuition rates are twice the costs of private schools because of fringe benefits, among other things like bureaucracy.

And while private schools cost less money, they produce better results as a whole, which suggests that the education level of teachers, although important, isn't critical for the success of a child's education.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Saint Obama doesn't send his kids to public school....