Daily Bread for 12.29.21: Four Perspectives on the Whitewater Schools

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 29.  Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 4:29 PM for 9h 04m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 23.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1812, the USS Constitution, under the command of Captain William Bainbridge, captures HMS Java off the coast of Brazil after a three-hour battle.

 There have been, and will be, intense contests for school boards across America in the coming year. Wisconsin had a nationally-noted battle over a school board recall in November, and upcoming spring elections in parts of the state are likely to be as acrimonious.  See Mequon-Thiensville School District Rejects Recall and How Mequon-Thiensville Residents Saved Their Schools.

(Notably, Mequon-Thiensville is a successful, affluent district where the conflict was between kinds of conservatives. The more traditional conservatives found the populist ones objectionable, and the community sided decisively in favor of the traditionalists. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction report cards for Mequon-Thiensville show how different it is from Whitewater in socio-economic status and academic accomplishment. Successful, vibrant communities find conservative populism — Trumpism, truly — a dead end.)

Before whatever battles ahead begin, it’s worth distinguishing between four perspectives on education: the district as it is now, a school board race as it unfolds, the district after a spring election, and education through lifelong learning apart from formal schooling within the district.

If one simply thinks about the district, nothing is more significant than the condition of that institution now. For many students, they are well into their tenure — how has it gone for them?

If one thinks about the district during a campaign, then one will see that no candidate, no board member, no principal, and no superintendent will matter half so much as a single student. Likewise, no claim, no press release, no photograph will matter half so much as a single student. In a properly-ordered community, this should, and so would, be plain. And so, and so, one would think less about candidates, so to speak, and more about the principles and positions of a candidacy. These candidates and board members are not going to spend all day in our schools; our children are going to spend all day in our schools. How are they to be taught, and how are they to be treated?

If one thinks about the district’s condition after a campaign, there will be ongoing work requiring a student-directed faculty, principals, and superintendent. Ongoing work is expensive, and this administration (here sometimes called ‘Central Office’) has, to put it mildly, done itself no favors in laying the groundwork for ongoing community support. On the contrary, efforts at boosterism and promotion of a popular image have made long-term prospects worse.

Note well: administrators come and go; shake a tree and a few more will fall out. Our community’s children and their parents, however, are not similarly replaceable (nor should they be seen that way). They did not arrive yesterday, and they will not be leaving tomorrow. Whitewater is not a job for these students and parents — it’s home.

Finally, the fourth perspective is the most important of all: learning begins before and endures after formal education. Bluntly stated: ‘WUSD supporters’ matter less than supporters of education, supporters of lifelong learning. Those who think more about an institution than what it teaches — substantively and ethically — value education too cheaply.

1930s – Views of Los Angeles in color [60fps, Remastered] w/added sound:

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