Policy Topics for the Spring

In October 2014, I wrote about Four Public Topics for the Fall.  They seemed to be the city’s prominent public policy questions, looking ahead from 10.20.14. 

Those topics were (1) the 2015 City of Whitewater budget, (2) Whitewater Schools referendum, (3) UW-Whitewater’s social relations, and the (4) City of Whitewater’s waste digester proposal.

Now, as February 2015 slips away, I’d say that some of those topics yet linger, with others emerging. (These spring topics, below, are not listed by priority.)

Whitewater School Budget Cuts. The referendum’s long passed, and still this district and others are managing budget cuts.  There’s no equilibrium in sight. 

The budget questions – however difficult – are less concerning than long-term educational priorities.  (I wouldn’t always thought this way, but the recent use of educational test data as political talking points leaves me skeptical, generally. No one owes leaders or others what amounts to junk science, with contentions for political or economic gain resting on the misuse of data.)

My promised curriculum discussion, however, can wait until after the budget is (at least) more settled.  Budget choices will, in any event, give an indication of general priorities and specific compliance with legal obligations. 

Whitewater’s School Board Election  Three candidates are contesting for two school board seats.  These candidates are nothing alike: two well-know, local insiders  a generation apart in age, and one newcomer to local politics.  The newcomer has, herself, the strongest education; the insiders have name recognition, and in one case an obvious public-policy conflict of interest. 

The election offers questions on educational policy and priorities that deserve substantive answers.  We’ll have to wait and see what we actually get.

There will be a candidates’ forum on the first Saturday in March. 

Lots on this election to read, consider, and thereafter about which to write. 

UW-Whitewater’s Budget.  Gov. Walker has proposed cuts; there are sure to be some cuts (and probably most of what he’s proposed). 

The university will face choices it’s not had to confront before.

UW-Whitewater’s Social Relations.  About this topic, I mean both relations between people on campus, and between members of the university and the community beyond.  

Budget cuts matter greatly; treatment of people, as individuals, matters far more. 

There’s reason to be more concerned about this topic now than in October. 

The search for a new chancellor will take place, too.  A more insightful leader (or at least one less obtuse) would be a gain for university and city, both.

City of Whitewater’s Waste Digester Proposal.  City government promises more information in early March.  One can wait to see what the city proposes.

These spring topics wait ahead, with additional, unexpected topics possible, too. 

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