Election Thoughts

So the election is over. Wisconsin voted against the two presidential frontrunners. I guess that means we will all be unhappy in November? Perhaps it just speaks to Wisconsin’s unique political culture.

Closer to home the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) referendum passed easily. I am not surprised by the outcome. In my opinion the Vote Yes group had a clear message throughout the campaign while the Vote No message was too scattered to resonate. I hope the two pieces I wrote on the referendum (as well as the interview with the Oshkosh Northwestern) helped voters make an informed decision. I chose to write them for a couple of reasons.

I wrote the first piece, which tracked the fiscal trends of OASD, because I was curious to evaluate OASD’s position so I could make an informed vote. School districts across the state are dealing with declining state support (when inflation is taken into account) and diminished authority to raise funds via the property tax.  Some districts were able to offset these cuts with the increased employee contributions mandated by Act 10. OASD was not. All of this was important to point out in order to understand exactly why OASD was asking to exceed revenue limits.

I wrote the second piece, which explained some of the numbers being tossed around, because I am deeply troubled by a lack of government transparency. We all give up freedom and treasure to be part of a governed society, and a legitimate government needs to be clear about what it is doing with the freedom and treasure we all cede. Hence, I take accusations of government dishonesty very seriously.   False allegations of dishonesty make us less aware of the times when our public institutions are less than transparent, and demand to be called out. I was happy to do so. Education finance is complex and confusing, but it can be understood.

Now, anytime you put yourself out there when politics is involved there is a risk of backlash. It is unfortunate because it keeps people with a lot to offer out of public discussions. So yeah, I was called names. But name calling and incivility is not substantive, and rarely beats facts and logic. Anyways, thanks to all who took the time to read my stuff, now I can go back to studying education finance simply for the fun of it!


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