My first cut in a recent column on the defining differences between the three extreme critics running for the West Bend School District school board and the three centrists also running for the three open seats was that the former trio are essentially “anti-district.” The three centrists, on the other hand, are supporters of the district and essentially “pro-district.”
In other words, it’s three centrists running to keep the district on an even keel and three right-wing extremists are running to disrupt what they see as a defective school operation.
The other delineation that comes to mind is the three running together (Bill Schulz, Nick Stewart and Laurie Schloemer-Aleven) are hostile to the school board, the administration and the teachers, even though they may throw a few bouquets toward the teachers. The three centrists, who are running independently, basically are respectful of the work being done by the school board, the administration and the teachers in the classroom.
Here is a typical quote from the centrists (Kelly Lang, June Kruger and Chad Tamez), this one by Lang, “I am tired of hearing the negative about our school district when we all know the good and amazing things that come out of the district. I want to be part of the positive.”
Here’s a quote by Kruger, who wants to be “a positive and professional advocate for the district.”
In a response to a question about children with reading difficulties, Tamez said the management of those students should be delegated to school professionals, while the board’s involvement should be to make sure there are sufficient professional resources available.
In contrast, here are some general statements from the critical trio; Bill Schulz, who has erased most of his personal Facebook page showed this, “Listen, smile, agree and do whatever the XXXX you were going to do anyway.”
Another Schulzism: “I drink like an alcoholic and my hatred for stupid people has grown even more.” His Facebook depicted one disgusting sexual act to make a point.
Regarding a photo celebrating a first group of female Eagle Scouts, he wrote, “This bullXXXX makes me cringe knowing I have to raise two children in a world that wants to see this as a new normal.”
It is hard to pin down the positions of Nick Stewart, because he has blocked questions and responses on his Facebook page. His rap sheet includes four DUIs and several other driving charges. We can all be sympathetic with veterans with alcohol problems, but he obviously needs to explain his problem with alcohol and what he is doing or has done about it. He has said that he would explain his positions on a video at a later date.
In cases of alleged bullying, Stewart said he would personally go to the school and intervene beyond what school management was doing to assess and deal with such cases.
He is critical of the district’s reliance on state and federal funds and wants to wean the district off those outside funds. On that subject, he said, “Then we won’t be slaves to state and federal educational bureaucrats that think they know better than us on how to educate our children in our district.” He was non-specific about which encroachments he has in mind.
Aleven, a nurse who is an ardent anti-vaxxer, has been more measured in her public comments, including some respect for teachers, but took an opposite tack when she said when referring to classroom discussions of current events with students, “… I can also add that parents/guardians should be made aware of these discussions (that) are occurring and be allowed to observe the discussions in classroom and/or place a live camera in the classroom to allow parents or guardians to participate.”
The critical trio has aligned itself with County Supervisor Dennis Kelling, an extremist who is running for mayor of West Bend. One of Kelling’s recent statements: “If we make all public schools virtual, we lay off 90% of the teachers and staff. Then more money (could go) to a voucher program. Then move to close all public schools and replace with private schools.”
There is obviously is a cavernous gap between the two slates of candidates who would like to take over a majority position on the seven-person board. The trio team is hugely distrustful of how the district is run. The three independent candidates start with a trusting position, but welcome improvements to district operations.
The impact of this election cannot be overstated.