This Just In ...

Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The reality about today's suburban school boards

Based on data from FranklinNOW, I’m getting lots of new readers. That’s greatly appreciated. Folks are also searching for old blogs. I want to share info from a May 2011 blog that I’ve updated. The material still rings true today.

During April of 2011, the late
Franklin blogger Fred Keller took a video camera into a meeting of the Franklin School Board. Keller proceeded to tape what amounted to a waste of School Board time and taxpayer money.

On his own blog, Keller posted videos of the discussion on an agenda item where the board members performed self-evaluation. Hey, forget about student performance, test scores, dropout rates, etc. Instead, let’s chat about how we get along.

I saw enough of the lengthy videos to find some rather revealing material.

Not surprising was then-School Board Vice-President Jeff Traylor literally scoffing and chuckling at the very notion of being “fiscally responsible” with a complete "could care less" facial expression and body language.

The best line I heard was from member Janet Evans, who is now the board’s president. As her colleagues wrestled with how to form better “relationships” as a board, Evans chimed in:

“I’m not here to have a relationship (with any of you). I’m here to do my job.”


She said what?

“I’m not here to have a relationship (with any of you). I’m here to do my job.”

The comment made so much common sense and because it did, Evans’ statement was stunning to the rest of the board. You could almost sense the collective reaction from the others as they longed for a roll of TUMS:


When I watched Keller’s video, I must be honest, I did not leap from my seat…but I felt like it.

Which brings me to a segment on Mark Belling’s talk show that occurred a few weeks after that school board meeting. Keep in mind Janet’s comments:

“I’m not here to have a relationship (with any of you). I’m here to do my job.”

The problem is that there should be more school board members with that sentiment, but there aren’t.

I will paraphrase, and quite accurately, from Mark’s program.

He addressed a school board issue in Menomonee Falls (MF). By coincidence, MF has about the same population as Franklin and like Franklin is immensely conservative. In MF, the voting patterns are overwhelmingly Republican. As Mark put it, the last place you’d expect victories by the teacher’s union with public officials thumbing their noses at the will of the people would be MF. I would add you could toss in Franklin, except that the Franklin School Board is beyond out of touch.

Mark mentioned that in some communities, especially smaller ones like MF (and I might add, Franklin) with 30-35,000 population, the teachers are often pals with the school board. They bump into one another and see each other in the community, at church, at youth school sports. They become buddies.

When a school board member’s “friend,” aka teacher asks for help, the school board member, rather than upset a “friend” and stand up for the electorate, instead caves.

Another factor needs to be considered.

Folks run for office with the best intentions. They claim they are going to strive for fiscal responsibility. They will not be beholden to special interests. They will represent the taxpayers.

Then they get elected and rub elbows with the entrenched administration. They go native, welcomed into their new family, going from “one of us” to “one of them.” Prior to the election, they were outsiders. Now they’re insiders.

Mark also made this comment that again reminded me of Janet’s poor imitation of Rodney King. He said that if he was ever to serve on a governmental body, he’d be fine if the others on the body didn’t like him. Why? Because he wasn’t there to win their approval. He was there to work for the people that put him there.

It is 100% total, authentic, bona fide, genuine common sense. Unfortunately, too many on the Franklin and other school boards don’t get it.

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