Gov. Walker Visits Waukesha Elementary School

Governor remains steadfast on reform bill, despite recent court ruling.

It’s not often a governor visits a Waukesha elementary school, but first graders in Mrs. Donna Hohl’s dual-language classroom at Banting Elementary had an exciting morning Friday when Gov. Scott Walker came to read to the class at the request of his niece, Isabella, a student of Mrs. Hohl’s.

Walker has visited a few other schools in the state promoting his Read to Lead task force, a literacy initiative.

The governor’s wife Tonette, brother David and sister-in-law Maria Walker, Isabella’s parents, were present during the reading, as were State Rep. Bill Kramer, Sen. Mary Lazich, School District Superintendent Todd Gray and School Board Member Barbara Brzenk.

Having a governor for an uncle has been exciting for the first grader.

“She’s been very excited since the election,” Maria Walker said.

Displaying an ease with the children, Walker warmed up the crowd of first graders by asking them what favorite their Dr. Suess books were.

The children knew their Suess, naming some favorites like The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The governor read Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess to the children.

“Fame! You will be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you on TV,” the governor read from the book.

“Can you imagine that?” he asked in an aside to the children.

After a short time in the limelight Friday morning, maybe Mrs. Hohl’s first graders can.

The class expressed their thanks to Walker with a handmade card shaped like the state of Wisconsin: “Thank you for visiting our school and thank you for taking care of our state,” Mrs. Hohl translated from Spanish to English for the governor.

Outside the school gathered a small group of protestors who would disagree with that thanks. For some, it was ironic that Walker was visiting a school.

“I’m strongly believer in public education. It’s a shame what they’re doing to public education,” said Mary Busch, a retired teacher who came prepared to wait out the visit, using her walker as a small chair.

“We’re public employees, not public slaves,” she said.

In talking with reporters afterward, Walker said that he remains convinced that one way or another, his proposed budget reforms will be in place for next year.

His first step will be to “look at whether or not the Supreme Court is an option.  If it’s not, enough lawmakers have expressed an interest in acting on it,” he said, adding that they are still weeks away from having to make that decision.

He understands, though, that time is short.

“Clearly, whether it’s for school districts like Waukesha, others across the state, other local governments, they’ve got to have some certainty by the time July 1 comes around," Walker said "... I’m convinced either through the court process or the legislative process, the reforms will be there."

He remains steadfast that the state needs the proposed reforms.

“We can’t pass the budget without those reforms, or it would be absolute chaos for school districts and local governments across the state," he said. "They need to have that certainty."

Prior to the read-aloud session with the children, Walker met with Waukesha School Superintendent Todd Gray, School Board member Barbara Brzenk and Banting Principal Cynthia Gannon.

“We didn’t ask him to promise us anything,” Brzenk said about the budget situation in Madison.

She said that Walker was “very impressed” with what the district "is doing to prepare children for the work world and for college, especially the new STEM school, our alternative school, how we’ve been graduating kids who normally wouldn’t have graduated … and what’s going at South with the engineering school and the health professions.”

“[He] said that Waukesha was probably one of the best kept secrets in Wisconsin,” she said.

Randy May 28, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Walker is making these appearances in an attempt to look like he cares about education. His main goal is to defund public education to the point where it cannot function or function so poorly everyone will demand they have access to the voucher program. His entire political career has been about privatization that is all his uneducated butt can understand. He does not have the mental capacity to understand why sometimes public services are necessary for the good of all people. This isn't about teacher salaries or benefits they have agreed to the cuts and that still does not come close to making up for the cuts in funding each district will see next year.
Jerry Bean May 28, 2011 at 02:40 PM
$5 says the gov is reading My Pet Goat in this photo. Funny to see him reading though cause the Republicans have said there's no room in the free market for education cause it costs too much. Keith Best is right. I mean when we cut costs in the private sector and base everything on cost not quality, we end up with better products, such as the American auto industry, the food industry, the housing industry... oh wait, I forgot those have all fallen apart and the products have become terrible! When you base everything on low cost it kills quality! That's why our economy is in the tank!!!!!
Rick May 28, 2011 at 03:52 PM
@Randy... I think this was what the lead in said it was... a neice wanting her uncle,, who happens to be governor, to make an appearence in her class... afterall he has done that else where. I don't know about you but i couldn't say no to that logic. As far as privitazion as a tactic to reduce costs... i am all for it as long as service levels remain the same or better. I don't know why anyone would be opposed if service doesn't suffer. Also don't confuse public services with the provider of the service. What makes a public school teacher better that a private school teacher? More qualifications? I have seen time and time again people with lots of qaulifications like PHD's, MBA's, Certified this and that who are not nearly as good as the self-taught technician. I am talking about electronics, computing and mechincal engineering fields here. So if i don't bow down to the credentials... it is because i have seen the realtiy of what they mean... NOTHING. @Jerry... Love your comments and thought process... Look at the auto industry ($30 per hour to push brooms in 1975)... Gee I wonder where costs had to be cut there. Housing industry is in the tank because builder can not build affordable houses with the cost of union labor, so according to the people in know in the industry they hire sub-contractors who in-turn hire who knows who... i am told most can not speak english, i will let you draw your own conclusions on the immigartion status and/or skills.
tootsieraul May 29, 2011 at 12:36 PM
In my opinion, it's about giving parents who want what they perceive as the best educational options they deem fit for their children. Public education should have no fear of other educational options if they are deem to be the best by parents in any given community. Is it the union who's worried? If the union has the very best educators in their system, parents will recognize this and public education will be successful. That's up to the union members - thanks the Scott Walker.
Pete Best May 31, 2011 at 11:46 PM
You certainly seem to dance for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!


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