By Joe Bachman
With the April 4 school board elections right around the corner, the City Times spoke with candidate Jim Scott regarding his views on Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, and what he would bring to the table if elected.
Jim Scott was born and raised in Kenosha, Wis. where he attended Carthage College and graduated with a Double Bachelors in Political Science and History. Scott served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War where he was stationed in Germany. Scott owned and operated three Ace Hardware stores in the city of Humble, Texas. He is currently retired.
Biggest Issue Facing WRPS?
“The biggest specific issue is their contributed operation in what I call an ‘educational gridlock vacuum’ — it’s not just them, but Wisconsin public education in general. The school districts, school boards, teacher’s union, administration — it doesn’t allow them to have the freedom to try to solve the problems they’re faced with.”
Benefits of a School Voucher Program?
“The school choice system is growing more and more popular every day. It’s the proper solution for the problems we’re faced against, which is basically that these kids are not getting the education they could be getting if they had that much more freedom. What school choice does is empowers the parents to make the choice. They make the choices on where and how their child is educated. The concept of choice introduces competition and the free market, and as a result, looking at the big picture, the successful schools will continue to prosper — the schools that aren’t successful will perish, like in the marketplace. School choice is ‘results driven’ — parents want the best for their kids, and they’re going to gravitate to the provider that gives their child the best results.”
Is there Accountability to Voucher Schools?
“All you have to do is look at the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) regulations and state law. The accountability that the educational providers in Milwaukee County have to go through are actually stricter than the public schools. Another thing critics tend to promote is the idea that school choice schools can cherry-pick who they admit — but state law flat says if you’re an educational provider, you cannot deny access to education for any reason. Period. That would be discrimination.”
How Would you Address the Wisconsin Teacher Shortage?
“Here’s how teachers would benefit from school choice — the providers would treat the teachers as true professionals; they would be hired based on supply and demand, and based on their performance and what they can produce for the provider. As a result what you will find is that the really good teachers; the teachers with vision, and that can communicate and motivate will become very valuable. They will command very good compensation. The teachers that are hired will probably get paid a lot more than they’re paid now.”
What Will Voters Get if You’re Elected?
“The school choice concept at a local level is only a beginning point. For me to go in and change things dramatically is not going to happen — but what I can do is try to change the center of gravity in the school board, and try to get them to discuss new ideas that they haven’t discussed in the past. I’m going to try to push them out of their comfort zone. Right now what you’ve got is what I call a ‘circular admiration society’ — they all stand in a circle and pat each other on the back. What I want to do is get in there and maybe kick a few butts, instead.”