Sampling the Strong Stew of Thoughts at Eckstein Hall Education Conference

Posted on Categories Education & Law, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at MarquetteLeave a comment» on Sampling the Strong Stew of Thoughts at Eckstein Hall Education Conference

Given the long list of controversial and major decisions to be made soon as the process of setting Wisconsin’s state budget for the next two years comes to a head, it was remarkable how much agreement there was among speakers at the wide-ranging conference on kindergarten through twelfth grade education policy Monday at Eckstein Hall.

“Pivotal Points: A Forum on Key Wisconsin Education Issues as Big Decisions Approach” brought together key figures involved in politics, schools, and education policy before a full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom.

Yes, there were differences. But speakers covering a spectrum of views found a lot in common, including the need for stable, adequate funding of schools and stable, effective approaches to dealing with assessing students and tackling the challenges of schools where success is not common.

The four-hour conference opened with welcoming remarks from Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell and ended with something close to agreement by a Republican and Democrat involved in State Assembly education policy that “low performing” schools need support and help more than they need to be closed. Continue reading “Sampling the Strong Stew of Thoughts at Eckstein Hall Education Conference”

New Law School Poll Results Generate Great Interest Quickly

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The passage of time was one of the reasons why the release of a new round of Marquette Law School Poll results on Thursday drew such strong interest. It was the first round of Law School polling since shortly before the general election almost six months ago.

But the passage of time since the last poll was only one factor driving the rapid dissemination of  the results across Wisconsin and well beyond. A governor who has emerged as a leading all-but-announced candidate for president, controversial proposals connected to the state budget being shaped currently, a first look at a likely US Senate race in Wisconsin in 2016, a proposal for public funding for part of the cost of  a new arena in downtown Milwaukee — there are a lot of hot subjects  where finding out what the public as a whole thinks is both interesting and potentially influential.

To mention a few of the broad themes of the results:

— Job approval of Republican Gov. Scott Walker dipped to lower levels than seen previously in Law School Polls in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Continue reading “New Law School Poll Results Generate Great Interest Quickly”

Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, Marquette Law School Poll, Milwaukee, Public, Religion & Law, Speakers at Marquette1 Comment on Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference

Perhaps Kathleen Cepelka effectively summed up a half-day conference Wednesday on the future of Catholic kindergarten through twelfth grade schools simply by describing the state of the schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Cepelka, the superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, told the full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall about the strengths of schools in Milwaukee, about positive developments in enrollment, and about the many praiseworthy people and organizations involved in making the schools as good as they are.

But, she said, the quality of some of the schools isn’t what it needs to be and there are weak levels of achievement among students in some schools.  “We are not satisfied,” she said.

That mix — loyalty and pride in Catholic schools with an understanding of the pressing need to improve —  was voiced frequently during the conference, “The Future of Catholic K-12 Education: National and Milwaukee Perspectives,” sponsored by Marquette Law School and the Marquette College of Education.  Maybe “we are not satisfied” could have been the slogan for the event.   Continue reading “Calls for Doing Better Set Tone for Catholic Schools Conference”

The Continuing Story of a Strongly Divided Electorate

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Public4 Comments on The Continuing Story of a Strongly Divided Electorate

And in the end, we are at the point where we started – a state that is narrowly divided when it comes to the total number of people on each side of its politics and deeply divided when it comes to how strongly people feel about key issues.

That’s the way it was in 2011 and 2012 in the tumultuous events that led to a recall election for  governor. That’s the way it was in an analysis of voting patterns in Wisconsin, and especially in the Milwaukee area, by Craig Gilbert, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Washington Bureau chief, which was the cover story of the current Marquette Lawyer magazine. That’s what the Marquette Law School Poll showed at the start of 2014, as the run-up began to the election for governor, to be held on Tuesday.

And as Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said Wednesday, that’s what the final pre-election results showed. Franklin spoke at the conclusion of the “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at which the last poll data prior to the Nov. 4 election was released. Continue reading “The Continuing Story of a Strongly Divided Electorate”

Independence of Voters Yields Surprises in Law School Poll Results

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Race & LawLeave a comment» on Independence of Voters Yields Surprises in Law School Poll Results

It probably shouldn’t be such a surprise that independent votes would show their independence. But the Marquette Law School Poll results released Wednesday in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall clearly caught people in the room, as well as far beyond the room, by surprise. Independent voters were largely the reason why.

Two weeks ago, the poll put Republican Gov. Scott Walker ahead of Democratic challenger Mary Burke by five percentage points among likely voters. This time, the two were in such a dead heat among likely voters that the exact same number of poll respondents picked Walker and Burke (380 each). That made for a 47%-47% tie, with the scattered responses making up the remainder.

What changed? Among voters who labeled themselves independents, Walker led in the prior Marquette Law School Poll, conducted late September, by 53% to 40%. But in the new poll, conducted from Oct. 9 through 12, Burke was favored by 45% of independents and Walker by 44%. Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, considered that a significant shift and an indication that there were still voters out there who are persuadable by either candidate – potentially enough to decide the election. Continue reading “Independence of Voters Yields Surprises in Law School Poll Results”

The Marquette Law School Poll’s Version of the Sounds of Silence

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public1 Comment on The Marquette Law School Poll’s Version of the Sounds of Silence

The big story coming out of the release Wednesday of a new round of results from the Marquette Law School Poll was that Republican Gov. Scott Walker had opened up a bit more distance over Democratic challenger Mary Burke that was seen in recent rounds of polling. Among likely voters, Walker was supported by 50% and Burke by 45%. As Professor Charles Franklin, director of the poll said, this is still a close race. But there were indicators of some trends in Walker’s direction.

Both in the news media (for sure in Wisconsin and, in some cases, nationally) and within the world of political activists, the poll results will be analyzed carefully to see what people are saying. The Marquette Law School Poll has become the principle source of information on Wisconsin public opinion on major issues, especially political races.

But instead of focusing on what people are saying, permit me here to focus on what people are not saying. Politics, even in the midst of a heated election season, is not of interest to everyone. So here are a few examples of non-involvement: Continue reading “The Marquette Law School Poll’s Version of the Sounds of Silence”