Thumbs down to USA Today's worst cities designation. We know it's rubbish, but others might believe the newspaper's May 14 story anointing Beloit Wisconsin's worst city. The city's downtown renaissance, showcased each Saturday when hundreds of people visit its farmers market, is one of the best arguments against the worst-city designation. But the story's author didn't appear to visit Beloit. Rather, the author drew from data--some of it outdated--to draw conclusions. Not surprisingly, the city of Beloit isn't happy. In particular, Beloit officials objected to the 6.5% unemployment rate cited in the story. The latest figures put unemployment at 4.4%, officials noted. So the next time the USA Today does something like this, it should at least use accurate statistics.
Thumbs down to getting Memorial Day poll wrong. The Gazette's online poll last week functioned more like a quiz. We asked people, "What is the purpose of Memorial Day?" Thankfully, most respondents--204 as of Friday--answered correctly, that it's to "remember those who died in active military service." But many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day, which likely led to 64 respondents believing it is to "celebrate all veterans and their contributions to the nation." At least people didn't confuse Memorial Day with Labor Day, with only two respondents selecting "to honor working people." Thumbs up to anyone who spent Memorial Day appreciating its true meaning.
Thumbs up to reprieve for St. Mary School. Parents voiced their disappointment last week over a plan to move fifth through eighth grades at St. Mary to nearby St. John Vianney School. Their protest elicited a reprieve from the Madison Diocese, which has given St. Mary several months to improve its financial outlook. It needs to increase its revenue by $100,000 per year to become sustainable. St. Mary is struggling to grow enrollment, but it's not alone. St. Patrick School closed last year, and even the Janesville School District is facing enrollment declines. St. Mary parents are passionate about their children's education, and if anyone can figure out a solution, they will do it.
Thumbs up to progress on state budget. Gov. Tony Evers and Republican leaders appeared to make some progress toward crafting a budget both sides can accept. And by "progress," we mean the two sides met without making snarky remarks about each other after their meeting. The Republican education spending plan falls short of the dollar amount Evers is seeking. But the proposal would increase state funding to two-thirds of education costs, which hasn't been done since 2003. Republicans aren't offering everything Evers wants, but the Legislature is headed in Evers' direction. Credit Republican leaders for moving a step closer toward a compromise.