Monday, April 03, 2006

Odds and Ends on Monday Morning
There's a fair amount of blogworthy stuff out there this morning. Here's what's bubbled to the surface in my world.

Item: Sun Prairie, an east-side suburb of Madison, is having a school bond referendum tomorrow--a big one, over 59 million dollars to build a second high school. Sun Prairie is the largest school district in the state with only one high school. Sun Prairie's high school is already crowded. (I taught a class there last Friday.) Ten years from now, the projections are that the district will have to accommodate 3,000 students. The district has decided to ask for the two-school plan, although some voters would rather see the district expand the existing school. They cite duplication of services with two schools, but also the idea that Sun Prairie will lose an important part of its identity if it has two high schools instead of one.

Comment: When The Mrs. and I lived in Illinois during the mid 80s, a new state superintendent of schools declared that no kid in the state should attend a high school with fewer than 500 students, and districts should be forced to consolidate to make that happen. Citizens of small towns in our area promptly began losing their minds. On the windswept Illinois prairies, it's not uncommon to see a town's high-school nickname painted on the community water tower. Without their high schools, these towns would lose their identities. Sun Prairie isn't like that. In fact, it's arguable that Sun Prairie lost its identity years ago, when the rural gap along Highway 151 that used to separate it from Madison was overgrown with office, retail, and housing developments. Indeed, the one-school sentiment seems to be coming from the town's old-timers. The new arrivals, who populate the new parts of town, don't have that attachment. The "one community, one school" people have hit upon an interesting emotional hook. However, it surely offers a convenient way for some referendum opponents--the kind of people who vote against all school referenda on general principles, as if a few bake sales could solve the problem--to ignore the demographic and economic realities of a growing suburban city.

Item: Another deadline passes, and still Brett Favre refuses to say whether he will return for another season in Green Bay. Favre said last week that he wanted to be sure the Packers would be winners this year before he decides to return, and that his decision is difficult because he's fairly sure he can still perform at a high level.

Comment: That sounds to me like he wants to play, but that he wouldn't necessarily mind if it were somewhere other than Green Bay. And you know what? I don't think it has to be in Green Bay, either. The Packers were awful in 2005, and there's little reason to believe they'll be better in 2006, either with Favre or without him. And so his public Hamlet act--giving interviews every couple of weeks in which he continues to dither over whether to come back--has started to look less like honest confusion over his future and more like a childish unwillingness to make up his mind, and a certain enjoyment of the spectacle of holding an entire state's football fans spellbound. I bow to no one in the intensity of my Packer devotion, but nobody's bigger than the team. Not even the most famous player in its storied history. If Favre thinks his reservoir of good will among Wisconsin fans is unlimited, he's mistaken.

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