Last week, a long-form piece about the formation of The Lincoln Academy, a charter school authorized not through the Beloit School District but through the University of Wisconsin Office of Educational Opportunity, was featured in this space. I'm thrilled with the reaction; traffic to the website increased a hundred fold; an 2,300% traffic increase in multiple days. The analytics charts for my website resembles the rise of GME, wholly missing the monetization but complete with the fall back to earth in more recent days.
If I said I was critical of the Beloit Daily News in the piece, I'd be the king of understatements. I eviscerated the work of the Beloit Daily News and their lead reporter as biased and slanted or inept and complicit. These words shouldn't have come as a shock; I said so much to the reporter in a conversation prior to my publishing of the piece.
On Tuesday, as tptb hits were going "to the moon" as the r/WallStreeBets subreddit is fond of saying, the Beloit Daily News published an article, "Community Members Voice Concerns Over The Lincoln Academy". This piece, behind a paywall, is labeled as "hot" at the Beloit Daily News website. They've known for quite some time that this is a polarizing issue. They're using it to pad their subscription numbers and line their pockets. This is not exclusive to the Beloit Daily News. Information vital to the poorest members of communities are tucked away behind a paywall by the most conservative of publishers, those with a literal vested interest in hiding information. This is the state of local media.
This website and this writer offer no mea culpa to the Beloit Daily News and is in no way prepared to call this most recent reporting impartial. The article states perspectives from school board president Megan Miller, Beloit Public Education Network member and teacher Kirah Zeillinger, and president of the Beloit NAACP Tia Johnson, all of whom have their questions and skepticism about The Lincoln Academy. While reporter Hillary Gavan pushes the point that The Lincoln Academy is getting our tax dollars, she doesn't push back where we need her to the most. The article allowed Kids First Beloit Secretary Lisa Furseth the last word, "Public dollars to support students who enroll in an independent charter school are allocated at the state level. Citizens are offered the opportunity to have input on those decisions through the state budget process." Pardon me, reader, while I rage scream into a pillow. The anger that statement fills me with is nearly unprocessable, a word that doesn't exist in the English language, which fits because the rage is without precedent. The immediate follow up to Furseth's misleading statement is the question of whether she's aware how much Diane Hendricks spends on Wisconsin politics every year in order to shape the same state budget process she claims is so Democratic in nature. I wonder how Lisa Furseth feels about gerrymandering? Does she have any opinion on the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who agree with the concept of drawing fair maps but a Republican congress who refuses to take up so much as a vote? Lisa Furseth should not be allowed to comment on the democratic nature of the state budget process without being prepared to defend it. Unfortunately, the direct quote from Furseth are the last words of the article. The closing words of an article on a polarizing topic are often indicative of a newspaper's attempt to shape a narrative. To allow Furseth the courtesy of using the argument that this whole process is actually democratic in nature even though I was assured personally by the Director of the UW Office of Educational Opportunity that it is not is infuriating. Likewise infuriating is the fact that in their January reporting on the Lincoln Academy's "grow-a-grade" approach the Beloit Daily News had not a single mention of a community response. They simply allowed their newspaper to act as a mouthpiece. Note the pattern here: the article that notes the response of the community closes with a response from the school and the article about the changes at the school are presented with no comments at all from the community.
Yesterday's Beloit Daily News featured a letter to the editor, a scathing retort to previous reporting incompetence. If the Beloit Daily News is given any credit for publishing a letter critical of their reporting it must also be noted that the voice could hardly be ignored. Dorothy Harrell, former president of the Beloit NAACP and 2018 recipient of the YWCA Racial Justice Award wrote the letter, which the Beloit Daily News ran with the title, "Tell the truth about Lincoln Academy finances, governance." Harrell has long fought for racial justice and equality and her condemnation of the reporting done by the Beloit Daily News carries the weight of an entire oppressed community. I do not congratulate the Beloit Daily News for giving Dorothy Harrell a voice; she's earned that ten-fold. I do, however, thank Dorothy Harrell for once again using that voice. Harrell notes recent articles published by the Beloit Daily News. "In both articles, the words 'tuition will be free' appears. This, to me, is to give the impression that students would be attending a private school. Tell the real truth. This school is being funded with our tax dollars so it must be open to all students. Monies sent to Lincoln are taken from the funding for other Beloit Public schools." Succinct and compact, Harrell sums up community sentiment in 100 words what I attempted to do in a convoluted 2,500. Harrell's letter is also behind the Beloit Daily News paywall.
As always, thank you for reading, for free.