Larry Miller's Blog: Educate All Students!

December 15, 2014

A Must See 2-Minute Cartoon Video on Public Education

Filed under: American Injustice,Privatization,Public Education — millerlf @ 3:49 pm

Watch the following youtube cartoon. It says it all.

November 10, 2014

Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Takes Clear Stand for Public Education, Democracy and Against Privatization.

Filed under: Privatization,WASB — millerlf @ 2:40 pm

(Following are past resolutions adopted by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards at its annual delegate assembly.)

1.01 Preserving Powers
The WASB supports retaining and preserving the power and duty of locally elected school boards to oversee public education. (2001-2)(2010-1)
(a) “Parent Trigger” Laws
The WASB opposes measures (such as so-called ”parent trigger” laws) which allow parents, through a petition process, to lessen school board oversight and control of public schools that fail to meet certain performance criteria and, in some cases, allow parents to hand management of those schools over to private charter school management companies or to offer affected students private school vouchers, on the basis that such laws usurp the responsibility and authority of locally elected school boards to oversee the operation of local public school districts. (2013-7)
(b) Recovery School Districts
The WASB opposes the creation in Wisconsin of a recovery school district or a similar state-level authority designed to take over and attempt to improve the performance of low-performing public schools. (2014-11)

1.47 Forced Sale of School District Buildings
and Grounds
The WASB supports maintaining locally elected school board decision-making regarding the use of school district facilities and opposes legislation mandating that districts must sell or lease vacant or “underutilized” school buildings and Bounds. (2014-9)

2.705 Oppose Private School Aid—
Special Education Vouchers

The WASB opposes the use of state tax monies to provide special education vouchers for students with disabilities or other special educational needs to attend private schools located anywhere in the state. (2012-8)

2.71 Use of Public Monies
The WASB opposes legislation authorizing or requiring the placement of public school teachers, materials and equipment funded with federal
monies on the premises of private schools. (1984-14) (1995-1)

2.72 Textbook Loan
The WASB opposes the use of public funds for the purchase or loan of textbooks or other instructional materials to private schools or their students. (1988-10) (1995-1)

3.21 Charter Schools
The WASB opposes the creation or operation of a state-level charter school authorizing body that would be legally empowered to authorize
independent charter schools throughout the state. (2012-11)
The WASB supports charter schools for experimental and innovative programs provided:
(a) The school board is the sole chartering agency.
(b) Exemptions from many state “input-type” standards and restraints are allowed in exchange for accountability to clear and high standards of student outcomes.
(c) Funding arrangements are determined by the school board and charter school.
(d) Charter schools are required to maintain health and safety standards for pupils and staff, operate as nonsectarian entities, and be open to all district students without charge for tuition regardless of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability. (1993-11) (1998-1)
(e) The WASB supports maintaining a school board’s final authority to approve charter school applications. (2007-8)

3.36 CESAs and Virtual Charter Schools
The WASB supports allowing CESAs to enter into cooperative agreements with individual school districts to establish virtual charter schools authorized by the board of the local school district. The WASB opposes legislation granting CESAs the authority to establish independent virtual charter schools.
Should any CESA be authorized to operate a virtual charter school without entering into a cooperative agreement with a school district, the WASB supports limiting per pupil payments to any CESA authorized virtual charter school to an amount identical to the per pupil amount of the open enrollment transfer payment to prevent CESA-authorized virtual charter schools from unfairly competing with school board-authorized virtual charter schools. (2012-12)

3.55 Private School Transportation
The WASB supports legislation to remove the requirement that a public school district must provide transportation to students who attend private and parochial schools located outside the boundaries of the public school district. (2011-10)

3.93 Students with Disabilities—Parental Choice
The WASB supports legislation requiring private schools participating in any parental choice program to accept and provide services to students with disabilities, with additional state funding for the education of these students. (2011-13)

May 16, 2014

Sheldon Lubar says MPS Board is Next for Governance Changes

Filed under: MPS Governance Debate,Privatization — millerlf @ 11:31 am

On Thursday May 15, at the annual meeting of the Friends of UWM Libraries, County Executive Chris Abele, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Sheldon Lubar presented.

It was a love-fest among the three speakers as they criticized the County Board – until they started reading questions submitted anonymously from the audience.

One question asked: “Are you involved, or will you soon be involved in plans to take away the authority of the Board of the Milwaukee Public Schools?”

Lubar answered: “That’s a provocative question. Yes. MPS is next on my agenda.”

Another asked: “Do you trust managers of hedge funds and private equity to create schools that are better for kids than a board that’s elected by the community?”

Lubar answered that there should be options for parents of children who have been failed by the public schools. He said the rules of the administration are largely driven by the teachers union. He said he believes in private, parochial education. He hadn’t mentioned schools in his presentation, but he apparently decided at this moment that as long as he was speaking candidly, he’d do so about the schools.

Abele added that it’s less important how decisions are made. Whatever is working is what should be done. (???)

Sheldon Lubar is the founder and Chairman of Lubar & Co.
He is a director of several public companies, including Crosstex Energy, Star Gas, Approach Resources, and Hallador Energy as well as other private companies. Previously, he served as Chairman of Christiana Companies, Inc., chairman of C2 Inc. and a director of MassMutual Life Insurance Co., U.S. Bancorp, MGIC Investment Corp., Ameritech Corporation, Weatherford International, Grant Prideco and other public companies.


April 28, 2014

Report on School Privatization in Milwaukee

Filed under: Charter Schools,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 8:53 am

Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Education Than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
By Gordon Lafer | April 24, 2014
During the past year, Wisconsin state legislators debated a series of bills aimed at closing low-performing public schools and replacing them with privately run charter schools. These proposals were particularly targeted at Milwaukee, the state’s largest and poorest school district.

Ultimately, the only legislation enacted was a bill that modestly increases school reporting requirements, without stipulating consequences for low performance. Nevertheless, the more ambitious proposals will likely remain at the core of Wisconsin’s debates over education policy, and legislative leaders have made clear their desire to revisit them in next year’s session. To help inform these deliberations, this report addresses the most comprehensive set of reforms put forward in the 2013–2014 legislative session.

Backers of these reforms are particularly enamored of a new type of charter school represented by the Rocketship chain of schools—a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty, that reduces the curriculum to a near-exclusive focus on reading and math, and that replaces teachers with online learning and digital applications for a significant portion of the day. Rocketship proposes that its model—dubbed “blended learning” for its combination of in-person and computerized instruction—can cut costs while raising low-income students’ test scores (Rocketship Education 2011).

The call for public schools to be replaced by such tech-heavy, teacher-light operations comes from some of the most powerful actors in local and national politics: the major corporate lobbies, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). It is these groups, rather than parents or community organizations, that provided the impetus for legislators to consider proposals for mass school closure and privatization in Milwaukee.

In advocating school privatization, MMAC, allied corporate lobbies, and corporate-funded think tanks claim to be acting out of social altruism, motivated by the tragedy of poor children whose needs are unmet in the public school system. Yet—as is detailed later in this report—these same organizations have traditionally opposed what are typically considered two of the fundamental building blocks for improving education, particularly for poor children: adequate school funding and effective anti-poverty policies.

This report evaluates the “blended learning” model of education exemplified by Rocketship and seeks to understand how the “school accountability” legislation debated during the most recent legislative session would likely affect Milwaukee schools. This briefing paper also explains how such proposals might fit within the broader economic agenda of both local and national corporate lobbies. Above all, the report questions why an educational model deemed substandard for more privileged suburban children is being so vigorously promoted—perhaps even forced—on poor children in Milwaukee.

Upon examination, it appears that charter privatization proposals are driven more by financial and ideological grounds than by sound pedagogy:
• National research shows that charter schools, on average, perform no better than public schools. There is thus no basis for believing that replacing traditional public schools in Milwaukee with privately run charters will result in improved education.

• The “blended learning” model of education exemplified by the Rocketship chain of charter schools—often promoted by charter boosters—is predicated on paying minimal attention to anything but math and literacy, and even those subjects are taught by inexperienced teachers carrying out data-driven lesson plans relentlessly focused on test preparation. But evidence from Wisconsin, the country, and the world shows that students receive a better education from experienced teachers offering a broad curriculum that emphasizes curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, as well as getting the right answers on standardized tests.

• Blended-learning schools such as Rocketship are supported by investment banks, hedge funds, and venture capital firms that, in turn, aim to profit from both the construction and, especially, the digital software assigned to students. To fund the growth of such operations, money earmarked for Milwaukee students is diverted to national headquarters and other cities where the company seeks to expand. Furthermore, the very curricular model that Rocketship employs is shaped not simply by what is good for kids but also, in part, by what will generate profits for investors and fuel the company’s ambitious growth plans.

• The proposed “school accountability” bill that Wisconsin State Senate Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen drafted in January 2014—which embodies the most ambitious version of corporate-backed school reform—measures school achievement in ways that are skewed against poor cities and that exempt charter schools from equal accountability. Such a bill would likely result in shutting a growing number of public schools and concentrating the city’s neediest students in a shrinking public system that is denied the resources to serve them. Eventually, this would bankrupt the public school district.

• Some of the best options for school improvement are outlawed in Sen. Olsen’s draft bill. For instance, Milwaukee’s award-winning ALBA (Academia de Lenguajes y Bellas Artes) school is a publicly run charter school that outperformed every privately run charter in the city. Yet under the proposed legislation, this school would be banned from opening more campuses, while privately run schools with much worse performance would be encouraged to expand.

• To truly improve education in Milwaukee, we must start with the assumption that poor children are no less deserving of a quality education than rich children. As such, the schools that privileged suburban parents demand for their children should be the yardstick we use to measure the adequacy of education in the city. This means subjecting all schools—whether public, charter, or voucher—to the same standards of accountability, including measurements that account for the economic and disability challenges their students face, and that recognize the value of a broad curriculum and experienced teachers who are qualified to develop the full range of each child’s capacities.
Are charter schools better than public schools?
To see the full report go to:


February 9, 2014

Study concludes WI charter schools are doing better because of students they select

Filed under: Charter Schools,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 9:04 am

 WKOW-TV Madison


SPRING GREEN (WKOW) — The Forward Institute released a study on Thursday which hypothesizes that private charter schools in Milwaukee have higher report card scores than public schools because they are selecting students who have lower rates of truancy

Author Scott Wittkopf held a news conference on the study in Spring Green to emphasize the fact that the same trend would follow a statewide expansion of charter schools, something currently being considered in the state legislature.

“If you take that same model out-state, you have extensive interview processes with parents, with students.  You have access to academic records from the students.  It’s very easy in the process to select students,” said Wittkopf.

Sen. Dale Schultz says the study shows that charter schools are clearly “skimming” students that have the ability to perform better, leaving public schools with fewer high performing students.

“This wild desire to move these charter schools that aren’t locally chartered all across this state is not warranted,” said Sen. Schultz.

Wittkopf and Schultz say before that expansion is approved, more studies like these have to be conducted to know exactly what the ramifications of such a move would be.

The bill has yet to be voted on in the Assembly or Senate.

Republican Senator Calls for Ending Privatization of Milwaukee Schools

Filed under: Charter Schools,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 9:01 am

Sen. Schultz says it’s a mistake to take this “flawed model statewide”

The Forward Institute held a press conference, Feb. 6, to release its latest study. The importance of the study — “Habitual Truancy and School Report Cards in Milwaukee Schools” — to every community in the state was underscored by the appearance of State Senator Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center), who said it provides more facts that it is time to end experiments in privatizing our public schools until there is some evidence that it really works.
Scott Wittkopf
According to Institute chair Scott Wittkopf, scores on the Wisconsin School Report Card aren’t affected by whether or not the schools in Milwauke are traditional public schools, independent charter institutions, or MPS charters. Instead, Wittkopf said, the important factors are dealing with student poverty, erasing truancy, and making sure the best teachers are in the schools most in need.

“Show me a community in distress, and I’ll show you a school district in distress,” said Wittkopf. “That fact is true whether the ‘community’ is considered rural, urban, a state, or the entire nation. As a community we invest in public education because every child requires, and deserves, an equal opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge to pursue what is meaningful in life. It is our responsibility as a community to provide for that equal opportunity through public education. The very future of our communities, large and small, depends on it.”

According to Wittkopf, there are five public policy alternatives that could actually deal with the challenges facing our children:

  • Communities need to deal with truancy.
  • State government should put a time limit on the public school privatization effort. It  isn’t working and it needs to end.
  • Schools and state government need to use data appropriately, not as a means to punish schools and children.
  • Wisconsin needs to fix its school-funding system.
  • Wisconsin needs to address the real issues that face real communities, such as poverty.

This important study is available to you, your organization, and your friends and neighbors to learn more about public schools that are the heart and soul of your community. The media community should have received this press release. Please check with them to make sure they have that they are considering using it. While you are there, offer some comment of your own on behalf of your public schools.

December 6, 2013

Rally Against the MMAC on Monday!

Filed under: Privatization — millerlf @ 6:45 pm


Stop the Education Grinches!

Monday, December 9th, 2013

4:00 pm – Action at the MMAC – 756 N Milwaukee Street
4:45 pm Dinner and Strategy Session 260 E. Highland, Suite 300

Dear Friend,

Join parents, students and teachers as we descend upon the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (MMAC) to sing holiday education carols and deliver a giant holiday card signed by hundreds of community members to MMAC President Tim Sheehy to remind him that it’s not too late to get off the naughty list!

RSVP to take action. Don’t let the MMAC privatize, dismantle, and profit off of our children

Our schools face budget cuts, under-resourcing, oversized classes, and further charter expansion, so we will present our holiday “wish list” which includes fully funded schools that put students first, an end to the privatization of public education, and democracy & economic security for our communities.

President Sheehy and his privatization profiteers have a plan to steal our schools and sell them off to the highest bidder. But we can stop them!

RSVP Today

Immediately following the action we will gather for dinner and a strategy session on how we can work together to reclaim the promise of public education for every Milwaukee student.

See you there!

Jennifer Epps-Addison
Executive Director
Wisconsin Jobs Now

This event is sponsored by the Coalition to Stop the MPS Takeover – a coalition of community, labor, parent and student groups. On December 9th, similar actions will take place in 30 cities across the country as part of the national effort to reclaim the promise of public education.

October 14, 2013

MPS Facilities Hostile Takeover: Plan to Attend Assembly Hearing Wednesday in Madison

Filed under: MPS Buildings,Privatization — millerlf @ 9:32 am



Committee on Government Operations and State Licensing

The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

12:00 PM

328 Northwest


Assembly Bill 417. See full bill at:


Relating to:

authorizing the city of Milwaukee to sell eligible school facilities to

eligible purchasers.

By Representatives Sanfelippo, Stone, Hutton, Kooyenga, Craig, Kapenga,

Kuglitsch, LeMahieu, Jagler, Ballweg, Bernier, Knodl, Pridemore and Kleefisch;


by Senators Darling, Farrow, Vukmir, Lazich and Grothman.


Representative Chad Weininger


October 4, 2013

Hearing On Hostile Takeover of MPS Buildings To Be Held Wednesday October 9 in Madison

Filed under: MPS Buildings,Privatization — millerlf @ 11:57 am

A hearing will be held Wednesday October 9 on legislation that authorizes seizure of MPS buildings. This is a hostile takeover of MPS facilities so that buildings can be leased or sold by private entities for a profit.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

9:30 AM

Capital Building 411 South

To See Bill Text Go To:

Bill Text

Please attend and express your opposition!

Senate Bill 318 proposes:

That any property that is designated as surplus, underutilized, or vacant on any resolution adopted by the MPS board within the previous five year can be taken from MPS and purchased by an “education operator.”

The bill defines “underutilized” as:  

a)      less than 40 percent of the square footage of the school is used for the instruction of pupils on a daily, school day basis;

b)      the school is not staffed on a full-time basis by a principal and instructional staff assigned exclusively to the school; or

c)       the number of hours of pupil instruction offered in the school building in the previous school year was less than 80 percent of the number of hours of pupil instruction required to be offered by MPS.


Under the bill an education operator is:

a)      an entity/company engage in real estate operation, sales, lease or development of schools;

b)      private companies investing in charter schools;

c)       the operator of a charter school established by the common council of the city, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, or the Milwaukee Area Technical College district board;

d)      the operator of a private school;

e)      the operator of a charter school that is not an instrumentality of MPS;

f)       a person that is pursuing a contract with MPS to operate a school as a charter school that is not an instrumentality of the school district;

g)      an entity or organization that has entered into a written agreement with any of the education operators identified in the above items to purchase or lease a building within which that education operator will operate a school.



Committee on Government Operations, Public Works, and

The committee will hold a public hearing on the following items at the time specified below:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

9:30 AM

411 South

Senate Bill 318

Relating to: authorizing the city of Milwaukee to sell eligible school facilities to eligible purchasers.

By Senators Darling, Farrow, Vukmir, Lazich and Grothman; cosponsored by Representatives Sanfelippo, Stone, Hutton, Kooyenga, Craig, Kapenga, Kuglitsch, LeMahieu, Jagler, Ballweg, Bernier, Knodl, Pridemore and Kleefisch.

October 2, 2013

Milton Friedman: Godfather of Privatization and Vouchers

Filed under: Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 6:32 pm

Public Schools: Make Them Private

by Milton Friedman Feb. 19, 1995

Milton Friedman, a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976.

Executive Summary

Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically restructured. Such a reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system–i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. The most feasible way to bring about such a transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. The voucher must be universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education. No conditions should be attached to vouchers that interfere with the freedom of private enterprises to experiment, to explore, and to innovate.

This article appeared in the Washington Post on February 19, 1995. Reprinted by permission of the author and the Washington Post.


Our elementary and secondary educational system needs to be radically reconstructed. That need arises in the first instance from the defects of our current system. But it has been greatly reinforced by some of the consequences of the technological and political revolutions of the past few decades. Those revolutions promise a major increase in world output, but they also threaten advanced countries with serious social conflict arising from a widening gap between the incomes of the highly skilled (cognitive elite) and the unskilled.

A radical reconstruction of the educational system has the potential of staving off social conflict while at the same time strengthening the growth in living standards made possible by the new technology and the increasingly global market. In my view, such a radical reconstruction can be achieved only by privatizing a major segment of the educational system–i.e., by enabling a private, for-profit industry to develop that will provide a wide variety of learning opportunities and offer effective competition to public schools. Such a reconstruction cannot come about overnight. It inevitably must be gradual.

The most feasible way to bring about a gradual yet substantial transfer from government to private enterprise is to enact in each state a voucher system that enables parents to choose freely the schools their children attend. I first proposed such a voucher system 40 years ago.

Many attempts have been made in the years since to adopt educational vouchers. With minor exceptions, no one has succeeded in getting a voucher system adopted, thanks primarily to the political power of the school establishment, more recently reinforced by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, together the strongest political lobbying body in the United States.

1. The Deterioration of Schooling

The quality of schooling is far worse today than it was in 1955. There is no respect in which inhabitants of a low-income neighborhood are so disadvantaged as in the kind of schooling they can get for their children. The reason is partly the deterioration of our central cities, partly the increased centralization of public schools–as evidenced by the decline in the number of school districts from 55,000 in 1955 to 15,000 in 1992. Along with centralization has come–as both cause and effect–the growing strength of teachers’ unions. Whatever the reason, the fact of deterioration of elementary and secondary schools is not disputable.

The system over time has become more defective as it has become more centralized. Power has moved from the local community to the school district to the state, and to the federal government. About 90 percent of our kids now go to so-called public schools, which are really not public at all but simply private fiefs primarily of the administrators and the union officials.

We all know the dismal results: some relatively good government schools in high-income suburbs and communities; very poor government schools in our inner cities with high dropout rates, increasing violence, lower performance and demoralized students and teachers.

These changes in our educational system have clearly strengthened the need for basic reform. But they have also strengthened the obstacles to the kind of sweeping reform that could be produced by an effective voucher system. The teachers’ unions are bitterly opposed to any reform that lessens their own power, and they have acquired enormous political and financial strength that they are prepared to devote to defeating any attempt to adopt a voucher system. The latest example is the defeat of Proposition 174 in California in 1993.


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