April 6, 2017
Immigration Alert: Watch Milwaukee Students in Action to Support Milwaukee Public School Board Pass Resolution for Safe Haven Schools
I’m truly honored to have earned the trust of the people across the district and city who want to see good work and progress continue on the MPS board.
I thank my opponent who spoke with true passion throughout the campaign and, like all of us, cares deeply about our city.
I look forward to continuing my service on the board now entering a third term, and I thank all of you for your support. Let’s continue to make great progress together and make MPS stronger than it’s ever been. Thank you!
March 24, 2017
OneWisconsin March 23, 2017
Less Accountable, Growing Private Voucher Program Puts Bigger Strain on Public Schools, Taxpayers
MADISON, Wis. — Under Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led legislature, less accountable private voucher schools have reaped a financial windfall both in the amount of state tax dollars they receive and the number of students for which they are paid state tax dollars. As reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, all across Wisconsin public schools are now feeling financial pressure as the voucher program drains resources from them, and new data shows per pupil state revenue payments for vouchers are on average poised to exceed those for public schools.
“Once again we see how Gov. Walker and his Republican allies have tipped the scales in favor of private school vouchers, and how the rest of us are paying for it,” commented Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director.
A memo released this week from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau finds Gov. Walker’s 2017-19 state budget would hike state general purpose revenue supported payments to private voucher schools to between $7,757 and $8,403 by 2018. By comparison, the memo reports state revenue support per pupil support for public schools would be $6,703 under Walker’s budget plan.
The statewide expansion of the voucher program and funding changes passed by Walker and the Republican controlled state legislature mean that resources are now taken directly away from public schools to subsidize private school vouchers.
According to data from the Department of Public Instruction and as reported in the media, the majority of students participating in the expanded statewide voucher program were attending private school before getting a publicly funded voucher.
While private schools are able to collect public tax dollars through the voucher program they are not held to the same standards as public schools. Research in Wisconsin and nationally has also found that less accountable private voucher schools produce no better and in some cases worse student achievement.
The growth of the private school voucher industry in Wisconsin has been fueled by campaign donations and spending on behalf of state politicians by voucher backers. Among the prominent backers of pro-voucher Wisconsin politicians is Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos. She and her family are among the individuals who, as of last year, larded Gov. Walker with $2 million in direct contributions. Overall, pro-school privatization individuals have made $4 million in direct contributions to Wisconsin political candidates from 2008-2016. DeVos’s American Federation for Children (AFC), a pro-voucher special interest group, has also spent over $5 million to help its favored politicians in Wisconsin.
In addition, One Wisconsin Now’s research found that the Bradley Foundation, until recently overseen by Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial and presidential campaign chair, has underwritten a massive pro-voucher propaganda campaign. Between 2005 and 2014 the Milwaukee based right wing foundation poured $108 million into groups supporting vouchers.
Ross concluded, “Private school vouchers are a financial albatross on state taxpayers and public schools. We see again how the only people they’re paying off for are the private schools taking vouchers and the Republican politicians that keep taking our money and spending it on the program support by their donors.”
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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.
March 23, 2017
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a right-wing group, has filed suit against Milwaukee Public Schools demanding that MPS use its budget to bus private school students.
Funded by the racist right-wing Bradley Foundation, WILL has undertaken an aggressive campaign of actual and threatened litigation to ward off scrutiny of and crackdowns on voucher program abuses and to advocate for further expansion of the voucher program in the media and with the release of pseudo-science.
Read the following MJS article:
St. Joan Antida High School sues Milwaukee Public Schools over student busing
Erin Richards , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published March 22, 2017
A Milwaukee Catholic high school is suing Milwaukee Public Schools for denying busing to 70 students who should qualify for district-funded transportation under state law, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
St. Joan Antida High School, an all-girls voucher school located at 1341 N. Cass St., should be treated the same as a citywide high school in MPS, where children who live at least 2 miles from the school are provided transportation regardless of how close they live to a city bus line, the complaint says.
Funding transportation for the St. Joan Antida girls would cost MPS about $108,000 a year.
MPS spokeswoman Denise Callaway declined to comment, saying the district does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative public-interest law firm that frequently represents the interests of private schools that accept vouchers. It notified the district in November that it intended to sue if MPS continued to deny St. Joan Antida’s request to bus the girls.
Paul Gessner, the head of school at St. Joan Antida, said he approached MPS in 2014 about obtaining transportation funding and was turned down in the final stages of verifying students. He later turned to WILL for assistance.
State law on busing agreements
A 1967 state law calls for school districts to provide busing to private-school students if they meet the following conditions: living more than 2 miles from the private school and within the attendance zone of the private school; and if their private school is located within the public school district’s boundary or within 5 miles of it. The statute says private-school students should be transported upon a “reasonably uniform basis” with public-school students.
The district is not necessarily obligated to provide students transportation — to a public or private school — if they live near a public bus line. According to the complaint, MPS makes an exception for children who attend its citywide specialty schools, such as Golda Meir and Rufus King, by busing them if they live at least 2 miles from their schools.
St. Joan Antida and WILL believe the district should extend that same exception to St. Joan Antida under the “reasonable uniformity” clause in the 1967 law. They say St. Joan Antida is essentially a citywide voucher school.
WILL wants a federal judge to prohibit MPS from “discriminating against students who attend private religious schools with respect to transportation benefits,” according to the complaint.
St. Joan Antida isn’t the only private school pressuring MPS for more bus money. Messmer Catholic Schools leaders have asked MPS to re-evaluate their transportation agreements because Messmer believes the district has been applying a technical point incorrectly. Emily Koczela, chief financial officer for Messmer, said Wednesday the change would mean an additional $100,000 for the school.
Messmer President Jim Piatt said he and the board of directors were weighing the next move.
March 19, 2017
Monday March 20th sponsored by MICAH.
Where: St. Matthews CME Church
2944 N 9th St.
2. Saturday March 25th sponsored by Community Brainstorming.
Where: St. Matthews CME Church
2944 N 9th St.
Time 9 am
March 15, 2017
Proposed Resolution Making Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for Immigrant and Refugee Students and Families
Please attend the MPS full board meeting, March 30th, where public testimony will be taken on a proposed resolution by Directors Joseph and Miller to Declare Milwaukee Public Schools to Be a Safe Haven for Its Students and Families Threatened by Immigration Enforcement or Discrimination.
WHEREAS: The United States Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe (1982) that no public school district has a basis to deny children access to education based on their immigration status, citing the harm it would inflict on the children and society itself and the equal protection rights of the Fourteenth Amendment;
WHEREAS, The vision of the Milwaukee Public Schools states, “Schools will be safe, welcoming, well-maintained, and accessible community centers meeting the needs of all”; and
WHEREAS, MPS Administrative Policy 1.04 states, “No person may be denied admission to or participation in the benefits of any public school in the Milwaukee Public Schools, or be discriminated against in any curricular, extracurricular, student service, recreational, or other program or activity, because of the person’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability or handicap, or any other characteristic protected by law”; and
WHEREAS, The aforementioned applies to all MPS students without exception, regardless of the immigration status of a student or family; and
WHEREAS, Through its policies and practices, the District has made a commitment to provide a quality education for all students, which includes a safe and stable learning environment, means of transportation to and from school sites, the preservation of classroom hours for educational instruction, and the requirement of school attendance; and
WHEREAS, It is the policy of Milwaukee Public Schools not to allow any individual or organization to enter a school site if the educational setting would be disrupted by that visit; and
WHEREAS, Parents and students have expressed to Milwaukee Public Schools fear and confusion about the continued physical and emotional safety of all students and the right to access a free public K12 education through district schools and programs; and
WHEREAS, Numerous students whose education, safety, emotional well-being, and family relationships are at risk because of their immigration status are, and will in the future be, enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools; and
WHEREAS, Milwaukee Public Schools believes that it is in the best interests of the students, staff, families, and the community of Milwaukee Public Schools that it take action to assure all students and families that disruptions to the educational environment that the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may create will be opposed by all legal means available; and
WHEREAS, No written state or federal law mandates that local districts assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the enforcement of immigration laws; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Milwaukee Board of School Directors declare Milwaukee Public Schools (the District) to be a safe haven for its students and families threatened by immigration enforcement or discrimination, to the fullest extent permitted by the law; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That as a Safe Haven the Board directs the Superintendent to:
- within the next 30 days create a Rapid Response Team in partnership with community-based
organizations, legal-service providers, and social services to assist students and family to prepare in the event a minor child attending school in the District is deprived of adult care, supervision, or guardianship outside of school due to a federal law-enforcement action, such as detention by ICE or a cooperating law-enforcement agency;
- create bilingual Know-Your-Rights presentations for students and family members to cover their rights regarding interactions with law-enforcement and immigration agents;
- designate a faculty or counselor in each school who is to serve as a resource for immigrant students and their families and establish at least one resource person in Central Office who is to be trained to serve as a immigrant liaison, with expertise in immigrant and undocumented populations;
- establish all K-12 schools, early education centers, adult schools, and parent centers as resource and information sites for immigrant students and families;
- work with City/County representatives to establish a Safe Haven perimeter within which families will feel safe in bringing their children to school; and
- create and offer professional development opportunities for Central Office staff, administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and paraprofessionals about the pathways to citizenship, opportunities available for college and training, financial aid, rights, and opportunities for immigrant and refugee students; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Superintendent, upon notification of the intent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigration-law-enforcement personnel to enter a district school, shall take the following steps to provide for the emotional and physical safety of students and staff:
- request and make photocopies of identification from the officers or agents;
- request and make photocopies of a judicial warrant;
— If no warrant is presented, request the grounds for access, make notes, and contact
legal counsel for the District;
- request and retain notes of the names of the students and the reasons for the request;
- If school-site personnel have not yet contacted the student’s parents or guardians, do so;
- do not attempt to provide information or conjecture about the students, such as their schedule, for example, without legal counsel present;
- provide the agents with a copy of this Resolution 1617R-007;
- contact legal counsel for the District;
- request the agents’ contact information; and
- advise the agents that you are required to complete these steps prior to allowing them access to any school site or student data; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not use district resources for the purpose of detecting or assisting in the apprehension of persons whose only violation of law is or may be being an undocumented resident in the United States, or failing to produce documents authorizing residency in the United States; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That unless specifically required by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not report any information about a student’s or parent’s immigration status; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall refrain from requiring any student or parent to produce documentation regarding immigration status; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about a student’s or family’s immigration status; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That district employees, contractors, volunteers, and representatives shall not, unless compelled by a valid court order, or subsequent to receiving a signed release, disclose to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or to any other person or entity any information about any district student that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That no Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers or other immigrationlaw-enforcement personnel shall be granted immediate access to any district school for the purpose of enforcing immigration laws and shall be referred immediately to the Superintendent; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall review its record-keeping policies and practices to ensure the highest level of protection of student privacy; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board direct the Administration to conduct a full review of the District’s policies, procedures, and practices to ensure complete alignment with the Safe Haven declaration in all areas of district operations; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the District shall post this Resolution at every school site and distribute it to district staff, students, and parents using usual means of communication and that the Resolution shall be translated into all languages spoken by students at home.
February 23, 2017
March 1, 2017
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offered a positively Orwellian explanation Monday of why historically black colleges and universities were created in the United States. Incredibly, she suggested that they were “real pioneers” in the school-choice movement and “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education.”
The Education Department’s own website — on a page titled “Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Higher Education Desegregation” — offers a more accurate history. These colleges, it shows, were created, beginning in the 19th century, as a direct response to rigid racial segregation when the doors of white colleges were typically closed to African-Americans.
Rather than integrate colleges, the Southern and border states established parallel, Jim Crow systems in which black college students were typically confined to segregated campuses handicapped by meager budgets and inferior libraries and facilities. Litigation over the funding equity issue continues to this day.
Ms. DeVos’s insulting distortion of history, which she tried to pull back after furious criticism, grows out of her obsession with market-driven school policies, including the idea of a publicly funded voucher program that public school students could use to pay for private education.
But as Kevin Carey reported in The Times just last week, new research shows that voucher programs may actually harm many students by shunting them into low-quality private schools. Taken together, three of the largest voucher programs in the country, enrolling nearly 180,000 children nationwide, showed negative results.
A 2015 study of an Indiana program that served tens of thousands of students found that voucher students who transferred to private schools did significantly worse in mathematics — and showed no improvement in reading.
A study of a Louisiana voucher program last year serving predominantly black and low-income families found reading and math scores went down when children transferred to private schools. The performance decline was significant: Public elementary school children who started at the 50th percentile in math dropped to the 26th percentile within a year of transferring to a private school.
And a study of a large program in Ohio — conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute — found that students who used vouchers to attend private schools fared worse academically compared with their peers attending public school.
At the very least, these studies show that the private schools cannot be presumed superior to public schools. These dismal results also make clear that free-market mechanisms that work well in business can be damaging when applied to the lives of schoolchildren.
Ms. DeVos’s strange interpretation of this country’s racist history was probably meant to pave the way for market-driven education policies. Ignorant statements notwithstanding, those policies have proved to be failures.
If you spend more on education, will students do better?
Educators, politicians and unions have battled in court over that crucial question for decades, most recently in a sweeping decision this fall in Connecticut, where a judge ordered the state to revamp nearly every facet of its education policies, from graduation requirements to special education, along with its school funding.
For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.
Teasing out the specific effect of money spent is methodologically difficult. Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.
But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which c
The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July, was conducted by the economists Julien Lafortune and Jesse Rothstein of the University of California at Berkeley and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern. They examined student test scores in 26 states that have changed the way they fund schools since 1990, usually in response to a lawsuit like Connecticut’s, and compared them with those in 23 states that haven’t. While no two states did exactly the same thing, they all had the effect of increasing funding for the poorest districts.
The post-1990 time frame is important: That’s when courts changed how they think about states’ obligations to public schoolchildren. Previously, nearly all school funding lawsuits focused on the question of “equity” — did disadvantaged students receive funding equal to that of their well-off peers?
The problem with that perspective was the answer could be “yes,” even if funding was too low across the board. Starting with a 1990 court case in Kentucky, courts started asking about “adequacy” instead. Were school districts getting enough money, which might require giving extra money to districts that enroll many low-income, expensive-to-serve students?
“There’s been this wave of school finance reform across the country over the last few decades,” Mr. Rothstein said. “I think it’s fair to say it’s the largest reform aimed at equity since school desegregation, and we really didn’t know what the impacts were. There’s now growing evidence, from my work and from others, that those reforms did lead to improved achievement and improved outcomes for children in low-income school districts.”
Mr. Lafortune, Mr. Rothstein and Ms. Schanzenbach also solved a difficult methodological problem that had plagued school finance researchers for decades. More money isn’t an end unto itself — the goal is to produce better results. But before the recent widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards, every state had its own standards and related tests. That made it hard to compare academic results from one state to another.
Credit Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times
The researchers took advantage of the one test that is taken by a representative sample of schoolchildren nationwide: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which is administered by the Department of Education.
Although NAEP results are usually published only for whole states and a small number of large urban school districts, the researchers got the education department to let them analyze individual student scores. Those results include information on the test-taker’s race and income, as well as school district attended. The researchers could compare performance in poor and wealthy districts before and after changes in spending.
They found a consistent pattern: In the long run, over comparable time frames, states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades.
February 28, 2017
Director Tatiana Joseph and Larry Miller on Channel 12 tonight on resolution to make Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for immigrant and refugee students and families
Please Watch Channel 12 Tonight at 10!
Please watch Directors Tatiana Joseph and Larry Miller tonight on Channel 12 at 10 o’clock. They were interviewed about their proposed resolution to make Milwaukee Public Schools a Safe Haven for immigrant and refugee students and families.
February 27, 2017
Please join me for a discussion on MPS and public education.
You are invited to a Candidate Forum sponsored by Eastside Milwaukee
Community Council. The event will be moderated by a volunteer member of the League of
Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC).
Milwaukee Public School District #5 candidates
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2618 N Hackett Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211