Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

October 30, 2009

The Coalition to Stop the Takeover of MPS Asks Everyone to Contact Their State Legislator.

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 6:11 pm

See below on how to contact your legislator.

Protect Our Public Schools!

Stop the Mayor’s Takeover of MPS

We acknowledge that MPS has not done a good enough job educating all students. The Governor wants to solve this complicated problem by side-stepping the elected school board and by giving power over the schools to the Mayor.

  • Mayoral control has not worked in other cities. There is no reason to believe it will work in Milwaukee.

  • Mayoral takeover is not about benefiting MPS students: It is about money and political power.
  • Is the Mayor’s office really going to return your phone call if you have a problem at school?
  • Mayoral control is about the privatization of public schools, taking away the voting rights of Milwaukee residents, and handing power to wealthy businessmen in the suburbs.
  • The City can’t even fix pot holes in the streets. And it’s done nothing to address unemployment. Why would anyone think the Mayor can fix the schools?

Be a voice for our children, for public education,
and for democracy

Call your state legislators and tell them you don’t want a Mayoral takeover.

Unsure who your legislator is? Call (800) 362-9472 from 8:15am – 4:45pm M-F

or go to  www.legis.state.wi.us

and click on “Who Represents Me?”

Your legislators need your input on this, but if you can, also call

Mike Sheridan, Speaker of the Assembly, (888) 947-0044 and

Russ Decker, Senate Majority Leader, (608) 266-2502.

Tell them you oppose the takeover and why.

For more info or to help, contact: The Coalition to Stop the MPS Takeover. Call the NAACP at

414-562-1000, email coalitionagainstmpstakeover@gmail.com

You can download the whole leaflet at: www.ensj.org

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Mayor Barrett has no vision for how to end the horrific poverty and lack of jobs in Milwaukee.

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 5:41 pm

Barrett said in a recent comment to the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel “We can try to figure out a way to change the world economy, or we can try to find a way to get young men and women in our community to stay in school longer.”

Those of us fighting against mayoral takeover feel that the mayor should be doing both, creating jobs and helping to improve MPS. Since his election in 2004 Tom Barrett has done very little of either.

It is time for bold thinking and hard work. Let’s stop the takeover diversion and solve problems as a community.

October 29, 2009

Barrett Wants a Corporate Model for MPS

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 7:47 pm

Mayor Barrett said he would favor an MPS superintendent search that encourages non-traditional candidates with management experience, not necessarily from an education background. “I don’t want to close the door on having individuals with a different skill set,” Barrett said. “I think having experience managing large, complex and diverse entities” is important.

These are takeover code words for a CEO/Corporate manager to oversee MPS. This is what occurred in Chicago and New York, Barrett’s models where public school takeover has already occurred.

In Chicago this approach led to a conflict between the mayor and the head of Chicago’s appointed school board. This year, Mayor Richard Daley alone appointed a new superintendent – one who had no experience or training as an educator. The appointed School Board president, who had favored naming someone with educational credentials, was called into Daley’s office to tender his resignation.

In New York the CEO/Corporate model led to hiring a lawyer as chancellor of New York City Public Schools, Joel Klein. He has a cabinet of 20 high paid consultants, only 2 of whom are life-long educators.

Maybe Barrett can hire from the ranks of Morgan Stanley or AIG. What would corporate America’s failures mean to MPS?

D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee Faces Widespread Opposition From Teachers

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 3:04 am

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October 28, 2009

Governor Proposes Authoritarian Takeover Plan For MPS

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 1:49 am

Governor Doyle Announces Authoritarian Takeover Plan At Private Voucher Christian School.

The Governor’s proposal designates all real power over Milwaukee Public Schools to 2 people, the Mayor and the Superintendent.

The Mayor would appoint the Superintendent and set the tax levy for MPS.

The Superintendent would have authority over budget and fiscal issues, curriculum, school closures and facilities, and collective bargaining and contractual authority.

The Governor’s proposal keeps an elected board with token authority over community relations, student discipline and to act in an advisory capacity to the Superintendent.

MPS Outscores City of Milwaukee Charters By 10%

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 12:51 am

Tamara Grigsby Speaks Out On Poor Performance at City of Milwaukee Charter Schools

This Raises Major Concern over Mayoral Control of MPS

City-Controlled Charter Schools Underperform MPS by Nearly 10% in Reading, Math

Madison – Today, State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) made public recently obtained information related to City of Milwaukee charter schools, raising new concerns over the merits of a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). A memo drafted by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reveals that, on average, more students at MPS are performing better than the students attending charter schools under contract with the City of Milwaukee.

“It’s one thing to talk about accountability and achievement in education, but it’s another thing to see it through,” Grigsby said. “MPS is in need of serious reform, but after looking at these scores, it is incredibly difficult to believe that placing our public schools under mayoral control would improve education outcomes for our children. As far as the city’s charter schools are concerned, the evidence indicates otherwise.”

As the Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes, in the 2008-2009 school year 49.9% of those attending a city-controlled charter school scored proficient or advanced in reading, while 59% of MPS students scored at that level in the same year.

In the area of mathematics, 49% of the tested MPS students scored at a proficient or advanced level in the 2008-2009 school year, while only 33.1% of students at the City of Milwaukee charter schools met that standard.

In recent years, Milwaukee’s public schools have consistently outperformed the schools run by the City of Milwaukee by nearly ten percentage points or more.

As the recent fiscal bureau memo concludes, after averaging together test scores from the three most recent school years, “49.6% of City charter school pupils were proficient and advanced in reading, and 32% were proficient and advanced in math.”

Within that same time period, 59% of MPS pupils scored at the proficient or advanced level in reading and 45% scored at those levels in mathematics, resulting in an achievement gap in which MPS students are outperforming City of Milwaukee charter students in both subjects.

“Milwaukee’s schools are in need of sweeping reform, but poor performance at the schools already controlled by the City of Milwaukee raise serious doubts over whether or not a mayoral takeover will deliver the change we need,” Grigsby said. “The need for improvement at both our city charter schools and MPS is a clear indication that no simple change in school governance or sleight of hand will be the solution needed to better educate our children. We cannot afford to pander to such ideas, just as we cannot afford to abide by the status quo.”

October 26, 2009

Bruce Thompson, Like the Mayor, Ignores the Real Data

Filed under: MPS Governance Debate — millerlf @ 12:07 am

The foundation of School Board member Bruce Thompson ‘s affinity to mayoral takeover is improved student achievement. He stated in Sunday’s op-ed “…that some cities, notably Boston, Chicago and New York have enjoyed increased student achievement as the result of a takeover.”

Chicago and New York City’s public schools only showed improvement when the test was changed: Chicago in 2003 and New York in 2006. Yet the NAEP testing, the Federal Department of Education’s testing regime, shows that student results remain flat in both of those cities.

On September 17 the State of Massachusetts issued last year’s school achievement findings. 99 of the 135 Boston public Schools (73.3%) have failed to show necessary improvement under No Child Left Behind.

October 25, 2009

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton Tells It Like It Is At Community Brainstorming Award Event for School Board President Michael Bonds

Filed under: American Injustice — millerlf @ 12:16 am

Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton Calls for a Marshall Plan for Milwaukee’s Inner City.

The Community Brainstorming Conference gave its 20th annual James Howard Baker Award on Saturday to Michael Bonds, president of the Milwaukee School Board. The keynote speaker was Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton.

Lt. Governor Lawton gave a profound and honest evaluation of conditions facing the Milwaukee inner city and what is necessary for change. She called for a Marshall plan for Milwaukee’s ailing economy that is devastating the Black community with unemployment, incarceration, infant mortality, segregated housing, poverty and crime. This must be done alongside improving MPS.

Lt. Governor Lawton said we can’t wait for Washington to save us but must begin to act locally and at the state level. Milwaukee’s inner city must have a vital economy, she said, that will help build a vital state and regional economy.

Lt. Governor Lawton described rebuilding the inner city communities of Milwaukee as the civil rights project of our time.

Barbara Lawton is an excellent candidate for Governor. She is someone with a bold vision and an uncompromising advocate for social justice.

October 23, 2009

Mayor Tom Barrett’s Arrogance Exposed

Filed under: MPS Governance Debate,School Reform — millerlf @ 1:31 pm

One might think by reading Tom Barrett’s self-congratulatory news release  on Wednesday(see below) that he is responsible  for the low tax levy adopted unanimously Tuesday night by the MPS Board of School Directors. The MPS Board and Administration was able to keep the levy increase at 2.8% because of a combination of policies and changes in the economy. They are:

1. The board and administration implemented a hiring freeze to reduce spending.

2. The board and administration were able to cut over $10 million in this years budget.

3. The state poverty equalization aid program gave the district increased funding.

4. Property values decreased because of housing deflation.

School Board President Michael Bonds responded to Mayor Barrett’s attempt to take credit by stating,”The School Board did early planning . There was close cooperation between the Board and the Administration. Cooperation between parties resulted in positive outcomes for keeping resources in the classroom and for giving relief to taxpayers, without laying off any employees. The School Board’s work can be a model the City of Milwaukee can learn from.”

Mayor Tom Barrett’s News Release

For Immediate Release: Contact: Jodie Tabak
October 21, 2009 (414)286-8504
Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors on its Fiscal Year 2010 budget:
“I’m pleased my efforts to address the school choice funding flaw were successful and spared Milwaukee taxpayers another double-digit property tax increase for MPS.
For years I have taken this issue directly to the legislature, stating the case for Milwaukee taxpayers. It’s been a hard fight and I’m pleased our efforts paid off last year when Governor Doyle included in his budget a provision that begins to phase out the property tax burden caused by not including the school choice program students in the calculation of school aids for Milwaukee.
These formula changes have been directly applied to property tax relieve for Milwaukeeans.
While we still haven’t resolved the entire funding flaw, we are making real headway in our effort. This year’s 2.8% levy increase is finally beginning to reflect all the hard work done to address the funding flaw.”

October 22, 2009

Gwen Moore Reaffirms That Takeover Is Not Necessary for Race to the Top Funds

Filed under: MPS Governance Debate,Race to the Top — millerlf @ 2:44 pm

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