November 28, 2009
November 24, 2009
November 22, 2009
November 21, 2009
Following is an article from Express Milwaukee 11/19. (more…)
November 20, 2009
The majority of Texas 1st graders are Latino, but are not being taught a true picture of (more…)
November 19, 2009
Last November, nearly 70% of Milwaukeeans voting supported a paid sick days ordinance. The Mayor was opposed to this initiative. After the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce sued to stop implementation and won on a narrow ground related to domestic violence, the Mayor blocked the City from supporting an appeal.
Now the Mayor cannot convince the majority of Milwaukeeans to support a mayoral takeover of MPS. A recent poll showed that 57% of Milwaukee residents are opposed to the takeover.
What is the Mayor’s response? The poll is not accurate.
Tom, it is time to start listening.
November 18, 2009
In typical fashion, the Journal Sentinel editorial posted today represents the views of Milwaukee’s business elite. The editorial attacks a workable proposal presented by Representative Tamara Grigsby and Senator Spencer Coggs for reform of Milwaukee Public Schools. The Grigsby/Coggs proposal would bring many parts of government together to solve the problems facing MPS. The business and political elite want total control over public education monies.
Following is the Journal Sentinel editorial:
Posted: Nov. 17, 2009
A shortage of committees is not what ails Milwaukee Public Schools. And forming a new one – even with Milwaukee’s mayor as a partner – does not have a chance of launching the kind of change the district needs to better educate its children.
To counter another proposal that gives the mayor control of the district, other area legislators propose a plan in which the School Board essentially continues to run the district, giving the mayor only limited authority. This offers only the façade of reform.
Let’s be clear: The School Board is part of the problem at MPS. The district’s history of underachievement to the detriment of Milwaukee’s children stands as ample testimony to the board’s distinct lack of efficacy. Continuing this is not a viable option.
This new proposal by state Rep. Tamara Grigsby and Sen. Spencer Coggs, both Milwaukee Democrats, has one purpose: to give timid legislators – perhaps including legislative leaders, given a story last week on Majority Leader Russ Decker’s misgivings – a way to claim they’ve voted for reform without actually having done so in any meaningful fashion. This Legislature is a body in which half-measures – drunken driving “reform,” anyone? – are lauded as statesmanship. But this proposal isn’t even a half-measure. It’s status quo warmed over.
It would form a committee co-chaired by the mayor and the board president and with board members and aldermen as members. This committee would meet quarterly to discuss educational issues.
The board would pick the superintendent, but the mayor could veto. However, both that and a proposed line-item veto on the budget – if the property tax increase rises above 8% – would be subject to overrides.
So, most of the power would remain invested in the board, its ability to micromanage left intact and yet another committee formed but with no one figure given enough centralized authority. This proposal would require schools to centralize budgets, impose different rules of tenure on principals and “streamline” the math and reading curriculum.
Not bad things, but a strong superintendent, backed by a mayor running interference and without the wrong kind of interference from the board, is a better solution. Such an approach would accomplish all the streamlining, consensus building – but banging of heads when required – that the Grigsby-Coggs bill can only pretend to. The bill proposed by Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) is the real deal.
MPS needs a leader willing and able to upset apple carts, with clear lines of accountability. The Grigsby-Coggs bill provides nothing of the kind. Instead, it’s a case of bureaucracy-plus. The district has quite enough of that already.
From Journal/ Sentinel 11/17
A majority of city and suburban residents oppose giving Milwaukee’s mayor control over the Milwaukee Public Schools, according to the People Speak Poll released Tuesday.
Mayor Tom Barrett and Gov. Jim Doyle have been pressing the Legislature to approve a bill that would give the mayor the power to hire and fire the MPS superintendent, along with ultimate authority over the school district’s budget and labor negotiations. They say the step is needed to improve student performance, following the lead of several other major U.S. cities.
But opponents object to taking power away from the elected School Board. A competing proposal would give the mayor the power to veto the School Board’s superintendent choice and budget decisions, but would let the board override those vetoes.
The poll found 57% of residents in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties opposed mayoral control of MPS, while 43% favored it, a split that changed little between city and suburban residents.
One reason for the negative reaction could be that the poll was taken in late September, when the idea was still new to the public, said Rob Henken, president of the Public Policy Forum, one of the sponsors of the poll, and Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, which backs mayoral control. At that time, the issue was being framed in terms of taking away voters’ rights to elect School Board members, a provision that has since been dropped, Henken and Sheehy noted.
Jodie Tabak, Barrett’s spokeswoman, echoed Henken’s and Sheehy’s comments about the timing and added, “Mayor Barrett is proposing real, substantive change for MPS. With substantive change, there’s always going to be opposition. And regardless of the poll numbers, we can’t accept the status quo.”
The telephone survey of 433 area residents was conducted from Sept. 23 to Sept. 30 and has a margin of error of 4.7%. In addition to the Public Policy Forum, the poll was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Initiatives and Research and the Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee.
November 16, 2009
Read the overview of the plan being proposed to the Wisconsin State Legislature by Representative Tamara Grigsby and Senator Spencer Coggs at: