Educate All Students, Support Public Education

November 6, 2009

Mayoral Takeover Proposal Submitted by Taylor, Plale, Carpenter, Colon and Fields

Filed under: General — millerlf @ 3:59 am

TO:             Legislative Colleagues

FROM:           Senators Lena C. Taylor, Jeff Plale, Tim Carpenter

Representatives Pedro Colon, Jason Fields

DATE:           Thursday, November 5, 2009

RE:             CO-SPONSORSHIP:  Milwaukee Transforms Education for All Our Children (TEACH) Act – draft forthcoming

DEADLINE:       Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 12 noon


As concerned Milwaukee area legislators, we are circulating the Milwaukee Transforms Education for All Our Children (TEACH) Act, which would create mayoral accountability and a change in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) governance as part of a comprehensive and urgent effort to improve educational outcomes we are providing for our children.

Let us state the facts about student educational outcomes in MPS.  The 85,000 children in Milwaukee Public Schools are attending a school district that has been categorized as a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) for 5 consecutive years for failing to achieve proficiency in reading and math across all grade levels. Over 82% of tenth graders in MPS did not achieve proficiency in mathematics OR reading this past year. (DPI Annual Performance Review 2008-09, attached)  In addition, a report from the National Center for Education Statistics shows Wisconsin’s minority achievement gap is the worst in the nation in 8th grade reading and second worst in 4th grade reading.  We had the second worst achievement gap in 4th and 8th grade mathematics compared to the rest of the nation. The report shows that the average scores for both math and reading for African-American students in Wisconsin was lower than for African-Americans in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, or any other Southern state. (National Center for Education Statistics)

The current data we see in MPS leads us to transform governance in an effort to demand political accountability for these results. On Wednesday, while speaking in our state, President Barack Obama called for drastic, vigorous strategies that are necessary to turn around our most troubled schools. As we evaluate our Race to the Top application, President Obama has clearly laid out that one of the application’s criteria is the state’s ability to create a plan to turn around low-performing schools.  Milwaukee is the lowest-performing district in our state and the success of our state application will hinge on our success in this challenge regarding MPS.

The Milwaukee TEACH Act will provide mayoral accountability over MPS by granting the Mayor the major responsibilities for education in Milwaukee, while maintaining the elected school board with modified powers.  Below is a list of items that are included in the draft of our proposal.  We will release the draft as soon as it is available.

1) Mayoral appointment of the MPS Superintendent

a) Mayor has full hire and fire authority of the Superintendent.

2)      Elected board remains, with modified duties and structure:

a) The Board would advise the superintendent on matters related to instruction and the progress of pupils.

b) The Board would have the authority and responsibility to review the budget under an administrative rules type process:

i) The Superintendent is required to introduce the annual budget to the board.

ii) The board has 15 days to review the budget and, by majority vote, the board could object to any portion of the proposal.

iii) By objecting, the board would have the authority to request specific or unspecified modifications to the Superintendent’s proposal. The board could not, however, amend the proposal.

iv) Once an objection is registered, the Superintendent would have 25 days to respond to the request.

v) The board could then compel the Superintendent or representative to attend a public hearing on the matter within 15 days of that response.

vi) At the end of 15 days after the superintendent’s response to the board, the budget could go forward to the common council at the pleasure of the superintendent, with or without modifications.

c) The superintendent is required to submit a list of school closings to the board. That list is reviewed by the board and follows the same process as outlined above.

d) Other duties would remain entirely within the authority of the elected board including:

    • vii)    Community and parental organization and relations

      viii)   Adjudication of student expulsions

      ix)     Corporal punishment – maintain policies regarding corporal punishment with the board

      x)      Pupil discrimination policy – maintain policies and procedures development with the board

      xi)     The board shall have responsibility for the development of recommendations related to adults as it relates to evening schools, vacation schools, reading rooms, library stations, debating clubs, gymnasiums, public playgrounds, public baths and similar accommodations. The board shall submit a budget to the superintendent for these activities. The superintendent will evaluate that information and combine it with his or her recommendations in these same areas to set the community service levy.

3)      MPS Superintendent Duties

a) Certain powers currently under board authority would move to the Superintendent but still be subject to review by the board including but not limited to:

i) Budget and fiscal issues (setting the levy would be a duty of the common council, as under current law)

ii) Curriculum

(1) Create a new requirement that the superintendent to annually submit to the board a report on academic programs

iii) School closure and facility decisions

iv) Collective bargaining and contractual authority

(1) Within 5 days of the superintendent signing an agreement with a bargaining unit, transmit the agreement to the board

(2) After receipt of the agreement, the board has 30 days to request the superintendent to provide a presentation on the agreement to the board

(3) The board shall have no role in negotiating or approving the agreements with bargaining units

4)      Reauthorization referendum set in statute seven years from enactment

5)      Financial and Budget Advisory Commission

a) Create a commission of to serve as an advisor to the superintendent on budget development and receive and review the annual GAAP audit of the district.

i) Six members – city comptroller, common council president, school board president or their designees and 2 members appointed by the mayor –

ii) The commission shall have no authorities or powers

iii) The  mayoral appointed members shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor

iv) The commission shall follow WI open meeting and open records laws

6)      Legal counsel for the board

a) The city attorney’s office shall approve outside legal representation for the board for matters pertaining to board governance and open meetings and open records

7)      Elimination of tenure for principals and other administrative managers

8)      Milwaukee School Zones

a) Provide framework and expenditure authority (for potential Race to the Top dollars) and governance of wrap-around services. Create appropriation authority.

Mayoral accountability is a proven system of transformational change to produce increased educational outcomes in the nation’s lowest-performing schools. Kenneth K. Wong and Francis X. Shen studied the effects of mayoral accountability and reported in The Education Mayor:

“Cities with a strong form of mayoral control…show consistently stronger gains in student achievement on state assessments relative to other large urban school systems. Improvements in student proficiency associated with strong mayoral leadership of public schools range from one-fifth to one-third of a standard deviation, in high school mathematics and reading respectively.”

The Milwaukee TEACH Act has been the product of consultation between the authors, the Governor Jim Doyle, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and other community leaders and stakeholders.  We encourage you to join us in offering this plan for transformational growth and change in Milwaukee Public Schools and by doing so, strengthen the state’s Race to the Top application.

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