Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

January 13, 2011

The Milwaukee Journal Does The Usual Bi-Weekly Attack On the School Board and Democracy, While Using a Self-Congratulatory Voucher Comparison as Evidence

Filed under: Mayoral Control,MPS Governance Debate,Vouchers — millerlf @ 12:00 pm

I ask, where’s the journalism? Where’s the critique of the business community and city government’s failure to create family sustaining jobs and economic development?

Jan. 11, 2011 Editorial MJS

Where’s the leadership?

Milwaukee School Board members wanted the community to give them a chance to lead. Recent decisions show the board is not up to the challenge.

The dearth of candidates for the Milwaukee School Board is another sign of how little democracy there really is in the current governance structure.

How little, you ask?

Five of the nine seats are up for election, but only one race will have a primary in February because three candidates are running. In three races, there will be only two candidates on the April ballot, and no one challenged School Board President Michael Bonds.

The lack of interest in School Board elections is nothing new in Milwaukee, of course, but it’s still troubling. And here’s something else that’s troubling: A new study shows voucher school kids are 17% more likely to graduate than Milwaukee Public Schools students.

MPS disputes the numbers. What cannot be disputed are the financial and academic problems looming over the district. And effective leadership is critical to turning MPS around.

A 70% graduation rate is not good enough. The 82,000 students who attend MPS deserve better, and the community as a whole depends on the district’s success because MPS is, essentially, the region’s biggest workforce development agency.

Financially, the School Board has shown it is not ready to make big decisions.

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie L. Hines Jr. and state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) questioned why the School Board refused to sell empty buildings to its competition when the district is paying about $1 million a year to maintain those buildings.

Bonds’ response: Mind your own business.

“You are focusing on MPS issues while neglecting the problems that you were elected to solve,” Bonds said in a letter to Hines.

Not exactly the sort of leadership that inspires confidence.

That’s why we still believe a governance change is required. We have no confidence that this board will be able to address the mounting financial and academic crises.

A change in governance alone won’t fix MPS. Schools need to be safe; parents need to be involved. Each school needs effective, top-to-bottom leadership.

Superintendent Gregory Thornton is trying, but an ineffective board stymies effective leadership.

It’s time for better leadership.

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