Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

February 13, 2012

On Alan Borsuk’s Commentary on New MPS Budget

Filed under: Borsuk — millerlf @ 3:11 pm

By Larry Miller

When does speculation – what MPS parents might do – become suggestions – what MPS parents ought to do?

In a February 12 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel commentary, Alan Borsuk appeared to be on a slippery slope about the woes facing parents of students at top-performing MPS schools.

First, Borsuk claimed our schools are suffering because the district failed to use the “tools” given them by Gov. Scott Walker. He compares MPS to other school districts across the state, asserting that many of them are in the black because of those “tools” – read, stinging cuts to teachers’ benefits.

The truth is that many districts were saved by use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Districts across the state will face similar difficulties to MPS when those federal dollars run out at the end of the school year. For example, the Waukesha school district took advantage of $3.6 million from ARRA to cover this year’s shortfalls. But next year they will not have those funds to fall back on.

Lamenting possible cuts for MPS’s top-performing schools, Borsuk says, “I suspect many of the immersion and Montessori school communities, including many teachers, wish they could charter right now.”

As for parents of kids at those schools, Borsuk wonders whether they’re “… aware that the application period to open-enroll into suburban public schools is open right now?”

Unfortunately, such “advice” only adds to an already difficult situation.

Governor Scott Walker has made disastrous cuts in education. Analysts have pointed out that  Milwaukee is among the hardest hit districts in the country. Inevitably, those cuts will hurt all of our schools.

Until every child at MPS can be assured a reasonable class size, decent books, curriculum designed not to teach to the test but responsive to children’s lives and learning styles, we have to say the system is not working.

But for now, we have to do the best we can with limited resources. In my mind, the number one priority is to draw the line at the present class-sizes in our schools.

Adults directly working with students must be a priority. As resources become available, support and reform initiatives can be expanded.

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