Educate All Students, Support Public Education

June 24, 2014

President of the California School Board Association: Its time to revisit charter school legislation

Filed under: Charter Schools — millerlf @ 10:24 am

President of the California School Board Association (CSBA) Josephine Lucey
June 1, 2014

I’ve been extremely fortunate in my role as CSBA President to preside
in a year in which we are not talking about cuts in public education
funding, but rather about funding distribution methodology,
accountability and curriculum changes that are aimed at closing the
achievement gap. We’ve been talking about, and pushing for, continued
investment in the Local Control Funding Formula, development of the
associated Local Control and Accountability Plans, and implementation
of Common Core State Standards, which, if done well—with time and money
allocated and spent, and deliberate attention given to staff
development—have the potential to infuse our educational system with
academic rigor and provide our students with the critical thinking
skills they’ll need in this information- and technology-based economy.
It’s the right conversation to be having—and it’s about time.

So, as we enter the second half of this legislative year, I’d like to
focus on a topic that has been less prominent, but which I believe
should move to the forefront of our attention: charter schools and the
current statewide and national trends surrounding them.

It is time for educational and political leaders to revisit charter
school legislation and charter school law. As a state, and as a nation,
we have strayed far from the original intent of charter schools.
Originally designed to experiment with new ideas and approaches in
search of better academic outcomes for students, charter schools are
frequently being founded and directed by corporations and corporate
interests—which are not about improving academic outcomes for
students, but about maximizing profits for the benefit of management’s
or shareholders’ personal wealth.

I’m reading the research, I’m talking with school board members in
other states at National School Boards Association meetings, and I’m
more and more concerned by this privatization of public education. Yes,
corporate America is moving with increasing speed into the charter
school arena. According to an April 2014 Economic Policy Institute
Report (Lafer, Gordon; Briefing Paper #375), “the last few years have
witnessed a pattern of corporate consolidation [of charter schools]. By
2011, less than 17 percent of charter school students were in schools
run by companies that operated three or fewer schools. The majority
were overseen by corporations operating 10 or more schools.” And although
many charter corporations claim to be, or are required to be,
nonprofits, in fact, they are not. The nonprofit charter itself is
often nothing more than a shell corporation integrally aligned with other
for-profit business entities.

Here’s one example: the Rocketship chain of schools—“a low-budget
operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than
more veteran and expensive faculty . . . and replaces teachers with
online learning and digital applications for a significant portion of
the day” (Lafer, 2014). While Rocketship itself is a nonprofit, it is
closely aligned with two for-profit software companies, DreamBox and
Zeal. These schools, which use the blended learning model, put students
in computer labs for a quarter of the day, at minimum, every day and
the software used in the labs is purchased from DreamBox and Zeal. This
aggressive push for expansion of Rocketship schools is critical to
their business model. More schools equals more students, which equals more
software sold and more profits.

It goes further. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, and John Doerr, a
partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins
Caufield & Byers, are both on the Board of Directors of Rocketship. And
they are two of the primary investors in DreamBox. John Danner,
Rocketship’s co-founder, is Zeal’s primary investor. This type of
conflict-of-interest is illegal in public schools.

Additionally, Rocketship has a partnership with the for-profit real
estate holding company, LaunchPad. LaunchPad purchases school property,
then rents it to Rocketship. Their business model specifically states
“LaunchPad will charge relatively high facilities fees” and “the
profit margin will be used to finance new facilities” (Lafer, 2014).
Your tax dollars are being used by real estate trusts to purchase
property that is privately held and owned.

When a public school district wants to build or renovate a school, the
local community has a say. The community votes on whether to pass a
bond. The community pays for its local school, and the school remains a
community asset. Not so with corporate charters—the community has no
vote. And the local tax dollars are not purchasing a local asset; they
are helping shareholders purchase a private asset.

So why do we have charter schools? They have gained traction because
the public and many politicians believe, wrongly, that charters are the
magic bullet to academic excellence and that choice automatically leads
to better academic outcomes. But the data does not support this
perception. The National Charter School Study 2013, by The Center for
Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University, shows
that charter schools on average do no better than public schools
serving the same student demographics. Even the subgroups on whom charters
appeared to have the most impact showed very modest differences from
their public school peers. And the latest Public Policy Institute study
of the Rocketship chain shows that student achievement in Rocketship
schools has declined steadily year over year. In 2012-13, all seven
Rocketship schools failed to make adequate yearly progress, with four
of seven schools found to be in “need of program improvement.”

Circling back to the original intent of charter schools, there are, of
course, examples across our state of charters that, when freed from the
oversight and regulation that each of you and your districts are bound
to, are focused on providing better academic outcomes for students.
Typically, these are stand-alone charters that were founded by the very
districts in which they reside. They are usually successful because of
strong working relationships with and support from the local districts,
and they generally rely on the local districts for management
infrastructure. For example, when I visited Kings County this year, I
toured Lemoore Middle College Charter High School. It has a strong
working relationship with its sponsoring district as well as excellent
academic outcomes for its students. The school is located on the
community college campus, which enables students to take community
college classes while in high school. This arrangement works well for
all involved.

But we need to be careful, for corporate interests are governing an
increasing number of charter schools and the quality of our children’s
education is at stake. So what do we do? Here are three actions that
you and I and CSBA can take to refocus the discussion:

* We need to stop calling charter schools public schools. They are
privately managed publicly funded schools. They are an experiment in
moving tax dollars from the public sector to the private sector.
* Talk to your legislators and push back on the notion that charter
schools are the magic bullet. Talk about the successes in your
Remember, your constituents are their constituents, and you have
influence with your local voters.
* Be thoughtful and diligent in your decision making when a charter
petition comes before you. Don’t assume that a charter school is
synonymous with higher academic achievement. Do your research and base
your decisions on data, not ideology. This due diligence is especially
important for county board members reviewing charter petitions denied
by a local district.

It’s time for all in the education community to review the intent of
charter school legislation and to take a hard look at what exists in
the field today. Our public school system is one of our greatest assets.
It is the foundation of our American democracy and the door to
opportunity for all who live in our country. As educators and school
board members elected by our local communities to represent them, we
have an obligation to push hard for meaningful conversation that aims
to put charter schools’ focus back where it belongs—on achieving better
academic outcomes for students.

June 12, 2014

St Marcus’ Numbers Don’t Add Up

Filed under: St. Marcus,Vouchers — millerlf @ 9:05 pm

Once again, last night, St Marcus Lutheran School put on a show for all to see. Alderperson Russell Stamper II held a hearing on the proposal by St Marcus to buy the Lee Elementary school site.

St Marcus Lutheran School Superintendent, Henry Tyson, once again gave his slide show. Some of the slides can be seen on the St Marcus report card website at: (The report card is not a product of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction but something St Marcus created.)

Reading Scores
The first graph on the report card compares MPS in blue to St Marcus voucher students in red to all St Marcus students in yellow. The MPS bar says 15% reading proficiency. This should actually say 15.5%. But it should also say that this number is for all MPS students, in over 160 schools, including high school.

If you compare MPS K8 grades to the K8 grades offered by St. Marcus, you get a different picture. The 116 K8 schools in MPS have a 16.8% proficiency rate average, compared to St. Marcus’ is 19%.

The second graph on their report card, referred to as “Value – Added ”, depicts significant gains in reading for students who stay enrolled at St. Marcus. They go on to say that the student rate of return for St. Marcus is 91%.

This does not add up. This should mean, as St. Marcus students move to eighth grade, the schools proficiency levels should increase. But in fact the eighth grade proficiency level falls to 15%, four percentage points below the school’s average, representing a decline in attainment of proficiency.

17% of MPS eighth-graders test at proficiency. This means that by the Fall of eighth grade, MPS eighth-graders, on the average for 116 schools, are outperforming St. Marcus eighth graders.

Special Education
Previously Henry Tyson had said that St Marcus serves 6% special education students. Last night the number changed to 9%.

Tyson also presented that St Marcus has 730 students and 60 of them are special education students. Actually 60 is not 9% of 730. It is 8.2%. I hope that the math instruction at St Marcus is better than what was presented last night.

The question is: How many students with IEP’s attend St Marcus?

Regressive Teachings
On his blog, Henry Tyson states that St Marcus Lutheran School “… follows the teachings of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Evangelical Luther Synod.(WELS)” Once again, last night, Mr. Tyson refused to answer questions from speakers on the Synod’s teachings. (See quotes below.) It is obvious that the teachings of this church are so regressive that they cannot be defended. And that it would cause embarrassment throughout the Milwaukee community if they engaged in a defense of their teachings.

They have obviously agreed to take the approach that, no defense is the best defense.

If you go to their official monthly publication, Forward in Christ, you can witness their teachings, unrestrained and unapologetic, at:


On “the Menace of Islam” “The greatest menace of Islam is the deadly threat that it poses to the eternal life of every one of its adherents.”

On Jews Going to Heaven “If your question is about unbelieving Jews (or unbelievers from any other ethnic group) or followers of Judaism who have rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior of mankind, then we must sadly answer that they did not and do not go to heaven.”

On Suicide “Suicide is murder; ‘and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him’(John 3:15).


On Marriage: Joining a Christian and a Non-Christian “Experience demonstrates that all too many of these marriages, almost predictably, become heartaches followed by divorce.”

On Equality of Women “In order to avoid exercising leadership over men contrary to “the order of creation,” WELS women do not vote in church meetings.”

On the Catholic Pope “We identify the Antichrist as the Papacy.”

On Evolution “It appears that American citizens don’t have the privilege of stating that the evolutionary explanation of the origin of this universe, the earth, and man is not only questionable, but also unscientific, and irrational, and just plain wrong.” The earth is only 6000 years old and “…was created with the appearance of age. On the first day everything looked older than it was.”

On Homosexuality “Scripture declares that homosexuality is a sin, which is contrary to God’s intention in creating man and woman. Sinful resistance to the revealed will of God is a factor in this sin.”

On Civil Rights “Anything goes. When the civil-rights bills were passed in the mid ’60s, their principal sponsor, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, promised in one melodramatic session that he would “physically eat” the bill he was promoting if ever anyone attempted to use his bill in order to prefer a member of one race at the expense of a member of another race. Senator Humphrey died from other causes than the food poisoning to which he’d have been subjected after the Supreme Court OK’d affirmative action.
A fortnight ago, we had the Civil Rights Restoration Act, which now extends to the federal government the right to inquire into the racial or sexual composition of a school’s basketball team if its medical school is receiving federal subsidies. And last week, Georgetown University, the oldest Jesuit College in America, capitulated on the lawsuit demanding that it make room within Georgetown for gay and lesbian student federations. Somebody, somewhere, somehow, has got to stop the civil-rights thing. It is making a joke out of one after another of our Bill of Rights.” (These comments are a reprint from Forward In Christ by William F. Buckley Jr.)

On Economic Inequality “It is egregiously impossible if you mean that the state can and should guarantee equality of education, income, or wealth. The only way that there could be equality of wealth is if the state seized all private assets and redistributed them. The only way there could be equality of income is if the state seized control of all businesses and arbitrarily set all salary levels the same, determined by some central committee. Unless you are pining to live under Stalinistic Communism, you wouldn’t favor that approach, and so I conclude that you are prepared to live with inequality of income and wealth.
But people can still envy, of course. The last presidential election season featured quite a bit of attention on Mitt Romney’s personal wealth, and that campaign was quickly followed by the “Occupy” and “99%” mini-movements that sought to arouse envy and hostility from the have-lesses against the have-mores. My personal prediction is that you ain’t seen nothing yet. The coming political season will bring back plenty of chatter about income and wealth inequality in the U.S.
Those efforts will be led by people who have given up on the belief that you can better your life by hard work, discipline, self-control, deferred gratification, and saving. They believe that everyone with wealth either stole it or cheated people to get it.” (From Pastor’s Blog, St. Marcus Pastor Mark Jeske.)


June 5, 2014

Henry Tyson and St Marcus’ Leadership Have No Shame!

Filed under: St. Marcus,Vouchers — millerlf @ 4:11 pm

Once again St Marcus leadership wants to turn their demand for public property into a circus. During their quest for the Malcolm X site they opportunistically used children from their school  by marching them to the Malcolm X site during school hours.

Mr Tyson has sent out the following call-to-action for next week’s meeting. This is now about “misrepresentations” and the “right” to attend private schools, paid for with public dollars.

Dear Friends of St. Marcus,You are making a difference. Thank you to those who attended the first Town Hall meeting this past  Monday.  St. Marcus had strong representation and moving stories that made the case for why St. Marcus seeks to establish a second campus at the former Lee School site.Alderman Stamper II appreciated hearing from St. Marcus families and residents of the 15th district. He is providing another opportunity to hear from the community.  

SECOND Town Hall Meeting
Hosted by Alderman Russell Stamper II
Topic: Potential Sale of the Lee School Property to St. Marcus WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11, 2014 (6:30 pm – 7:30 pm)
Northside YMCA – Cafeteria, 1350 W. North Ave, Milwaukee 53205We need an even bigger crowd at next week’s meeting to strongly show that there is an URGENT need for St. Marcus to expand NOW.  St. Marcus is currently at capacity with hundreds of children on a waiting list. 

Bring your friends, family and colleagues.

Your firsthand experiences are the most effective way to counter those who have misimpressions of St. Marcus. Express your support for the right of all children to have access to high quality schools.

The MPS Board and the Common Council still need to vote on the sale of the site.  St. Marcus and committed supporters are working diligently to resolve outstanding issues and dissolve the barriers to educating 200 new students in K3-1st grade this fall and up to 850 students when at full capacity.

Please join us next week Wednesday!  Your Voice Matters! 

Thank you for your continued prayers.


Henry_2 Henry Tyson
Henry Tyson, Superintendent

2215 North Palmer Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53212. | Tel: 414-562-3163 | Website:

MPS Board President on District Successes

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 12:23 pm

Board President Michael Bonds on MPS in Transition
The ‘hidden miracle’ happening in Milwaukee’s public schools
By Lisa Kaiser Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Gregory Thornton, who led the district during the tumult over Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 and his slashing of aid to K-12 public schools by $800 million in his first budget, is leaving June 30 for Baltimore. The board of directors hopes to name an interim superintendent this week while launching a national search for a superintendent who can handle the demands of an urban school in a city struggling with poverty.

MPS Board President Michael Bonds said he supported Thornton’s leadership, especially his creation of district-wide reading and math curricula and his willingness to be a cheerleader for MPS during a very trying time.

Bonds said he’s confident that MPS’s future is much brighter as a result of Thornton’s efforts and the board’s budget-tightening measures that have resulted in cutting unfunded liabilities by more than half, from $2.8 billion to just over $1.3 billion, and turning a $100 million projected deficit into a $44 million surplus.

Those cuts and a shift in priorities have allowed MPS to put art, music and physical education teachers in every school, at least on a part-time basis; make renewed attempts to raise academic performance; offer universal breakfast; lead the nation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming; upgrade computers, labs and playfields; restore social work, counseling and nursing positions; and revive driver’s ed and extracurricular activities.

The result is what Bonds calls MPS’s “hidden miracle.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan says that it takes at least 11 years to turn around a struggling school district. Bonds, a seven-year veteran of the board, said MPS is on its way to making that happen despite massive political opposition.

“We’re in a place now where we’re seeing the benefits of the work that’s been done, and it’s been significant,” Bonds said last week at MPS’s district offices on Vliet Street. “I’ve always called it a hidden miracle. People were trying to put the nail in the coffin with the effort to drain the budget, but it didn’t kill us. We survived the mayor and the governor’s attempted takeover. But while all of this was going on we were making these changes. The foundation is set. We have a lot of work to do but when you look at where we were at, in the context of an expanding school voucher program and budget cuts, I think it’s phenomenal.”

MPS’s Open Books
Bonds was eager to talk about MPS’s improved finances, a mix of measures taken before Act 10 and some that were enabled by it. The district has ended full-time benefits for part-time workers, asked teachers to contribute to their health care and pension, reorganized its health plan, and has frozen pay and step increases for staff. It’s closed more than two dozen schools in the past few years, some of them for underperformance.

Perhaps as important, however, are the district’s efforts to clean up its books. “When I joined the board seven years ago, I was shocked that you had a billion-dollar budget and zero checks and balances on it,” Bonds said. “We went through the records and there were horror stories.” No-bid contracts have ended and sole-source contracts are greatly reduced, Bonds said, putting a stop to wasteful contracts for unneeded services. “This region was a gravy train for too many people,” Bonds said. “Including MPS critics.”

In addition, MPS has opened an Office of Accountability and used part of its $20.4 million GE grant to help central office staffers learn Lean Six Sigma principles. More than 40 employees have undergone Six Sigma training and have completed more than 20 projects. That’s helped, for example, MPS change the way it bids out contracts and take control over its vast textbook holdings. “GE took us to their facilities and trained us with their trainers,” said Robert DelGhingaro, MPS’s chief accountability officer. “Last Friday, they took another group, another 20 people, around the GE plant, showing them how they implement things and do things. They’ve been a big partner all the way along.” MPS has become so committed to transparency that every contract is posted on its website and its efforts have earned it an A+ rating from the national Sunshine Review, the only school district in Wisconsin to win this award.

Student Achievement Is Rising
MPS’s finances are only part of its story, however. Bonds acknowledges that MPS needs to raise its academic performance, especially among its minority students.

“The gains are incremental, but they are headed in the right direction,” Bonds said. “They are not at the pace we want them to go.”
But he said that programs are in place to provide kids with better academic opportunities, which has resulted in recognition from the Council of the Great City Schools. More charter and specialty schools are opening up. Centralizing the curriculum will help students who switch schools during the academic year or transfer in from voucher schools. College prep programs and entrance exams are emphasized, and MPS has won a national award for the number of female and minority students in STEM programs.

Bonds also said that the racial achievement gap is being addressed. He pointed to a 2012 Schott Foundation report on the graduation rates of black male students in which MPS ranked fairly low. But that study compared the city-only MPS to school districts that include wealthier suburbs, as well as urban schools. When compared to other city-only districts MPS is performing pretty well.
“When you look at some of these places that have had so-called miracles, like Detroit, Atlanta or Washington, we are actually doing better than them,” Bonds said.


The Quarter Century Con of Vouchers

Filed under: Vouchers — millerlf @ 12:17 pm

By Joel McNally Wednesday, June 4, 2014 Express Milwaukee

It’s taken a quarter of a century, but Republican taxpayers around the state and some of their representatives are finally starting to realize they’ve been hoodwinked by their own party’s flimflam advocacy of private school vouchers.

You have to hand it to the voucher movement, though. One of the biggest complaints about modern-day politics is that political leaders rarely look any further into the future than the next election.

The voucher movement has been one of the longest running cons in Wisconsin political history.

Private school vouchers began in 1990 with 300 Milwaukee students in seven schools at a cost of $700,000. Like that classic ’50s horror movie monster in The Blob, it has grown inexorably ever since into a statewide program with nearly 30,000 students and a cost approaching $230 million a year.
The shocking thing is that this wasn’t one of those big government programs by tax-and-spend Democrats. It was conservative Republicans gleefully feeding the beast. But anyone who looked closely at the Republicans’ rationale for their enormous spending increases knew from the start something was fishy.

Republicans claimed vouchers were a program to improve racial and economic equality by providing the same private school educational opportunities to poor, black children in Milwaukee’s inner city that were available to wealthy, white suburban children.
It’s not an overstatement to say the next Wisconsin Republican legislative proposal to improve the lives of poor African Americans in Milwaukee’s central city will be their first.

Many Republicans wouldn’t even deny it. Since they don’t want to think of themselves as nasty, mean-spirited people, they’ve created an entire political philosophy to justify cutting government assistance to poor families, no matter how badly in need those people are.
It’s based on the total fantasy that poverty is a choice. When government provides minimal means of survival—food assistance for hungry children, unemployment benefits when there are no jobs, health care for those who can’t afford it—Republicans say it encourages people to live a cushy life of poverty.
No one who has ever been poor could possibly believe that. Poverty isn’t just hard. It can be life threatening day after day after day.


Private School Students Get Taxpayer Funds
But if Republican leaders don’t really care about providing equal educational opportunities for the poor, what’s their real reason to continually expand taxpayer funding of private schools?

After the program went statewide, it suddenly became obvious. It turns out that vouchers have very little to do with giving public school students access to private schools.

Quite the contrary: It’s to stick taxpayers statewide with the bills for parents whose children already are attending private schools.
More than 3,400 students applied for a limited number of 1,000 private school vouchers for this fall. Only 22% of eligible students were from public schools. A whopping 71% of those applicants already are attending private schools.

And why not? Families who decide not to enroll their children in free, taxpayer-paid public schools used to have to pay for their own expensive, private school educations.

If taxpayers are suckers enough to pay for privileged children’s private school educations, parents would have to be fools not to let them. It’s particularly generous of state taxpayers, since one of the reasons many parents put their children into private schools is they don’t want them associating with the sort of riff raff who attend public schools. You know, the children of the majority of taxpayers.

Since those applications became public, even some outstate Republican leaders on education seem to realize for the first time what they’ve been doing for more than two decades as they’ve shifted money from public schools into private school vouchers.

“The question is, what is this purpose of this program?” said Ripon Republican state Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Is it a program to help poor kids get out of public schools or is it a program to pay for the tuition of kids who are already in private schools?

“It’s pretty obvious from the last two go-rounds”—with a majority of applications coming from students already in private schools—“that it’s the latter.” The tragedy, of course, is that while Republicans continue to increase taxpayer spending for a relatively small number of privileged private school students, Wisconsin public schools, which the overwhelming majority of taxpayers’ children attend, are being devastated by the largest educational cuts in state history.

To add insult to injury, research, which private schools resisted for many years, now shows students from comparable backgrounds perform just as well or better in public schools than they do in private schools.

Now that taxpayers statewide, including Republicans, are starting to realize they’ve been had by a long political con, it’s time to send those hundreds of millions for vouchers back to Wisconsin public schools where they will benefit the majority of our children instead of just a privileged few.


First Hearing Held on the Proposed Sale of Lee Elementary School to St Marcus

Filed under: St. Marcus,Vouchers — millerlf @ 12:51 am

On June 2nd I attended the first hearing held on the proposed sale of Lee Elementary School. With only a 3 day notice, it was clearly the St Marcus show. The majority of people attending were St. Marcus parents. The format of the meeting was a presentation by St. Marcus Superintendent Henry Tyson, followed by St Marcus parent presentations. The audience was then able to make comments and ask questions.

It was clear that many parents support the education their children are receiving at St Marcus. For the majority of parents who spoke, being a “Christian centered” education is critical.

The meeting was said to be intended to focus on hearing the voices of the community living near the Lee Elementary School site. I too would like to hear those voices but it seemed they weren’t present in abundance. At the same time, whenever public education and MPS is on the line, I want to hear all voices.

There is obviously more at stake in the discussion than just the sale of the Lee building. St Marcus has been willingly complicit in diverting resources from MPS and dismantling public education in Milwaukee. They are full supporters of the voucher movement. They have allied with the MMAC and the Tea Party Republicans on voucher expansion and acquisition of MPS buildings. They propagate sectarian teachings and practice discriminatory policies while taking the public’s tax dollars.

The desire of St Marcus to purchase public property raises again the debate about vouchers and public education. Voucher schools are private schools. They are able to circumvent any number of democratic safeguards. To name a few, voucher schools are not required to:
• Educate all students
• Provide special education services
• Provide English as a Second Language or bilingual instruction
• Adhere to Wisconsin’s non-discrimination laws the prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital, or parental status
• Adhere to open meetings and records requirements
• Respect constitutional rights of due process and freedom of speech of students and staff

Students in voucher schools can be removed without an explanation or reason. Parents of special needs children have been told “we can’t provide your child the services they need.” And it is well established that students identified with behavior problems have been “counseled out”.

St Marcus uses what Henry Tyson calls “no-nonsense” disciplinary policies. For example, their tardy policy document to parents states, “Ultimately, students will be removed from the school if tardiness issues are not resolved.” Of course MPS does not expel students for tardiness.
To view the tardy policy letter that was sent to the parents of a 1st grader, go to:

St Marcus Tardy letter


Data on St Marcus

Filed under: St. Marcus,Vouchers — millerlf @ 12:34 am

Henry Tyson gave a presentation on Monday night, mainly using DPI value added data on St. Marcus, which does show improvements in student performance. I later raised questions about the DPI summative WSAS data that actually shows decline, not improvement, in reading proficiency. I stated:

The premise for this proposal is that St Marcus is a high-performing school and this will add quality seats to Milwaukee’s K-12 schooling. The data tells a different story. This school year St. Marcus WKCE reading scores show that only 19% of St. Marcus students are proficient in reading. And that is at 2% drop from the previous school year.

This means that 81% of St. Marcus students, grades three through eight, on average were not reading at proficiency in the Fall of 2013. I might understand this if the early grades showed low scores but seventh and eighth grade showed proficiency. But the opposite is true. Seventh grade shows 17% proficiency and eighth grade drops to 15% proficiency.

Does that mean that 85% of St Marcus eighth-graders are graduating without being proficient in reading?

Henry Tyson strongly defended their work with:
• WSAS (WKCE) scores were adjusted two years ago which significantly affected their scores,
• Many students enter at 6th grade, and while 7th and 8th grade results are not good enough, St Marcus shows strong value-added results for those students,
• The 19% proficiency reading average for St Marcus is above the average for schools that are “80% African American and 80% low-income, and the City would be showing significant success if all schools were at that level”.

Henry Tyson stated that the difference between reading proficiency in MPS and at St Marcus’ is significant. MPS reading proficiency for all grades, all 160 schools including high schools, is 15.5% and for all elementary schools it is 16.8% compared to 19% at St. Marcus. Reading proficiency for St. Marcus and MPS overall is almost identical despite the fact that the K-8 special needs population in MPS exceeds 20% compared to a special education population of 6% at St Marcus. Many MPS elementary schools actually have a reading proficiency level that exceeds that of St Marcus.

But I must ask, with all of the advantages that voucher schools have in their possession with selection and de-selection of students, the ability to maintain low special needs populations, access to millions of dollars in private funding, the ability to fire staff without just cause and the support of many politicians, why aren’t they showing more success?

It is also important to note the use of the terms “high performing schools” and “high performing seats.” St Marcus is regularly referred to as “high performing.” How is that possible when only 15% of their 8th graders tested proficient in the fall of 2013 (no matter what they get for value-added results)? As recently as Tuesday’s article in the Journal Sentinel, on Monday night’s meeting, St Marcus is described as “the 2nd highest performing voucher school in Milwaukee.”

The terms “high performing schools” and “high performing seats” are used as a wedge against MPS schools as part of the MMAC’s strategy to create 2 school systems. This separate and unequal system of schools is intended to provide “high quality seats” for 20,000 students leaving the remaining 80,000 Milwaukee students to lesser quality seats.

Saint Marcus Lutheran School WSAS: WKCE and WAA Combined Fall 2013
*Reading scores

#Enrolled371 Tested370 % Minimal %Basic % Proficient % Advanced CombinedProficient and Advanced
   3     81  36%   47%   15%   2%   17%
   4     85   46%   35%  16%   1%   17%
   5    56   27%   48%  21%   4%   25%
   6     50   38%   40%    22%   0%    22%
   7    52   25%   58%   15%   2%   17%
   8     47   23%   62%   15%   0%   15%
Average   34%  47%   17%   2%   19%

Numbers from DPI website at (pdf page 164):

Click to access Fall%202013%20WSAS%20MPCP%20Results.pdf

June 3, 2014

The Next Hearing on the Sale of Lee Elementary School is Wednesday June 11

Filed under: St. Marcus — millerlf @ 7:56 am

I listened to the Journal Sentinel. Sorry. They were wrong about the scheduled hearings called by Alder-person Russell Stamper ll. The next hearing will be :


 Wednesday June 11th


1350 W. North Avenue

6:30 PM


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