Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

August 27, 2014

Response to MJS Article on Henry Tyson and St. Marcus Lutheran School

Filed under: St. Marcus — millerlf @ 1:31 pm

On August 26 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article on Henry Tyson, the superintendent of St. Marcus Lutheran School. ( I was interviewed by the author and quoted in the article.

In the article Tyson is quoted as being “shocked” for becoming the “nemesis of public education.” Following I would like to explain why he has become so controversial. The following were my statements to the author on this issue.

I was asked by the writer, why has Henry Tyson and St. Marcus Lutheran School come under such heavy criticism from the pro-public school advocates?

Henry Tyson is not forthright about student achievement. He claims high-performance, yet the data shows different. In all of these comparisons to MPS, he is comparing one school, St. Marcus, to 116 MPS K8 and middle schools. MPS can show a number of schools that have higher performance than St. Marcus.
But even in comparing all 116 schools to St. Marcus there is data that shows higher results for MPS, on the average, than St. Marcus.
(The Department of Public Education generated report on St. Marcus can be seen at: )

The first graph on the St. Marcus 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:
According to Tyson St Marcus has 730 students and 60 of them are special education students, which is 8.2%. How can they claim that they are open to all students when MPS enrolls 20% special education students?

The leadership at St. Marcus turned their attempt to gain control of the Malcolm X building into a circus. They marched young children from their school, during the school day, to the Malcolm X site praying and even having students pound on the doors, shouting “let us in, let us in.”
Henry Tyson spoke before the MPS school board quoting Malcolm X. I asked a teacher at St. Marcus if the teachings of Malcolm X are presented to students. He chuckled and stated, “not that I’m aware of.”

Regressive teaching:
On his blog, Henry Tyson states that St Marcus Lutheran School “… follows the teachings of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Evangelical Luther Synod (WELS).”
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.)

New Civil Rights Movement:
Some people claim that the voucher movement is part of the new civil rights movement. I’ve noticed that St. Marcus teaches about the southern civil rights movement, including taking students on trips to southern historical sites.
I approached friends who were activists in Milwaukee during the 1970s open housing marches, a focus of civil rights activism at that time. I asked them if the ministers or the churches belonging to the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (WELS) were engaged in any way in supporting that effort. The response from everyone was that they were nowhere to be found.

Maybe in their hearts, they were in support. But the true test is activism.

I must also question the fact that they are nowhere to be found in the fight to stop attacks on voting rights, economic inequality, healthcare or gay rights. While they are silent on the attacks on the poor and on democratic rights, they do not hesitate to run to the Tea-Party Republicans to lobby against MPS.

They are silent on the devastating funding cuts the Republicans have made to public education. At the same time they have lobbied for more funding for vouchers.


1 Comment »

  1. Thanks Larry for a great article and setting the record straight .

    Comment by Paul Trotter — August 27, 2014 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

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