Whenever the New York Times runs articles on charter schools in that city, they include the following request to the public:
Are you a current or former charter school student in New York City? We would like to hear from your perspective about what it’s like to attend a charter school. Please email email@example.com with your response, which will be kept confidential and will not be published. However, an editor or reporter may contact you for a possible future article.
Why? Because the paper regularly reports on what is happening inside the walls of charter schools. They report the successes. But they also report the failings. They are especially interested in policies followed by some New York charters with the “de-selection” of special education students, ELL students, those with chronic behavior problems or performing low on standardized tests. See, for example, the Times article on a charter school’s “Got to Go” list.
Where is the investigation on this vital issue in the Milwaukee press? Good investigative reporting on the inner-workings of voucher and independent charter schools in Milwaukee would draw the interest of the public.
Reporting on debate that occurred at Thursday’s school board meeting would have been a perfect time, at least to raise questions. Board members who oppose the proposed “collaboration” between Pulaski, a traditional public school, and Carmen, a privately run program chartered with MPS, advanced arguments based on data and conversations with staff, parents and others with first-hand knowledge.
Rather than present the arguments that came up in the debate, including concerns about Carmen’s discipline and de-selection practices, Borsuk reduced his reporting to a “profile in courage” of one board member. See Borsuk’s commentary at: Borsuk
Director Joseph and I spoke to our alternative approach to reforming Pulaski, but Borsuk again chose not to report on it.
Our approach is centered on the need to serve all students on Milwaukee’s south side. We addressed two key areas. The first would be to grow high performing high school seats by re-designing Pulaski during the present school year, and significantly expanding its numbers (The need for significantly expanding high school space would be addressed with the redesign.) The second way that we saw growing high school seats and giving students increased access to those high performing seats would be to create a grade 6-8 middle school in Pulaski as a feeder school to Pulaski High School. This middle school would help offer a pathway for the many Southside elementary schools that end at 5th grade, including nearby Zablocki and Lincoln Ave elementary schools.
To meet these needs Director Joseph and I were planning to propose the following motion but Roberts Rules of Order prevented it because a substitute motion was adopted.
Our motion states:
That the administration immediately begin a redesign of the Pulaski High School program with a bilingual component (and possible IB) using a process that-
• Uses the best practices of the Bayview redesign.
• Includes an all inclusive committee of parents, staff, students and community overseen by the administration.
• Develop an RFP for a 6-8th grade middle school to be housed in Pulaski for up 600 students, starting in the fall of 2017. The Pulaski middle school would be a feeder to the high school and create a pathway from nearby Zablocki and Lincoln, along with other South-side elementary schools that only go through 5th grade. The middle school would provide a bilingual program. Its design and RFP development would be part of the discussion of the committee to redesign Pulaski High School.
• That Pulaski will not have 9th grade in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. 9th graders will be recruited for the school year 2017-2018. They will be the first graduating class of the redesigned Pulaski High School.
• The administration begin the discussion of the redesign in November 2015.
• That the administration work to maintain the Pulaski teaching staff committed to the redesign and the necessary accreditation/certification for the new program. The district commit to working to relieve the cost of necessary recertification.
• And, that the administration immediately find a building to house the 200 students designated for Carmen’s Southside charter expansion.