Educate All Students, Support Public Education

April 26, 2020

Thoughts on Today’s Alan Borsuk Column by Larry Miller

Filed under: Borsuk,Referendum — millerlf @ 2:37 pm

In today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, columnist Alan Borsuk blasts a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board meeting (even while admitting he didn’t listen to the entire proceeding) and decrees that, outside of a resounding win for the referendum to increase funding for public school children, everything going on with MPS is “bad news.”

At a time when public institutions are under duress because of a pandemic and a president actively dismantling democracy and government safeguards, Borsuk chimes in with Republican legislators who are undermining public institutions.

For the past two decades Borsuk has been nipping at the heels of Milwaukee Public Schools. He has portrayed himself as representing community concerns. But now that the public has weighed in clearly on the side of MPS, he has little to say.

Where’s the research and analysis of the 78% of Milwaukee voters and communities who support more funding for MPS?

Where’s the analysis of the MMAC’s refusal to support the referendum?

Where’s the perspective on the attempt by Robb Rauh of Milwaukee College Prep, Henry Tyson of St. Marcus Lutheran School and Ricardo Diaz of UCC to lead a coalition of private schools to undermine the referendum?

Three weeks ago, Borsuk derided the whole of MPS, declaring “schools with great learning cultures … in Milwaukee that come to mind are generally not MPS schools.”   He went on to question whether MPS is capable of real change. Truth be told, he wanted the referendum to fail.

But the public wasn’t listening.

I’m not going to ask Borsuk to stop nipping. I don’t believe it’s in him.

But I do ask that he step up to the plate and extend his lens to include the second largest school system in the state:  private voucher schools. How about some research on third Friday expulsions, selection and deselection policies, contracts that parents must adhere to in order to maintain their child’s enrollment, absolute obedience policies, refusal to fulfill IEP’s, teaching only to the test, absence of music and art programs? And that’s just a start.

I have been an elected school board member for 11 years and I am proud of the work we are doing. The board and administration are mindful of the tremendous challenges we face and the urgency of tackling them. But even with all the areas we need to improve, MPS is committed to take every student who comes to our door.

In this time of pandemic, we have given out over 350,00 breakfasts and lunches to every family that comes to us, including many voucher school families. As we work to transfer education to communities without internet access or computers, we are providing chrome books to our students and working to set up Wi-Fi access throughout the city. Poverty plus pandemic in a district starved of resources by a hostile legislature could have led to disaster. Our principals, teachers and support staff are all-hands-on-deck to make distance learning work.

By the way Alan, thanks for giving me an honorable mention for saying something affirming about the school board in today’s column. Maybe you should do the same.

April 19, 2020

New York’s Largest Charter Network, Known for Its Abusive Discipline of Children of Color, Gets Praise From Private-Charter Support Site “citizen ed”

Filed under: Anti-racism,Charter Schools — millerlf @ 8:59 am

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June 27, 2020

One of the well-funded Internet sites advancing the private-charter narrative these days is citizen ed. Funded by brightbeam, this site relies heavily on the taped interviews by Chris Stewart (a.k.a citizenchris). One noticeable interview by Stewart, featuring Eva Moskowitz, is titled “What We Can Learn From One of America’s Most Successful Networks of Public Schools.” The network is Success Academy Charter Schools.

Four years ago I blogged an article from the New York Times titled “No-Nonsense Charter Once Again Embarrassed.” The article was linked to a video of a horrific classroom incident from Success Academy charter school in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

See the video at:  the video.

See the full article at:

I recently went back to see if Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, had learned the error of her ways. But an article published in the New York Daily News on June 17, shows she hasn’t. In the article it states, “An uproar alleging entrenched racism at Success Academy Charter Schools is threatening to upend the city’s largest charter network. More than 400 current and former Success students, staff and parents took to social media in the wake of George Floyd’s death under the banner “survivors of Success Academy” to share stories of both overt and subtle racism, according to the organizers of the Instagram page.”

To see the full article go to:

I suggest citizenchris interview the “survivors of Success Academy” before giving the platform to Eva Moskowitz.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png
Eva Moskowitz leaving a Success Academy school in Harlem with Ivanka Trump.

April 8, 2020

Republicans seeking broad authority to cut aid to schools and state programs as part of coronavirus response

Filed under: Republican Attacks — millerlf @ 6:09 pm

Patrick Marley and Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MADISON – Seeking to further curb Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ power, Republican lawmakers are developing legislation that would give a handful of them the ability to cut school aid and slash state spending.

Evers said that measure, which is one of dozens of provisions GOP lawmakers are putting into legislation to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, would likely push him to veto the bill altogether.

“‘Seriously consider it’ would probably be putting it mildly,” Evers said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We can’t have that as part of it. That’s too much authority in the hands of a couple people.”

But a veto would also prevent the state from providing more help to the unemployed and receiving more federal aid to cover health-care costs. Those are two of Evers’ top goals as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across Wisconsin and the economy worsens.

The GOP plan, a summary of which was provided to the Journal Sentinel by Evers’ office, comes three weeks after Evers first proposed to lawmakers at least $706 million worth of spending to provide relief for the state as the virus outbreak shutters businesses, infects thousands and grinds daily life to a halt.

Republican leaders of the Legislature said Evers’ proposal was a nonstarter in large part because of a provision that would provide the state Department of Health Services unlimited spending authority during the public health emergency.

Evers said he believes the two sides can compromise.

“The good news is, I’m glad we have a response from the Republican side — it’s good to see that effort, putting pen to paper,” Evers said.

The summary of the GOP plan, which is still being drafted, does not include any appropriations, which Evers said would likely not be enough for the needs of the state’s health care system and its residents.

Lawmakers received Evers’ first of two bills to respond to the virus outbreak March 21. The governor said Wednesday if lawmakers don’t take action within two weeks, it would send a message to residents that state officials don’t know how to respond.

“The message sent to the people of Wisconsin is that this isn’t a big deal and the fact that we have people suffering financially, physically, health-wise and otherwise isn’t a big deal and I know of the Republicans actually feel that way,” he said. “The people of Wisconsin would, I think, be flabbergasted if we just do nothing.”

The GOP plan comes less than two years after Republicans passed lame-duck laws that trimmed Evers’ authority even before he took office. Under those laws, legislators gained more control of public benefits programs, economic development efforts and litigation involving the state.

The new measure is aimed at responding to the coronavirus outbreak and the economic problems that come with it. The legislation would suspend a one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits, and allow the state to claim an extra $150 million every three months in federal aid for the state’s Medicaid programs such as BadgerCare Plus.

But the legislation also includes a provision that would allow the Legislature’s GOP- controlled Joint Finance Committee to reduce state spending — including aid to schools — on its own. Normally the Legislature and governor have to agree on any cuts.

If the governor approved the legislation, he would have the ability to veto any spending cuts made by the committee. But the committee could easily override his vetoes because Republicans have a 12-4 majority on the committee — more than the two-thirds margin needed to override vetoes.

Evers said he would block their plan. But that will leave in limbo the provisions he and Republicans support.

The federal government is providing states with help to fight coronavirus, but the governor and Legislature must act to take advantage of some of it — such as the additional funding for Medicaid and jobless benefits. In addition, Evers and lawmakers have said they want to allow people to receive unemployment benefits right away rather than having to wait a week.

But if the differences over spending cuts persist, none of that will happen.

Republicans want more control of spending because state tax collections are expected to quickly dry up as much of the economy shuts down. They wnt to be able to determine where to restrain spending without having to negotiate with Evers.


The power they are seeking is vast. It would allow them to reduce aid to schools, local governments and University of Wisconsin campuses. They could also scale back programs aimed at helping the poor and those who have trouble getting health-care coverage.

Republicans have not said where they might want to make cuts, but have signaled they want flexibility because of how bad the economy could turn amid the pandemic.

This week Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette who is co-chairman of the finance committee, said the state may need to freeze spending after July 1.

Congress has allocated about $2 billion to Wisconsin to help fight coronavirus. Evers — not lawmakers — has control of how to spend that money.


April 5, 2020

Why is the Milwaukee county executive race so important to Betsy DeVos?

Filed under: Charter Schools,Privatization,Vouchers — millerlf @ 2:26 pm

By Marva Herndon -April 4, 2020 Wisconsin Examiner

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0

Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Secretary of Education, has long funded politicians who support voucher and charter-school schemes through her group, the American Federation for Children. The same American Federation for Children has funded school privatization efforts all over the country. Betsy DeVos is partly responsible for one of the biggest school reform disasters in the country – the privatization of Detroit Public Schools.

Now comes the election on April 7, 2020 — the Milwaukee Perfect Storm. Throughout this country the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted education at all levels. Betsy DeVos and local allies including the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce (MMAC) see this disruption as a perfect opportunity to push their takeover agenda to the Milwaukee Public Schools. That’s DeVos is pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the race.

What could be the takeover mechanism? The County Executive and the Opportunity Schools program!

Most Milwaukee residents may have forgotten the Opportunity Schools & Partnership Program (OSPP) established by Wisconsin Act 55, in the 2015-2017 biennial budget. This legislation is still waiting to be executed by the Milwaukee County Executive. Chris Abele explains in a letter at the end of the Legislative Audit Bureau report on the program why he did not carry out the implementation of this statute, which lacked both state funding and local political support.

Why is it that so many school privatization figures are interested in the County Executive race? The OSPP requires the Milwaukee County Executive to select a program commissioner to operate the new school district it creates. This new district is created by selecting up to five Milwaukee Public Schools deemed failing on the Wisconsin Report Card to be transferred over to the new opportunity district each year. The new district must turn over these schools to a currently operating charter or voucher school. With additional deals or maybe contracts even a new school operator can join in this financial feast on the children and taxpayers of Milwaukee.

What does the school operator receive in the OSPP?

The expectation that the students come with the school building, along with the current per-student dollar amount paid to charter operators – between $8100 and $8900 per student.

School buildings and all the contents – statute is unclear whether the desks, computers and other equipment transfer with the building or if these items remain the property of the school district.

Termination of schools’ existing district employees – If an MPS school is transferred into the program, the program commissioner must terminate the school’s existing employees who are MPS employees and may reassign the school’s staff out of the school.

What does the program commissioner get?

The commissioner may charge each entity operating an opportunity school a fee of up to 3% of the total per-student payment the entity receives, not to exceed a combined total of $750,000 annually from all entities.

What do Milwaukee children and taxpayers receive in return?

  • Disruption of their education that provides no continuity in curriculum
  • For students with IEP’s (Individualized Education Program) or special needs, mental health services – there are no requirements that their needs be met
  • Loss of civil rights in charter or voucher schools
  • No accountability of any type to taxpayers
  • Loss of local control by elected school board
  • Loss of use and access to taxpayer-owned properties
  • Disaster for the city and MPS district as this program is not funded by the state and the city of Milwaukee holds the debt for the MPS District

Is the OSPP the reason that Betsy DeVos, MMAC, Howard Fuller, Chris Abele and many others are throwing around their influence and money in this election? What do you think?

Disclaimer: I am speaking as an individual, not representing any organization or government office.

Marva Herndon, who was first elected to the Milwaukee Public School Board in April 2019, is a graduate of West Division High School, has enjoyed a 25-year career as a computer programmer, and changed careers after retiring from Harley Davidson in 2009. She and her husband, Carl, are parents of four daughters, all MPS graduates. Their grandchildren who reside in Milwaukee either are MPS graduates or are currently enrolled in MPS.

April 4, 2020

MPS Feeds Thousands Weekly Supporting Milwaukee Communities

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 10:51 am

Lunches can be picked up at any of the following 20 sites Monday thru Friday, between 11AM and 1PM.

ALBA – 1712 S. 32nd St.
Barbee Montessori – 4456 N. Teutonia Ave.
Bay View – 2751 S. Lenox St.
Browning – 5440 N. 64th St.
Douglas – 3620 N. 18th St.
Engleburg – 5100 N. 91st St.
Gaenslen – 1250 E. Burleigh St.
Hamilton – 6215 W. Warnimont Ave.
MacDowell Montessori – 6415 W. Mount Vernon Ave.
Marshall – 4141 N. 64th St.
Morse – 6700 N. 80th St.
North Division – 1011 W. Center St.
Obama SCTE – 5075 N. Sherman Blvd.
Pulaski – 2500 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Reagan – 4965 S. 20th St.
South Division – 1515 W. Lapham Blvd.
Thoreau – 7878 N. 60th St.
Vincent – 7501 N. Granville Rd.
Washington – 2525 N. Sherman Blvd.
Wisconsin Conservatory of Lifelong Learning – 1017 N. 12th St.


April 3, 2020

David Bowen on CNN Addressing Covid-19 and Milwaukee’s Black Community

Filed under: Milwaukee Community — millerlf @ 11:29 am

I support Chris Larson for County Executive because Chris Larson supports MPS and public education.

Filed under: Public Education — millerlf @ 8:47 am

‘It’s important:’ Chris Larson pledges to cut $10K from his salary as next Milwaukee County executive

Blog at