Borsuk has written, argued and worked for the privatization of public education. Read how he frames the loss of enrollment in MPS. See his MJS “commentary” at:
December 6, 2015
December 2, 2015
The following schools and organizations received money in 2014 from the right-wing Walton Family Foundation.
See the Walton Family Foundation funding report at: http://2014annualreport.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/grant-reports/
Educational Enterprises, Inc. $896,658
Hispanics for School Choice Educational Trust Fund $210,000
Milwaukee Charter School Advocates $87,611
Milwaukee College Prep $333,333
School Choice Wisconsin Inc. $400,000
Schools That Can Milwaukee, Inc. $850,000
St. Marcus Lutheran School $429,640
United Community Center, Inc. $89,000
Wisconsin Lutheran College $250,000
Highland Community School $91,790
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Inc. $268,500 (This is a right-wing tea party “institute”.)
Nativity Jesuit Middle School $125,000
Tamarack Waldorf School $375,000
June 28, 2015
National Charter School Conference: “It looked like every other conference. Fall in line, Black people. We know what’s good for you.”
National Charter School Hoopla In New Orleans
Ashana Bigard The Progressive July 2015
Editor’s Note: The National Charter Schools Conference took place this summer at the New Orleans convention center, on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was, in the infamous words of Education Secretary Arne Duncan “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans” because it forced the community to take steps to improve its low-performing public schools. The mass firing of New Orleans teachers, the dismantling of a city’s public school system and the destruction of local control, has been touted as a model for the nation. The Progressive has reported extensively on the questionable results of the New Orleans charter school experiment. Ashana Bigard, a New Orleanian, advocate, and mother of three, attended the national conference and filed the following report.
I attended the National Charter Schools Conference from June 21 to June 24 in New Orleans.
On Sunday, June 21, as I was checking in, I asked about free spaces for the parents in the community who have children in charter schools. To my surprise and dismay there was no slot open.
The conference kicked off with a Mardi Gras style parade. It was a celebration of charter schools and their success in New Orleans, which is a national model for innovation in education—or so they say.
On Monday, I attended a presentation where Paul Pastorek, the ex-superintendent of Louisiana schools, said that charter schools have “improved the quality of life for the New Orleans community.”
The average reader might say, “What is the problem with that statement?” All over the country people think that New Orleans is a model for public education, that we have done it right. We’re respectable! Successful! Disciplined! Obedient! Ready to go to college! Or work in Walmart, or be a best model prisoner! To be all you can be in today’s Army! That’s us!
We’re a growth district. A lot of our schools have a 100 percent graduation rate. We also happen to have 14,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24, who are not in school or working. They are the lost youth. No, excuse me, I meant to say “opportunity youth.” Somebody clearly has the opportunity to make some money off them.
John White, Louisiana state superintendent of education, said that the state has 26,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or working. More than half of them just happen to reside in our “successful” New Orleans all-charter school district. These are not children in alternative schools. These are the invisible kids. They are the kids who, despite all the wonderful educational choices we supposedly have, don’t fit in anywhere.
I want people to understand how big New Orleans is. You have to drive an hour and a half in any given direction to get out of the city.
In 2007, there were 32,149 children enrolled in Orleans parish. The children charter operators at the conference called “opportunity youth,” who experienced the transition to our all-charter district, were between the ages of 8 and 16 at the time.
By 2011 there was 42,657 children enrolled in Orleans parish. Even with that larger number, one-fourth of the children fall through the cracks of our reformed system.
I don’t know about the average person, but I wouldn’t use an investor who told me that they would lose a quarter of my money. There is a big difference between a dollar and seventy-five cents, we can all agree. It feels very peculiar to call that success. But I’m getting off topic, let’s get back to our wonderful conference.
The audience at the charter school conference was very diverse. The panels, however . . .
I went to a panel called “How can we ensure schools build and maintain model diversity?” Four white men explained the network of charter schools they run, and how diverse they are. One panelist said that most of the schools in the network have a fifty-fifty ratio of white children to minority children. “We want to build schools that we would want to send our own children to,” he declared.
He sounded proud. But I wondered, if the panelists at this conference would only send their own children to a small subset of the schools in their network, what are they saying about the rest of the schools?
John White explained that this year, there is “a push to serve all children.”
Why did it take ten years to start a push to serve all children? That is another question we should be asking in our shiny new school reform system.
The conference in many ways reflected the school district in New Orleans. Many people from New Orleans came as attendees, but very few of them were leading the conference. The leaders and presenters were mainly white men.
In my humble opinion, if a city is 68 percent African American, the leadership of the city’s school district should mirror the city’s demographics.
Imagine a conference on LGBTQ issues where the majority of panelists were straight. Or a conference on women’s issues led by men. We know that the majority of public school children in our city are African American. How did so many people from outside our city and from a different background become experts on our experience and how to educate us?
I’m going to start pushing back.
I’m not saying that we can’t have any white teachers or administrators; I’m not saying that we don’t have white children and families in our public schools, because we do. I’m just saying that there is a stark difference in the demographics when you look at leadership, decision makers, consultants, and stakeholders. And when I say stakeholders, I mean the children and the people from the communities who are in our schools every day.
There was good information, and misleading information, and just downright wrong information being distributed at the national charter school conference.
When I arrived I was hopeful and maybe a little naïve. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that having a national charter school conference in New Orleans might change the way we look at our schools.
When we talk about charter schools for people who have not experienced them the way New Orleans did, you think of innovation, creative ways of teaching and learning. Let me be very clear: that is not happening in the majority of New Orleans charter schools. But just for a minute, I allowed myself to imagine a conference where sessions were interactive and fun. Where people got to engage, not just be lectured to.
I allowed myself to imagine that charter school leaders in my community would go to these innovative and engaging sessions—on different learning styles, early childhood brain development, culturally relevant pedagogy, social development fundamentals, learning through play, restorative justice, conflict resolution, nutrition for brain development, how to help cope with trauma through the arts, music, and drama, managing schools that are “zero-tolerance” when it comes to systemic oppression, how to recognize stereotypes and biases within yourself. I imagined attending these sessions with black people, Native American people, women, and youth, and that the sessions would be lead by these types of people.
Instead, it looked like every other conference. Fall in line, black people. We know what’s good for you.
All of the interesting debate and discussions took place outside the regular sessions.
At the end of the conference, African American charter school advocate Dr. Deborah McGriff spoke, as she was being inducted into the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools’ Hall of Fame. Here is what she said: “Things happening to us, not with us, for us, not by us, must end!”
– See more at: http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/06/188196/national-charter-school-hoopla-new-orleans#sthash.89Gd4Nz8.dpuf
March 1, 2015
In a February 28th article, Alan Borsuk reports on the announcement by the Walton Family Foundation that they will be pulling back from investing in “school reform” initiatives in Milwaukee.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
The Walton’s pay their workers substandard wages, benefits and healthcare while implementing discriminatory policies in their workplaces. Yet the Walton Foundation’s claim is to save the children of the very people they exploit. This is the family that is wealthier than the bottom 42% of all Americans combined.
What is their education agenda? Dismantle public education. It is not a coincidence that the “reforms” funded by the Waltons are the same as those advanced by ALEC, the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council.
Is the intention of the Waltons the liberation of poor communities and communities of color? The truth is that they are the power, the status quo, that must concede for progress to occur.
Walton Family Foundation stepping back from Milwaukee education scene
Feb. 28, 2015 MJ Sentinel Alan Borsuk
“We have decided to make grants where we can have the highest impact, which means working in the places that we believe are most ripe for improving our education system.”
Read that sentence and you know that it isn’t coming from someone happy with the education landscape in Milwaukee.
In fact, the statement is from the Walton Family Foundation, the huge philanthropy of the family of the founders of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The foundation is pulling back from a long, strong commitment to “education reform” in Milwaukee.
The Walton decision is important in itself. The foundation has given several million dollars a year to Milwaukee schools and education organizations.
But it is also important in a broader context. Walton is joining a significant list of national players who in one way or another have entered the Milwaukee scene and then departed or reduced their interest.
I came, I got involved, I got frustrated, I didn’t see much change, I moved on. That has been the summary of a parade of those who have found Milwaukee a difficult environment for change.
And there are others (the large and impressive KIPP network of charter schools comes to my mind first) that have declined even to try Milwaukee for similar reasons.
Fifteen years ago, Milwaukee was called by some “ground zero” for school reform. Now, you rarely see national attention to Milwaukee education, at least not for positive reasons. The Walton decision underscores that.
It’s a curious thing, since you would think the current political dynamics in state government would make this a time for enthusiasm among private school choice, charter schools and innovations in the structure of urban education. In some ways that’s true, but in surprising ways, it is not.
In short, I’d attribute this to the entrenched nature of the way we do things, the continuing strength of those opposed to the things Walton favors and missteps by those who favor what Walton favors.
Milwaukee was among a handful of cities targeted in recent years by Walton. Walton had a fairly short list of Milwaukee grants, but they were generally large — frequently in the mid six figures.
It supported the launch or major facility improvements of several religious and charter schools in Milwaukee, in several cases to the tune of $375,000 each.
And it provided major funding to groups such as School Choice Wisconsin, Milwaukee Charter School Advocates and Teach for America in Milwaukee.
According to Walton reports, in 2012 and 2013 combined, it gave $740,000 to Schools That Can Milwaukee, a nonprofit that works on innovation and improvement in all three major sectors (private, charters and Milwaukee Public Schools). Grants for 2014 have not been reported yet.
Abby Andrietsch, executive director of Schools That Can, said the Walton decision, “is definitely hard news and it’s not news that we wanted to get.
“But we have strong community support and we have strong impact data that is getting stronger. We feel very confident that with that data to tell our story and show our impact, we’re going to be able to engage the community going forward.”
She called the Walton step “a wake-up call” for Milwaukee on the need for cooperation on school improvement.
It is overstating things to say Walton is pulling out of Milwaukee. Let’s call it a big pull back. Walton will make few, if any, new grants to schools or school networks here.
In some cases, it will phase out its support over two years. And the Arkansas-based foundation will no longer have a staff person living in Milwaukee.
What will Walton do?
The statement from foundation spokeswoman Daphne Davis Moore said, “We remain committed to Milwaukee families and are transitioning our focus to improve the environment at the state level in Wisconsin to allow families to have access to more high quality school options.”
Translate that as involvement in Madison in promoting parental choice in general, school accountability aimed at closing or making major changes in low-success schools, and probably “recovery district” ideas that would make more MPS schools into charters.
Howard Fuller, the Milwaukee choice advocate, has had a close relationship with Walton, and organizations he is involved with have received Walton grants.
“From what I see, they’re going to continue to be supportive of the advocacy work in the state of Wisconsin,” Fuller said. “What I hope we can do is create a better overall environment in Milwaukee for creating great schools for kids. Hopefully we can do it not only in a way that Walton would come back, but maybe we can attract others to see Milwaukee as a place that people want to be.”
The Walton decision comes at a time when there are some positive indications of cooperation among the often-warring factions in Milwaukee education. There are a small number of efforts where people have worked together, and efforts to promote a more cooperative environment have been occurring behind the scenes.
There even may be a new player coming to the scene to fill at least some of the gap being left by the Walton decision.
Abigail Schumwinger, who was the Walton representative in Milwaukee until a month ago, said she is beginning to work for a group developing a fund that will make start-up and capital grants to private schools.
Called the Drexel Fund, it will formally kick off this summer and it has a goal of raising $30 million in the next five years. Schumwinger said Drexel expects to focus on six states, including Wisconsin.
Whether you like or dislike the causes Walton has supported, there are messages in the foundation’s decision.
To me, two stand out: Frustration has consequences. And it’s not too late to think working together in pursuit of more high quality schools in Milwaukee could be worth it.
Alan J. Borsuk is senior fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 25, 2015
According to the NewSchools Venture Fund it should be venture capitalists.
What is NewSchools Venture Fund?
This is an investment organization that has an all-white, 10 member board of directors, whose combined portfolio reaches deep into U.S. corporate and entrepreneurial investment endeavors.
Their stated purpose opens with– “Our mission is to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs…” Of course what they don’t openly say is that this work will lead to profit for investors, their companies and the individual portfolios of many entrepreneurs.
What they seek is public money to be diverted from public schools leading to investment gains in technology, real estate, curriculum, corporate charters, high paid “non-profit” charter managers and the growing education “consulting” industry.
In education, they are connected to much of the school “reform” industry. If you look at their strategies in individual cities, they are not about educating all kids.
The description of the Board members of New School Venture Fund reads as follows:
Venture capital investor in the medical, healthcare and biotechnology sectors.
Sponsor of a series of investments including Compaq, Cypress, Intuit, Netscape, Lotus, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, S3, Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com, Symantec and Google.
Founder and CEO of Silicon Compilers and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Google.
Founder of LAUNCH Media Inc. in 1994, which delivered music and music-related content online, and he led the company through its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2001.
Managing Director of Endeavor Catalyst which is is leading the formation and capital raise of the fund supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets and a partner at Soda Rock Partners LLC, supporting entrepreneurs to build leading high-growth companies and organizations.
Has served on the board of more than 25 venture-backed companies across a broad range of industries including Danger Inc (Acquired Nasdaq: MSFT), Sabrix (Acquired NYSE: TWX), Quinstreet (IPO Nasdaq: QNST), Stonyfield Farms (Acquired Groupe Danone), Account Now (Private), Mirra (Acquired NYSE: STX), Posit Science (Private), Post Communications (Acquired Nasdaq: NCNT). She also served on the Board of the National Venture Capital Association (“NVCA), the Coppola Companies (Francis Ford Coppola), and as Chairman of the USA for Madrid-based FON.
Managing Partner in North Bay Associates and Kokino LLC, and a co-founder of TRQ Management Company, all investment management businesses.
Past president and remains active with Cheyenne Petroleum Company, an oil and gas exploration and production company, and he was a co-founder of Soundview Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment company. In addition, he serves on the boards of various companies in the pharmaceutical industry.
Focuses on investments in the financial-services sector and in emerging software technologies. Has been called a “serial entrepreneur.” Founding CEO of Good Technology (acquired by Motorola); co-founder of Drugstore.com (DSCM) and general manager and president of Optical Engineering, Inc. Has worked at Netscape, Hewlett Packard and Bain.
For the complete description of the Board, see below. You can also learn more from their website at:
Their Milwaukee connection is through Deborah McGriff, a “Team” member, who served as a deputy Superintendent for Milwaukee Public Schools.
At the 2014 conference Howard Fuller gave opening comments. They can be seen at:
Full descriptions of NewSchool Venture Fund Board:
• Brook Byers, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
• Chris Gabrieli, Co-Founder and Chairman, Massachusetts 2020
• Dave Goldberg, Chief Executive Officer, SurveyMonkey
• Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair of the Board, Emerson Collective
• Joanna Rees, Founder and Managing Partner, VSP Capital
• Jon Sackler, Managing Partner, North Bay Associates and Kokino LLC
• Kim Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pahara Institute
• Rob Stavis, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners
• Dave Whorton, Managing Director, Tugboat Ventures
January 9, 2015
Concerning the Wisconsin Accountibility Bill (AB 1)
Posted 1-8-15 by WILL
Yesterday, certain legislators circulated a proposed bill designed to impose more robust “accountability” measures on schools in Wisconsin, including those participating in the school choice program. While accountability in education is a worthy goal, the proposed legislation strengthens the state Department of Public Instruction’s grip on school choice – expanding both its power and the discretion with which it can exercise that power. By history and design, DPI has always been hostile to school choice. You do not strengthen a program by placing it in the hands of its enemy. “At the end of the day, I don’t see how anyone who supports school choice could vote for this bill. It needs to be fixed,” says WILL President Rick Esenberg.
The value of school choice is not that private schools are “better” than public schools (some may be and some may not be), but that they are different and that these differences may result in a “better outcome” for certain students.
December 15, 2014
Watch the following youtube cartoon. It says it all.
November 10, 2014
Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) Takes Clear Stand for Public Education, Democracy and Against Privatization.
(Following are past resolutions adopted by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards at its annual delegate assembly.)
1.01 Preserving Powers
The WASB supports retaining and preserving the power and duty of locally elected school boards to oversee public education. (2001-2)(2010-1)
(a) “Parent Trigger” Laws
The WASB opposes measures (such as so-called ”parent trigger” laws) which allow parents, through a petition process, to lessen school board oversight and control of public schools that fail to meet certain performance criteria and, in some cases, allow parents to hand management of those schools over to private charter school management companies or to offer affected students private school vouchers, on the basis that such laws usurp the responsibility and authority of locally elected school boards to oversee the operation of local public school districts. (2013-7)
(b) Recovery School Districts
The WASB opposes the creation in Wisconsin of a recovery school district or a similar state-level authority designed to take over and attempt to improve the performance of low-performing public schools. (2014-11)
1.47 Forced Sale of School District Buildings
The WASB supports maintaining locally elected school board decision-making regarding the use of school district facilities and opposes legislation mandating that districts must sell or lease vacant or “underutilized” school buildings and Bounds. (2014-9)
2.705 Oppose Private School Aid—
Special Education Vouchers
The WASB opposes the use of state tax monies to provide special education vouchers for students with disabilities or other special educational needs to attend private schools located anywhere in the state. (2012-8)
2.71 Use of Public Monies
The WASB opposes legislation authorizing or requiring the placement of public school teachers, materials and equipment funded with federal
monies on the premises of private schools. (1984-14) (1995-1)
2.72 Textbook Loan
The WASB opposes the use of public funds for the purchase or loan of textbooks or other instructional materials to private schools or their students. (1988-10) (1995-1)
3.21 Charter Schools
The WASB opposes the creation or operation of a state-level charter school authorizing body that would be legally empowered to authorize
independent charter schools throughout the state. (2012-11)
The WASB supports charter schools for experimental and innovative programs provided:
(a) The school board is the sole chartering agency.
(b) Exemptions from many state “input-type” standards and restraints are allowed in exchange for accountability to clear and high standards of student outcomes.
(c) Funding arrangements are determined by the school board and charter school.
(d) Charter schools are required to maintain health and safety standards for pupils and staff, operate as nonsectarian entities, and be open to all district students without charge for tuition regardless of ethnicity, national origin, gender, or disability. (1993-11) (1998-1)
(e) The WASB supports maintaining a school board’s final authority to approve charter school applications. (2007-8)
3.36 CESAs and Virtual Charter Schools
The WASB supports allowing CESAs to enter into cooperative agreements with individual school districts to establish virtual charter schools authorized by the board of the local school district. The WASB opposes legislation granting CESAs the authority to establish independent virtual charter schools.
Should any CESA be authorized to operate a virtual charter school without entering into a cooperative agreement with a school district, the WASB supports limiting per pupil payments to any CESA authorized virtual charter school to an amount identical to the per pupil amount of the open enrollment transfer payment to prevent CESA-authorized virtual charter schools from unfairly competing with school board-authorized virtual charter schools. (2012-12)
3.55 Private School Transportation
The WASB supports legislation to remove the requirement that a public school district must provide transportation to students who attend private and parochial schools located outside the boundaries of the public school district. (2011-10)
3.93 Students with Disabilities—Parental Choice
The WASB supports legislation requiring private schools participating in any parental choice program to accept and provide services to students with disabilities, with additional state funding for the education of these students. (2011-13)
May 16, 2014
On Thursday May 15, at the annual meeting of the Friends of UWM Libraries, County Executive Chris Abele, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Sheldon Lubar presented.
It was a love-fest among the three speakers as they criticized the County Board – until they started reading questions submitted anonymously from the audience.
One question asked: “Are you involved, or will you soon be involved in plans to take away the authority of the Board of the Milwaukee Public Schools?”
Lubar answered: “That’s a provocative question. Yes. MPS is next on my agenda.”
Another asked: “Do you trust managers of hedge funds and private equity to create schools that are better for kids than a board that’s elected by the community?”
Lubar answered that there should be options for parents of children who have been failed by the public schools. He said the rules of the administration are largely driven by the teachers union. He said he believes in private, parochial education. He hadn’t mentioned schools in his presentation, but he apparently decided at this moment that as long as he was speaking candidly, he’d do so about the schools.
Abele added that it’s less important how decisions are made. Whatever is working is what should be done. (???)
Sheldon Lubar is the founder and Chairman of Lubar & Co.
He is a director of several public companies, including Crosstex Energy, Star Gas, Approach Resources, and Hallador Energy as well as other private companies. Previously, he served as Chairman of Christiana Companies, Inc., chairman of C2 Inc. and a director of MassMutual Life Insurance Co., U.S. Bancorp, MGIC Investment Corp., Ameritech Corporation, Weatherford International, Grant Prideco and other public companies.
April 28, 2014
Do Poor Kids Deserve Lower-Quality Education Than Rich Kids? Evaluating School Privatization Proposals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
By Gordon Lafer | April 24, 2014
During the past year, Wisconsin state legislators debated a series of bills aimed at closing low-performing public schools and replacing them with privately run charter schools. These proposals were particularly targeted at Milwaukee, the state’s largest and poorest school district.
Ultimately, the only legislation enacted was a bill that modestly increases school reporting requirements, without stipulating consequences for low performance. Nevertheless, the more ambitious proposals will likely remain at the core of Wisconsin’s debates over education policy, and legislative leaders have made clear their desire to revisit them in next year’s session. To help inform these deliberations, this report addresses the most comprehensive set of reforms put forward in the 2013–2014 legislative session.
Backers of these reforms are particularly enamored of a new type of charter school represented by the Rocketship chain of schools—a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty, that reduces the curriculum to a near-exclusive focus on reading and math, and that replaces teachers with online learning and digital applications for a significant portion of the day. Rocketship proposes that its model—dubbed “blended learning” for its combination of in-person and computerized instruction—can cut costs while raising low-income students’ test scores (Rocketship Education 2011).
The call for public schools to be replaced by such tech-heavy, teacher-light operations comes from some of the most powerful actors in local and national politics: the major corporate lobbies, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC). It is these groups, rather than parents or community organizations, that provided the impetus for legislators to consider proposals for mass school closure and privatization in Milwaukee.
In advocating school privatization, MMAC, allied corporate lobbies, and corporate-funded think tanks claim to be acting out of social altruism, motivated by the tragedy of poor children whose needs are unmet in the public school system. Yet—as is detailed later in this report—these same organizations have traditionally opposed what are typically considered two of the fundamental building blocks for improving education, particularly for poor children: adequate school funding and effective anti-poverty policies.
This report evaluates the “blended learning” model of education exemplified by Rocketship and seeks to understand how the “school accountability” legislation debated during the most recent legislative session would likely affect Milwaukee schools. This briefing paper also explains how such proposals might fit within the broader economic agenda of both local and national corporate lobbies. Above all, the report questions why an educational model deemed substandard for more privileged suburban children is being so vigorously promoted—perhaps even forced—on poor children in Milwaukee.
Upon examination, it appears that charter privatization proposals are driven more by financial and ideological grounds than by sound pedagogy:
• National research shows that charter schools, on average, perform no better than public schools. There is thus no basis for believing that replacing traditional public schools in Milwaukee with privately run charters will result in improved education.
• The “blended learning” model of education exemplified by the Rocketship chain of charter schools—often promoted by charter boosters—is predicated on paying minimal attention to anything but math and literacy, and even those subjects are taught by inexperienced teachers carrying out data-driven lesson plans relentlessly focused on test preparation. But evidence from Wisconsin, the country, and the world shows that students receive a better education from experienced teachers offering a broad curriculum that emphasizes curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, as well as getting the right answers on standardized tests.
• Blended-learning schools such as Rocketship are supported by investment banks, hedge funds, and venture capital firms that, in turn, aim to profit from both the construction and, especially, the digital software assigned to students. To fund the growth of such operations, money earmarked for Milwaukee students is diverted to national headquarters and other cities where the company seeks to expand. Furthermore, the very curricular model that Rocketship employs is shaped not simply by what is good for kids but also, in part, by what will generate profits for investors and fuel the company’s ambitious growth plans.
• The proposed “school accountability” bill that Wisconsin State Senate Education Committee Chair Luther Olsen drafted in January 2014—which embodies the most ambitious version of corporate-backed school reform—measures school achievement in ways that are skewed against poor cities and that exempt charter schools from equal accountability. Such a bill would likely result in shutting a growing number of public schools and concentrating the city’s neediest students in a shrinking public system that is denied the resources to serve them. Eventually, this would bankrupt the public school district.
• Some of the best options for school improvement are outlawed in Sen. Olsen’s draft bill. For instance, Milwaukee’s award-winning ALBA (Academia de Lenguajes y Bellas Artes) school is a publicly run charter school that outperformed every privately run charter in the city. Yet under the proposed legislation, this school would be banned from opening more campuses, while privately run schools with much worse performance would be encouraged to expand.
• To truly improve education in Milwaukee, we must start with the assumption that poor children are no less deserving of a quality education than rich children. As such, the schools that privileged suburban parents demand for their children should be the yardstick we use to measure the adequacy of education in the city. This means subjecting all schools—whether public, charter, or voucher—to the same standards of accountability, including measurements that account for the economic and disability challenges their students face, and that recognize the value of a broad curriculum and experienced teachers who are qualified to develop the full range of each child’s capacities.
Are charter schools better than public schools?
To see the full report go to: