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.

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