Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Republican Plan for MPS Attacked

Bonds says plan would be devastating financially and lay off hundreds of staff.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Feb 4th, 2015 01:18 pm
A teacher leads a class at Woodlands East, a school chartered by UW-Milwaukee. Certain charter schools could be replicated under a plan put forth by Republican legislators. (Photo by Edgar Mendez)

A teacher leads a class at Woodlands East, a school chartered by UW-Milwaukee. Certain charter schools could be replicated under a plan put forth by Republican legislators. (Photo by Edgar Mendez)

A charter school replication process and a turnaround school plan to allow takeover of struggling public schools by charter school entities are among the most controversial aspects of the “New Opportunities for Milwaukee” plan authored by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and released to the public last week.

The Republican legislators stated that they plan to introduce the legislation soon. The first of a five-chapter plan titled “Empowerment through Education,” states that expansion of proven charter schools is essential in Milwaukee. The plan calls for charter schools that exceed the test scores of public schools by 10 percent for two consecutive years to be allowed to replicate their charter without an authorizing entity. Currently, all local charter schools must be authorized by UW-Milwaukee, MATC or the Common Council of the City of Milwaukee.

It’s not clear whether the plan would result in charters running without an authorizing entity or whether the replicated schools would be overseen by the original entity. Either way, explained Sean Roberts, executive director of Milwaukee Charter School Advocates, the end result would be a more streamlined process for replicating successful charter schools.

Students at public schools such as Riverside High School would be hurt by the creation of a “turnaround district,” according to Dr. Michael Bonds, president of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

Students at public schools such as Riverside High School would be hurt by the creation of a “turnaround district,” according to Dr. Michael Bonds, president of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

Public school officials went on the offensive when the plan was released.

In a statement, Dr. Michael Bonds, president of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, called the plan a step backwards from positive discussions that MPS officials and Republican leaders had recently. Bonds stated that charter schools, ”are not the simple answer to the challenges facing urban education,” citing a Stanford University study that found only 14 percent of charter schools nationally outperformed traditional public schools.

More controversial is the “turnaround schools” plan, which would take struggling public schools and transform them to charter schools. The report stated that this would decentralize power and allow the school to untangle itself from bureaucracy. The legislators are calling for creation of a board that would entertain proposals from charter school operators.

According to Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, “Darling and Kooyenga’s plan creates a school takeover zone that hands over dozens of Milwaukee’s public schools to private entities, while offering no resources or support.”

Peterson described the proposal as a “new form of colonialism.”

Bonds warned that the creation of a turnaround district, “would have a devastating financial impact on the education of students remaining in MPS.” MPS schools received $6,442 in state aid per student as of 2013, a number that is expected to remain relatively flat, and enrollment has been declining for years. Bonds said that the plan could also lead to layoffs of hundreds of staff and that the proposal ignores the high costs that have been associated with the creation of turnaround districts in other cities.

Darling and Kooyenga’s proposal cites New Orleans as an example of a city that effectively transitioned public schools to charters, citing increasing graduation rates in the city.

Roberts said he’s waiting for more specifics about the plan before offering his opinion, but said it makes sense to him, so far.

“To allow public schools to have more freedom while being accountable for their results; that’s what charter schools do,” Roberts said.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

14 thoughts on “Republican Plan for MPS Attacked”

  1. Rich says:

    “To allow public schools to have more freedom while being accountable for their results; that’s what charter schools do,” Roberts said.

    Except that they almost aren’t ever held accountable and even when they are, it isn’t to the same standards as the public schools, most notably on the issue of having to educate anyone who shows up, regardless of actual costs (hint: the public schools have to, charters don’t).

  2. cookie says:

    in order to save MPS , you must destroy it.

  3. David Ciepluch says:

    All public taxpayer money needs to be removed from charter, voucher and private school. My parents paid for any private instruction I had, and I paid for my children. My wife worked to help pay for our children’s private school education.

    I went to public high school and colleges to obtain an Associates, Bachelors, and Masters Degrees. This education has served me greatly throughout my life and I am forever indebted to the process of public education. It is the great equalizer and life. The idea of destruction of MPS is pure stupidity and ignorance.

    The Republican strategy of divide and conquer a system that is a great equalizer is their overall strategy to destroy it, dumb the citizen down, and control the message and education through for profit ventures with propaganda, lies, and distortion. In turn their benefactors can loot from taxpayers. Their outcome has absolutely nothing to do with improvement of education. Their ALEC laws were written by corporate attorneys for their benefit only, and not the common citizen.

    An ignorant citizen that Republicans prefer is more compliant to their lies, distortion, and propaganda.

  4. Kyle says:

    How nice for you David that your parents were able to pay for any private instruction you needed. We’ll just inform the residents of Milwaukee that they can pay for things themselves and be done with it. Problem solved.

    What I don’t understand is this mantra of indoctrination that you’re railing against. If a quality school system is the great equalizer, and a poor school makes people more pliable to the Republican message, shouldn’t Milwaukee be a staunchly Republican area, and the better schools in places like Mequon should produce a high rate of informed Democrat? Seems to me your version of the Republican grand plan to ruin education to win votes is having the exact opposite effect and producing Democrats instead.

  5. PMD says:

    Are charter schools in Milwaukee actually more accountable for their results than public schools?

    “charter schools that exceed the test scores of public schools by 10 percent for two consecutive years”

    Anyone know how many of these exist in Milwaukee? I’m skeptical that replacing a low-performing public school with a charter is a great solution here.

  6. PMD says:

    Also, not sure New Orleans is really a success story. Some tidbits:

    “The charter school movement is built on the premise that increased competition among schools will sort the wheat from the chaff.

    It seems self-evident that parents, empowered by choice, will vote with their feet for academically stronger schools. As the argument goes, the overall effect should be to improve equity as well: Lower-income parents won’t have to send their kids to an under-resourced and underperforming school just because it is the closest one to them geographically.

    But an intriguing new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans suggests that parent choice doesn’t always work that way. Parents, especially low-income parents, actually show strong preferences for other qualities like location and extracurriculars — preferences that can outweigh academics.”

    -Also, overall school performance doesn’t seem to have improved since the district went all-charter:

    “However, even with inflated school performance scores, most RSD schools continue to be rated as C, D, or F, the definition of a “failing school” by the original Louisiana voucher standard. The schools that have consistently been “high average test score” schools are those that were not taken over by the state post-Katrina and continue to be with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB).”

  7. Kyle says:

    Ah, Milwaukee is not New Orleans, for one. That’s a big difference. PMD you need a new hobby.

    (Admittedly, some of that language is borrowed, but it was such a strong and irrefutable point that I couldn’t help but adapt it to this discussion.)

  8. PMD says:

    Sigh. Kyle, your nitpicking needs serious improvement. New Orleans is held up as a shining example, and I shared some information that seems to refute that, at least partially, and noted skepticism of the replacement proposal. I didn’t say I vehemently oppose charter schools (as Janice vehemently opposes the streetcar). I taught at a charter high school in Milwaukee for 3 years. You are tiresome man. Really, really tiresome.

  9. Kyle says:

    Really, really tiresome after that?

    Alright. I’ll leave you to your echo chamber then.

  10. PMD says:

    Yes Kyle. Not sure why you think it’s an echo chamber. I asked sincere questions in post 5 and shared some links/info in post 6. You ignored them. If you have something to share, I’d love to hear it. As a former high school teacher and parent of a 1st grader, I care deeply about education. If you prefer to post nonsense, if you enjoy being the nitpicker, hey, it’s a free country. But sometimes you are indeed tiresome.

  11. Interested says:

    Rich and everyone else – Just a point of clarification, charter schools ARE public schools. They are subject to the same rules and regulations as traditional public schools. Voucher schools are not public (these are the schools that are typically faith based). Vouchers can pick and choose their kids and don’t have to make public their test scores. Charters cannot pick and choose their students and MUST make their test scores available.

    Charter schools ARE held accountable by the government entity that charters them. “Chartering” a school is another word for having a contract to run it (by contracting with MPS, MATC or the City). These contracts come up for renewal and can be terminated if, among other things, the school does not meet the performance measures that it agreed to in their contract.

    This is why this proposal is not well crafted. If charters are allowed to expand – without an authorizing entity – then who has the power to shut them down if they don’t meet the standards they say they will?

  12. rnprn says:

    Why are people of wealthy sub burbs making decisions for Milwaukee’s children? Maybe they would learn, the biggest challance for Milwaukee schools is the terrible poverty many of it’s children live in. Maybe Darling and Kooengya will contribute some of their districts state school reimbursement to MPS to help out instead of making decisions for these folks.

  13. Kyle says:

    I’ll concede, that I was lazy to copy and paste your own lazy rebuttal from another post. If you want experts on the topic, Interested appears to have done some research. If I recall, Bruce Thompson also has some insights in the matter from prior posts, so perhaps he’ll make an appearance. Personally, I don’t have the information you’re looking for.

    Honestly, I’m tired of trying to care about Milwaukee. If the attempts from outside the city are all ALEC led attempts to destroy the world, then fine, fix it yourself. I don’t think you could pay me enough to put my kids through MPS, and it will remain a large reason people leave the city until things change. Maybe vouchers aren’t the option, and perhaps charter schools aren’t either. No one seems to like the idea of breaking MPS into smaller districts though, and good luck making the case for just throwing more money at MPS as is.

    But David seems to have all the answers. I don’t. That page was missing from both my ALEC and Bond villain news letters this month.

  14. PMD says:

    My own lazy rebuttal. I suppose it was, but I’ve grown tired of Janice and her links and contention that because a streetcar in DC or wherever is having funding issues, it automatically means the streetcar here is a failure before construction has even begun. Sometimes I feel like a long post and sometimes I don’t (or I don’t have the time).

    Anyway, while I’m no fan of ALEC, I don’t pay much attention to the diatribes against them. I’m much more interested in talking about the issues I mentioned above as opposed to speculating about ALEC’s world domination plans. And I am all too familiar with the problems in MPS and charter schools. I remember when I was first hired and sat down with my principal to discuss my classes. I received no textbooks or curriculum. I was completely on my own, as a first-year teacher. It was, ah, daunting.

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