Another Abele Election Year Conversion: Won’t Follow MPS Takeover Law
The law explicitly requires the commissioner to target a public school for transfer into the separate district and then initiate a request-for-proposal to determine who should run the school.
MILWAUKEE – According to an article in Tuesday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has vowed to break the new law authorizing the MPS Takeover (“Chris Abele: Officials close to identifying schools needing services,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/15/16, Don Behm).
The law, which Abele supported when it passed, requires the creation of a separate school district run by an unelected commissioner who is appointed by the county executive. The law explicitly requires the commissioner to target a public school for transfer into the separate district and then initiate a request-for-proposal to determine who should run the school.
Even though Abele knew the specific provisions of the law when he supported its passage, he is now realizing the public outrage over the MPS Takeover may cost him some votes and is changing his mind. It now appears Abele is going with the more publicly popular stance of providing struggling schools with more health and human services.
This is a stark contrast to his earlier position in an op-ed in September in which Abele stated he would turn these schools into charter schools. (“Chris Abele: My pledge to MPS and its students,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 22, 2015, by Chris Abele).
Abele’s opponent for Milwaukee County Executive, State Senator Chris Larson, noted Abele’s change of heart:
“Even though Abele knew that the law requires him to close certain MPS schools, he now wants to pretend that the law allows him merely to provide wraparound services. Abele wants to break a law he once adamant on enacting. This is why Abele should have rejected the advances of the Scott Walker allies pushing school privatization before it became law.”
While Abele claims that he checked with the bill’s authors, Republican Senator Alberta Darling and Republican Representative Dale Kooyenga, about his plan and that “they are alright with that,” the reality is the that they have no authority to determine what is legal – that is a power reserved solely for the courts.
Disturbingly, there is evidence that authors of the MPS Takeover fully expect to have their law carried out as they intended. At a Republican fundraiser in December, Senator Darling remarked “I think that Abele’s having a primary with Chris Larson, it’s putting a little bit of pressure on him right now. So after April we’ll see more effort, much more on our initiative.” (Shepherd Express, 1/26/16)
In response, Senator Larson stated, “It’s great that Abele has had an election-year epiphany and now wants to provide wraparound services for MPS schools, but he never needed a law to make that happen. He could have signed a Memorandum of Agreement at any time.
“Unfortunately, by agreeing to run the Takeover District, Abele has put himself in the position of having to close down MPS schools and fire teachers. It would be more honest and effective if he joined me in demanding a repeal of this destructive and irresponsible privatization scheme.”
Senator Larson is the sponsor of senate bill 755, which would repeal the MPS Takeover.
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