City Forward Collective
Press Release

Hundreds watch parent-led virtual listening sessions on K-12 education with mayoral candidates

Sessions among the only campaign events focused exclusively on issues related to the city’s schools

By - Mar 30th, 2022 02:00 pm

MILWAUKEE – Nearly 200 people watched live as mayoral candidates Robert Donovan and Cavalier Johnson took questions about K-12 education at a pair of listening sessions led by a diverse group of parents representing all corners of the city’s diverse K-12 education landscape – Milwaukee Public Schools, public charter schools and private schools that accept state-funded tuition vouchers.

One of the parent leaders was AJarea Alston, whose children attend MPS’ Rufus King High School and Clara Barton Elementary School. Alston told the candidates that she and the other parents want education to be a central concern of the city’s next mayor.

“Our movement of parent leaders is building a community platform that advocates for all families to have the civil right to a high-quality education in our neighborhoods,” Alston said. “We are parents from MPS, public charter, and private choice schools and hundreds of families in our city. We believe that a high-quality education will liberate underserved communities from the cycle of poverty. Most importantly, we are civically engaging parents in our community to be leaders in systemic change.”

Ieshia Wiggins, whose child attends public charter school Rocketship Transformation Prep, emphasized why it mattered the events were led by parents of school-age Milwaukee kids.

“There have been many candidate forums this season. But today we’re doing something different – this listening session is organized by parents for parents,” Wiggins said. “We are here today because we care passionately about the future of our children and we believe that the future of our city lies in our ability to ensure every child’s academic success.”

  • The session with Acting Mayor Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson was held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 19. Video is available at
  • The session with Former Alderman Robert “Bob” Donovan was held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29. Video is available at

The group of parent leaders behind the listening sessions is supported by Rocketship Public Schools, a national network of public charter schools that operates two Milwaukee campuses and local education nonprofit City Forward Collective.

At the sessions, a panel of parent leaders shared about their personal experiences with the city’s schools and asked questions of the candidates about education in Milwaukee. The candidates shared about the role they want to serve as mayor with regard to the city’s schools.

Topics covered included public safety and reckless driving, recruiting and retaining teachers of color, racial and economic disparities in academic outcomes, funding for after school and enrichment programs, and more.

One example: Aisha Smith, a parent with children attending Atonement Lutheran School through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, shared about recent challenges she experienced while enrolling her son in kindergarten.

“The school enrollment process is difficult in Milwaukee,” she said.

Smith cited initiatives in cities like Washington DC, Newark and Philadelphia where parents can use a “common, one-stop school application process for all publicly funded schools.” In response, both Johnson and Donovan said they were open to the idea of such a “universal enrollment” system for Milwaukee.

Milwaukee voters will decide between former Alderman Donovan and Acting Mayor Johnson in a special election Tuesday, April 5.

Wiggins assured the candidates that whoever wins will be hearing from this group of parent leaders in the near future.

“We are ready to begin working together to change the statistics and make sure more of our young people are prepared for college,” Wiggins said. “We will hold whoever is elected accountable to follow through on a commitment to our young people to ensure quality education and equal opportunity.”

For more information, contact Isral DeBruin by phone at (414) 459-1894 or by email at

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. It has not been verified for its accuracy or completeness.

More about the 2022 Mayoral Race

Read more about 2022 Mayoral Race here

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