(H/T – Charlie Sykes, who called it his Wednesday Hot Read a day early)
Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon), ranking member on the Assembly Education Committee, sent the following letter to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett regarding the proposal before the Legislature to have the mayor take over Milwaukee Public Schools (letter courtesy WisPolitics):
Dear Mayor Barrett:
As the former chair and current ranking Republican on the Assembly Education Committee, I am alarmed at the current state of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). With 65% of eighth grade math students scoring below basic levels, it is clear that drastic changes must take place.
However, before taking a vote on such an important issue that will affect thousands of families in MPS, I need to gather more information to alleviate some of my concerns. Rather than blindly handing complete control of the system over to you without any specific details, I am requesting that you share your vision of how to improve MPS. It is imperative that the status quo is not allowed to continue for the future of Milwaukee students and taxpayers.
Specifically, I would like information from you, including:
Your plans to address the unfunded pension liability issues that were raised in the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute report this week.
The specific labor contract changes you believe are necessary to ensure long term fiscal stability for the school district.
How you will address failing schools.
Your plans to address the abysmal MPS academic performance highlighted in the recent Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) report from the Institute of Educational Sciences.
The tools you are willing to use to hold schools and teachers accountable for their performance in educating the children entrusted to them.
You are welcome to come to our Republican caucus to address these specific issues. Should you have any questions regarding my request, please contact me at 608-266-1192. I look forward to learning your specific ideas on reforming MPS and increasing student achievement.
Given the only semi-successful mayoral takeovers of public schools in recent memory happened in New York City and Washington, DC, and both school districts still lag so far behind the private schools that in DC, Marion Berry (yes, THAT Marion Berry) is a school-choice advocate, those are just starting points for the questioning of the effectiveness of taking MPS away from the school board.
Do note I’m not saying that the MPS board, and indeed the entire culture of MPS, doesn’t need to be replaced wholesale; indeed, that needs to be done post-haste. My concern is that one failed leadership regime will be replaced by another like regime.