What Real School Choice Would Look Like – And Why What They’re Selling Isn’t It

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I can’t hear the words “School Choice” without thinking of Inigo Montoya from the classic film “The Princess Bride.”

I hear Mandy Patinkin’s voice saying, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Because just like the constant cries of “Inconceivable!” from Sicilian boss Vizzini (portrayed by the inimitable Wallace Shawn), policymakers seem a bit confused.

You would expect School Choice to mean that parents would get to choose the school their children attend. However, the policy being pushed by corporate education reformers has nothing to do with that.

It’s about allowing schools to choose students, not the other way around.

Want your child to attend a charter school? Great! In many cases he needs to meet the requirements of admission – good grades, well behaved, no learning disabilities – otherwise they boot him back to the…

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New Call for MPS Takeover: Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) 2015-2017 Agenda Takes Aim at Democratically Controlled School Board

Photo credit: Sue Pezanoski-Browne

It appears the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) learned nothing from the most recent state Takeover of MPS that was emphatically turned back by the people of Milwaukee. MMAC’s 2015-’17 agenda makes interference with the democratically elected Milwaukee school board a goal. MPS students receive thousands of dollars less in per pupil funding than their suburban counterparts, yet groups like MMAC, rather than help create jobs for a city rocked by unemployment and crippling poverty, can only offer up ideas that take away the voice and self-determination of the people of Milwaukee. Our students deserve the same opportunities that students in suburban schools enjoy instead of only being given options that privatize the public schools.

Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

The MMAC is calling for another attempt at governance takeover of the MPS school board. Their 2015-2017 legislative agenda (see right hand column on their web page at the following link) calls for “Fundamentally reform MPS governance and empower the MPS Superintendent to make reforms within the district.”

http://www.mmac.org/k-12-education.html

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October 6th “Walk In for the Schools Our Students Deserve” Round Up

Wisconsin Voucher School Admits to Gaming School Funding Formula

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In Monday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article entitled “Special-needs vouchers cost districts $2.4 million in aid,” we learned that a Wisconsin voucher school is gaming current school funding rules to receive a larger chunk of taxpayer dollars for students with special needs:

St. Marcus leaders directed their parents of children with disabilities to apply for open enrollment at suburban districts that they knew had no seats available and that they knew their parents had no desire to attend. Once the districts denied the applications, the St. Marcus children were eligible for the higher-paying vouchers.

While it is technically legal, it seems pretty unconscionable that a school’s leadership would be asking parents and guardians to purposely engage in behavior that reeks to the average taxpayer, especially when we learn where those questionably obtained tax dollars came from:

Milwaukee Public Schools has the largest number of resident children using new special-needs vouchers. The district will lose about $1.8 million in state aid to pay for about 150 resident students.

Voucher schools like St. Marcus, although they claim they provide specialized services for students with special needs, are under no obligation to do so and the parents who send their students to St. Marcus or any other voucher school waive all disability rights their children would have in a public school district. Wisconsin taxpayers deserve to see their tax dollars dispersed in a transparent way that does not allow voucher schools like St. Marcus to game the system and in the process siphon critical dollars from the only schools that have the commitment, capacity, and legal responsibility to educate all children, including students with special needs.

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Milwaukee Public Schools no longer required to participate in OSPP

Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

District performance signals progress

MILWAUKEE (October 12, 2016) Milwaukee Public Schools is no longer required to participate in the Opportunity Schools and Partnership program, according to a letter released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The letter issued today informed MPS it will not have to participate in the program because the district is no longer in the bottom category in the state school report card. Only school districts in the lowest category of the state report card for two consecutive years are required to participate in OSPP.

“While we are energized by the progress we’re making, we still have significant work to do,” said Dr. Driver. “We are working with students, staff and dozens of community partners to better prepare all of our young people for success, particularly at the secondary school level.”

MPS has committed to rethinking high schools by expanding college-level Advanced Placement and International…

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Milwaukee Just Beat Back a State Takeover of Their Public Schools

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We did it! The Department of Public Instruction just sent a formal letter informing Milwaukee Public Schools that they are no longer in the bottom category of school ratings, moving the district out of consideration for the OSPP (Opportunity Schools Partnership program, otherwise know as the MPS takeover):

Milwaukee Public Schools is no longer required to participate in the Opportunity Schools and Partnership program, according to a letter released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The letter issued today informed MPS it will not have to participate in the program because the district is no longer in the bottom category in the state school report card. Only school districts in the lowest category of the state report card for two consecutive years are required to participate in OSPP.

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver, Milwaukee Board of School Directors President Mark Sain and Vice President Larry Miller, will be available to speak to the media at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 12 at MPS Central Services, 5225 W. Vliet St., Room 103.

“While we are energized by the progress we’re making, we still have significant work to do,” said Dr. Driver. “We are working with students, staff and dozens of community partners to better prepare all of our young people for success, particularly at the secondary school level.”

MPS has committed to rethinking high schools by expanding college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes as well as career and technical education offerings. This year, 21 percent of all MPS high school students are taking a college-level class. The district also added more than 350 students to a culinary arts program as it expands career and technical education options.

While the details of the state report card will not be released until next month, MPS’ local STAR assessment data shows growth in student achievement and signs that the district is closing achievement gaps:

  • Literacy is improving across all grade levels.
  • The number of students on target for proficiency in reading improved last year by two percent.
  • Early reading skills increased significantly, with 51 percent of all K5 and 1st grade students on target at the end of the school year compared to only 43 percent on target at the beginning of the school year.

“We are heading in the right direction. Our collective focus as a community must be on working together to support our young people,” said MPS Board President Mark Sain. “If we continue to do the right thing for our students, we will not fail.”

Last year, the Wisconsin Legislature made changes to the school report card to improve transparency and authenticity. That included weighting school performance to account for student poverty rates, student disabilities and the length of time a school has had to influence a student’s academic progress.

Thanks to everyone who stood up and demanded better for Milwaukee students! Our fight is not over, as we expect the same politicians in Madison to continue with the attacks, but for now we celebrate! We will continue to work with parents, students, and community supporters to win the public Community Schools and equitable and fair funding ALL of our students deserve.

Extreme Inequality: MPS Per Student Funding Compared to the Surrounding Suburban Districts

The same politicians that continue to push for a state takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools conveniently leave out the fact that students in MPS are grossly underfunded when compared to students in surrounding suburban districts. On Thursday, October 6, public education supporters across Wisconsin will “Walk In” to their  schools early to cast a light on these shocking per pupil funding disparities.

RSVP to join a school in Wisconsin or a school in your state near you and send a message to politicians that we will not sit idle while our students and public schools are shortchanged and attacked.

Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

 Following are per-pupil state funds comparing MPS to Milwaukee’s suburban districts.

These figures are based on audited 2014-15 figures and the three-year rolling average enrollment figure:

(2014-15 – SOURCE: WI Department of Public Instruction, School Financial Service Data Warehouse Standard Reports, Revenue Limit Per Member )

MPS Revenue Limit per pupil=$10,261

Mequon = $10,662 per pupil = $401 higher per pupil = $32.6 million annually if applied to MPS.

WFB =$11,248 per pupil = $987 higher per pupil = $80.2 million annually if applied to MPS.

Elmbrook = $11,568 per pupil = $1,307 higher per pupil = $106.2 million annually if applied to MPS

Glendale-River Hills = $12,752 per pupil = $2,491 higher per pupil = $202 million annually if applied to MPS.

Fox Point J2 =$13,577 per pupil = $3,316 higher per pupil = $269 million annually if applied to MPS.

Maple Dale  Indian Hill =$17,231 per pupil =…

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Milwaukee Voucher School Seeks Expansion to Strip Mall with Liquor Store

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One of the biggest arguments made against public dollars funding privately run voucher schools is the fact that there is no public accountability for the decisions made with those dollars. Take for example the Milwaukee North Side voucher school Institute for Technology and Academics, which wants to expand its operation into a Northridge neighborhood strip mall that also houses a liquor store.

A democratically elected school board wouldn’t dare put the district’s youngest learners (K-5) in this kind of an environment because they know the voters would hold them accountable, but for a private third party operator who is to say you can’t set up school next to a liquor store? Thankfully in this case, the school must change the way the building is zoned before they can occupy, which means they have to get any zoning switch past the Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals (BOZA). This is where this crazy idea needs to end!

BOZA will be taking up this expansion decision on Thursday, October 6th at 4:30pm at Milwaukee City Hall:

4:30 p.m. Public Hearings  Please note that each item scheduled for a public hearing has been scheduled for approximately five to ten minutes. If an item takes longer than its allotted time, the item may be adjourned to the next available hearing date.

 Item #56    Institute of Technology & Academics, Lessee

                   8625 W. Brown Deer Road

Request to occupy a portion of the premises as an elementary school for 150 students grades K4 – 5, operating Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m

Where will these students play? As the photo below shows, there is no playground, but only a busy parking lot on an even busier street (Brown Deer Road). BOZA needs to hear from Northridge neighbors on why this location is not safe for Milwaukee students. Please testify if you can or send your testimony to BOZA before the meeting. You can also send any written statements to us in the comments of this blog.

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This is the location ITA hopes to expand its K-5th grade program into.

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This is the marquee of the strip mall. Just imagine a voucher school’s name being placed on it.

BOZA will also be rendering a decision on whether a military-style voucher school can occupy an MPS building in a Milwaukee neighborhood at 4pm on Thursday, October 6th as well so come and defend public education on both counts.

Rally Against Military Voucher School in Riverwest

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Download this flyer in PDF.

Education Workers, Neighbors, Parents, Students and all concerned about the future of Public Education are invited to protest the Sale of the Milwaukee Public School building at 500 East Center Street to the Right Step Military Voucher School.

• Right Step is currently under investigation by the FBI for child abuse.

• Neighbors are concerned that the small building is not fit for a school. This type of cutting corners is typical of Voucher schools that put profit before Education.

• Right Step has proposed marching students through the Riverwest Neighborhood. We say NO to military style education.

• The sale of a public building to a private voucher school is an attack on Public Education and a part of the broader Takeover plan. The dismantling of public infrastructure like our Education system is an attack on working people.

Gather at the Parking Lot of Gordon Park at 3:00pm. We will march down Center Street and Rally in front of the MPS owned building at 500 East Center Street.

Defend Public Education * No Unaccountable Profit Driven Voucher Schools * No Military Style Education

Come join friends and neighbors with noise makers, banners, signs and flags to celebrate community, and defend public education.


When: October 1st at 3:00pm

Where: Gordon Park Pavilion (Map embedded below)

Facebook event page is here.

 

Milwaukee Private Head Start Operator Offering Cash Bribes for Enrollment

Look what was sent to us!
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The Milwaukee private Head Start operator, Acelero Learning is offering a $50 cash enrollment bribe to entice parents to send their K3-K5 students to their program.
In 2014, It was reported that several private city charter schools were using cash bribes to lure parents away from accountable public operators using public taxpayer money. The campaign was successful in passing a citywide ordinance banning such a practice from the City of Milwaukee charter schools.
It was argued then that an educational institution should be able to attract students on the merit of their academic programs, not on the size of their cash bribe.
Private third party operators shouldn’t be able to earmark taxpayer dollars to recruit students.

Sign this petition ending this practice in the State of Wisconsin.

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