Why Are Privately Run Charters Marketing to MPS Students During Instruction Time?

Milwaukee residents pack a school board meeting to say no to privately run charter schools (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

City residents pack a school board meeting to say no to privately run charter schools (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Imagine your child is in math class when all of a sudden the teacher announces the lesson will be ending early so that someone can speak to the class. That person turns out to be a private third party operator who runs a privately run charter. The reason they want to interrupt your child’s instruction is to sell their unaccountable privately run charter school to your child.

That’s exactly the request being sent to fifth grade teachers in Milwaukee Public Schools through the district’s email service for a new MPS privately run charter called Milwaukee Excellence Charter School. This is the email message that was sent to a fifth grade teacher on Milwaukee’s north side:

Why are ten year old MPS students having their precious instructional time interrupted by a salesman selling his wares? Parents should be the ones making school choices for their children. Do the MPS Board of Directors and the MPS Administration know that private charter operators have unfettered access to our students during their learning time? Who has given the green light to third party operators to prey upon Milwaukee students?

Traditional MPS schools that are fully accountable to the elected school board and whose operations are completely transparent to the public do not have the luxury,  privately subsidized budget, or time to engage in marketing of their school, nor should they! Shouldn’t a school’s ability to effectively educate a child be the only marketing aspect for a school? Why and how are privately run charter schools allowed to use taxpayer money to market, when that money should be going to instruction. This is a gross misuse of taxpayer money.  You’d think MPS would be searching for ways to attract seats to the district not steal seats from it. This practice needs to be stopped and our students’ instruction time needs to be refocused on learning, not manipulating students and parents into attending schools that stifle their voice.

How a City of Milwaukee Charter School Dodges Accountability

King’s Academy charter school has been a city of Milwaukee 2R charter school for six years. Because of the work of a small group of committed Milwaukee residents to make the city’s Charter School Review Board more transparent and accountable, more attention has been placed on how the city scrutinizes contracts with charter schools like King’s Academy. Much of that attention has been placed on King’s Academy for a poor record of performance and red flags in several key areas highlighted in this 2014 report prepared by the Schools and Communities United coalition.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 7.31.06 PMA report like that would seem to surely ensure the school’s removal from the city 2R charter program given such a long track record of poor performance, but who needs to be held accountable when all you have to do is go to another school system. That’s exactly what King’s Academy did at the August 13, 2015 CSRB meeting in announcing that they would no longer be seeking a contract with the city and instead would be heading back to the Wisconsin voucher program (so called Milwaukee Parental Choice Program):

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 7.40.00 PM

This was the response from Schools and Communities United to Board President Michael Murphy on King’s Academy and their sudden transition back to the voucher program, effectively dodging any accountability or track record as a school.

King’s Academy and other sham school operators will continue this voucher shell game of legalized corruption that fails Milwaukee students. Voucher schools run from accountability and hide from transparency. Public tax dollars belong in public schools. It is far past time to declare a moratorium on the failed private voucher system in Milwaukee.

Billionaires Funding Privately Run Charters & Destruction of Public Education in Wisconsin

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The right wing Walton Family Foundation gave over $4 million dollars to fund the destruction of public education in Milwaukee in 2014. Why? Because billionaires know that once public education is destroyed in Wisconsin, that they can fully cash in on students in this state.

‪#‎noMPStakeover‬

Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

The following schools and organizations received money in 2014 from the right-wing Walton Family Foundation.

See the Walton Family Foundation funding report at: http://2014annualreport.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/grant-reports/
Milwaukee
Educational Enterprises, Inc. $896,658
Hispanics for School Choice Educational Trust Fund $210,000
Milwaukee Charter School Advocates $87,611
Milwaukee College Prep $333,333
School Choice Wisconsin Inc. $400,000
Schools That Can Milwaukee, Inc. $850,000
St. Marcus Lutheran School $429,640
United Community Center, Inc. $89,000
Wisconsin Lutheran College $250,000
Highland Community School $91,790
Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, Inc. $268,500 (This is a right-wing tea party “institute”.)
Nativity Jesuit Middle School $125,000
Tamarack Waldorf School $375,000
Total $4,406,532

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Movement to Stop School Takeovers Building Momentum in Milwaukee

The resistance is rising.”

– Keron Blair – Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools

Saturday’s citywide convening of School Defense Committees brought together parents, students, educators, community members, and politicians from all around the city and beyond to take the next step in the fight against public school takeovers and advance public community schools for Milwaukee.

The morning started of with passionate and thought-provoking speeches and calls to action from Alliance to Reclaim Our School’s Keron Blair (video), Dyett School hunger striker Jeanette Taylor (video below), and author and educator Isabel Nunez (video).

Saturday's speakers included (from left to right) Keron Blair, Jeanette Taylor, and Isabel Nunez.

Saturday’s speakers included (from left to right) Keron Blair, Jeanette Taylor, and Isabel Nunez.

Following the morning speakers, the real work of the day began. Attendees met in small groups, where they worked through School Defense Committee (SDC) toolkits that provide individuals and groups with the blueprints to organize locally in their building, church, or community group against public school takeovers.

These SDC Toolkits are available to parents, students, educators or community members, who want to organize others in their school community to stand up for public schools. All those organizing SDCs will be making sure to hold their first meeting by January 31st, 2016. It was also announced that on February 17th,  2016  Milwaukee will be joined by over 20 other cities in a third round of walk-ins for public education.  The next convening of SDCs will take place on March 20, 2016. Details will be released when they become available.

Saturday’s emcee Angela Walker introduces attendees to the School Defense Toolkit.

The School Defense Committee Toolkit includes:

Click on the links above to view and print sections of the toolkit, or click here to download a toolkit.

Anyone who decide to organize a School Defense Committee should fill out this form so we can track who is organizing School Defense Committees. Be sure to include the date for your first School Defense Committee gathering.

As Jeanette Taylor ended her speech, “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for,” and now is the time we must act to ensure public education is not killed on our watch.

I Went on a Hunger Strike to Save Public Schools from MTEA Union on Vimeo.