School Board Candidate Admits She Supported MPS Takeover Scheme

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There was a lot of head turning when District 4 school board candidate Aisha Carr’s campaign finance reports went public. Those statements revealed almost $4,000 in donations from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Manufacturers Association (MMAC), otherwise know as the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce. The MMAC has been the push behind efforts to privatize Milwaukee Public Schools for years.Aisha Carr Report 2 On their  website they advocate for public school resources to be siphoned off to fund unaccountable private charter and voucher programs. Carr has maintained she doesn’t support publicly financed private school vouchers and charters schools at recent candidate forums despite this significant chunk of MMAC campaign cash, but a recent piece in the Milwaukee Community Journal revealed otherwise.


In the article Carr has this to say about the MPS Takeover effort that was forced on the people of Milwaukee without any public input in the middle of the night as part of an Omnibus Budget bill in 2015:

By opposing that effort (MPS Takeover), the union and district was, in essence, turning their backs on the children, mostly black children. And they have done nothing since then to address the failure. That’s insulting.

So there you have it. Aisha Carr would have defied MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver, Board President Mark Sain and the popular grassroots movement built against the Takeover to stand with Republicans Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Dale Kooyenga and their Takeover scheme. This privatization agenda is the same one being pushed now nationally by Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. Carr has publicly stated she supports Superintendent Driver’s reform agenda, but Driver and Board President Sain stood with the community against the MPS Takeover. It turns out Carr has stood with Darling and Kooyenga all along. The article went on to say:

Among her priorities would be community outreach, engaging the community to have a more direct role and influence on the district and the board. Less than 10% of eligible voters participate in school board elections.

Now that’s a rich quote. Carr wants to get the community more involved by taking more MPS schools out of the democratic control of the community? How does that logic work? A state takeover of schools only reduces the community’s ability to have a say at the school board because private institutions are under zero obligation to provide a forum to listen to parents’ concerns. There is zero accountability in Carr’s preferred model. That’s why every community in Wisconsin has a tradition of democratically elected school boards, but the same people who support Carr don’t want democracy for Milwaukee’s majority minority population.

Carr said the board should also establish a working relationship with state lawmakers. Currently the relationship – if you can call it that – is best described as adversarial.

Yes, an “adversarial” relationship is what develops when your funding is cut by over a billion dollars. Why would Milwaukee want to go to the same Republican legislators who have robbed our children and our community and ask to work together? The real Aisha Carr has revealed herself clearly. Get out and vote for Annie Woodward for District 4! Annie stood strong with Superintendent Driver and Board President Sain against the MPS Takeover because they knew passing parents’ democratic control to private third party operators isn’t the way to improve public education in Milwaukee. Annie understands that we must stand strong in support of public education, continue to push for a robust expansion of public Community Schools, and close the current per pupil funding disparities MPS students face compared to their suburban counterparts.

Annie Woodward is the People’s Candidate for MPS School Board District 4!

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Annie Woodward helps beautify the halls of Washington High School for an MLK Service Day Project.







Time Slots Available to Join the Milwaukee Art Build for Public Education!


Happy New Year Supporters of Public Education!

As we write this email, our Wisconsin state legislators are beginning to work on a new two-year state budget and we want to invite you to an “Art Build for Public Education” the first weekend in February to create materials to use during the upcoming state budget battle.
Click here to register for the Art Build for Public Education.
We remember the last two-year state budget that in addition to slashing public school funding also included a midnight state Takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Committed advocates like you that pushed back against the legislature taking away community control of our public schools and eventually thwarted the 2015 legislation. We know this legislative cycle the privatizers will come back even harder and we continue to build a movement against any state takeovers of our public schools. We are committed to fighting for expansion of the public Community Schools model that has a proven track record of strong performance and currently serves 6 million students.

The “Art Build for Public Education” is taking place Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 5 in Milwaukee. A committee of MPS art educators and other community artists are developing images and slogans to be used for the weekend art build. The build will require lots of volunteers of every skill level to construct signs, banners, posters, etc. in anticipation of this long state budget fight.

To register for an Art Build shift, click here.

Public education advocates will have many opportunities in the coming months to fight for greater funding for our children’s schools and against state takeovers that hand our democratically controlled school boards over to private third party operators. The materials created from this art build will support this fight across the state.

Please consider signing up for spots during the weekend to help here.


The Facebook event page can be found here.

What: Milwaukee Art Build for Public Education

Where: 735 E. Center St, Milwaukee, 53212 (Above Company Brewing)

When: February 3 – 5


#DumpDeVos Letter Writing / Phone Campaign

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Detroit Knows Best About Betsy DeVos

Read what Detroit resident Mother Helen Moore has to say about Betsy DeVos:

In 2000 Betsy DeVos, a billionaire, led the voucher proposal placed on the Michigan ballot. Many of us met and organized to defeat her effort.  We won, but she never stopped.  She spent millions of her and her husband’s money to organize support for her efforts.  She gave millions to the politicians to support her efforts to destroy public schools which has had an adverse impact on black and brown school systems in Michigan.  She even organized her own corporation, Great Lakes Education Project, carry out her mission to destroy public education.  She has been nominated as the Secretary of The US Department of Education. In my opinion this will destroy any hope of maintaining a sustainable education for our students.

On January 11 at 10:00 am the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will begin a hearing on the nomination of Betsy DeVos to serve as Secretary of Education.

It is critical that we join with Journey for Justice and other pro-public education organizations to express our strong concerns regarding her nomination.

Letter Writing Tips:

  • Michigan has had charter schools for almost 20 years, and Detroit now has an education system that has been described as “deeply dysfunctional,” and “where failure is rewarded with opportunities for expansion.” Devos basically funded the dismantling of the Detroit public school system.
  • According to the Detroit Free Press, “38% of charter schools that received state academic rankings during the 2012-13 school year fell below the 25th percentile, meaning at least 75% of all schools in the state performed better. Only 23% of traditional public schools fell below the 25th percentile.” The privatization movement in Michigan, in large part bankrolled and advocated for by Devos is an abject failure.
  • In 2008, Ms. DeVos’ PAC violated Ohio’s campaign finance laws, and was fined $5.3 million.  Her PAC ignored a state advisory ruling that its action would be illegal and yet went ahead anyway.  The fine remains unpaid and she gets rewarded with a cabinet post.
  • Because of Ms. DeVos efforts, nearly $1 billion of public education dollars have been drained each year from Michigan public schools into mostly for-profit charter schools of poor quality.  According to the New York Times, “divisive politics and educational ideology … have combined to produce a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.” [2]
  • The Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll reveals that only 31 percent of Americans favor allowing students to attend private schools at public expense. [3] Since 1972, all attempts to create state voucher programs through referendum have failed, generally by two-to-one margins. [4] Recent research has concluded that public school students who receive vouchers to attend private schools score much lower on both reading and math tests than similar students who remain in the public schools. [5]

Sample Form Letter

Dear Senator __________,

I am writing to let you, as a Senator on the HELP Committee, that I am in opposition of Betsy DeVos being appointed the Secretary of Education. I want all members of the HELP Committee to know that I would like them to strongly oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. I believe in my community’s public schools. Betsy DeVos believes in school privatization and vouchers, which has harmed children in communities across the country.

The charter system she bankrolled in Michigan is among the worst in the country. Instead of education equity, she promotes vouchers and online schools. I choose great public community schools for our children. Schools that focus on smaller class size, positive discipline practices, and parent and community engagement.

Betsy DeVos is unqualified to make that a reality. I am asking the HELP Committee to vote against the confirmation of Betsy DeVos.


Your Name


Call HELP Committee Members:

Script: My name is xxxx and I am calling to let the Senator know that I would like him/her to oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

DeVos and her family heavily lobbied the Michigan legislature to shield the charter industry from greater oversight. She pushes for-profit charter schools and online schools, which consistently fail the students that they are supposed to serve.

I want my tax dollars to stay in my community to support my public schools.  Betsy DeVos is bad for American education. She is unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education.

Member Washington Phone Fax Additional Phone Numbers

Senator Lamar Alexander

(Republican – TN)

P: (202) 224-4944 F: (202) 228-3398

(423) 752-5337

(731) 664-0289

(901) 544-4224

Ranking Member

Senator Patty Murray

(Democratic – WA)

P: (202) 224-2621

F: (202) 224-0238

(425) 259-6515

(360) 696-7797

Senator Michael B. Enzi

(Republican – WY)

P: (202) 224-3424

F: (202) 228-0359 (307) 261-6572

(307) 772-2477

Senator Richard Burr

(Republican – NC)

P: (202) 224-3154 F: (202) 228-2981 (828) 350-2437

(336) 631-5125

Senator Bernie Sanders

(Democratic – VT)

P: (202) 224-5141 F: (202) 228-0776 (802) 862-0697

(802) 748-9269

Johnny Isakson

(Republican – GA)

P: (202) 224-3643 F: (202) 228-0724 (770) 661-0999
Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr(Democratic – PA) P: (202) 224-6324 F:: (202) 228-0604 (215) 405-9660

(570) 941-0930

Senator Rand Paul

(Republican – KY)

P: 202-224-4343 (270)-782-8303


Senator Al Franken

(Democratic – MN)

P: (202) 224-5641 (218) 722-2390

(218) 284-8721

Senator Susan Collins

(Republican – ME)

P: (202)224-2523 F: (202)224-2693


(207) 622-8414

(207) 945-0417

Senator Michael F. Bennett

(Democratic – CO)

P: 202-224-5852 F: 202-228-5097 303-455-7600


Senator Lisa Murkowski

(Republican – AK)

P: (202)-224-6665 F: (202)-224-5301 (907) 456-0233

(907) 271-3735

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

(Democratic – RI)

P: (202) 224-2921 F: (202) 228-6362 (401) 453-5294
Senator Mark Kirk

(Republican – IL)

P: 202-224-2854 F: 202-228-4611 (312)-886-3506


Senator Tammy Baldwin(Democratic – WI) P: (202) 224-5653 (715) 832-8424

(920) 498-2668

Senator Tim Scott

(Republican – SC)

P: (202) 224-6121, Toll Free: (855) 425-6324 F: (202) 228-5143 (803) 771-6112
Senator Christopher S. Murphy

(Democratic – CT)

P: (202) 224-4041 F: (202) 224-9750 (864) 233-5366

Senator Orrin Hatch

(Republican – UT)

P: (202) 224-5251 F: (202) 224-6331 (435) 586-8435

Senator Elizabeth Warren

(Democratic – MA)

P: (202) 224-4543 (617) 565-3170

(413) 788-2690

Senator Pat Roberts

(Republican – KS)

P: 202-224-4774 F: 202-224-3514 (620) 227-2244

(785) 295-2745

Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D.(Republican – LA) P: (202) 224-5824 F: (202) 224-9735

(318) 448-7176

(225) 929-7711


Photo credit: Joe Brusky / Overpass Light Brigade

Updated: @NAACP Holding Charter School Hearings Across Nation

The task force will be taking input from advocates, teachers, parents, and policy experts across the nation. The task force will focus primarily on issues surrounding “inadequate school funding, charter school accountability and its impact on school funding for under-funded districts.”

Source: Updated: @NAACP Holding Charter School Hearings Across Nation

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, Support Public Education

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.”

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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


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.


Milwaukee Public Schools no longer required to participate in OSPP

Educate All Students, Support Public Education

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


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.