In Kids & Family

Welcome back, kids! (PHOTO: Milwaukee Public Schools)

MPS welcomes nearly 50,000 elementary students back to school

This morning nearly 50,000 Milwaukee schoolkids – along with thousands more in surrounding communities – returned to their schools to start the new year.

MPS high schools, middle schools and those elementary schools that are in buildings with high schools (i.e. Golda Meir, MacDowell Montessori, etc.), went back to school in mid-August.

There was a festive atmosphere at some schools as families arrived to get a fresh start today. For example, for the second straight year at Maryland Avenue Montessori, on the East Side, a guitarist welcomed everyone back.

As has become tradition, Judge Derek Mosley and a host of others were on hand to high five students arriving for the first day of school at Siefert Elementary today, too.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley was joined by Mayor Tom Barrett, State Superintendent Tony Evers, Police Chief Alfonso Morales and members of the Board of School Directors this morning to ring in the new school year at Maple Tree Elementary on the far northwest side.

"Every school year is a fresh start for our students, staff, and administration," said Dr. Posley, in a statement released in conjunction with that annual kick-off ceremony.

"Our staff is invigorated and ready to have a great school year and to increase student achievement. We can impact the futures of our students by providing them with a world-class education."

We're having such a great #MPSdayone

A post shared by Milwaukee MPS (@milwaukeemps) on

In addition to Posley's stated five priorities for success – increasing academic achievement and accountability, improving district and school culture, developing MPS staff, ensuring fiscal responsibility and transparency and strengthening communication and collaboration – the district this year is re-focusing on core instruction of key subjects: the so-called "three r's."

The latter is being emphasized via something that's being called "Ambitious Instruction," which the district describes as a "commitment to assuring high-quality instructional programs and methods of teaching designed to strengthen instruction and build a strong foundation in reading, writing and mathematics.

"Teachers will use data-driven, rigorous instructional strategies that genuinely engage our students. Schools will receive the assistance, professional development and resources necessary to meet the needs of all students as we monitor students' progress."

Surely, all of us must ensure this most foundational of commitments is honored and met.

What will also help will be a commitment from the district to keeping the start of the elementary school year on the day after Labor Day. The push to put 45,000 more kids into un-air-conditioned buildings in mid-August would be counterproductive to these goals.

It's only in the low 70s today and after 20 minutes in one Milwaukee school building, I walked out drenched in sweat. I can't imagine how teachers would teach or how students would learn in a place like that when it's 85 or 90 degrees or more outside.

Despite myths about summer break being instituted so kids could help out on farms, it was, in fact, to prevent students and teachers being cooped up in stuffy buildings during the hottest months of the year.

For the record, according to AccuWeather, it was 84 on the first day for MPS high schools and middle schools and 88 on the next day.

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