A new op-ed argues for MPS reform.
A new op-ed argues for MPS reform.

Op-ed: Educational reform, improving schools should not be feared

The following is an op-ed written by Dr. Will Flanders, WILL’s Education Research Director.

It is difficult to gauge just how much the Milwaukee Public School system is struggling. The new state report cards will apparently proclaim that there are no "failing" schools – due, at least in part, to a re-weighting system that values growth much more than achievement in impoverished areas. But according to DPI’s Forward Exam test scores, a staggering 78% percent of students ranked below proficient in English, and about 83% of students were below proficient in math. The story for Milwaukee’s African-American students is even worse; only 7% of Milwaukee’s African American kids were deemed proficient in math. MPS and others on might consider this to be cause for celebration. We do not. Milwaukee can do better.  

In late summer, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a law and policy center in Milwaukee with a strong interest in education reform, released a series of blog posts to jump start the debate about how to reform Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). Dire situations require bold thinking and innovation. We were careful in our analysis, evaluating the potential success of each proposal, while at the same time identifying potential pitfalls and barriers to success.

Predictably these new ideas drew the ire of those who are dedicated in protecting the status quo. One critic, an OnMilwaukee columnist, was so threatened by these reforms that he devoted two overwrought columns to warn the public that those who suggest reform have a secret agenda to proverbially "carpet-bomb" the Milwaukee Public Schools system into obliteration.

Sadly, the columnist’s rhetoric is a sad reflection of today’s politics where people resort to hyperbole and name-calling when they disagree with a point of view. After all, those with different ideas about education couldn’t possibly have sound motivation like improving student performance and graduation rates among the most …

Daughter slayed at Turner Hall tonight with their soothing tunes.
Daughter slayed at Turner Hall tonight with their soothing tunes. (Photo: Adam Miszewski)

Daughter exceeds expectations at Turner Hall Ballroom

Since Friday night marked Daughter's first time headlining in Milwaukee, the U.K. band's Turner Hall Ballroom gig arrived highly anticipated tonight. Normally, the band hits Chicago rather than here, but they decided to mix things up – and you could obviously tell their Cream City fans were excited about it. 

Walking up to the venue an hour before the show, there was already a line waiting out door, and when you finally made it inside, the band's rare Milwaukee visit managed to pack the house, pretty much filling up Turner Hall both on the bottom level and the balcony. 

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that, right from the start of its set, Daughter had the audience hooked. The band members all wore black and white, so that the stage's lighting and decor – featuring colors switching from warm oranges and light pinks to a cooler set of purples and blues – could stand out, entrancing the audience with the atmosphere. To help keep the crowd under its spell, the lights would flash throughout the set, and the backgrounds wold change with cool patterns and shapes as well.

However, what really drew the audience in were front woman Elena Tonra's amazing pipes. Her hauntingly beautiful voice gave chills to the audience – and even brought some members to tears – as she sang powerful songs like "Smother" and "Human." 

The band surrounding her complimented her voice well with their arrangements. Their guitar and drums featured powerful beats that weren't overbearing, but rather reflected the calmness and haunted aspect of her voice and lyrics. 

The chill music created a smooth and relaxed atmosphere in the crowded Turner Hall Ballroom space, making the show feel like the perfect way to unwind after a long week. A sense of calm washed over the audience, and at peace, they swayed to the band playing through several new songs off their latest album, "Not to Disappear," – such as "How" and "To Belong" – as well as some older tunes like "Shallows" and "Tomorrow.…

Daughter will hit the Turner Hall Ballroom stage on Friday night.
Daughter will hit the Turner Hall Ballroom stage on Friday night. (Photo: Daughter Facebook )

Daughter prepares to headline its first Milwaukee show

Daughter is back on the west side of the Atlantic for its second full U.S. tour – and this time it includes a stop at the Turner Hall Ballroom on Friday night, the U.K. band's first headline gig in Milwaukee.

The group came together seemingly by fate when drummer Remi Aguilella and guitarist Igor Haefeli met while attending the same London music school. Aguilella was asked by his teacher to perform at a show with Haefeli and frontwoman Elena Tonra. They have been together ever since. 

"We found each other randomly, and here we are doing a full tour in the U.S.," Aguilella said, amazed. He credited "those little things" for Daughter's growth. If he hadn't decided to leave France, and if Haefeli hadn't decided to leave Switzerland, they would never have all met in London.

So it would seem that fate brought them together, and now they're bringing their latest American tour to Milwaukee in support of their latest album, "Not to Disappear," which was released last January.

For this new record, Aguilella said, "We wanted to take our time." Thankfully, the band's label agreed, letting the members slowly put together the album and make it something of which they could all be proud.

"It was a good thing for us," Aguilella explained. Taking their time relieved pressure and allowed the album to come together more naturally. It was still plenty of work; some days, he said, they would be in the studio for 10 hours with only a few breaks to be in the sun. 

Tonra constructed the lyrics, while Aguilella and Haefeli worked on the arrangements. Aguilella's favorite song of the bunch is "Made of Stone" – to him, the tune came together very naturally – but his preferred one to perform on stage is "How."

Aguilella noted that Daughter will be playing a lot of the new songs off of "Not To Disappear," but since they rarely make it to Milwaukee, they will play some of their older hits, as well. The last time they were in town, and the only other time, it was to open for a sh…

it's almost over. There's just one more step: vote.
it's almost over. There's just one more step: vote. (Photo: Flickr/Michael Rosenstein)

After all the exhaustion, there's only one thing left in this election: vote

It’s almost over – one can only hope.

The vulgarity and vitriol injected into this election have created a seething frustration, sparking real honest to goodness fights at protests, at the workplace and among divided families and friends. According to USA Today, school districts in Wisconsin have opted to close schools on Tuesday, a common polling place in order to avoid violence erupting in the halls.

The tension can also be found at your friendly family grocery store.

If you think it’s bad everywhere, it is. The other day while I was in Orlando, Florida – that part of Florida that historically decides presidential elections – I was in a Costco and saw a Trump supporter call a Clinton supporter "a f*cking b*tch," to which she replied, "Go f*ck yourself!" They were just standing in a long line waiting to be checked out when the Clinton supporter started to unload her groceries, to the offense of the Trump supporter who was already checking out. I genuinely got scared and fled the premises.

It’s safe to say we all want this election to end on Tuesday. My fear is it won’t.

As a former news reporter for the NBC station in Tampa, one of my first assignments was the 2000 presidential recount. As I recall, that thing ended in mid-December.


It was an experience that seemed surreal: 537 votes deciding the whole enchilada. The recounts would start, then stop and then start yet again. There were more lawyers you ever saw in one place, yelling and fighting for the sanctity each vote – or more like how each one must belong in their respective camps. It was one of the most bizarre, tense, exhausting stories I have ever covered in my life.

Part of the current bad vibes in America is having an impact: Fewer people know whom they want to vote for in the presidential race, with one day to go. With more people making that decision on Election Day, voters need crucial information.

The website myvote.wi.gov/en-us allows voters almost all they need…