The following is an op-ed written by Dr. Will Flanders, WILLâ€™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 â€“ due, at least in part, to a re-weighting system that values growth much more than achievement in impoverished areas. But according to DPIâ€™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 Milwaukeeâ€™s African-American students is even worse; only 7% of Milwaukeeâ€™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.Â Â
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 columnsÂ 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 columnistâ€™s rhetoric is a sad reflection of todayâ€™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 couldnâ€™t possibly have sound motivation like improving student performance and graduation rates among the most …Read more...