There are many educators in Milwaukee who wake up every morning and ask themselves, "how can I best serve my students today?"
Recently I had a chance to observe some of these teachers at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. Unannounced, I accompanied the principal into seven classrooms.
Students were engaged, teachers were teaching and the rooms were filled with encouragement. I saw many students enthusiastic and confident in their interaction with their teacher and other students.
One of the things that became very clear to me in visiting these classrooms was that the ratio of students to teacher was reasonable and manageable. But an increase in class size, I fear, would change what I saw.
Throughout the visit the principal talked about the success they were having in reading and math that has been evident on their district internal assessments.
Accompanying us was a college student who has recently organized a cadre of 50 Marquette college students to do after school tutoring four nights a week at King.
While many critics of MPS stand on the sideline or even work to destroy public education, here is someone who believes in educating all
students, with the goal of giving each of them the chance to fulfill their potential.
I say hats off to teachers that are putting their students first, even though you may not feel appreciated. I say hats off to community members, like the student from Marquette, who believes in kids and asks everyone else to do the same.
Teaching in MPS is, without a doubt, a challenging profession. I commend all those teachers who go to work, every day, doing their best to educate Milwaukee's youth.
However, the threat of increasing class sizes rings hollow. It is a tactic used to divert attention from making serious changes to a system that badly needs reform. MPS is top-heavy with administration and bureaucracy, Neither of these effectively drive the fundamental mission of educating Milwaukee's youth.
Reducing administration in MPS alone will not improve the capability of education. Eliminating waste in administration and bureaucracy and directing the savings back to the classroom will allow you to maintain class sizes at a manageable level.
Larry, when it comes to making tough choices on cuts in MPS, start at the top. The further the individuals are from the classroom the less affect they have on educating.
You can do more with less. Many schools surpass MPS's performance while spending less per student.
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