This is reminder to those of you who follow K-12 education in Milwaukee: there's a new plan waiting in the wings that includes another attempt at the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools.
The plan, designed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce (MMAC), was reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this past November.
It's loosely designed in the image of the New Orleans "Recovery School District," and has been a model for reform both in Tennessee and in Michigan.
While all of the specifics of the plan have not been made public, its features have been presented in an MMAC slideshow and in interviews with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. These include:
- Create 50 high-performing schools serving 20,000 students, a mere 16 percent of Milwaukee's K-12 student population. The MMAC estimates it will take a total of $48 million in capital costs and $21 million in annual operating costs to get 20,000 students in high-performing schools by 2020.
- Establish a special turnaround district in MPS for low-performing schools that would be headed by a different superintendent.
- Expand vocational-technical education for large numbers of Milwaukee's children.
Basically, this proposal creates a caste system for public education. 50 high-performing schools will serve a fraction of Milwaukee's K-12 students, while the remaining 84 percent take their chances in other schools, including those in a designated low-performing district.
This old tune under a new name is an affront to the majority of Milwaukee's poor and working class kids. Instead of teaching every child to be college ready, whether or not they choose to attend college, the MMAC has a very different vision.
Students not attending one of the 50 high-performing schools may be tracked into a vocational program.
Whenever the captains of industry start talking about vocational training, red flags should go up about the danger of forcing low-income students of color to fill the role of a cheap labor force.
Many remember the historical debate over calls for "industrial training" for African-American students in the South by Booker T. Washington, so-called "enlightened" southern segregationists and the northern industrialists.
Vocational and career training can meet student's needs. But these programs cannot be set up at the cost of dumbing down curriculum or tracking some students into high skills areas like engineering and the trades, while the rest are destined for life to tuck bed sheets or greet customers at WalMart or stock shelves at dollar stores.
Beware, plans are in waiting. Some of our city's business and political leaders are just waiting to see the outcome of the governor's recall to try to set them in motion.
This is a perfect illustration of the flawed thinking that so often seems to characterize our school board. Mr. Miller scoffs at the idea of 50 high-performing schools. How many high-performing schools does MPS have now? Wouldn't it be better to have 20,000 MPS students have a shot at a great education than the few who do now? The philosophy seems to be that no student should be better served than any other, and since we can't serve them all well, we'll just serve them all poorly. That's absurd. Perhaps by creating a few good schools, you could stop the hemorrhage of students to charter and other districts, and then you'd have the opportunity - and the model - to create more good schools. It seems like at least something to try, rather than just resigning ourselves to failure for all 80,000 students.
Wanted to toss this little snipit in there as well...
Companies like Apple say the challenge in setting up U.S. plants is finding a technical work force, said Martin Schmidt, associate provost at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular, companies say they need engineers with more than high school, but not necessarily a bachelors degree. Americans at that skill level are hard to find, executives contend. Theyre good jobs, but the country doesnt have enough to feed the demand, Mr. Schmidt said.
Mr. Miller, A striking example on why your train of thought is incorrect.
"Though Americans are among the most educated workers in the world, the nation has stopped training enough people in the mid-level skills that factories need, executives say."
It's this concept that everyone must be prepared for higher education that is aiding the slide of America's position within manufacturing. We push everyone towards university and what happens is those that are not capable are left with little or no education, lacking the skills to fend for one self. And those that can are left with a watered down education but still overqualified to fill the roles in manufacturing. I think it's time for this country to take a real hard look at what education is and should entail.
Mr. Miller, I would love to hear a rebuttal on how the European system is flawed as from what you stated in your blog, MMAC's proposal looks to mimic it to some degree.
Definately don't change a thing with MPS. The Milwaukee public school system is a wonderful success story. Any problems with MPS have nothing to do with the union, teachers, or people like Mr Miller. Any failures they might have had are because the kids are all stupid, parents don't care, and ,of course, teachers are all underpaid and overworked. Just ask a MPS teacher, they'll tell you. No, I say leave it alone, they are doing a bang up job.
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