Statement by Milwaukee Board of School Directors President Michael Bonds, Ph.D., regarding the New Opportunities for Milwaukee document:
Milwaukee Public Schools was not sent a copy of this plan (click to download PDF), which was provided to the district by the news media.
We've had a series of very positive discussions with key Republicans over the past few weeks about what a good accountability proposal looks like. In fact, yesterday's hearing on Senate Bill 1 focused on sensible, proven strategies to improve outcomes for students. The legislative leaders we've met with also have a much better understanding of the significant steps MPS is engaged in now to improve student outcomes.
This plan is a step backward in those efforts and discussions. What we have read about the plan indicates it has significant problems and unintended consequences and frankly includes some of the worst attributes of Assembly Bill 1.
It's important to remember that charter schools are not the simple answer to the challenges facing urban education. Stanford University did the most comprehensive studies (2009, 2013) of charter schools and found that nationally only 14 percent of charter schools outperformed traditional public schools.
An effort to create a turnaround district would have a devastating fiscal impact on the education of students remaining in MPS – and the city of Milwaukee – with the potential layoffs of hundreds of staff.
To state – as the proposal does – that this will have no impact on taxpayers ignores the fact these efforts have had huge costs in other communities where turnaround districts have been attempted.
This proposal would also result in the loss of local control by the elected Milwaukee Board of School Directors, local taxpayers and the Department of Public Instruction, which may create a potential constitutional issue.
While there may have been good intent, it harms the City of Milwaukee and takes away resources at the time the city and MPS students need them most.