Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver is one of nearly a dozen leaders of urban school districts headed to the White House this morning to meet with President Barack Obama as part of the Council of the Great City Schools' three-day annual legislative/policy conference in Washington.
The group was scheduled to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a luncheon Sunday at the Mayflower Hotel, followed by a 7 a.m. (central) breakfast with Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon today and a lunch at noon with Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat who sits on the House Education/Workforce Committee.
Joining the leaders for their 10 a.m. meeting with Obama is Council of the Great City Schools executive director Michael Casserly.
Dr. Driver sits on the executive committee of the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents 76 big city school districts to, in the words of its mission statement, "to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through legislation, research and media relations."
A news conference, in which Dr. Driver will participate, will follow the meeting.
My wish is that Dr. Driver tells President Obama and Arne Duncan to return some sanity to the world of testing.
What message do you hope she brings to the White House?
Here is Dr. Driver's statement issued after Monday's meeting at the White House:
"I am grateful for the opportunity we had to share the progress urban districts are making, to share the innovative practices we are putting in place to accelerate our growth and to reiterate our support for being accountable for student achievement. It was also an opportunity to express concern about the proposals to reauthorize Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that would reduce funding for many of the highest-need, highest-poverty districts in the United States.
"Milwaukee Public Schools is proud to join with our CGCS colleagues in serving all students. Any new plan must help move this nation's neediest students forward - not backward. If the choice is between not doing harm or doing harm, it would seem self-evident that the current waiver system will have to remain in place until a bill can be passed that responsibly supports all of our students.
"My colleagues and I were able to provide a number of examples of programs that have made the most of federal funds provided to high-needs districts in ways that improve outcomes and opportunities for students. For MPS, that includes our Commitment Schools effort, which is showing early signs of progress.
"I was also able to share with the president how Milwaukee Public Schools partnered with the GE Foundation to develop scalable and sustainable in-house models of innovative learning that can now share best practices with other schools. I spoke about our efforts to implement the rigorous Common Core State Standards and to increase the integration of science, technology, engineering and math. I also shared how we are beginning to work with the College Board to improve outcomes for our young men of color through the president's My Brother's Keeper initiative.
"I could not agree more with President Obama that we need to focus – as we have done in MPS through the Commitment Schools process – on providing low-performing schools with the tools they need to be successful. I also agree that investment in our students with special needs and our students who are English Language Learners is critical to our overall success.
"On the whole, our message as a group was that urban districts are making steady progress and implementing efforts to accelerate that growth. Any effort to shift funds from high-need districts to less needy schools – as some ESEA reauthorization proposals would - risks reversing that progress.
"As the president said Monday, continuing to invest in our children is something worth fighting for."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.