Yesterday State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) issued a statement opposing a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), citing the lack of an adequate plan for changing the school district's governance structure and the need for community members to remain involved in public education.
Grigsby made the following statement in opposition to dismantling the elected MPS school board and called for a reform alternative that will provide community advocates, educators, and other stakeholders with the opportunity to be a part of improving the quality of Milwaukee's education system.
"Unless I can be convinced otherwise, I will not support a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. MPS is failing and has been for a long time. No blue ribbon commission, advisory council, or study committee is needed to recognize that the school system in Milwaukee and the students it is designed to serve require attention and commitment. At the same time, however, there is no indication that mayoral control of our children's future would move our community in a positive direction.
As a community, Milwaukee must take bold steps to improve its education system, but action is impossible without knowledge of where that action will lead.
While stimulus dollars in the form of 'Race to the Top' funding would be valuable in the fight to reform MPS, it is necessary that all those concerned with public education in Milwaukee realize the problems we face cannot be solved with money alone.
Changing education for the better requires flexibility, innovation, and accountability throughout our entire school system. Partnership, not partisanship, is what students need today. This can be fostered by creating a grassroots coalition of parents, educators, and community organizations that are willing to work with school administration, union, and government officials to improve school culture and move MPS in the right direction.
As the largest city in Wisconsin, Milwaukee brings a different set of challenges to educating young minds. As such, a plan to reform education in Milwaukee should include a commitment to social justice that will help rebuild our community in ways that make our streets as well as our classrooms conducive to learning. This means identifying troubled youth and having resources available in schools to meet the needs of at-risk students.
Ultimately, a true effort to reform Milwaukee Public Schools must strive for universality and equity in order to prevent the development of a two-tier education system that separates privileged youth from the disadvantaged. By developing an approach to education that focuses on the classroom and the family, as well as the student body and the individual student, we will create an education system for our children beyond what any mayoral takeover could ever accomplish."