Today, State Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) made public recently obtained information related to City of Milwaukee charter schools, raising new concerns over the merits of a mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS).
A memo drafted by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reveals that, on average, more students at MPS are performing better than the students attending charter schools under contract with the City of Milwaukee.
“It’s one thing to talk about accountability and achievement in education, but it’s another thing to see it through,” Grigsby said. “MPS is in need of serious reform, but after looking at these scores, it is incredibly difficult to believe that placing our public schools under mayoral control would improve education outcomes for our children. As far as the city’s charter schools are concerned, the evidence indicates otherwise.”
As the Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes, in the 2008-2009 school year 49.9% of those attending a city-controlled charter school scored proficient or advanced in reading, while 59% of MPS students scored at that level in the same year. In the area of mathematics, 49% of the tested MPS students scored at a proficient or advanced level in the 2008-2009 school year, while only 33.1% of students at the City of Milwaukee charter schools met that standard.
In recent years, Milwaukee’s public schools have consistently outperformed the schools run by the City of Milwaukee by nearly ten percentage points or more. As the recent fiscal bureau memo concludes, after averaging together test scores from the three most recent school years, “49.6% of City charter school pupils were proficient and advanced in reading, and 32% were proficient and advanced in math.” Within that same time period, 59% of MPS pupils scored at the proficient or advanced level in reading and 45% scored at those levels in mathematics, resulting in an achievement gap in which MPS students are outperforming City of Milwaukee charter students in both subjects.
“Milwaukee’s schools are in need of sweeping reform, but poor performance at the schools already controlled by the City of Milwaukee raise serious doubts over whether or not a mayoral takeover will deliver the change we need,” Grigsby said. “The need for improvement at both our city charter schools and MPS is a clear indication that no simple change in school governance or sleight of hand will be the solution needed to better educate our children. We cannot afford to pander to such ideas, just as we cannot afford to abide by the status quo.”