“If Republican lawmakers think that charter schools are an effective vehicle to increase student performance while providing public transparency, they should take another look at the city of Milwaukee’s experience with its 10 charter schools.”
Thanks to the work of a broad community coalition, Schools and Communities United (SCU), the Milwaukee Common Council’s Steering and Rules Committee has a much more honest view of what their city charter schools currently look like; and it doesn’t look good. The committee has been left in the dark on some serious red flags that were not provided by the city’s current oversight body (the Charter School Review Committee), or the independent consultant the committee relies on for information (the Children’s Research Center). At a recent Steering and Rules Committee meeting, SCU presented information on four schools and submitted research briefs to the S&R Committee. The coalition is making three demands of S&R Committee members:
- Fix the broken charter school oversight process:
- A moratorium on any future City charter schools, regardless of where they are in the approval process.
- Revoke the charters of four schools: Milwaukee Math & Science, Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, Northpoint Lighthouse Academy, and King’s Academy.
Here are summaries of the briefs on the four schools of concern (click on the school’s name for the full report on the school)
In June 2014, FBI agents raided 19 of its schools in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In July, the corporate headquarters in Illinois was raided. An FBI statement said they were part of “an ongoing white collar crime investigation.” Also in July 2014, the Ohio Department of Education began an investigation into alleged “attendance rate falsification and test tampering” at a Concept Schools facility. Other investigations concern its use of H1-B visas (Visas made available for workers in areas of high need) to bring teachers from Turkey when there is a supply of local teachers.
Milwaukee Collegiate Academy is in its 11th year of operation, first as a private voucher school and now a Milwaukee City charter. In both 2011-12 and 2012-13, the school expelled 11% of its students. In 2013-14 it expelled 16% of its students. That’s 5 times more expulsions than any other City-chartered school and 10 times more than Milwaukee Public Schools high schools. Its suspension rate was 56% in 2011-12 and 42% in 2012-13, higher than any other City charter school or MPS high school.
North Point Lighthouse Academy is a Milwaukee city charter school run outside the control of the local school board. It is located in a former steel fabrication plant amid industrial and commercial properties and has an electricity tower and a transformer in back. In 2012-13, the school paid a $111,378 management fee to its parent, Lighthouse Academies as “pay down with interest” on prior funding.
King’s Academy is in its 5th year as a City charter; before that it was a private religious voucher school for 11 years. In December 2014, the City’s Charter School Review Committee recommended putting King’s Academy on probation, because of poor academic performance and high turnover in staff and administration. In its 16th year as a school, it “hasn’t risen to the level one might expect” (Review Committee member) and has experienced extremely high teacher turnover.
Please call the alderpersons on the Steering & Rules Committee and demand they hold these charter schools accountable and follow through on these three demands:
1. Fix the broken charter school oversight process:
2. A moratorium on any future City charter schools, regardless of where they are in the approval process.
3. Revoke the charters of the Milwaukee Math & Science, Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, Northpoint Lighthouse Academy, and King’s Academy.
Ashanti Hamilton 1st district: Phone: (414) 286-2228
Joe Davis Sr. 2nd district: Phone: (414) 286-2221
Nik Kovac 3rd district: Phone: (414) 286-2221
Robert J. Bauman 4th district: Phone: Phone: (414) 286-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Bohl 5th district: Phone: (414) 286-3870 , email@example.com
Michael J. Murphy 10th district (Chairman): Phone: (414) 286-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Witkowski 13th district: Phone: (414) 286-8537 , email@example.com
Tony Zielinski 14th district: Phone: (414) 286-3769 , firstname.lastname@example.org