The Department of Public Instruction and Milwaukee Public Schools announced Wednesday that – as the result of improved DPI scores – the Milwaukee Public Schools school district is no longer eligible for takeover under the MPS Takeover plan, also known as the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP).
“The OSPP legislation was one of the greatest threats to public education Milwaukee has ever seen,” said Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) President Kim Schroeder. “The MTEA applauds the work of all educators, parents, and community members who have worked tirelessly to fight this legislation both through grassroots organizing and direct action.
“Thanks to the dedication and commitment of MPS educators, parents, and community members, our students are performing against all odds to overcome the effects of failed education policies.
“We know what works in Milwaukee because we are seeing the results of positive, educator-driven initiatives like the Community School model,” Schroeder said. “We see what happens in public schools where parents, communities, students, and educators are empowered to take ownership of their schools to ensure the success of every child. The OSPP legislation, which threatened to take away local control from the Milwaukee community, is another example of a failed policy created without the expertise of educators who work in our schools.
“Every child in Milwaukee has the right to a publicly funded, equitable, and democratically controlled public school. The MTEA is deeply committed to ensuring every child, regardless of their zip code has access to the schools they deserve.
“MTEA members welcome this news and will continue to fight for the public schools every child deserves.”
WEAC President Ron Martin said he is “extremely proud of the work that is going on in the Milwaukee Public Schools.”
“The educators have worked hard and have demonstrated their commitment to the kids and to the community,” Martin said. “This is an example of why legislators need to get out of the business of pretending to know what is best for our kids and our public schools. Let the real experts provide input as to how we improve and make our schools better than they already are.
“We have known all along that when teachers and parents have the opportunity to work together to make a difference in our public schools it is a win-win situation,” Martin said. “We must continue to advocate for fair funding for all our public schools.
“The Wisconsin Education Association Council applauds the work of the educators in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. We care deeply about the success of every child in Wisconsin and we are proud of Wisconsin Public Schools.”
MPS said it received a letter from DPI informing the district it will not have to participate in the OSPP program because the district is no longer in the bottom category in the state school report card. Only school districts in the lowest category of the state report card for two consecutive years are required to participate in OSPP.
“While we are energized by the progress we’re making, we still have significant work to do,” said MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver. “We are working with students, staff and dozens of community partners to better prepare all of our young people for success, particularly at the secondary school level.”
In a statement, MPS said it has committed to rethinking high schools by expanding college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes as well as career and technical education offerings. It added:
This year, 21 percent of all MPS high school students are taking a college-level class. The district also added more than 350 students to a culinary arts program as it expands career and technical education options.
While the details of the state report card will not be released until next month, MPS’ local STAR assessment data shows growth in student achievement and signs that the district is closing achievement gaps:
- Literacy is improving across all grade levels.
- The number of students on target for proficiency in reading improved last year by two percent.
- Early reading skills increased significantly, with 51 percent of all K5 and 1st grade students on target at the end of the school year compared to only 43 percent on target at the beginning of the school year.
“We are heading in the right direction. Our collective focus as a community must be on working together to support our young people,” said MPS Board President Mark Sain. “If we continue to do the right thing for our students, we will not fail.”
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Just months after Milwaukee Public Schools rebuffed efforts by a legislatively mandated turnaround district to take control of one of its poorly performing schools, MPS appears to have won a reprieve from the takeover law at least for this year.