If I was a resident of the Milwaukee School District, I would be pretty ticked off right now. This week, the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved a provision that would allow an independent commissioner to take control of failing schools in the Milwaukee District. That commissioner could fire administrators and teachers and restructure the schools as charter or voucher schools. That authority would apply to three of the 55 failing schools in Milwaukee for the first couple of years--and then five a year after that.
What should get Milwaukee residents upset is that this process usurps the authority of the democratically-elected School Board that they have put into place. (A school board, by the way, that features seven of nine members who are current or former public sector employees.) Those are the people that Milwaukee voters have chosen to lead their failing district. They are the Board that hired the superintendent that hired the Administrators who hired the teachers in those 55 failing schools. These are the leaders Milwaukee voters have gone to the polls and repeatedly returned to office--and to circumvent their authority with some non-elected commissioner is a slap in the face of self-governance and self-determination. These are the schools that Milwaukee residents want.
What's more, the County Executive is given the power to appoint this new Failing School Commissioner--not the Mayor that Milwaukeeans alone elected. Not the Mayor who believes a streetcar running from upscale residential developments to corporate offices and upscale entertainment districts will solve the problems of urban blight in the majority of his neighborhoods. Not the Mayor who gives Milwaukee residents the city they want. I'm actually surprised Joint Finance didn't give that oversight power to the Milwaukee County Sheriff who once famously suggested that the parents of truant students be arrested--like it's their responsibility to make sure their kids are in schools every day. C'mon man!
So Milwaukee residents should join the chorus of Democrats in the Legislature and the liberal education groups that oppose this "Draconian measure" and insist upon local control of their school district. I mean, how can you argue with the results so far?