“This is a good framework to help turn around struggling schools, particularly those in Milwaukee ,” Governor Doyle said. “It’s a great sign that so many leaders have come together today to take this significant step forward for Wisconsin’s education system.”
Under the plan, the State Superintendent will have greater authority to address struggling schools. Clear direction will be provided for local school districts to address struggling schools. A system will be developed to help ensure the right teachers are being directed into struggling schools, and that a good curriculum is being used to help improve student achievement.
The legislation also addresses some key issues with the state’s first round application for federal Race to the Top funds. The state recently received comments and scores on its initial application that stronger, clearer powers are needed to turn around struggling schools.
“This plan will give Wisconsin a much better shot at winning federal Race to the Top funds,” Governor Doyle said. “It is very evident that reform legislation is needed for Wisconsin to compete in the second round of Race to the Top funding. This legislation provides clearer, stronger powers to turn around struggling schools and a system for placing top-level teachers and principals in those schools that need the most help.”
Governor Doyle has pushed for education reforms to improve student achievement and has signed new bills into law to answer President Obama’s call on education. Last fall, the state removed the prohibition from using student achievement to evaluate teachers. New data systems are being built to measure student growth and success, and evaluate the success of education programs. Wisconsin is working with other states to develop internationally agreed-upon standards to better see where students stand in relation to students from other states and other countries. New tests will also better show student achievement, an important tool for teachers to help kids improve.
Representative Tamara Grigsby issued the following statement regarding this week’s announcement:
“If this compromise were about mayoral takeover, I would not be here in support of it today. Over the past year, much of the debate surrounding MPS has been about who runs the schools, rather than the quality of education being given to our children. Now that the debate surrounding takeover has come to an end, I’m glad that so many different stakeholders have been able to join together to find common ground with the best interests of Milwaukee’s children in mind.
“This compromise is not about a change in governance, nor is it about school control. This compromise is about support for our schools and providing a consistent, quality education for our children. For education to improve, MPS needs more community support, more district support, and more state support. You will not find a takeover of any sort in this legislation. Instead, this proposal puts in place important policies designed to support and strengthen Milwaukee Public Schools and maintain its democratically-elected, empowered school board.
“Finally, I am pleased that this compromise contains many of the recommendations put forth in the RACE for Success, an education reform proposal I had worked on with many of the stakeholders involved in the education of Milwaukee’s children.
These proposals, combined with the many other provisions in this compromise, will go a long way in improving the quality of education for our children and I look forward to continuing this important dialogue with those community members invested in our children’s future.”
The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) expressed their support for proposed legislation aimed at improving low-performing schools. The legislation includes initiatives designed to increase student learning in the classroom, such as using a consistent and rigorous curriculum and meaningful collaboration between school leaders and staff.
Mike Langyel, president of the Milwaukee union, said, “Educators in Milwaukee want a teaching and learning environment where they and their students can be successful. This proposed legislation focuses on real reforms like meaningful professional development and support for school staff, comprehensive wrap-around services, increased educational opportunities for our students, strategic parent outreach and education programs, and robust levels of community and educator engagement in the decisions that impact public education in our city,” he said. “These are very positive steps in the right direction.”
Mary Bell, president of WEAC, the state’s largest union of educators, agreed. “This is an example of what can be accomplished when communities, parents, educators and elected leaders work together on behalf of children,” she said. “I am optimistic that this is moving forward and pleased that the process recognizes the importance of engaging educators.
“All along, Wisconsin’s educators have embraced the idea of reform – but our students need meaningful, sustainable changes, not quick fixes,” Bell added. “We believe this legislation can help all of us work together to achieve the changes our children need.”
While the proposed legislation would impact only Milwaukee Public Schools currently, the measures provide a framework for struggling schools everywhere in Wisconsin.