By LaKeshia N. Myers
Dear Board of Directors, Administrators, Employees, Parents, Students, & Community:
As a member of the Wisconsin state legislature, I write to you with grave concern and consternation regarding a bill passed by the legislature this session regarding the dissolution of Milwaukee Public Schools. AB 966 would dissolve Milwaukee Public Schools’ charter, subdivide its attendance area and real estate into at minimum four (maximum of eight) independent school districts (each with their own seven member elected school boards), and create a redistricting committee to ensure this process is completed by 2024.
While I am elated that Gov. Tony Evers swiftly vetoed AB966, I believe it is my responsibility to remind you that we are not “out of the woods.” I assure you that legislation mirroring AB966 will be reintroduced in the next legislative session and depending on election results this coming November, has the strong possibility to pass. I will continue to do my part to speak against any measure that seeks to remove local control from MPS and any municipality’s elected board.
However, there are greater concerns I would like to address with members of the MPS community—overall student achievement and internal policies that leave us open to attack, litigation, and at the bottom of most statistical interpretations of success. For far too long, student poverty and the lack of equitable state funding has been used as an answer to these questions. These excuses no longer hold water—not with Democrats, Republicans, parents, students, etc. The status quo is no longer working; and if there is no proactive movement within the district to change, it will have grave political consequences.
I was sorely disappointed that the SASI committee voted down the prospect of a feasibility study for a student four-day work week. If board members are not open to even the exploration of change, what signal are you sending to parents, students and the community at large? How can we trust that those who we’ve elected to represent us on the board truly understand the wider political implications of your post? I can assure you, the responsibility of Milwaukee’s school board travels far beyond Vliet Street. Therefore, I implore you all to think critically and work collaboratively (meaning all stakeholders) to improve and make changes as to ward off the outside influences of the state legislature.
If you choose to be reactive versus proactive, we will be at greater risk to lose our beloved district.
As an MPS graduate, former MPS teacher, former Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) member, and Milwaukee taxpayer, my goal and only desire is for MPS to flourish. But we cannot continue to work in silos, harbor resentment based on factions, and operate within the confines of self-imposed political limitations. It is time to “call a thing a thing”—acknowledge the internal issues in the district and make plans to fix them. Its time to put ego and excuses aside and get to work. I’m willing to do my part, I hope you are too.