Milwaukee’s mayor says time is drawing near to act on his school reform plan. Mayor Tom Barrett wants his office to assume control of city schools in an effort to close its racial achievement gap which is the highest in the nation.
Barrett says legislative action on the education plan must be in motion if the state’s wants to showcase the reform efforts in its fall application for federal Race to Top Funds. He believes the proposal would send a strong message to Washington of reform being attempted in the Badger State. Although not a prerequisite in the US Education Department’s selection process, the mayor says Secretary Arne Duncan is in favor of these reforms.
Prior to his Obama cabinet position Duncan served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools a district under mayoral control.
Recently Milwaukee Public School Board President Michael Bonds testified at the capitol against the plan saying there are misconceptions being circulated about the education grant.
Barrett believes Milwaukee would be a strong beneficiary from the federal award.
Milwaukee’s school board has issue with the mayoral proposal saying it strips the citizens’ power in electing their own educational representatives. Barrett’s plan would have board members appointed by the mayor’s office. The school board held a hearing Thursday night to hear from residents about the suggested takeover. After an hour only one person of the 60 was in agreement with the idea according to the Journal Sentinel.
Which legislator is willing to introduce a mayoral reform bill is in question. Although details of the plan have not been released, none of the state lawmakers from Milwaukee seem to be in favor of it according to the MacIver Institute. The free market think tank reports State Representative Christine Sinicki believes it will hit the floor in October.
Governor Doyle, State Superintendent Tony Evers and Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines are backing the mayoral takeover. Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Latino group Voces de La Frontera and the teachers’ union are some of the parties in opposition.
Meanwhile Barrett continues to pitch his plan most recently addressing the Wisconsin PTA Leadership Conference in Oconomowoc Saturday.