Governor Jim Doyle is signing a package of education reforms into law today, at the same Madison middle school where President Barack Obama delivered a speech on education last week. But the governor has more education reforms he wants to accomplish.
There are two additional reforms Doyle wants to see happen: mayoral governance of the Milwaukee Public Schools, and giving the state’s DPI secretary the authority to impose curriculum and personnel changes on failing schools. Doyle says the former, and perhaps the latter, may need to be taken up during a special session of the Wisconsin legislature. “Certainly on the Milwaukee schools it looks like we will have a special session,” said Doyle. “I want work together with the legislative leadership.”
“The Milwaukee legislators are going to have a big say in this,” said state Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker. “I don’t think we ought to be just walking down there and saying ‘this is the way we’re going to do this’ from Madison.” Not every Milwaukee member of the legislature is convinced of the need for mayoral control, and Decker said he wants a legislative committee to hold a public hearing in Milwaukee on MPS governance and other public hearings, on the as yet undrafted, bill to increase the DPI secretary’s powers.
The reforms Doyle signs today at J.C. Wright Middle School were passed by the legislature during the last day of the fall session last week, and are seen by him as key to Wisconsin’s application for federal stimulus funding under the Race to the Top program.