A state lawmaker says he’s found middle ground in the fight over who should control Milwaukee Public Schools. Democratic State Representative Fred Kessler has announced legislation giving the mayor the power to license all schools in the city, and close those that are failing. “I don’t believe we can fix the problems of MPS unless we also at the same time address the entire school system, including the voucher schools and including the open enrollment program,” Kessler said.
The bill also would prohibit voucher and open enrollment schools from turning away special education students. Kessler says many Milwaukee families are choosing suburban schools that have lower special ed enrollments. “We cannot have a system in which concerned parents, basically, are going to pull their children out of schools because they’re disproportionally filled with kids with special needs,” Kessler said Tuesday.
Kessler’s bill does not change MPS governance – the school board would still control day-to-day operations and hire a superintendent. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett released a statement saying he continues to support an earlier bill that would have given him the power to hire the superintendent. Lawmakers did not act that measure during a special session called by Governor Jim Doyle last month.
Erin Toner, WUWM