Gov. Jim Doyle announced Tuesday he would call a special session of the state Legislature Dec. 16 to consider two bills that would reform Milwaukee Public Schools.
In a statement, Doyle called for the passage of bills which would give the mayor of Milwaukee power to appoint the MPS superintendent and would give the state superintendent power to intervene and offer assistance to a below-average school district.
This call comes as a result of a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education that shows fourth and eighth grade students at MPS tested significantly below the national average in mathematics.
Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, praised Doyle’s decision to call a special session in a statement released Wednesday.
“The new data is extremely alarming and reiterates the need for drastic changes to the structure of MPS. We cannot continue to do nothing and play politics while our children struggle in an inadequate school system,” Plale said.
Plale is one of the cosponsors of the bill, which would give mayoral control over the choice of superintendant for MPS.
However, Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement Wednesday she did not agree with the call from Doyle because of the bill giving governance power to the mayor.
“It is disappointing that Gov. Doyle has decided to ignore the will of Milwaukee’s citizens and continue his push for a mayoral takeover of MPS,” Grigsby said in the statement.
Mike Mikalsen, spokesperson for Assembly Committee on Education member Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Nass did not fully expect Doyle’s decision to call the special session.
“We were somewhat surprised in terms of those two bills … because of the less than enthusiastic response from his own party,” Mikalsen said.
Mikalsen also said Nass found the call interesting because the legislative leaders already called for an extraordinary session on Dec. 16 as well to discuss drunken driving reform measures. Mikalsen said the two sessions are technically different, but can occur on the same day.
He added just because the special session is called, this does not mean the Legislature is required to pass the bills.