On Monday, Gov. Jim Doyle presented a proposal to send desperately needed help to Wisconsin’s poorest-performing public schools. And yesterday, the state senate approved the bill, setting it up to go before the assembly sometime next week.
The measure would, among other things, allow the state superintendent to intervene in school districts landing in the bottom 5 percent of performance evaluations for four years running. Milwaukee Public Schools beware?
Some (cough, teachers union, cough) might raise a ruckus about unilateral reforms or tyrannical interference, but frankly, we’re not concerned. While we all hate Dolores Umbridge as much as the next Harry Potter fan, the plan Doyle is proposing has safeguards aplenty.
For one thing, the individual school district would have both time and options to make improvements on its own before state intervention would come into play. After one year at the bottom, a school would implement state standard curricula and improve support mechanisms for students.
The state would keep its big, bureaucratic nose out of things until four years had passed in the bottom 5 percent. At that point, anything, especially a little administrative beef, is probably going to be helpful.
Even after the state gets involved, the option for the formation of a local community-based board of improvements to oversee and recommend changes keeps the local population engaged in their children’s education and gives the parents and, yes, teachers a chance to speak up.
It is no secret that the measure has massive implications for the city of Milwaukee. The public school system there ranks consistently among the bottom half of the nation in performance, and in 2008, a proposal was even made to dissolve the system. Nevertheless, some insist on stonewalling progress. Rep. Annette Williams, D-Milwaukee, plans to vote no when the proposal comes before the assembly because the MPS community was not consulted.
Given the alternative of allowing a broken system to perpetuate, we recommend this proposal to keep the state’s keen eye on what has long been an eyesore — with or without the blessing of the failing districts.