MPS teachers protest against failing school takeover proposal

MILWAUKEE -- Teachers gathered Friday morning, June 12th to protest against a state proposal that could convert struggling Milwaukee Public Schools into charter or private schools. It's happening at 82nd and Grantosa.

They're against a republican-led proposal that would make 55 MPS schools the state grades as ‘failing to meet expectations" eligible for conversion.

This is after a rally Thursday night involving parents, teachers and clergy outside Hopkins-Lloyd School on the city’s north side. The faith-based group, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), hosted Thursday’s protest.

The proposal would give the Milwaukee County Executive the authority to appoint a commissioner to oversee the lowest-performing schools.  That commissioner would operate independently from the school board with the power to assume control of up to five schools in the first year and directly manage them, or solicit offers from charter, private school operators.

“You can’t just try to take over a school and expect everything else to be better. You make everything else better and the schools will follow,” said Democratic State Representative, Mandela Barnes.

State Representative Mandela Barnes spoke at Thursday’s rally. His message: reform-minded republicans should focus on issues outside of schools, like poverty and crime that affect performance in central city classrooms.

“So many times when you look at education, people only look at test scores, they only look at the data but fail to look at the underlying issues and address them seriously,” said Mandela.

Darling says lawmakers can address poverty while reforming struggling schools. Those rallying against her plan say republicans should give those schools better resources as opposed to giving them to someone else.

This proposal has already passed the powerful joint finance committee, so as of now, it’s on the budget lawmakers will eventually vote on.

Representative Barnes says until that vote happens, he will push to amend the plan if not scrap it all together.