A group of community leaders who disagree on a lot of other things about education were in general agreement Monday night on one important issue:
They don’t think much of the idea of turning control of Milwaukee Public Schools over to somebody other than the School Board.
From teachers union president Dennis Oulahan to school voucher advocate Howard Fuller, from liberal School Board member Jennifer Morales to business leader Tim Sheehy, it was hard to keep the people involved in a panel at the Marquette University Law School on the topic of whether there should be mayoral control of schools, or something in that vein, as they kept turning to other issues.
None expressed hope that a step of that kind, at least in itself, would change the rate of success in MPS.
“No matter who takes it over . . . if you don’t change anything that’s going on within the body itself that prevents good practice,” it will be an illusion to think things will get better, Fuller said.
“Any kind of governance can work if it has the right support.”
Oulahan said there was a long history of reforms in MPS, such as the Neighborhood Schools Initiative launched in 2000 and the small high school reform in recent years, that really were about buildings or programs and not about kids. Unless the focus is on teaching children using practices that actually work, nothing will change, he said.