Supporting Public School Choice, Rather Than One Size Fits All

Alan Borsuk:

Until Thursday evening, I never dreamed I would write a “profiles in courage” piece about Wendell Harris. I apologize, Wendell. You earned it, and here it is.

Of course, an example of political courage can also be seen as an example of betrayal and broken promises. Harris will get those reactions, too. I assume he burned just about every political bridge he had when he voted for the proposal to put a Carmen high school program in the Pulaski High School building on Milwaukee’s south side.

Electrifying is a word I believe I have never used to describe a Milwaukee School Board meeting until now.

But the stakes Thursday night were high, the outcome uncertain, and the tension in the room palpable enough to lead Milwaukee Public Schools officials to bring in extra security. The proposal became an intense battle between supporters of conventional public schools and supporters of independent charter schools.

Deciding the issue meant making a statement about what kind of change is going to fly or not fly in MPS.

Carmen has two high-expectations charter schools in Milwaukee, operating under authorization of the School Board but employing its own teachers and its own education plans. Pulaski is a venerable, large high school with declining enrollment and low achievement. Its new principal, Lolita Patrick, supports the Carmen-Pulaski plan as a path to change.

If they won, advocates of the “partnership” plan would undertake the ambitious, but very difficult pursuit of a vision of these two schools creating excellence together in the same building.

More, here.

Meanwhile, Madison continues its one size fits all government schools model, most recently rejecting the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school, despite long term disastrous reading results.