Latest Milwaukee Public schools reform plan reveals deep needs, discontent

Erin Richards:

Class size: 49 students.
Number of principals in six years: five.
Percentage of student turnover in a school year: 55%.
To the people who teach in them, those are some of the characteristics of “failing” public schools in Milwaukee, 48 in all.
To the superintendent who oversees them, the latest potential solution is to turn some into charter schools.
The teachers’ response, at least for one day this past week, was to blast that idea and provide a vivid picture of the problems in their chronically underperforming schools, problems that never seem to get addressed by a revolving door of district reforms.
Once again, they said at a board committee meeting Thursday, the options on the table — and there are three in all — fail to address their biggest roadblocks to improvement. Almost every one of their students is poor. On average, one in four has a special need, usually an emotional or behavioral disorder. Many have unstable families and grow up in lives infused with violence.
Meanwhile, teachers said, their best resources to combat these issues have been cut. There are fewer art and music classes, despite district efforts lately to restore such specials. Class sizes can soar to between 40 and 50 students, inhibiting any kind of one-on-one attention. There is no additional staff to man in-school suspension rooms, so disruptive pupils affect the learning time — and likely, the ultimate reading and math test scores — of other students.

Much more on the Milwaukee Public Schools, here.