The key to the heated controversy: Carmen is a charter school. That means war.
Carmen operates a high school a couple miles from Pulaski with a record of academic success. Carmen’s four-year graduation rates have been around 70% in recent years. Its most recent five-year graduation rate was 96%.
By the way, the Carmen high school on the south side has 367 students this fall — 103 in ninth grade, 87 in 10th, 83 in 11th, and 94 in 12th. Those numbers show little of the grade-by-grade shrinkage that is, to me, one of the big signs that Pulaski has problems.
Carmen also is in the third year of building up a middle school and high school on the northwest side, in a building where an MPS school did poorly. It’s a big challenge, but the school is making progress.
Authorized to operate by the Milwaukee School Board, the two existing Carmen schools employ their own teachers and set their own course. The fact that the schools are under the MPS umbrella is financially beneficial to MPS, compared to if they existed outside MPS.
There are two important contexts to the Pulaski battle. One is nationwide controversy over charter schools vs. conventional schools.