Milwaukee School Takeovers?

Alan Borsuk:

School takeovers? Who said anything about school takeovers?

Well, Republicans in the Legislature did. Which means it’s in state law.

And a lot of other folks did, including opponents, led by the Milwaukee teachers union. The union campaigned energetically on a theme of “not one school” being taken away from the Milwaukee Public Schools system and put under the control of a charter school operator who would answer to a Milwaukee commissioner of education who would answer to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

But the law doesn’t say school takeovers are required, you know. It just opens the way for them.

Last week’s appointment by Abele of Mequon-Thiensville School Superintendent Demond Means as the first Milwaukee school commissioner means the way is closed, at least for the 2016-’17 school year.

Officially known as the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program, the new effort looked initially like a mini version of the New Orleans Recovery School District, which basically replaced that city’s traditional school system with an all-charter system.

But the Milwaukee initiative emerged last week with a sharply different identity. It looks to me like it has a lot more in common with the initiative known as “community schools” than it has in common with takeovers of public schools. And the community schools idea has been backed by MPS leaders and the teachers union in the last couple years. How interesting.