Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fernandez proposes rescue plan for Milwaukee education

Rose Fernandez, candidate for state superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction*, has put together a plan to rescue education in Milwaukee.

“In Milwaukee, it’s an urgent situation that demands immediate, extraordinary attention, especially as the economy worsens,” said Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and senior administrator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. “We need to stop the bleeding, assess the situation and begin to treat the problem now—we can’t afford to wait.”

Fernandez said as DPI Superintendent she would open a Milwaukee office and would spend time every month in that office to assist with the MPS Turnaround Plan. The Turnaround Team would be appointed to a three year term to stop MPS’ decline and suggest alternative strategies for the district, which may include breaking it up into smaller locally-controlled school systems. The Turnaround Team would be a seven member panel appointed by the Mayor of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee County Executive and the Superintendent of Public Instruction—all are elected officials and will be publicly accountable for the appointments they make.

“There are some great students, teachers and principals in MPS but every child and family within Milwaukee’s public schools deserve better, taxpayers deserve better, and when I am Superintendent I will do everything in my power to ensure MPS is on a solid path to improvement,” said Fernandez. “The surest way to ensure real change at MPS is for key stakeholders to immediately appoint a high level board whose primary responsibility will be to do whatever is necessary to turnaround Wisconsin’s largest school district. The Turnaround Team will be empowered to make decisions that are in the best interest of MPS students, families and taxpayers. It is time to put politics and special interests aside before we lose another generation of MPS students.”

We'll see if the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is really serious about wanting to cover the issues in this race, especially an issue like the future of the Milwaukee Public Schools.

This is the kind of reform-minded serious campaign Wisconsin needs to have to force change in Wisconsin education. When 60% of 10th graders in MPS can't even read while we're spending over $14,000 per student, it's time that someone at the state level thought about the failed state investment in Milwaukee education.