Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Education Secretary Says Mayors Should Take Control of Bad Inner-City Schools

President Obama's Education Secretary says urban mayors should take control of bad inner-city schools.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday that mayors should take control of big-city school districts where academic performance is suffering.

Duncan said mayoral control provides the strong leadership and stability needed to overhaul urban schools.

Mayors run the schools in fewer than a dozen big cities; only seven have full control over management and operations. That includes Chicago, where Duncan headed the school system until joining the Obama administration.

Speaking at a forum with mayors and superintendents, Duncan promised to help more mayors take over.

"At the end of my tenure, if only seven mayors are in control, I think I will have failed," Duncan said.

He offered to do whatever he can to make the case. "I'll come to your cities," Duncan said. "I'll meet with your editorial boards. I'll talk with your business communities. I will be there."

It's worth noting then that he might have a more receptive ear after next Tuesday's election in Wisconsin for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Candidate Rose Fernandez has already promised to push for the creation of a "turnaround team" to attack the problems of the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Still others in the state, such as State Representative Leah Vukmir and State Senator Ted Kanavas, are exploring different ways to change the structure of Milwaukee Public Schools to help address the problems.

Perhaps instead of running an administrative toady and engaging in juvenile photo shop antics the state teachers union might try to find a way to be a part of the solutions to the education problems in Milwaukee.