MMAC pushes plan to close education gap in Milwaukee

Nov 8, 2011 by

Effort focuses on expanding top schools, improving job training, grading schools

One of the area’s largest business groups is announcing a strategy to close the education gap in Milwaukee by expanding the number of high-performing schools, changing legislation to help schools thrive and meet the needs of future employers, and grading city schools on a common public report card.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce’s agenda for improving education is the highlight of the group’s blueprint for economic prosperity, which it will unveil Wednesday to more than 1,500 member organizations at Miller Park.

The plan intends to close the achievement gap for Milwaukee’s 127,000-student population across all school sectors as well as better connect school curriculum to jobs that many of the area’s manufacturers say they are struggling to fill.

Some of the actions the MMAC is calling for will likely be unpopular with those in Milwaukee Public Schools. For example, the group supports establishing a special turnaround district in MPS for low-performing schools that would be headed by a different superintendent. The plan also calls for recruiting more national charter school operators that may compete with MPS for students.

The goals of Schools That Can Milwaukee, a local nonprofit that’s aiming to get 20,000 students into high-performing public, public charter or private voucher schools by the year 2020, form the bedrock of three “pathways” MMAC is calling for its members to support.

Those goals include:

  • Expanding and replicating the handful of existing high-performing schools in the city, a list that currently includes five charter and voucher schools with high poverty rates that are getting consistently high results: Milwaukee College Prep, St. Marcus Lutheran School, Bruce Guadalupe, Notre Dame Middle School and Carmen High School of Science & Technology. The MMAC estimates it would take $40 million to $45 million in capital costs to expand those programs and reach an objective of nine new schools.
  • Transforming high-potential schools in the traditional MPS, voucher and charter systems to high-performing schools. The goal would affect about 9,000 students and be accomplished by focusing on school leadership coaching, best-practice sharing and a strong collaboration with MPS.
  • Recruiting and supporting national networks of charter schools. Most recently, the MMAC and Schools That Can Milwaukee have worked aggressively to pave the way for Rocketship Education, a nonprofit charter management company in California, to expand to Milwaukee. The group got the green light from Milwaukee’s Common Council last week to create up to eight schools in Milwaukee.

via MMAC pushes plan to close education gap in Milwaukee – JSOnline.

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