Among the many reform groups, there is a growing perception that for the sake of our children we must come together to forge a common agenda. Some of the groups have ties to the labor movement, some have ties to the business community, some are focused on parents and students, some are based in the religious community. Trust among the different sectors is fragile. But there are signs that positions may be in flux.
Within some sectors of the business community, for example, there seems to be a developing awareness that charter schools and vouchers will never be a panacea and that the bulk of Milwaukee's children will remain in MPS -- and cannot be abandoned. The teachers union appears to be willing to make some concessions to meet a long-standing concern and allow individual schools increased say over staff hiring. And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a front-page Sunday editorial that called for community responsibility for fixing MPS. These are hopeful signs.
Foundations of Reform
Rethinking Schools has no magic formula for success for MPS. But we offer the following -- based in part on conversations with other organizations and on agendas they have developed -- as essential foundations of reform.
- That reform be grounded in equity and a commitment to the success of all children. Unfortunately, concepts of equity and equality too often seem to be missing from reform discussions. Frequently, the approach to "problem" children is to throw them into alternative schools or programs instead of figuring out why the system doesn't work for everyone.
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