Charter Schools Milwaukee

Larry Miller: The Charter Disaster in Milwaukee

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Larry Miller, a member of the Milwaukee school board, reprints here an article from a Milwaukee newspaper. It shows that 4 out of Milwaukee’s 10 charter schools are failing schools.


“Four of these taxpayer-funded schools are doing so poorly that, according to their annual review, a case could be made for shuttering them.
And major pieces of information haven’t been offered to the Common Council members who are ultimately responsible for the 3,500 students who attend city charters—including the fact that the FBI raided the national operator of one local charter school.


“Yet last Thursday, in a Steering and Rules Committee meeting, the Charter School Review Committee (CSRC)—an appointed body made up primarily of charter advocates who provide oversight of and evaluate the city’s charter schools—only recommended putting two schools on probation, Milwaukee Math and Science Academy (MMSA) on West Burleigh Avenue and King’s Academy on North 60th Street.


“The CSRC gave Milwaukee Math and Science Academy a rating of 66.4% on its scorecard, a D grade, for the 2013-2014 school year, making it a “problematic/struggling” school. The state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) gave it 48.1 out of a possible 100 points for the same year. The DPI said it “failed to meet expectations.”


“King’s Academy earned a 67% rating and a D+ from the CSRC but fared slightly better with its DPI scores: 67.3 points, which “meets expectations.”


“But as dismal as those scores are, MMSA and King’s Academy aren’t the worst performers.


“That dubious honor goes to North Point Lighthouse Charter School on West Douglas Avenue, which earned a 58.1% or F from the CSRC and a 29.4% from the state DPI. Since the 2013-2014 academic year was only its second year of operation, the CSRC recommended some strategies for improvement and a mid-year assessment of its progress. The school, part of the national Lighthouse Academies network, got financial assistance from tennis pro Andre Agassi’s Canyon-Agassi Charter Facilities Fund for its building.”


Some of the charters began as voucher schools, failed, then reopened as charter schools.


“Jack Norman, a consultant for Schools and Communities United, argued that the charter advocates were providing an incomplete picture of the program for the council members. The CSRC doesn’t discipline schools that are new to the program, but Norman argued that some of the city’s failing charters have long track records as taxpayer-funded voucher schools that should be taken into consideration. The struggling King’s Academy, for example, began as a voucher school in 1999 and became a city charter school in 2010 and has been operating continuously for 15 years. MMSA can trace its lineage to Wisconsin Career Academy, an MPS charter school that was closed in 2012, as well as Wisconsin College Prep Academy, a voucher school that was shut down in 2013. He accused Lighthouse of “charter hopping or shopping” because it had received a charter from MPS and UW-Milwaukee before becoming a city charter.


“Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, whose board chair is voucher architect Howard Fuller, opened as a voucher school in 2004, changed its name and became a charter in 2011, then changed its name again. The high school received a 68.2% or D+ from the CSRC, a “problematic/struggling” school.”

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