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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, December 11, 2006

No teaching license? No problem!

No driver's license? Shut the school down!

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little: Elijah's Brook God's Nation Children School was kicked out of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program technically for a lack of insurance. But the incident that led to the removal--a bus crash involving an unlicensed bus drivier--helps to illustrate one of the most frustrating things, for me, about the MPCP. The driver, had he been licensed, would have held more certification from the state to do his job than any other person associated with the school was required to. Running the school takes no license, and a search of the DPI's database this morning confirms the administrator doesn't have even an expired license. Of the other employees named in the stories about the bus crash, one seems to have a license, but she quit the school citing
high turnover in the teaching staff since the school year began, and that the school had almost no academic plan, curriculum, textbooks or other educational materials when the school year started. [. . .] She said she saw situations that concerned her, such as fifth- and sixth-grade students taking care of children in a day care center adjacent to the school during the school day.
The MPCP is just not working. Not all the schools in it are as bad as the one in question here, of course. And not all Milwaukee Public Schools are models of excellence. But people with experience in the schools--even die-hard conservative Republicans--recognize the futility of the program. The blogger I just linked to has the same complaints I do about the program, though we disagree on virtually everything else. But note what he says in the comments: "I have proof when I get kids from these schools and they are behind even the MPS kids and tell me they had no books or book that another school threw out, or that they watched movies all the time, or that I knew teachers that taught at those schools and were ALWAYS either the only one who had a teaching licence or one of two..." I could have written those words--have written words like them on these pages before.

Do you think any of the children from Elijah's Brook--now thrown into MPS with no additional funding--will be at the level of their new classmates? Do you think the fifth- and sixth-graders who used to spend their days watching toddlers in day care will be ready for fractions and geography?

And the only reason this school closed is because it lacked insurance!

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Don't forget: We here at folkbum's rambles and rants are holding a virtual town hall meeting, asking everyone who comes by to help shape the MPS strategic plan. Follow that link and add your thoughts.

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