(MADISON) – This week, Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) rolled out a governance proposal that would impact Milwaukee Public Schools. Dubbed the “Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program,” the plan would pull schools that receive a low performance evaluation from the Department of Public Instruction. Darling and Kooyenga, both serve on the state’s Joint Committee on Finance with Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee). The committee will take up public education funding in the coming weeks. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, “Darling said the goal would be to gain feedback from stakeholders this week and potentially wrap the proposal into the state budget by the end of this month.” Below is Sen. Lena Taylor’s statement:
“While I have reservations about a plan I haven’t seen yet, I remain open to discussing opportunities to improve educational outcomes for all schools, particularly plans that include wrap-around services that benefit not just our children, but their parents. Especially in light of the fact that 85 percent of our kids read below grade level and 70 percent of their parents are functionally illiterate. We have failed in our constitutional responsibility to provide every kid in Wisconsin an equal public education for years.
“While I appreciate Sen. Darling’s and Rep. Kooyenga’s interest in Milwaukee schools, I encourage them to reach out to all stakeholders, including Milwaukee legislators. As history is our guide, a plan void of inclusion will quickly become toxic and breathe division. In the coming weeks, it is my hope this conversation encompasses the root causes of our disparities, including joblessness, illiteracy, poverty and trauma.
“With an educational crisis this significant, we need all hands on deck to help our children achieve the American Dream. As our schools are still recovering from Governor Walker’s record divestment in education, any effort to improve our schools must begin with addressing their lack of funding and services immediately, not in one decade.”