MPS Cancels Foreign Travel For Students.

Travel alerts from the US State Department have caused the Milwaukee Public Schools to cancel any foreign travel for school students. Specifically the warnings urged people to avoid large crowds…which of course would be at sites that would attract student tourists. Well here’s the rationale:

MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia said Tuesday that the ban affects a half-dozen student trips. The destinations of planned trips include Denmark, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada.

He said the district was moved to cancel the trips because the State Department alert specifically urged travelers to avoid large crowds.

“When you look at these student trips, they inherently involve going to places where there are large crowds — museums, houses of government,” he said. “It was really difficult to imagine how you would put together a trip like that within the confines of the alert.”

MPS also will evaluate out-of-state trips on a case-by-case basis and has banned all trips to Washington, D.C., through the end of the year. However, none had been scheduled, Tagliavia said.

Don’t look now but most school buildings attract large crowds of people on an almost daily basis…and based on the history of mass shootings in the liberally armed United States…my feelings say you have a higher risk of being shot in an American school than in the Louvre or Westminster Abbey…

P.S. Recently an Australian member of Parliament suggested that they issue a travel advisory about violence in the United States…and he wasn’t kidding all that much.

This popped up on JSOnline while I was working out this post:

A Milwaukee lawmaker is blasting Milwaukee Public Schools for canceling all planned international trips over security concerns, saying the move only emboldens terrorists and suggesting that students face greater risks in some neighborhoods of the city.

“Did MPS ban travel to NYC or major American cities after September Il?” state Rep. Josh Zepnick asked board members in a letter dated Wednesday. (It did, according to the district.)

“Has MPS ever banned student activities in Milwaukee neighborhoods plagued by gun violence and other illegal street activity?”

How Milwaukee Can Create High Performing Schools!

Chris Layden and Maurice Thomas, leaders from Global Shapers Milwaukee, had their op ed piece on creating high-performing schools featured front and center in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It is worth the read and I don’t have a lot of issues with their bullet points:

■Expand programs such as Teachtown, Teach for America and City Year that are focused on attracting our nation’s top young talent into Milwaukee’s education system.

■Better educate the parents of low-income students on school performance and how to navigate the system to get their kids into the best possible school.

■Create more college prep and arts-focused magnet middle and high schools.

■Invest in early childhood education in the poorest parts of the city.

■Market the incredible programs in schools to students inside and outside the city of Milwaukee.

And since I ran for Milwaukee School Board in 2011, I have actually come around to thinking that a consolidated Milwaukee County public school system would be a vast improvement for the county at large. Needless to say the cost savings in eliminating redundant central offices, school boards, and superintendents would be substantial to start with. And the total overall budget and opportunities would be far more beneficial than the individual districts. But they also suggest working countywide, although not as ambitiously as I would:

■Develop rigorous state standards and consistent state exams that give parents and policy-makers clear metrics to measure school performance.

■Allow parents living in the poorest parts of the city the first choice for early childhood education options throughout the county.

■Create a lottery system for all students in Milwaukee County for middle and high school.

But there is one nagging question that they didn’t mention…and I am guessing intentionally…HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR IT? Are the Global Shapers Milwaukee willing to camp out in Madison until they have the funding they need for a program like this? Because without additional funds…we are stuck with incremental tweaking to the status quo or worst case…the state’s continual meddling until they totally dismantle public education in Milwaukee.

As for our readers other question…and the one I had myself:

Who are the Global Shapers?

The Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is a network of city-based hubs developed and led by young leaders between 20 and 30 years of age. In the Milwaukee area, Global Shapers is composed of: Ian Abston, NEWaukee; Adam Bartos, MSI Data; Kelsey Palmer Brenn, Ernst & Young;· Leah Fiasca, Greater Milwaukee Committee; Alexander Lau, Dynamis Software Corp; Chris Layden, Experis, ManpowerGroup; Jarrett Luckett, East Troy Manor; Bill Mahler, Artisan Partners; Austin Ramirez, HUSCO International; Daniel Riemer, Wisconsin Assembly; Carlton Reeves, White House; Katie Schinderle, Boss Products; Maurice Thomas, Milwaukee Excellence School; Tammie Xiong, Hmong American Women’s Association; and Sofina Ziu, FUEL.

Whither Manitowoc County: Board Passes Resolution in Support of Milwaukee County Board

Quite frankly I am surprised that it has taken this long for other county boards to take notice and then take action:

MANITOWOC, Wis. —The Manitowoc County supervisors have passed a resolution criticizing Republican-backed legislation that would weaken the power of the Milwaukee County Board.

Manitowoc County is three counties north of Milwaukee County, but its supervisors weighed in this week to express their disapproval over the resolution that takes away resources and authority from their Milwaukee County counterparts. They passed a resolution 20-4 opposing the state’s legislation.

The resolution was written by Supervisor Jim Brey, who said the Wisconsin Legislature’s action violates the principle of home rule, the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter reported.

He said “there would be hell to pay” if state legislators tried to tell Manitowoc County supervisors how to do their jobs, and that the action opens the door to the state micromanaging county governments.

WEDC Pay Ain’t Enough To Keep Talent But Proposed Supervisor Pay Is No Problem!

Last week Zach wrote about Governor Walker’s prominent policy initiative, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and their inability to retain qualified staff…particularly a Chief Financial Officer.

He linked to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that explained the situation and included this throw away quotation from Rep. Jeff Stone:

Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), another member of the WEDC board, said the news was unfortunate but understandable. He said it has been difficult to attract the kind of highly skilled financial officer needed for the job, since such candidates can typically earn higher wages in the private sector.

But the Republican powers that be in Madison expect Milwaukee County to attract supervisory candidates that are highly skilled when we cut their salary and remove their benefits? Just sayin’.

State lawmakers to host public hearing on changes to local control in Milwaukee County

From the email from the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus;

State lawmakers to host public hearing on changes to local control in Milwaukee County

MADISON – Local residents are invited to share their opinions on the state-imposed changes to the Milwaukee County Board at a public hearing this Tuesday in Milwaukee. The hearing starts at 5:00 p.m. and will be held at the Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vilet Street.

After Senate Republicans failed to hold a committee hearing in the community that they are forcing to change, local Legislative representatives of Milwaukee County are holding an opportunity for citizens in Milwaukee County who were unable to attend the midday Madison hearing to voice their opinion on the bill forcing state-imposed changes to the Milwaukee County Board.

WHAT: Milwaukee County hearing on the attack on local control

WHO: Sen. Chris Larson, Sen. Tim Carpenter, Sen. Nikiya Harris, Sen. Lena C. Taylor, Rep. Josh Zepnick, Rep. Sandy Pasch, Rep. Mandela Barnes, Rep. Evan Goyke, Rep. John Richards, Rep. Christine Sinicki, Rep. Daniel Riemer, Rep. LaTonya Johnson, Rep. Leon Young, Rep. Fred Kessler and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa

WHERE: Washington Park Senior Center, 4420 W. Vilet Street

WHEN: Tuesday, April 30, 5:00 p.m.

DPI report: Milwaukee, Racine public school students test higher than private voucher school counterparts

Republican legislators love to talk about how great voucher schools are as a quality alternative to those awwwwwwful public schools, especially public schools in places like Milwaukee, Racine, etc., but according to a recent report by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, public school students in Milwaukee and Racine actually tested higher than their voucher school counterparts.

From Urban Milwaukee:

In the Milwaukee voucher program, the percentage of students proficient or advanced in math was 6.5 points lower than at Milwaukee Public Schools, while the percentage of students proficient or advanced in reading was 10 points lower. In the Racine voucher program, the percentage of students proficient or advanced in math was 3.7 points lower than in Racine public schools, while the percentage of students proficient or advanced in reading was 2.1 points lower.

So much for voucher schools providing a better education to our students.

Alderman Bob Donovan Said $11.55 An Hour Not The Kind Of Jobs We Want In Milwaukee

Just a quick hit for a Sunday morning…in an article in this morning’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rick Romell reviews the reasons that BuySeasons didn’t bring it’s 450 permanent (300 of them full time) jobs to Milwaukee from Waukesha County.

One of the main roadblocks was Alderman Bob Donovan who thought the jobs just didn’t, well, pay enough. Despite the fact that the average hourly rate for BuySeasons employees as $11.55 at the time. That comes out to $24,024 per year…which just happens to be the per capita income for Milwaukee County…and wait for it…the proposed annual salary for Milwaukee County supervisors via Assembly Bill 85.

Public hearing will allow Milwaukee County residents an opportunity to speak out on County governance reforms

Intergovernmental Relations Committee to Hold Public Hearing on Local Reform Measures

4 p.m. Monday, April 22, 2013

Milwaukee County Courthouse
901 N. 9th St., Room 203 R

Public hearing will allow Milwaukee County residents an opportunity to speak out on County governance reforms

(MILWAUKEE) – The County Board’s Committee on Intergovernmental Relations will hold a public hearing on local reforms on Monday, April 22, 2013, at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, 901 N. 9th St., in Room 203R.

Those interested in reviewing the details of the reform package can access it online via Milwaukee County CLIC (County Legislative Information Center) at

The reform package (File No. 13- 397) is sponsored by Supervisors Dimitrijevic, Lipscomb, Romo West, Cullen, Jursik, Borkowski, Bowen, Schmitt, Broderick, and Haas.
Under the proposed reform package, the budget of the County Board would be cut by 50 percent and Supervisors’ salaries would be cut by 20 percent.

Other reforms include:
Clarification of roles and responsibilities
Independent Intergovernmental Relations
Streamline processes
Follow-up on audit for additional countywide and operational efficiencies

Saturday Open Thread: AB 85 vs. OUR Milwaukee County

You’ve all had plenty of time to digest the media coverage and dozens of op ed pieces in favor of and against Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s Assembly Bill 85 to reform Milwaukee County Government…and by now you’ve had a chance to read about the County Board’s own plan to reduce costs and salaries and request to downsize the board itself…but you’ve all been amazing silent on the topic here on Blogging Blue…so now I am asking you to comment:

OUR Milwaukee County: Where Are The Next Listening Sessions?

Here is an excerpt for the February 8th Milwaukee County Board press release announcing the OUR Milwaukee County initiative:

“We are delivering on the promise of government reform discussion that is local and inclusive,” said Chairwoman Dimitrijevic. “We are eager to listen to our constituents – the people who live throughout Milwaukee County – to hear their ideas for efficiency and effectiveness.”

The initiative, which includes a consistent agenda designed to spark discussion and debate, is set to include a series of town hall meetings in all 18 Supervisory districts throughout the months of February and March as well as a nighttime public hearing in March.

I am only aware of four listening sessions so far and tomorrow is the last day of March 2013. There were rumors of one more and Supervisor Taylor has been heard to say he wasn’t going to hold one since he knows how his constituents feel…but I think we are owed 13 more listening sessions…or better yet a county convention!