It was my sincere privilege to testify before the Senate Education Committee in Milwaukee Tuesday. As the state legislature examines this vitally important issue of how to address challenges within the Milwaukee Public Schools system, I hope that representatives will err on the side of more reform, rather than less.
All of us know that the situation is severe at MPS. There are managerial, administrative, financial and – not least of all – academic failures with which we must contend. But Senate Bill 405, sponsored by Sen. Lena Taylor and supported by a wide range of leaders in the State Assembly, offers real reform and real hope for improvement.
We must not let this opportunity pass us by. We must act now and we must put MPS issues right at the top of our local government structure, under the authority of Milwaukee’s highest office.
Only the mayor of Milwaukee can leverage the resources that are necessary to transform MPS. It is the one position that can harness the powers of the entire city to demand and oversee substantial improvement. The current system is bogged down in bureaucracy and unable to respond to the many challenges our children face. Mayoral governance can pave the way for true accountability and substantial improvement.
I expect the Wisconsin State Legislature to meet this challenge – to demonstrate leadership, even in the midst of mixed messages from various factions – and to serve our citizens with a meaningful, robust bill that will translate into new opportunities for MPS students, families, teachers and administrators, as well as the broader community. The future of our city and state depend on it.
Alderman Willie Hines Jr. is the president of the Milwaukee Common Council.