Milwaukee Schools Claims Right Direction

Written by Patricia Hawke for

Schools come up with action plans every day. In fact, the Milwaukee Schools recently announced the adoption of an action plan that is designed to make its students competitive with some of the best schools in the country. The plan, designated “Working Together, Achieving More,” was adopted by the board of Milwaukee Schools in July 2007. But gauging whether a plan means real change, or just a good press release isn’t always easy. The Milwaukee Public Schools plan is meant to be acted on immediately, but it claims to provide for years of improvement. In it the school board lays out benchmarks for success for the years 2007 through 2012.
Entire Community Bands Together to Improve Milwaukee Schools
The committee that researched and designed this new plan was not made up of a bunch of academics with little experience in the classroom or the “real world.” In fact, input was asked for from many different areas. Educators, administrators, researchers, business leaders, families and many others worked together to come up with a plan designed to put Milwaukee Schools on the map. I’d say that this is a point in their favor.
Milwaukee Schools Dedicated to Doing “Whatever it Takes.”
The new plan, “Working Together, Achieving More” takes some direction from No Child Left Behind and similar acts that are aimed at reaching every student. The plan’s mission statement is that all students of Milwaukee Schools will achieve success in higher education and career, and more importantly will become responsible citizens of Milwaukee and the world at large. Mission statements are always well intended. It’s accomplishing the mission that’s the hard part.
In order to become a high performing urban school, Milwaukee Schools has set certain goals for itself. Some of these include:
1.  Meeting or exceeding the standards set by the state. This would be calculated by scores on state exams and by certain benchmarks in reading and math.
2.  Becoming real communities of learning and building upon the idea of PLC or Professional Learning Communities. This allows educators planned time to work together within disciplines and across disciplines in addition to work outside of the school with community members and leaders.
3.  Continued improvement and professional development for ALL staff of Milwaukee Schools, not just teachers. Administrators and bus drivers would be held to certain standards of improvement as well.
4.  Being accountable for any shortcomings. This would include action plans for addressing those weak points. This is where the ideas of NCLB come in.
5.  Being supportive of families. This includes all staff of any particular school and the district as a whole. This is designed to make families feel like a welcome and important part of the public schools.
If Milwaukee Schools really want to be competitive they have a long way to go. Any urban school district faces a lot of problems from overcrowding to under-funding to drugs to disinterested parents to…By committing to a long-term action plan, Milwaukee Schools has taken an important step. If they truly put their money where their mouth is, this district might achieve its ultimate goal: to make Milwaukee Schools the first choice of every parent.