Dr. Thornton praises plan for accountability for all

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton on Wednesday praised the call from State Superintendent Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for accountability for all publicly-funded schools in the state.

The accountability-for-all plan is included in the DPI’s “No Child Left Behind” waiver request submitted Wednesday to the federal government. Accountability for publicly-funded private schools has not yet been included in legislative proposals.

The following is a statement from Dr. Thornton:

“All schools that are receiving taxpayer funds should be held to the same level of accountability that we embrace,” the Superintendent said. “We embrace accountability because it is what our children, parents and taxpayers deserve.”

“The state’s list of ‘priority schools,’ created under a U.S. Department of Education mandate, is based upon previouslyreleased data with which we’re well familiar. It is data we have already used and continue to use to make significant reforms. Strong strategic plans are in place for schools on the list. Rigorous district-wide literacy and math/science plans are being implemented to improve learning for all students,” Dr. Thornton said.

“When necessary, MPS has acted swiftly to close schools,” he noted. “Seven schools that appear on the ‘priority school’ list have either been closed or will be closed at the end of the year. Another two schools have been merged into other schools to begin building a stronger educational community.”

“More work remains to be done to bring our students up to the level where they should be. But we’re already seeing early results. Reading scores are up, ACT scores are up and our community and business partners are giving us a vote of confidence. Notably, the GE Foundation is bolstering our comprehensive math/science plan with a $20.4-million grant. As a recent Public Policy Forum report showed, MPS students outperform voucher-school students in math and reading ‘at every grade level,’ “ the Superintendent said.

“We remind our community that unlike many other schools, MPS schools accept all students regardless of need or exceptionality. About 20% of MPS students have been identified as students with disabilities, creating a significant cost differential between MPS schools and many others,” he said. “According to a Wisconsin DPI question-and-answer sheet, a voucher school ‘is required to offer only those services to assist students with special needs that it can provide with minor adjustments.’”

“Children, parents and taxpayers deserve publicly-funded schools that are willing to educate all — and willing to face public accountability,” Dr. Thornton said.