State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The state Senate has approved legislation that will not improve conditions at the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) system as proponents claim. It is said Senate Bill 437 (SB 437) gives the state superintendent of public instruction greater authority to intervene in failing schools within MPS and other school districts. Like a previous proposal to give
SB 437 ends tenure for MPS principals. That is a good concept except that under the bill, teachers would continue to earn tenure. As I stated on the floor of the state Senate, you might as well not have principals if you are going to strip them of their ability to hold teachers accountable.
The state superintendent currently has the authority to withhold funding from a school district, a move that would do far more than what is contained in SB 437.
Giving state Superintendent Tony Evers more power will not guarantee more dedicated teachers, better school attendance, increased student performance, higher test scores, higher grade point averages or safer schools. Because SB 437 will not increase test scores, graduation rates or prepare students for higher education or the workforce, the legislation is merely window dressing.
Proponents are pushing this bill in the final days of the legislative session because the earlier plan to give mayoral control over MPS failed and they want to give the appearance that something is being done to salvage MPS. In reality, SB 437 that was approved along party lines, 18-15 does nothing to strike at the real problems plaguing a school system in desperate need of dramatic reform or help struggling students.
There are, or at least were, some good principals at MPS that I met during a tour of the system that do make teachers work hard. The result is classroom scores of 90 percent or better. MPS should be emulating those principals and utilizing their successful techniques rather than handcuffing them by eliminating their tenure while maintaining teacher tenure.