Key Democrat Opposed to Education Proposals

MacIver News Service – [Madison, Wisconsin] The idea of Milwaukee’s mayor taking control of MPS didn’t sit well with Representative Polly Williams, and a new plan essentially handing key decision making for the district over to the state’s superintendent is even more unsettling to her.

Williams believes problems at MPS can only be solved at the local level, not 80 miles away in Madison.  “They don’t know what we need in Milwaukee,” Williams (D- Milwaukee) told the MacIver Institute in an exclusive conversation Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Williams points out that the bill is being advanced with the sole purpose of securing Race to the Top money.  She said other districts in the state don’t want anything to do with it.

“They (the other school districts) aren’t going to make any sacrifices, but if we get the Race to the Top, they’re going to get the rewards,” Williams said.

The recently announced legislation (see it here)  is a compromise between two competing plans over MPS and incorporates another bill that would give more power to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Proponents believe the legislation will help Wisconsin secure federal funding in the second round of Race to the Top grant making. The new proposal does not give the Milwaukee’s mayor the power he sought.

Williams is one of the only lawmakers from Milwaukee voicing her opposition to the compromise so far. She says it fails to address the real needs of Milwaukee’s public schools, however she predicts the plan will pass the legislature.

“This isn’t the answer either, but they’re going to pass it,” Williams predicted.  “I can’t stop it, but I can make a lot of noise.  I’m not going to support it.  I’m not going to vote for it.”