Reckless Spending at MPS Morally Wrong, Healy Says

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Wasteful Spending Continues in State’s Most Troubled School District

If Wisconsin’s educational establishment want their demands for more funding to be taken seriously, they must stop wasteful spending of tax dollars intended to improve public schools, according to Brett Healy.

Healy, the President of the Wisconsin-based free market think tank the MacIver Institute, specifically points to the continued wasteful spending by the Milwaukee Public Schools, the state’s poorest performing district.

“Before the State and Milwaukee Superintendents start lecturing taxpayers and policymakers on the morality of education spending, they should stop the hemorrhaging at MPS,” said Healy. “The wasteful spending at MPS is not only fiscally irresponsible it is clearly morally wrong.”

For years the MacIver Institute has published a regular feature, entitled MPS Checkbook, wherein they highlight some of the district’s most questionable expenditures. This month’s installment includes some of the most egregious examples of non education-related spending, including:

  • Nearly $50,000 for eight staff members to participate in 13 days of ‘Six Sigma’ leadership training.
  • $1,000 to a local radio station to air commercials celebrating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday
  • $24,000 to Hewitt Associates for a non-legal review of the district’s United HealthCare  PPO Plan, which brings the year-to-date total for this project to nearly $155,000
  • $4,500 to Jonitha Brown to conduct writing workshops for students at Auer Avenue School
  • $500, bringing the year-to-date total to $17,000 for the “Flood the Hood with Dreams,” campaign for non-violence.
  • $2,000 to Peacemaker Social Services for consulting to “Engage students at transition high school in elemental, historical and performance based residency of Hip Hop culture

“MPS keeps spending money on vendors and specialists to do the job they are already paying teachers to do, which is ostensibly to teach students how to read, write and become proficient in math and science,” said Healy. “Then, to make matters worse, they spend educational dollars on further ‘training’ for staff and administrators–if their staff isn’t properly trained, they shouldn’t be collecting a paycheck.”

Healy’s comments come in the wake of a statewide tour by State Superintendent Tony Evers, who is campaigning against giving parents and taxpayers more educational options beyond the traditional public school system.

“Does Tony Evers think spending thousands of dollars to teach ‘Hip Hop Culture’ is a wise use of scarce educational resourses?” Healy asked. “Would Mr. Evers or MPS Superintendent Thornton care to justify MPS spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants whose work has little or no impact in the classroom?”

Healy said one expenditure the MacIver Institute found was particularly galling: -$45,000 to UWM Employment & Training Institute to conduct a demographic study of the school age population within Milwaukee to support facilities planning.

“MPS spends $45,000 to study the city’s demographics for facilities planning, meanwhile it pays a million dollars a year to maintain vacant buildings they refuse to sell to choice or charter schools,” said Healy. “They will protect their monopoly no matter the cost in dollars and human potential–that, folks, it the definition of immoral.”

The MPS Checkbook feature is part of a comprehensive body of work examining MPS, which can be found at MacIver’s website: