When I weighed in on mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools on "Sunday Insight", a political TV talk show, I knew simply handing over the reins of a failing system was not the answer. We all pay for failing Milwaukee Public Schools--and we pay a premium: $8,193 a year to educate an MPS student vs. $5,847 to school kids in 66 other districts. (Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs, UW Madison) In fact, in fiscal year 2010, the largest declines in school aid will be felt in small, generally rural school districts.
All of our children deserve a great education. But we need to do it more efficiently. We need merit pay for teachers, expanded school choice, and to examine breaking up MPS into more manageable districts. There are ways to succeed, take a look at IDEA public schools in Texas. The data proves Wisconsin can do it, too.