Fighting the Takeover of Milwaukee Schools

I believe that our public schools are the heart and soul of our neighborhoods and that every one of our kids regardless of their zip code deserves the best educational opportunities we can provide. 

chris-larson-milwaukee-county-executive-fighting-takeover-milwaukee-public-schoolsInvesting in our kids is investing in our future. As a product of the public schools system, as a father of two young kids in public schools, and a husband whose wife has worked for public schools, I understand the importance they have on our community. 

Throughout my time in the State Senate, I have fought to ensure that all kids have access to quality education, no matter their means or where they happen to live. We know that investing in our children and ensuring that their public schools are not cut to the bone will also ensure a strong Wisconsin well into the future. 

Fighting for Public Education

Under Governor Scott Walker’s administration, Wisconsin’s public education system saw the harshest blows in our state’s history. With over a billion dollars in state funding cut from our neighborhood schools, many have not been able to provide adequate resources needed to teach our children. This, coupled with the devastating effects of Act 10, has led to a staffing crisis. Schools are struggling to find qualified teachers, leading to increased class sizes. 

Currently, the strategies and messaging used by Republicans to undermine the very concept of a free quality public education will end up leaving a generation of Wisconsin children behind. Betsy DeVos and is spending thousands of dollars on negative ads toward me because she knows my dedication to public education. 

As a State Senator I have been a leading voice for public education, not only fighting to preserve our shared value of quality public education but offering legislation to promote robust and enriching educational experiences. I have supported fully funding 4K programs across the state, increasing special education reimbursements for our public schools, providing wrap-around services for our neighborhoods through the MPS community school partnership with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, and have promoted the expansion of youth apprenticeships and dual enrollment programs to expand our youth’s career options. My values and respect for public education will help guide my priorities and decisions as Milwaukee County Executive.

Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP) 

This divide and conquer method even seeped down to the county level when, in 2015, GOP legislators introduced legislation that allowed for a struggling school in MPS to be taken over by the county and potentially prioritized

As a leading progressive voice for our neighborhood schools, I helped organize our community to fight back against this extreme measure. The intent of this legislation was to divide our neighbors; however, the result was a more galvanized community who stood up to support public education. Though grassroots organizing and dedicated organizational allies in the community, we were able to successfully block the implementation of any school take over.

OSPP is still a law. Milwaukee County can’t just shut the door on this. I will fight to shut the door, lock it, and make sure that down the road this cannot be implemented. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the State Legislature to reverse this harmful law. It is important to our communities that public schools remain public. 

My Goals as County Executive

Youth Apprenticeships
As a State Senator, I held a Youth Apprenticeship Summit last fall. I brought together industry and school officials to start the discussion of a Youth Apprenticeship program. This would place high school seniors into roles that teach them important job skills like responsibility, teamwork, and timeliness. As your Milwaukee County Executive, I will continue to pursue these partnerships within the county government. Integrating our students across county government will allow them to explore career options and allow us to build a robust program that will eventually reach into the private sector as well.

Ending Family Homelessness
If students are worried about where they will be sleeping each night, they are simply not able to focus on their studies. This will lower test results, impact schools, and reduce a student’s likelihood of succeeding. We need to take care of our neighbors and to do that, I have pledged to end family homelessnes in my first term. Putting a family in a shelter is three times the cost of keeping them in their homes. 

On any given night, Milwaukee County could see eighty families in need of emergency shelters. One of the reasons for this is the wage gap in Milwaukee County. Our neighbors are making almost a dollar less than what would be necessary to rent a two-bedroom apartment. As a State Senator, I advocated for an increase in the minimum wage and will continue to work with the state legislature to achieve this increase.