Milwaukee Public Schools – Failing Its Students

It appears that many students in MPS are repeating grades…

As of September 25, Milwaukee Public Schools had 9,000 students in ninth grade. Freshmen. Kids who are usually 14, going on 15 years old.

3,000 of those ninth graders were in ninth grade for at least the second time.

636 of those ninth graders were at least 17 years old. That’s right. 7% of the ninth graders are at least three years “behind” in school. (The discussion in the Journal Sentinel says that they’re two years behind. But I can do math. 17 minus the typical age of 14 at the beginning of the school year in September is 3 years.)

Of the 636 who are so far behind, 64% are boys.

Of the 636 who are so far behind, 30% have been labeled “special needs”.

The best part about this report… The Journal Sentinel says that “several major attempts to improve success at the eighth- and ninth-grade levels have not yielded dramatic improvement.”

Apparently the billions that we’ve been pumping into public education haven’t been too effective. Clearly, money is not the answer.

And they wonder why School Choice is so important.


  1. Mike

    Hmm. That’s why school choice is so important?

    I might buy that assertion if these children and their parents were completely blindsided. In other words, did the school district wait until the final day of the 9th grade year and suddenly, without any advance notice of failure, tell students (and parents) that they would be held back? Hardly. This kind of blind analysis is valid only if we believe that schools are solely responsible for the performance of students and that students and their parents bear no role whatsoever in the educational process other than ensuring that student sit in classrooms where education is somehow magically implanted in each hapless student.

    In the real world, it is not uncommon for kids to fail to advance to 10th grade, and the primary reason, outstripping all others, is that the kids simply refuse to do their work. No work, no grades, no credit, no pass. It’s just that simple. Are there instances of special needs kids not getting all the support they need? Of schools not providing the best possible educational opportunity for “normal” kids? Of course, but such examples are certainly the exception, not the rule.

    What is really important here is personal responsibility. Responsibility on the part of the student to realize that they are solely liable to take advantage of their educational opportunities and of parents to actually be parents. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked with parents who ask me “what should I do?” to deal with a child who will do nothing. I’ve discovered that the mere fact that they’re asking that question means that nothing I can say to them will be of any help. One doesn’t inculcate personal responsibility by taking money from the public schools and giving it to private schools through whatever scheme is in current use these days (are they still vouchers, or are they no opportunity scholarships?).

  2. Tracy

    There isn’t ONE reason for children failing in schools. However, I do believe that that Milwaukee Public School is failing students. The voucher program is necessary so that students and parents who want BETTER for the children can have it.

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