Milwaukee Public Schools middle and high schoolers, along with some younger students, began their school year Monday. With the new school year comes a new interim superintendent, and Keith Posley has ambitious plans for the district.
Monday morning, students were welcomed with fanfare to Audubon Technology and Communication Center on the southwest side. Students filed down a red carpet while the drumline played. Some exchanged high-fives with Posley, teachers, and school board members, while others stared intently at their phones.
Esau King, a freshman at Audubon, was excited and nervous for the beginning of the school year. “This is my first time ever being here as a high schooler so I’m just hoping I can make the best out of it,” King said.
After the high-fives, Posley spoke about his goals at a press conference in the school library. “We are going to win in the Milwaukee Public Schools,” Posley said. “We will win.
He was appointed interim superintendent following Darienne Driver’s departure a few months ago. Posley’s a long-timer in the district, working as a teacher and administrator for more than 20 years.
Posley has ambitious goals for MPS students. His slogan is "back to the basics" – focusing on reading, writing and math. He summarized his aspirations by imagining a future news headline.
“Headline news will read: Milwaukee Public Schools surpass the state average for the first time in history in the areas of math, reading and writing,” Posely said.
If that headline were to come true, the number of MPS students scoring proficient on state exams would have to double.
For the 2016-2017 school year, 44.5 percent of students statewide scored proficient or advanced in English Language Arts compared to 20.1 percent in the Milwaukee Public Schools. In mathematics, 42.8 percent statewide were advanced or proficient, compared to 15.4 percent in MPS.
Posley is also spearheading a couple other initiatives. One focuses on reducing chronic absenteeism, while the other centers on one zip code: 53206. MPS plans to reconfigure several schools in that area, including North Division High School. Most of the schools in the zip code are severely under-enrolled and fail to meet state academic standards.
There is already some good news for Milwaukee Public Schools, as enrollment is up from last year. Close to 80,000 students are registered. That’s about a 3 percent increase from 2017-2018.
While high school and middle schoolers are back at their desks, summer lasts a little longer for most MPS elementary students. School starts for them on Sept. 4.
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