School board candidate Mary Burke did not begin her foray into public education policy arena with her support of the Madison Prep proposal. In fact, she worked very closely on this report (PDF) concerning the Milwaukee Public School system (emphasis mine):
This evaluation of the finances and operations of the Milwaukee Public Schools would not have been possible without the support, generosity, and commitment of many individuals and organizations.
First, several Milwaukee-area foundations and individual donors generously agreed to fund the independent evaluation, including the Helen Bader Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation, Mary Burke, the Argosy Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Betty Brinn Foundation, the Joseph and Vera Zilber Foundation, the Weiss Foundation, the M&I Foundation, Linda Davis, and the Faye McBeath Foundation. This work could not have been done without their support.
Second, Mary Burke, president of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane
County and former secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, generously volunteered her time and talents to manage this project on behalf of the governor and the mayor.
Mary’s leadership was critical to the success of this effort.
The report was very narrowly focused on how the Milwaukee Public School system could spend less money (by design). I think the appropriate term is “cuts”. While I do think that frugality is a good thing, let’s not forget that the point of a school is to education children.
So what did this committee come up with? The Milwaukee Express gets to the root of the proposed cost savings (or the “tools” as someone might say):
Myth: The McKinsey & Co. audit proved that MPS wastes $100 million a year.
Fact: What’s “waste”? The audit showed that MPS could save between $58 million and $103 million by making drastic changes to the way it does business. Whether those changes are practical or wise is another matter. The auditors recommended laying off 358 full-time employees in food services, decreasing work hours of other employees so that they qualify for BadgerCare and redesigning benefits packages. But the audit found that MPS’s spending per pupil is roughly the same as similar districts.
So is that wasteful spending? Southeastern Wisconsin has the highest health insurance rates in the state; that’s reflected in the cost of insuring workers. And squeezing some of the district’s lowest wage earners so that they go on BadgerCare doesn’t seem like a good idea for the workers or for taxpayers, either.
Wow, I wondering what kind of policies Mary Burke would support as a school board member? Yikes! Maybe someone should ask her where she sees opportunities for cost savings in the Madison school district.
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