When Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers campaigned with former President Barack Obama at North Division High School in Milwaukee, critics wondered if the Democrats accidentally chose an appropriate setting for Evers’ campaign for governor.
“It makes perfect sense for Superintendent Evers to hold a political rally at a public high school in Milwaukee,” said Jim Bender, President of School Choice Wisconsin. “After all, what better encapsulates his vision of the role of public education?”
North Division is a high school in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) school system. The school, appropriately on Milwaukee’s north side, serves an almost entirely minority population which would normally make it a good location to turn out minority voters for the Democrats.
However, it is also one of the worst schools in Wisconsin. According to the latest Department of Public Instruction (DPI) school report cards, North Division scored a 22 out of a possible 100 (click to see the report card). The low score means North Division “Fails to Meet Expectations” according to DPI, and that the 412 students that were enrolled in the 2016-17 school year were in a failing school.
North Division is hardly alone with the “Fails to Meet Expectations” score. There were 24,972 students in MPS schools in the 2016-17 academic year that were rated “fails to meet expectations,” 525 more than what was reported for the 2015-16 school year. There were 46 failing schools in MPS that school year, but MPS slightly improved its overall accountability score from 55.3 to 56, or “meets few expectations.”
Wisconsin schools and are measured on truancy rates, academic performance and student growth. The scores are “weighted” for student poverty and for student growth. There are five different ratings as well as a number of stars for each rating. Every school gets at least one star.
When it comes to student achievement, the school scored 9.2 out of a possible 100. The statewide average score is 60.2 out of 100. The school “fails to meet expectations” when it comes to graduation rates, closing the racial achievement gaps and post-secondary readiness.
According to statewide tests to measure student achievement, only 7.5 percent of the students at North Division are proficient or better in English and the Language Arts. Zero percent are proficient in Math at North Division.
Not only has Evers failed to address the problems of Milwaukee Public Schools, critics charge, but he is opposed to Wisconsin’s school choice programs which benefit mostly minority students in Milwaukee seeking to escape failing MPS schools.
Evers’ campaign for governor did not respond to an email with questions concerning the site of Friday’s political rally.
Scott Jensen, a Senior Government Affairs Advisor for the American Federation for Children, said Evers made an interesting choice to campaign at North Division on Friday.
“North Division is certainly a symbolic choice. Tony Evers is running for governor at a failing school that he did nothing to turn around even though he has the authority to do so,” Jensen said. “Meanwhile, not far away there is a choice school that is sending 100 percent of its students on to college and Tony Evers wants to shut that school down.”