ASA at the Launch of the Appointed Board Movement
The shady Advocates for Student Achievement may claim to be a good government group thats solely focused on running good candidates for the MPS board. But early on, ASA tried to find support among some prominent people who were bouncing around the idea of replacing the elected MPS board with an appointed one.
You may recognize some of the folks who were copied on the e-mails that launched the movement for an appointed board:
Bruce Thompson: pro-voucher MPS board member; ASA founder
Dennis Conta: former state legislator who is active in the charter school movement; ASA advisor
Jeanette Mitchell: voucher advocate
Dan Grego: voucher advocate, ASA advisor
Anne Curley: Curley Communication; ASA Leadership Committee member
David Riemer: sympathetic to vouchers; ASA adviser
Deborah McGriff: wife of Howard Fuller, head of Milwaukee chapter of a pro-voucher group
Howard Fuller: ex-MPS superintendent turned voucher program architect; married to Deborah McGriff
John Parr: ex-union official, small and charter school supporter; ASA Leadership Committee
Daisy Cubias: assistant to Mayor Barrett who gave Rudy Giuliani a tour of voucher schools
Sister Joel Read: Greater Milwaukee Committee who's also active in MPS accountability measures
Cindy Marino: head of St. Joan Antida school, which receives vouchers
Kevin Ronnie: pro-voucher candidate who lost to Peter Blewett in 2005
Mike Grebe: head of the ultra-conservative Bradley Foundation
Robb Rauh: works at Milwaukee College Preparatory School, an independent charter school
Tim Sheehy: head of the pro-voucher MMAC
And there are many more
To be fair, not all of these folks were part of this discussion, and some may have wondered why they were receiving these e-mails. But as far as I can tell, this is the e-mail discussion that launched the idea of replacing the elected MPS board with an appointed one. Or as Dennis Conta put it: Hello allI do have a serious proposal: we should abolish the Milwaukee School Board and replace it with an appointed non-partisan board (as non-partisan as possible).
There was a lot of back and forth about this proposal, breaking up MPS into smaller school districts, what CEOs want, how the community can be involved, etc.
But on April 4, 2008, about two hours after Conta made his pitch, ASAs Anne Curley had this to say:
DennisIf it is possible to achieve your proposed solution, that would seem to be ideal. While the current system remains in place, is [sic] seems the only hope for improvement lies in establishing a much more concerted effort to identify, recruit, and develop potential candidates who are capable of providing effective governance.
As many of you know, thats the singular focus of a new organization formed by some of the people involved in Bruce Thompsons successful campaign last year for the city-wide MPS board seat. Called Advocates for Student Achievement, its conducting systematic outreach to leaders of neighborhood-based organizations, parent organizations, and other high-potential referral sources such as the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors and the Urban Leagues Young Professional Organization .
Curley attached some ASA PR material to the e-mail, and asked recipients to surface potential candidates.
Dont know if any of these folks surfaced potential candidates. But its interesting to note that Curleywho doesnt even live in Milwaukeethought shed find allies amid a discussion of the merits of blowing up the democratically elected school board and replacing it with an appointed one.
Also interesting is the list of media folks who were included on the e-mails: JS education reporter Alan Borsuk, an MPS critic who writes approvingly of voucher and private schools; David Haynes, conservative voice on the JS editorial board; former Fox 6 reporter Joanne Williams, who now works for Cardinal Stritch University; and Milwaukee Magazines Bruce Murphy and Tom Bamberger.
Looks like the ASAs aims and those of the voucher, charter and private school movements dovetailed nicelyat least on private e-mails, away from public scrutiny.