Rockford, Illinois News

Report: 30% of Milwaukee public high schoolers failed fall semester

MILWAUKEE — There are new numbers to go along with claims that online classes are leaving school kids in Wisconsin behind.

Milwaukee Public Schools on Wednesday said just over 30% of high school students failed the fall semester.

Data from Milwaukee schools showed 30.3% of MPS high schoolers failed last fall, compared to 18.8% in the fall of 2019.

The difference, besides the huge increase, is that Milwaukee Public Schools were online only in the fall of 2020.

The revelation comes as Milwaukee schools prepare to welcome some students back to class next month. MPS’ board this week approved a return to in-person classes for kids in elementary school and junior high. MPS will bring high school seniors back, but freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will continue to learn from home.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said the decision to keep some Milwaukee students home will only further the achievement gap between city schools and the rest of the state.

“The failure to reopen schools is even more tragic for Milwaukee’s kids than for others throughout the state. Proficiency levels in the district are woeful, often below 10% on the Forward Exam for some schools. Wisconsin’s well-known racial achievement gap is largely driven by a failure of Milwaukee to educate students effectively,” WILL’s Will Flanders wrote in an analysis piece this week. “A year of lost learning has no doubt only served to exacerbate these problems for kids who are already far behind academically.”

Milwaukee’s teachers union, the MTEA, continues to fight a return to in-person classes.

Flanders said the union may be the biggest reason why Milwaukee kids are still not in class.

“The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) has been a committed roadblock to getting Milwaukee students back into the classroom. And in the lead-up to a Milwaukee School Board meeting to discuss reopening, MTEA’s Twitter was full of complaints that schools were not ready to reopen,” Flanders said.

Milwaukee schools are supposed to transition kids back into a four-day-per-week, in-person schedule starting April 14.