EXPLAIN IT TO ME: MPS attack on Carmen charter

May 22, 2024 | Uncategorized, Wisconsin Voices Blog

EXPLAIN IT TO ME: MPS attack on Carmen charter


Last night, around 80 speakers on all sides came to testify at the Milwaukee Public Schools board meeting about hostile action against Carmen, a higher-performing charter school network that is a part of MPS.

2 of Carmen’s schools pay rent to share buildings with 2 other district schools, Lenguaje y Bellas Artes and Pulaski. The schools collaborate on academics, extracurriculars, and opportunities. However, there is also overcrowding.

A board member, without speaking to the schools, covertly introduced a resolution to remove Carmen from the buildings in 2026. The teachers union supports it, though it would disrupt students, lose MPS money, and send leaders scrambling to find and renovate a building in just 2 years. IRG was the first to report on the surprise attack against Carmen by its own district.

Carmen and supporters turned out in force, helping fill up an auditorium and a cafeteria. Staff and families spoke of high-level success, uniquely good fit, and convenient location. Even those against cohabitating noted their respect for the school network.

In a moderate victory for Carmen, the MPS board will gather information and wait until June to vote rather than decide next week.


Director Henry Leonard, who oversees 1 of the cohabitations, acknowledged overcrowding, but pointed out the large financial loss that would come from moving Carmen. Interestingly, he also acknowledged that charter schools (implicitly, the predominantly Hispanic Carmen network and predominantly Black Milwaukee College Preparatory network) raise MPS’ performance on state report cards. If charter schools continue to leave MPS due to meddling, MPS would risk 1-star report card ratings from the state, which would allow County Executive David Crowley to take over some schools.

Director Darryl L. Jackson, who likely will vote for Carmen, got angry about the secretive and poisonous way this conversation began.

Director Marva Herndon, who likely will vote against Carmen, likened the situation to segregation and said that something has to be done, offering suggestions.

Director Missy Zombor, who likely will vote against Carmen, justified her introduction of the resolution, agreed to a delay, and asked about solutions in 2024-2025, which would go ahead normally either way.

Director Xela Garcia, who oversees 1 of the cohabitations, talked about sunsetting cohabitation eventually, but objected to the surprise of the resolution and wanted a dignified path forward rather than a hostile expulsion.


The board will decide what happens sometime in June. IRG will keep you updated.

In the meantime, Carmen supporters can reach out (politely) to the MPS board here to avert a hasty expulsion of a higher-performing set of schools. You can also contact County Executive Crowley here, because he definitely does not want to run schools! 

Your voice matters. Watch how scared the board is of the union. Don’t let their voice be the loudest!


“Why is Milwaukee Public Schools trying to bleed money? This week alone, MPS jeopardized their funding for Head Start early childhood programs and debated whether to boot out high-performing, rent-paying charter schools from their buildings. MPS should respect both Carmen Schools of Science and Technology as well as their own bottom line. IRG will make sure Carmen determines its own future.” – CJ Szafir, CEO, Institute for Reforming Government

For questions, reach out to Quinton Klabon at [email protected].


The Institute for Reforming Government is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that seeks to simplify government at every level by offering policy solutions to thought leaders in American government in the areas of tax reform, government inefficiency, and burdensome regulations.