EXPLAIN IT TO ME: MPS attack on Carmen charter school Tuesday

Apr 22, 2024 | Wisconsin Voices Blog

April 22, 2024


As people were heading off to their weekend plans, IRG notified local leaders that the Milwaukee Public Schools board will begin a process that would kick 2 Carmen charter schools out of their buildings in 2026.

On Tuesday, the board will vote on a resolution not to renew South and Southeast Carmen’s lease contracts when they run out after 2025-2026. The notice was posted on Friday afternoon. South and Southeast share MPS-owned buildings with 2 MPS schools, renting space from them. As you might expect, that creates space sharing conflict, and the buildings are indeed overcrowded.

However, IRG was the first to report that this process was underway. Neither the schools’ operators nor many local leaders were informed. Considering these charters are Milwaukee Public Schools, this is unacceptable.


Carmen is now a 5-school network of charter schools, all originally within Milwaukee Public Schools. The 2 schools under duress, South and Southeast, remain part of MPS and are subject to the board’s decisions, though they otherwise operate more independently.

Despite the pandemic, Carmen Schools have some real success.

-Carmen South ranks 14th out of 61 schools in Milwaukee on the ACT, including selective private and public schools.

-The low-income Carmen South outscores some Milwaukee suburban high schools’ low-income students on the ACT.

-MPS has a 54% high school suspension rate. Carmen South and Southeast combined have a 9% suspension rate.


Charter schools sharing buildings is a point of conflict nationwide. Alberto Carvalho, the former Miami superintendent who made that large district the nation’s best, just lost a battle on this to the union as Los Angeles Superintendent.

Indeed, the board director who put this on the agenda made doing so a campaign promise on multiple socialist podcasts.


This is the first step in the process, not the final decision. This resolution passing would send it to committee, then to the full board. At this meeting, there will not be public testimony. However, Milwaukee-area residents can still attend and media can still be invited. Additionally, people anywhere can email [email protected], though IRG encourages you to be calm and factual.


  1. Moving would academically and culturally disrupt students.
  2. Finding a new building would be expensive to Carmen’s operators.
  3. MPS would lose rental money from Carmen.
  4. 1 of the buildings would become yet another half-empty MPS school if Carmen left.
  5. There are far more collaborative ways to solve the overcrowding problem.
  6. This is also the board meeting where the board will decide whether to raise their pay.


Unfortunately, too many people care about the type of school that serves students, not how well students are served. IRG believes that it’s a school’s quality that matters and supports high-quality district, charter, private, and home schooling.

If the state Office of Educational Opportunity makes charter school grants in June to a school in your area, you should make sure that your local school board is willing to work with charter operators to be the best collaborators they can be.


“Milwaukee Public Schools has enough problems on its plate: nationally low reading scores and graduation rates, suspension rates soaring in the wrong direction, and critical budget decisions. Everybody, including IRG, needs to help turn that around. Undermining their own charter schools is a baffling waste of time when kids’ futures are at stake. What happens Tuesday sets a precedent in Wisconsin.” – CJ Szafir, IRG CEO

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.

To learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government, click here.