By Brian Fraley | A Dairyland Sentinel Perspective

State Superintendent Jill Underly put out a written press statement today (Thursday) wherein she shared startling, detailed statistics regarding the historic failure of DPI and MPS to educate hundreds of thousands of Milwaukee Public School students over the last several decades. She included information regarding the district’s increased spending and the flow of state aid provided to MPS and how these monies did not get directed to classroom instruction and did not bring about corresponding gains in math, science and reading scores. Underly not only took responsibility for her and her department’s failure, she explained how Governor Tony Evers has also been a part of the problem, dating back a quarter of a century to when he began to work at the Department of Public Instruction. She was critical of the bloat within MPS and expressed frustration that the district didn’t focus on educational basics and continued to fail to prepare a large percentage of its students to lead productive and successful lives after they leave MPS.

Yeah, right.

In actuality, Underly issued a one paragraph statement about MPS. It reads, in part:

“I am confident the MPS Board of School Directors will approve and implement the corrective action plan we sent them today.”

DPI and the governor are upset that the district hasn’t filed the proper financial paperwork with the proper bureaucrats, and that’s where they want to keep the focus. As soon as the MPS Board votes to accept the plan, they’ll get the millions in state aid DPI withheld earlier this month.

Citizens of Milwaukee and all of Wisconsin should be concerned about government transparency. We are right to wonder whether or not MPS has cooked the books and if DPI DPI fraudulently sent them tens of millions of dollars in unwarranted state aid that should have gone to other districts. We need to understand the statewide property tax and budget ramifications of this malfeasance.

But the news media is helping the Evers / DPI / MPS crisis communication political response by not focusing on the larger scandal at MPS. They want the focus to be on inputs, not outcomes.

Why? Simple. the district continues to fail the families they are supposed to serve.

Student performance is abysmal. Test scores and graduation rates and habitual truancy figures are much more important than whether or not some columns in a spreadsheet were incorrectly uploaded to a server in Madison.

Where is that plan? Governor Evers says he’s going to wait for the results of his private audits before suggesting any changes in how MPS is governed. The Evers Audits are reviews whose parameters will be set by his administration, which will not look at DPI’s complicity in the failure of MPS, and haven’t yet even been put out to bid.

There is no timeline for the start and end of this review. It could be years before any structural change comes from Madison.

That’s the whole point. Drag this out. Let things cool off. Ride out the storm.

For what it’s worth, here is the 29-page corrective action plan the bureaucrats have agreed to implement.

The words that never appear in this plan?





Graduation rate



This is a plan about process, not about people, not about kids. It may be needed, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of the scandal at DPI and MPS.

One other word missing from the plan?