Wednesday, November 04, 2009

For Tom Barrett, the Challenge of Staying Put

George Lightbourn had a great column in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His point is that Tom Barrett must choose between running for Governor and a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools. The point is that a mayoral takeover, if it is to accomplish anything, must shake up the status quo and afflict the organized interests that have dominated the making of policy in MPS.

Mayoral control won't do that in and of itelf. The idea is that school board elections attract low interest and turn out. In those circumstances, special interests (defined as organized interests with an intense interest in school policy) will dominate. Because more people care about election of the mayor, transferring control to his or her office will make school policy more responsive to the public at large.

Doing that well will almost certainly require upsetting some interests that are rather powerful in Democratic politics, including the teachers' union. If the Mayor must pull his punches in pursuit of an office he does not yet hold, the takeover will not work as intended.

Although Tom Barrett as Mayor would certainly be subject to political pressures, an entrenched incumbent may be better able to deflect them than an aspiring gubernatorial candidate.

I have no idea whether Barrett will run and, of course, most Republicans would prefer that he not if only because there does not seem to be another credible Democratic candidate around. But it remains the case that Barrett, if he stays at City Hall, may have a chance to do something of far greater significance than anything he could hope to accomplish as Governor.

7 comments:

Dad29 said...

Hear, hear.

Barrett is VERY committed to kids and education--but not to the educationalists.

Regardless of the policy implications, Barrett, personally, is ideal for the changeover.

As to the policy, we may differ...

Anonymous said...

Milwaukee has had liberal Mayors for years and that probably isn't going to change.

It's time to be honest and admit that the liberal plan is what screwed up the schools in the first place.

I highly doubt that transferring power is going to do anything but strengthen liberal control. Wait, I would imagine we'll get glowing reports.

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