Milwaukee Public Schools Spending $471,073 on 'Black Lives Matter
Milwaukee Public Schools has included nearly a half million dollars for "Black Lives Matter" in its list of expenditures included the 2017 budget proposal it published in Wednesday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Interestingly enough, the district plans to spend nearly as much on "Black Lives Matter" as it plans to spend on College Access Centers, Universal Driver Education, and Advanced Studies of World Languages.
"We’re doing this work because national and local studies tell us young men of color in Wisconsin and Milwaukee are more likely to be represented disproportionally in the justice system and less likely to be represented proportionally in colleges and universities," said MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia.
On page 53 of the District's comprehensive budget, MPS explains that it is partnering with the Black Lives Matter organization "to develop a cultural studies curriculum and provide staff training on restorative practices to improve student attendance, academics, graduation rates and school culture through facilitation of meaningful dialogue and support on issues surrounding race and trauma faced in communities and schools."
So where specifically is that money going? According to the budget:
$471,073 is budgeted to support the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative by collaborating with branches of government, local businesses and community organizations to increase the number of males of color who are succeeding academically and socially. Efforts include ensuring that culturally responsive teaching practices are in place at all schools, enhancing the district vision for student participation in a wide range of after-school activities and supporting trauma-informed care.
"The specific expenditures, which are also outlined in the budget proposal, are for three social studies teachers ($260,889 for salary and benefits for all three) and staff development (training) for other employees ($210,184)," Tagliavia said. "That brings the total to the $471,073 you mentioned."
This raises several interesting questions about just how this money is being spent.
Since MPS's budget lists Black Lives Matter as a partner organization, will Black Lives Matter have input in this "staff development?" Or will it have a role in hiring or staffing the three new social studies teachers? Moreover, will Black Lives Matter have a role in shaping the curriculum that these teachers use?
Tagliavia insisted that "no funding is going to a Black Lives Matter Organization," saying that "the name speaks to some of the issues raised by the movement, specifically racial disparities in education."