So, I'm sitting in one of Milwaukee's public libraries to write this (don't ask why, you don't want to know) and looking around the room. It is filled with mostly middle and high school- aged kids fooling around on computers. But some have books and, of course, cell phones, and most of them seem to be reading and learning.
Milwaukee kids want to learn. Even if they hate school or can't read on grade level, they want to learn things and use what they learn to make money so they can buy things (like more cell phones, iPads, laptops and athletic shoes).
So, it was good to hear Milwaukee's leaders at the Milwaukee Press Club's Newsmaker luncheon at Marquette University, this afternoon, all focus on education as the key to our future. Now all we have to figure out is how to get the "right" knowledge into kids heads, encourage them to look for ways to productively use that knowledge and convince the employers who need the workforce, that city kids CAN do the job. Even if the job in not in the City of Milwaukee.
Mayor Tom Barrett asked how do we "create hope in the lives of young people?" MPS superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton said the children are "listening, they are watching what we do".
Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee said Milwaukee has always been a city of innovation... from "buggy whips to solar water heaters".
The rest of the nation used to look to Milwaukee as the hotbed of educational innovation... now it just looks like educational/ governmental infighting.
Tim Sheehy of the MMAC said we need a city-wide common "report card" on all the kids in all the schools... public, private, choice and charter to show us how our students are measuring- up and where we need to put our educational resources.
And, brand- new Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele hit the nail on the head when he said we must believe we have a great community and find ways to collaborate and cooperate.
The future of Milwaukee is, and always has been, in the hands of its children. There are "leaders" out there waiting to be educated and encouraged. Maybe I am looking at one or two right here in the library.