MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee city and school officials are working on a deal to turn a former elementary school into an affordable housing complex for teachers.

teacher question marksOfficials are consulting with the local teachers support group, Teachtown MKE, to mimic similar facilities in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans designed to foster collaboration and mentoring among educators, the Milwaukee Courier reports.

The proposed site, the former Dover Street School, is the latest in the district’s strategic reuse of shuttered schools. Other facilities have been reused as schools, or leased or sold to charter schools, according to the news site.

“This is an exciting opportunity to strategically use our facilities – in this case to strengthen the support system for the men and woman having a daily impact on the lives of our students,” Milwaukee Superintendent Gregory Thornton told the Courier.

We have to admit that reason sounds much nicer than Milwaukee district leaders’ main goal, which is to prevent the empty school building from being used by one of their private school competitors, which are supported through the state’s voucher program.

Private schools in Milwaukee have played a critical role in improving educational outcomes for the city’s youth, particularly for low-income students who often struggle in traditional public schools. Demand for the schools has been very high, while opportunities for expanding are hard to come by.

Milwaukee school leaders have made it quite clear they view local private schools as the mortal enemy, and have done everything possible to prevent students from fleeing the public school district in search of something better. In the world of public education, students equal dollars – and local bureaucrats often care more about dollars than their duty to provide quality educational opportunities to the city’s children.

The proposal to transform Dover Street School into a teacher utopia may have merit, but the district’s blatant disregard for other equally or more important educational uses for the building calls into question the real motivations behind the housing project.

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