ON-Lion Letter
More than 70% of Milwaukee residents give their public schools a grade of C or worse, according to Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) polling of city residents who are also unclear about what should be done to improve schools that most say have deteriorated over the past five years.

As part of an in-depth, multi-year project examining the state of K-12 education in Milwaukee, WPRI retained University of Chicago professor William Howell to conduct extensive polling of city residents and their attitudes about a wide variety of education issues essential to the area's health and future.

When asked who they hold responsible for poor performance, 64% of respondents said it was either the parents or the students themselves.  Only 10% held teachers responsible, while only 5% blame the schools as a whole.

The poll finds that the American dream is alive in Milwaukee.  Almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents feel that students from poor families are as able, or more able, to learn academic material as students from wealthier families.  Nearly seven of ten (68%) said they believe urban schools can improve regardless of poverty, while 27% feel that schools cannot improve until the problems of poverty are solved first.

Howell conducted two separate surveys of city residents in 2012, one in March and a second in November.  Each survey included slightly over 600 city residents and responses were weighted according to a variety of socio-economic characteristics.  Respondents were contacted through both landlines and cell phones, and the margin of error was between 5% and 6% for most questions.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports WPRI.
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