The Milwaukee Partnership Academy (MPA) was formed in April 1999 as an Urban P-16 Council for Quality Teaching and Learning when several of the core partners jointly applied for a Title II grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The overarching goal of the Title II grant is to develop a comprehensive teacher education prototype to prepare K-12 teachers to teach in an urban school setting through a strong and unique partnership.
The partnership’s initial focus was to improve the education of children through better preparation, recruitment and retention of teachers. That focus remains; however, it has evolved into a much broader initiative.
As the partnership continued to expand, the partners developed a common mission for children and identified specific areas in which they could jointly work on and take ownership. The broad initiative of the Milwaukee Partnership Academy is to assure that every child in Milwaukee Public Schools is performing at or above grade level in reading, writing, and mathematics through shared responsibility for student success.
In May 2002, the MPA formally announced its goals to the community at a press conference involving leadership from all the core partners as well as state and local government officials. In the fall of 2002, after more than a year of collaborative work, the MPA launched a number of significant initiatives in Milwaukee Public Schools. These included:
• Introduction of a comprehensive literacy framework, a research-proven reading method, as a guide for teaching literacy across all subject areas
• A network of school-based literacy coaches to lead the school-based efforts to promote comprehensive literacy
• New, user-friendly reports to help teachers, administrators and parents monitor student progress
• Planning for a community-wide tutoring and family literacy effort
During the 2002-2003 school year, the MPA continued to work to develop these initiatives while focusing on other collaborative efforts to expand and support the goals of improving teacher education and student learning in all subject areas. An executive director was hired to direct and lead the MPA's work, and the MPA aligned its goals more closely with the long-range goals of Milwaukee Public Schools.
In the fall and summer of 2003, the collaborative efforts of the MPA Partners helped bring in a number of significant new resources to support efforts to improve student achievement. These included a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to improve mathematics teaching and learning; a $17.25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to redesign public high schools; a $5 million Carnegie Corporation grant to improve teacher education; and a $300,000 grant from the Milwaukee-based Herzfeld Foundation to support ten of the school-based learning teams. During the past five years, the top leadership at Milwaukee Public Schools has changed, leaders at core partner organizations have left, and state and community officials have come and gone. New leaders have emerged and committed to the MPA’s work, the partnership has adjusted to the changes, and the MPA’s work of helping all children achieve continues.
For more information on the history of the MPA, refer to the following:
Pugach, M.C., Post, L.M., Anderson, C., Lehmann, R., & Donder, D.J. (2006). System-to-System Partnership as a Reform Strategy for Urban Schools. In J.L. Kinchele, K. Hayes, K. Rose, & P. Anderson (Eds.) The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education, Volume 2 (pp. 555-565). Westport: Greenwood.