The Myth of the Academic Achievement at St. Marcus Lutheran School

St. Marcus Lutheran School has been extremely vocal and aggressive in its attempt to force MPS to sell them the Malcolm X Academy Campus. A major part of the school’s argument has been the claim that they do an excellent job in educating youth from the local community where the school is located.
The school states that they educate more than 90 percent African American children, 4 percent Hispanic, and the remain ing 6 percent are White. St. Marcus has insisted that its school has superior education results than public schools, yet they do not submit their data to the Wisconsin state “School Report Card”.
However, there is some data available that can be retrieved on St. Marcus, and that is the school’s WKCE scores. The scores from the Fall of 2012 demonstrate a view that does not appear to be consistent with the superior academic achievement that the leadership of the school boasts about. The following reading scores raise a lot of questions. Combined proficient and advanced scores for Grade 3,18 percent, Grade 4, 32 percent, Grade 5, 16 percent, Grade 6, 9 percent, Grade 7, 27 percent and Grade 8, 22 percent.
St. Marcus claims that due to its outstanding academic record that they are forced to turn down hundreds of parents daily who want their children to attend the school. The school has a total student population of approximately 750 students currently.
With the acquisition of Malcolm X, St. Marcus states that the entire local community would benefit from this expansion.
According to the St. Marcus School website, it has already invested $13.5 million dollars into an expansion of the school’s existing campus in the Brewer’s Hill/Harambee neighborhood. Phase I of the two-part expansion doubled the school’s capacity to the more than 700 students it serves today. Phase II, which opened earlier this year, created a much-needed multipurpose space to be used by students as a gymnasium, auditorium, performance space and cafeteria, and is also opened to the community as a public gathering space, volunteer center and programming and resource center.
Yet, its claims that these expansions benefit the entire local community fall short. They do open some of their facilities to select groups such as: the Center for Urban Teaching, Milwaukee Succeeds, WALDE, Brewer’s Hill Neighborhood Association, Pathways for College, Schools that Can Milwaukee, Pastor Urban Conference, Milwaukee Center for Independence and Super Stars Autism Camp. This effort doesn’t begin to impact the entire local community.
The Superintendent of St. Marcus, Henry Tyson, has stated that he does not believe that MPS has plans for the Malcolm X campus, instead he says that he believes that MPS wants to prevent high performing schools from expanding. He also states that the school’s plan is to replicate its high performance record. With the highest combined proficient and advanced reading scores being 32 percent in the 4th grade? You be the judge.
According to Tyson himself, academics do not appear to be the school’s highest priority. He has stated on numerous occasions that the mission of the school is number one. He said in a recent lecture at the Marquette University Law School with Mike Gousha. “We are mission driven to teach these children that they are children of God through grace alone,” he said. “And that kind of message is reflected in the classroom. When they know they are children of God, they learn they have value. And when they know they personally have value, they start to value others.”
With that mindset, Tyson said students are ready to move from being defensive and aggressive to an attitude of love and respect, which translates into the ability to learn.
St. Marcus is unapologetically Christian and follows the teachings of the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, teachings that also include the view that the Catholic Papacy is the “anti-Christ” and that Synod policy includes the belief that “women are not to hold positions of authority over men.”
When asked about these teachings, Tyson instead responded; “We expect all our students to succeed and to live up to and beyond their potential. And we measure that by having all 8th grade graduates ready to excel in high school and graduating within the prescribed four years.”
By the way, combined proficient and advanced reading scores in 2012 for the 8th grade were again 22 percent. Ready for high school? You be the judge.

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