We're saying goodbye to the 2011-2012 school year, a year marked by deep cuts and, as even MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton likes to mention, break-neck innovation and reform on the part of his team and the School Board, something that we will continue through 2012 and beyond. We're always aware of how much work there is to do to improve student achievement, regain lost market share among Milwaukee's families, and deliver quality, 21st Century education. The summer isn't a quiet time for us, but rather a time we can meet more easily with teachers and administrators to talk about the coming year and think big with them without the day-to-day pressure of the school year.

The last time I sent an update, I wrote about disruption and innovation, and about doing things that were right and good as quickly as possible because we have no time to waste when it comes to educating Milwaukee's youth. I hope you saw some of the results of my pledge to shake things up, profiled by Alan Borsuk of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this month:

Now, Holman, who represents the southeast side on the Milwaukee School Board, has become a key figure in a drive to increase Montessori offerings in the city - and, in her view, improve the prospects for Milwaukee Public Schools to rebound from the buffeting it has taken for years.

The prospects for a Montessori surge were underscored when a School Board committee voted Thursday to support opening a new program on the south side in September. Isn't this MPS, where the wheels grind slowly? Not in this case.

While it is gratifying to see that others have taken notice of the fact that it's no longer business as usual at MPS, it is even more gratifying to see the results for MPS families. I'm proud to report that last night, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted unanimously to open the new Howard Avenue Montessori School on September 4, giving more than 100 families a new academic home and providing jobs for teachers and support staff in District 8. The strategic planning for more Montessori seats and the development of links to our award-winning Project Lead the Way science and technology programming continues. This is some of the best teaching and learning within MPS, preparing students for Milwaukee's new jobs through project based learning, mixed-age classrooms, and broad improvement in course performance and behavior.

I hope you'll join me on this endeavor to ramp up programming and also at the end of the summer to celebrate the school year and welcome in 2012-2013.