Hundreds gather to protect MPS schools from takeover

Hundreds of residents of Milwaukee locked arms around Auer Avenue Elementary on Wednesday to send a message to politicians in Madison crafting a takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Hundreds of Milwaukee residents locked arms around Auer Avenue Elementary on Wednesday to send a message to politicians in Madison about the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Several hundred public school supporters – parents, students, educators and community leaders – locked arms in front of MPS’s Auer Avenue School this afternoon in opposition to a school takeover plan proposed by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield).

Participants shouted “Our schools! Our solutions!” and the crowd cheered when Emcee Jamaal Smith told them, “We are here to say NO to the MPS takeover. There is no way we are going to stand back and watch these two legislators – who have no idea about how Milwaukee functions – to take over our schools. We say NO WAY!”

Reagan High School student Paola Gonzalez underscored the need for all schools to support each other when she said: “Reagan is not in danger of being privatized, but I am here to stand in solidarity because once one of our schools is targeted, all of MPS is targeted. Senator Darling and Representative Kooyenga, you do not represent the city. You have no business telling us what to do.”

Auer Avenue educator Ingrid Henry speaks against the takeover of Milwaukee's  democratically elected school board (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Auer Avenue educator Ingrid Henry speaks against the takeover of Milwaukee’s democratically elected school board (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MTEA leader and Auer Avenue teacher Ingrid Walker-Henry said:

“As a teacher, I know how hard it is for children and their families who live in this city. Education is not the only thing on their mind, survival is. If those people who live in the suburbs want to help Milwaukee; they can do this, provide jobs, a living wage, dental care, health care, glasses, medication, mental health support, new schools, and transportation. Until those with the solutions listen and do what is morally right, I can’t take them seriously. So I say this to politicians in Milwaukee and all over the state. I’m not compromising. You will not put into place the same legislation that destroyed Detroit. You will not put into place the same bills that bankrupted the Detroit and the New Orleans public schools. You will not follow Chicago and fire veteran teachers and teachers of color, in order to cheapen the work force. You will not sell our buildings to those looking to profit off of our children. You will not sell our children without a fight. So as a proud MPS graduate I say to the alumni, we need you here to fight for each school. As a proud MPS parent, I say to the parents, we need you here to fight for each school. As a proud MPS teacher, I say educators we need you here to fight for each school. And as a proud citizen of the city of Milwaukee, I say Milwaukee we need each and every one of you ready to fight for each school.”

The Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP's Jamaal Smith emcees the action outside of Auer Elementary (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Jamaal Smith, education chair of the NAACP-Milwaukee, emceed the action. (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The event ended with a call to action and four things that community members can do in the coming week to fight the takeover:

1. Call Chris Abele (414-278-4211), your school board directors, and your state legislators. Tell them we do NOT support the takeover.

2. Organize a School Defense Committee at your school.

3. Attend a rally at Voces de la Frontera on Monday, June 1 at 2:00pm.

4. On Thursday June 4 at 4:15pm, help deliver “no takeover” petitions to Senator Alberta Darling’s office in Menominee Falls.

Click here for a flyer with upcoming events and talking points about why the takeover is wrong for Milwaukee.

Several MPS students held a banner behind the event speakers (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Several MPS students held a banner behind the event speakers (photo credit: Joe Brusky).