Educators, students, and community members came together Wednesday to show their support for public schools by walking into school together in a proud and public display of unity. ‘Walk-ins’ were held in dozens of Wisconsin schools, including schools in Green Bay, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Racine, Solon Springs, Onalaska, Sparta and Tomah. They were among dozens of cities throughout the country that participated.
Walk-Ins for Public Schools are a simple and powerful visual reminder of the extreme support that exists for public schools. The Walk-Ins aren’t new to Wisconsin. Last September, Wisconsin educators, parents, students and community supporters in Milwaukee and La Crosse proclaimed support for public schools by holding similar walk-ins at over a hundred schools. The event succeeded in showing the massive support that exists for public schools, stopping the Milwaukee county executive from a plan to turn a large number of public school buildings over to private schools. In the end, the executive publicly committed to supporting Milwaukee Public Schools and only one empty building was handed over to private interests.
For Milwaukee, February’s Walk-Ins for Public Schools continued the struggle to provide all students with the schools they deserve. Wisconsin has enacted public school takeover legislation and there is a new takeover commissioner who has yet to outline specific plans.
In other Wisconsin cities taking part, local public schools are reeling from massive cuts in state funding and an outflowing of millions from public school budget to instead subsidize private schools. The events are a call for public community schools that welcome and serve all children and offer excellent academics, art, music, physical education, libraries and support services including health care, before- and after-school care, tutoring and family involvement.
“Walk-Ins for Public Schools send a strong message that we love our public schools and we stand united against any attempt to turn our public schools over to private operators who don’t serve all children and are not accountable to parents, voters, or a locally elected school board,” said Kim Schroeder, a teacher and president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.
“If we’re serious about improving schools, we need to invest in the public schools that provide opportunity for all children, no matter what their ZIP codes,” said Betsy Kippers, a teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “Time and again, Americans have said they prefer improving public schools to spending scare tax dollars on voucher schools or lining the pockets of independent charter schools.”