Milwaukee Black Lives Matter at School

If this is your first time or your third time participating in the Black Lives Matter Week of Action, the MTEA strongly encourages all members to get involved. In this blog you will find two tracks, Beginner and Intermediate, to help you understand BLM principles, prepare for discussion, and plan lessons. On January 21, at 4:30pm there will be a Black Lives Matter Week of Action Grab and Go, where members can look over resources and take lessons.

If you have a lesson or activity you would like to submit a lesson plan for sharing with other members, please send it by email Ingrid Walker-Henry at to share on 1/21 and to be added to the MTEA BLM shared drive. Black Lives Matter at School MTEA t-shirts are available.

Pledge to take action!

Beginner Planning Track

January 1-18

Getting Ready to Teach

The students at James Madison Academic Campus in Milwaukee made posters for a Black Lives Matter display at the school (Photo: Joe Brusky).

January 19 – 31

Lesson Planning for the Week

February 1 – 7

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Save these dates)

Intermediate Planning Track

January 1 – January 18

Getting Ready to Teach


Preparing for Discussions


Let’s Talk! Discussing Black Lives Matter

Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics with Students

Let’s Talk! Teaching Black Lives Matter

Let’s Talk! Discussing Whiteness

*Transcripts are available

Students at the African Immersion School in Milwaukee during the 2019 Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action Kickoff (Photo: Joe Brusky

January 19-31

Lesson Planning for the Week

Templates for lessons around a week of action for classrooms. These are suggested resources and ideas that may work for your students.

Multilingual Resources

General Resources to Support Discussion (all grades)

Lessons for Early Childhood and Elementary (elementary)

Lessons and Read Alouds (Youtube) by day (elementary)

Principles Writing Prompt (middle and high school)

Readings and Text to Support Discussion (middle and high school)

Topic Specific Week-Long lessons

Teaching about Youth Activism (elementary and middle)

Zinn Project Teach Reconstruction (high school)

The 1619 Project (high school)

Students collectively make a BLM at School banner at French Immersion School in Milwaukee in 2018 (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Art Lessons for Black Lives Matter at School

BLM Coloring Book (elementary)

Understanding Prejudice through Paper Plate Portraits

Principles Poster Lesson- Turning Ideas into Art

Black Lives Matter School Mural

All Early Childhood Resources

All Elementary Resources

All Middle School Resources

All High School Resources

North Division students hold a Black Lives Matter rally and march before holding an interview session with potential school board candidates in 2019 (Photo: Joe Brusky).

February 1-7

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Save the date)

  • Teach lessons
  • Request MTEA social media
  • Social Media, use the hashtags #BlackLivesMatteratSchool or #BLMatSchool on FB/Twitter/Instagram
  • Attend the events
    • February 1, Black Lives Matter at School Pep Rally- TBD
    • February 3, Students Amplified- TBD
    • February 4, Push Out Screening- TBD
    • February 5, BLM at School Open Mic- TBD
    • February 6, Intergenerational Kickback and Snack Night- TBD
    • February 7, Black Stories Matter: A Storytelling Social- TBD

* We are grateful for the work of educators in Madison, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC, and others in creating and compiling lessons and activities for the Black Lives Matter in School Week of Action.

MTEA Bumper Sticker Design Contest

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association is holding a design contest to create a new MTEA bumper sticker. Anyone can submit a design for consideration to be made into a bumper sticker. The design must meet the following parameters to be considered and to be eligible for the winning prize:

Design Parameters:

• Design can be done digitally or on paper and must include the name “MTEA” or “Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association” on it.

• Design must be in the color(s): Red, Green, Blue

• Design must fit the size dimension of 3 inches x 11.5 inches

Must be submitted in-person to MTEA (5130 W. Vliet St.) or sent electronically to no later than 5pm January 15, 2020.

• In addition to design please include: name, email address, phone number, and please indicate whether you’re a student or educator

Winner Will Receive:

• $50 cash prize

• One MTEA green hooded sweatshirt and choice of two MTEA t-shirts in our store (size permitting)

Sample Slogans:

• Red For Ed

• Union Proud

• Union Strong

• I’m Sticking with My Union

• MTEA – Here to Stay

• MTEA: The ❤️ of Milwaukee

• Support Public Education

• Union Strong All Day Long

Winner will be judged by a panel of MTEA leadership and MPS union art teachers

Update on MTEA Meet & Confer with District

President Amy Mizialko speaks with MTEA members following a meet and confer session with MPS Administration (Photo: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration Tuesday for a Meet & Confer session. The session included positive testimony from MTEA members who are Speech and Language Pathologists, Sign Language Interpreters, and Registered Nurses.

Speech and Language Pathologists

Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson spoke on behalf of the speech pathologists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We help organize a recruitment lunch for graduate students in their final year to come and work for MPS. Beside student teaching it’s one of our most popular ways of gaining additional speech language pathologists, but it’s something we have to pay for out of our own pocket. The H.R. process is such a long process we’ve lost people. They said we applied we haven’t heard anything so if they don’t contact an additional person it’s really hard for them to get through the process.

– Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson


MPS has a problem retaining qualified interpreters because we are not paid a competitive wage. As a result we have high turnover. Being an interpreter is a profession. Our career is expensive. On top of a degree, interpreters are required to obtain and maintain certifications and licensure that ensures we are qualified. A specialized license through DPI requires our license to be renewed every five years and we have to fulfill 75 hours of PD requirements to maintain our license. The district offers no relevant PD to us so that 75 hours to maintain our credentials to stay legally employed falls on us.
Maybe the district is satisfied with the idea of the revolving door of private contracted workers, but our students are suffering. Imagine if you had a different regular education classroom with a different substitute teacher every day. It’s a terrible idea. It’s a mess. Our students need stability. We need to hire interpreters and stop spending exorbitant amounts of money on contractors and invest in our own people. A higher salary for interpreters, paid time for prep, a career path with steps and lanes, compensation for our experience and our additional credentials and reimbursements along with our required license fees.

– Brittany Peters and Casey Thomm

Registered Nurses

School Nurse Sarah Gruettner speaks on behalf of the district’s union nurses (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We have registered nurses who are new hires and they are making more than seasoned nurses who’ve been in the district for 5+ years. We have a nurse who started in February 2019 who’s making more money than a nurse who’s been in the district since 2007.”
We have an unfair attendance policy for the department that works the closest with our sick kiddos. When we have sick kiddos with the flu and mom and dad can’t come and get them for five hours, they’re in our office and we care for them. When we get the flu we’re told to use FMLA for it. We’re told we can’t use our sick time without getting in trouble for it.

– Sarah Gruettner

Members spoke to the disastrous effects of MPS eliminating salary schedules which has caused staff turnover to spike and several hundred vacancies. This has cost MPS significant amounts of money and hurts our students. Without salary schedules that are competitive in EVERY job class, we can’t attract the best for our students. Subcontracting further hurts our students and costs the district millions every year.

The district has agreed to salary schedule work groups which will begin in April.

The bargaining team also spoke to our demand for equitable treatment for all MPS workers from our Meet & Confer Platform.

We demand district policies that provide equal treatment to all MPS workers. This includes attendance policies, discipline and due process, pay during school closures, etc.

Then, management said no.

  • No to Time.
  • No to a Bilingual Workgroup.
  • No to our Safety, Climate & Culture Proposal
  • No to more time for Special Education teachers to meet their individualized IEP demands

Our team responded that our students cannot wait.

We have many buildings where elementary principals have thrown up their hands and walked away from their duty to make sure that school buildings are safe, warm welcoming and orderly so educators can teach and children can learn. That is the truth. We don’t believe that you don’t know that. We believe that you do know that. What you do have in front of you are a group of committed, determined, persevering educators who have made this district their professional home and will continue to do so. We are unwilling to walk into another school year pretending that we don’t know what we know about safety, discipline, climate, and culture in our schools.

– Amy Mizialko

Without good faith discussions in these sessions, MTEA members must take the fight to MPS. In less than one week, we can elect a School Board that champions public schools and will create a budget that starts with our students and educators. Click here to RSVP to canvass for the school board our students deserve.

We’ll need to mobilize to School Board meetings, actions and take this budget fight to Madison! Public education workers and our students can’t wait any longer.

MTEA Public Education Workers: Unstoppable Together!

MTEA Bargaining Team (All Photos: Joe Brusky).

On Thursday, March 7th, our MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration to present many of our economic demands. Those demands include:

  •  Salary schedules for every job class with steps for experience and lanes for certifications, licensure, and training
  •  40 hours of work for those workers who want it
  •  No increases to health insurance costs meaning no increase in employee premium payments or co-pays and other out of pocket costs
  •  Health insurance for full-time substitute teachers
  •  A return to the prior retirement formula
  •  The restoration of prior retirement benefits

All of these proposals are part of the MTEA Meet and Confer Platform. Be sure to read the platform and share with other MTEA members in your school or department.

Our MTEA Bargaining Team and other member speakers spoke to the importance of each of these proposals, both for MTEA members and to the future of MPS and its students.

Salary Schedules for Every Job Class

Cory Bova, a teacher at Rufus King High School, spoke to the destructive effect that the elimination of the teacher salary schedule has had on real wages for educators and to the retention of educators in the district. Bova spoke about his own salary and how, going into his 8th year of teaching, he is less than $2000 above the starting teacher salary. That effect has forced many high quality educators to leave the district, going to suburban districts surrounding Milwaukee. Bova pressed Administration to fix the problem so that we are not the training ground for suburban districts but instead become the standard for the whole state.

One Job Should Be Enough

Crystal Ealy, the President of the ESP 150 unit, demanded that every MPS job class be given the respect of a salary schedule with credit for experience and education that benefits students. She drove home that One Job Should Be Enough, and that educational assistants are vital to our students and their education and should not have to work two, three and four jobs. Combined with 40 hours of work for those employees who want to work 40 hours, MPS must achieve real, family sustaining compensation for every worker in the district.

Anita Blue, the President of the ESP-150 unit, “Why do we keep coming back asking the same question: Can we have a decent living wage?”

Full Time Substitute Teachers Deserve Health Insurance

MTEA and the “Fighting Subs” continued the demand for health insurance for every full time worker in MPS. Despite a School Board motion supposedly giving many full time substitutes the opportunity for health insurance, real movement towards our ultimate goal has been obstructed. Alex Brower, the President of our Substitute Teacher unit, pushed MPS Administration to recognize the dignity of the work of our Substitute Teachers, and to immediately move to restore their health insurance benefits if they work more than 30 hours a week on average.

Restoring the past retirement formula and retirement benefits

Rogers Street Teacher Meg Skwierawski, MTEA Deputy Executive Director Ed Sadlowski, and Kilbourn Teacher Shari Redel speak to MPS Administration during Thursday’s Meet & Confer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

MTEA Bargaining Team members, Shari Redel, teacher at Kilbourn and Meg Skwierawski, teacher at Rogers Street, called on MPS Administration to restore the retirement formula and benefits that MPS Administration and MPS School Board took away in  summer of 2013:  55 years of age, 15 years of service and 812 banked sick hours.  They also spoke of how women, the majority of educators in MPS, face significant, unfair obstacles to accumulating sick hours if they choose to have children and/or are primary caregivers for aging parents. Every public education worker in the district, including those hired after summer 2013, deserve retirement benefits.  

For MPS to attract and retain the best educators for MPS students, Administration must move quickly to re-establish real salary schedules with steps and lanes for every job class in the district.  Over 2000 MPS workers earn poverty wages.  To attract and retain the best public education workers in MPS, 40 hours of work must be offered to all who desire 40 hours. For MPS to ensure continuity of quality teaching and learning when teachers are absent, substitute teachers working full time must be given back healthcare benefits stolen from them by previous MPS Administration and MPS school board.  To attract and retain a stable workforce, MPS must ensure that healthcare insurance costs must be held at current levels with no increases to premiums, co-pays or other out of pocket costs.  

MTEA School Board Candidate Endorsements

The following candidates have been endorsed by the members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

Bob Peterson for School Board Member At-Large

Marva Herndon for School Board District 1

Erika Siemsen for School Board District 2

Sequanna Taylor for School Board District 3

Megan O’Halloran for School Board District 8

Vote for our students, vote for our community, and vote for our profession!

For more information visit, the Milwaukee Election Commission.

To find out what’s on your ballot and where you vote, click here. 

This is an 11.0101(10)(b)(1) communication with MTEA members.

Wendell Harris Must Issue Apology for Fake Endorsement Letter

Monday night, MPS board member and private charter apologist Wendell Harris issued a video statement on his personal Facebook page announcing that Governor Tony Evers has decided “to stay neutral” in the MPS District 2 election. On April 2, Harris faces a strong challenge from retired Neeskara kindergarten teacher Erika Siemsen, a strong supporter of public schools.\

It is very unusual for a candidate to go out of their way to announce they have failed to earn the support of a prominent leader. So why would Wendell Harris do this?

Earlier this month, Wendell Harris got caught lying. In a letter soliciting campaign contributions, Harris claimed “Our new Governor and Lieutenant Governor are strong supporters of public education. They are also supporting my campaign for re-election. ”

Representatives for the governor and lieutenant governor confirmed that they had not, in fact, issued an endorsement. More than two weeks after he was caught in his lie, this bizarre video on his personal Facebook page was the best Harris could do to set the record straight. That’s not good enough.

Wendell Harris should issue a public apology and send a corrected letter, with an apology, to the same group of people he told this lie to, ensuring each of them has the same opportunity to learn the truth as he gave them to believe his lie.

Milwaukee Mobilizes Around Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

This week, MTEA is mobilizing for racial justice in public schools by actively participating in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. MPS public education workers are proudly standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by supporting the Week of Action national demands:

    • End Zero Tolerance
    • Mandate Black History & Ethnic Studies
    • Hire More Black Teachers
    • Fund Counselors Not Cops


Kick-Off at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (2/4/19)

The Black Lives Matter at School movement calls on educators to organize for racial justice in education and address the continuing inequities that give way to institutionally racist policies and practices in schools. Staff and students kicked off the 2019 Week of Action at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary Monday. Staff and students gathered in the school auditorium to recite chants, sing songs, and discuss and celebrate Black Culture. (A video from the morning is embedded at the bottom of this blog).

Kick-Off at King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky).

“Raise your hand if you think Black is beautiful. Raise your hand if you think you are beautiful. Raise your hand if you think you matter. If you think you matter raise your hand.
– Recited during the King Elementary Kick-Off Monday (Photo: Joe Brusky)

Monday morning Kick-Off at King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky)


Black Lives Matter Relief Print Display at Madison H.S. (2/5/19)

The history of relief printing is deeply connected to working class social movements and movements for liberation. James Madison H.S. students and their Art Teacher John Fleissner explored different social justice issues that affect their community and drew posters to communicate their ideas visually. Students drew posters speaking out against police brutality and racism, stopping evictions, and celebrating great Black revolutionaries. Students chose one of their posters to transfer to a block of linoleum, carved their block, and printed it. The students know what in society they want to change, they see it all around them. They are learning a visual language to communicate their ideas, and the process of printmaking to make multiples to spread their ideas. More photos can be found here.

Madison student Calvin Brock puts his relief print into the school Black Lives Matter display (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Sincere Glosson holds a print made in Mr. Fleissner’s art classroom (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Khaon Fudge made this print (Photo: Joe Brusky).

John Fleissner and his student Calvin Brock (Photo: Joe Brusky).


North Division H.S. Youth Rally (2/6/19)

North Division High School students organized a youth rally and march Wednesday morning to bring awareness to police, racial and gun violence.

North Division H.S. students march around their school’s block with a banner they made for the day of action (Photo: Joe Brusky).

North Division students hold up solidarity fists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

After marching around North Division several students and community supporters spoke before holding a student Q&A of MPS School Board Spring candidates.

North Division students involved in the group Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) interviewed candidates for school board (Photo: Joe Brusky).



MTEA, MTEA Black Caucus, and MPS Collaborate on Week of Action

The MTEA Black Caucus, MTEA, and MPS sponsored a series of events celebrating the Black Lives Matter Week of Action.
    • Monday: Panel Discussion Examining the Black Lives Matter at School National Demands


    • Tuesday: Movie Screening and Talk-back on “Talking Black in America”



    • Thursday: MTEA Black Caucus Awards Night and Soup Dinner


  • Friday: MTEA Black Caucus Black Lives Matter Social

The Poetry Slam at Rufus King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky).

MPS students and staff shared spoken word, songs, and essays at the Poetry Slam (Photo: Joe Brusky).


Hi-Mount Door Display

We received word Hi-Mount Teacher Kimberlyn Foster was working on a special door display for the Week of Action so we stopped by to take a look. She says the hair will eventually cover the entire wall around the door. She even included a photo of her father who was in the band The Esquires.

Hi-Mount Teacher Kimberlyn Foster poses with her door display for the week of action.


Kimberlyn included a photo in her collage of her father who was in the band The Esquires (Photo: Joe Brusky).



MTEA Black Lives Matter Curriculum Support Plan


King Elementary students take part in a Black Lives Matter event during last year’s National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Are you planning lessons for the Black Lives Matter Week of Action? Here are some resources to help you as you plan.


  1. Start with the James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers,” essay


This essay written in October of 1963 speaks to the need for teachers to be aware of who their students are. It’s a great starting point for all of us to think about how we view the children we teach and why Black Lives Matter.



  1. The 13 guiding principles

This is the link, but we like the PDF version better. It’s easier to digest, and has the principles grouped in a user friendly way.


The Black Lives Matter 13 Guiding Principles are a great place to start when developing curriculum or lessons to help students to learn that Black Lives Matter is a world view that can be embraced by all.

  1. Black Lives Matter in #PHLed Lesson Resources Overview

This is the Black Lives Matter at School official Facebook page


  1. African American Read In Tool Kit, NCTE,

Posted last year, a guide developed by the National Council of Teachers of English to design and implement a read in focusing on issues that speak to Black Lives Matter.

10 diverse Books by YA authors of color to read in 2017

This link to Teen Vogue features 10 high quality young adult novels that will pique students’ interest in reading.


  1. Teaching #Black Lives Matter Teaching for Change

A guide to themes and big ideas that can be addressed within a Black Lives matter curriculum.


*Black LivesMatter at School Teaching Materials
*NEA Black Lives Matterat School Teaching Resources


Let us know how your planning and lessons are going.


MTEA is selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts designed specifically for this year’s week if action. Place your order here and pick up your completed order once we email you that it’s ready.


Free Screenings and Glasses to Help MPS Students Succeed!

A Zablocki Elementary student tries on a new pair of glasses (photo Joe Brusky).

MTEA, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Vision teamed up again this year to provide vision screenings and free eyeglasses to students at Zablocki Community School and Clarke Street school for the Clear Days Ahead program. Every child in both schools was given a vision screening. Students that failed the screening saw a doctor and finally picked out and tried on their new pair of glasses, all from the comfort of their own public school.

Students at Clarke Street Elementary take a vision screening (photo: Joe Brusky).

A Zablocki Elementary student sees a Wisconsin Vision doctor (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Over one third of students at both schools did not pass the initial screenings. Eighty-four Zablocki students needed glasses and ninety-four Clarke Street students were provided glasses. Six students were also found to have amblyopia which can cause severe visual disabilities if left untreated.

A Clarke Street student picks out a pair of frames (Photo: Joe Brusky).

A Zablocki student gets his first glance at his new glasses (photo: Joe Brusky).glance

A Zablocki Elementary student views her new pair of glasses (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Another happy Zablocki student (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Since 2010, MTEA and Wisconsin Vision have helped bring over 1,000 pairs of eyeglasses (value at $270 per pair) to MPS students, courtesy of Wisconsin Vision.

Thousands Protest to Demand a Student Centered Budget

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

In an incredible show of solidarity and strength, well over 3,000 MPS education workers, parents, students, and community members picketed up and down Vliet Street outside of MPS Central Office. Quickly, the crowd grew so large that Vliet St. was closed as the picketers spilled into the street and took over 5 city blocks.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Neeskara and Sherman Elementary school nurse Maggie Mitchell’s sign points out the inequities Milwaukee Public School students face. MPS students are worth thousands of dollars less per pupil in the eyes of the state’s funding formula when compared to their surrounding suburban counterparts. This means nurses have to purchase their own band aids and other materials students need (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).


Workers from all over the city joined the picket. Unions representing transit workers, healthcare workers, electrical workers, communication workers, postal workers, auto workers, delivery drivers, and museum workers all came out to support MPS students and educators in our fight for a fair budget. Many groups representing making up the pro-public education Schools and Communities United coalition were also present.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Educators from Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and the greater Milwaukee area also came out in support.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Massive 24-foot parachute banners were unfurled and carried by the crowd.

Parachute banners painted with messages were walked on the picket. Parachute on left: “Community Schools Build Democracy (with “I Matter” photo. Parachute on the right: “Public Education the Heart of the Community (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students and adults alike run underneath the parachutes as they are lifted up into the air (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The picket was so large, MTEA President Kim Schroeder and Vice President Amy Mizialko climbed up on the roof of the union office to address the crowd.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Their message was simple: These cuts are an attack on every MPS student and education worker in this district and we will reject any budget that does further harm to our schools. It doesn’t have to be this way. MPS has a billion dollar budget, and cuts can and must be made farther from the classroom.

“Specials” refers to art, music, and physical education classes in MPS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A Neeskara School parent with her children highlighting the much-reduced schedule of art, music, and physical education classes in MPS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Click here for more photos from the picket.

To cap off the evening, our entire line headed towards the front door of central office. The doors were locked despite the public school board meeting that was to be held inside. Picketers began knocking on the locked front doors and chanted, “This is a public meeting, let us in!” When the doors were finally opened a loud line of educators, parents, and students streamed through the hallways, chanting to remind the MPS Administration and School Board of our demands.

“This is a public meeting! Let us in!” chant outside MPS Central Office (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Youth Empowered in the Struggle students lead chants inside Central Office and outside the school board meeting (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Chanting through the halls of Central Office (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Even the Rufus King drumline joined in.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our action yesterday showed our strength and demonstrated our commitment to our students. We will continue to fight against cuts that hurt students and education workers.

Where do we go from here?

Here are key dates and events for you to remember as we fight back cuts to students and educators.
Superintendent Driver’s Preliminary Budget Released

– Friday, April 27


Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) Facebook Livestream Reaction to Budget

– Sunday, April 29 at 5pm
MTEA Executive Board Meets to Determine Next Steps

– Wednesday, May 2


Facebook Livestream to MTEA Members

– Wednesday, May 2 at 7:30pm or immediately following the MTEA Executive Board Meeting

First MPS Budget Hearing

– Thursday, May 3 at MPS Central Office (Time to be determined)


Further actions to come to WIN for our students!