MPS “Black Lives Matter at School” Week of Action Kicks Off

Students at King Elementary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin pose for a photo at their school’s “Black Lives Matter at School” kick-off event on Monday (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) membership voted unanimously to endorse the National “Black Lives Matter at School” Week of Action at the January Representative Assembly. The week of action, which was inspired by 2017 campaigns by educators in Seattle and Philadelphia has gone nationwide this year. The goal is to send a strong message to our students that their lives matter and that their future has a purpose. Here is the resolution that was passed unanimously:

            Whereas the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association has been a local leader in passing Black Lives Matter initiatives at the school and local level;

            Whereas zero tolerance policies and over-policing of our Black and Brown youth has proven to be ineffective in the reduction of discipline, and Restorative Practices has proven to be a powerful tool in the reduction of disproportionate discipline;

            Be it resolved that MTEA supports the national Black Lives Matter at School Week from February 5th to February 11th, 2018 and encourages its members to wear Black Lives Matter shirts during the week and teach lessons that address the School-to-Prison pipeline, Black women empowerment, Black LGBTQ community and Black History.

MTEA was invited to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary and Rufus King International High School on Monday for the two school’s kick-off events. Check out some of the photos and video we captured from those two powerful events.

King Elementary students were welcomed to their kick-off with student drumming (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MTEA member and King Elementary teacher Angela Harris organized her school’s kick-off (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students recited their school’s key principles which King Elementary entitles their “Kingian Values” (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

King Elementary students engage in their kick-off event activities (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The King Elementary “Kingian Values” (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A group of students at Rufus King International High School kicked off the week of action constructing this Black Lives Matter display on their school fence line out of disposable drinking cups (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students add the final exclamation point to their message (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A final photo in front of their message (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

End the School-to-Prison pipeline (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

We will continue to feature events happening in MPS around this week of action on our public Facebook and Twitter accounts so be sure to check back and share the great work MTEA members are engaging in to positively affirm and publicly support our students.

Week of Action Updates:

French Immersion students were busy Wednesday creating an all-school banner for the #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool national week of action. The completed banner will be used for an all school gathering with parents and community Friday. 

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

On Tuesday, students and staff at Rufus King High School wore the faces of victims of police brutality. We cannot forget the names and reasons for why we’re acting to positively affirm and publicly support our students.
Thanks to MTEA executive board member and Rufus King teacher Kelly O’Keefe-Boettcher for sending this powerful photo of her with her students.

Photo credit: Kelly O’Keefe Boettcher

Rufus King staff and students met and mapped out activities for the entire week.

Photo credit: Kelly O’Keefe Boettcher

The staff at Golda Meir – Lower Campus wore their new MTEA Black Lives Matter t-shirts to school Wednesday. Thanks for standing strong for your students!

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

What a beautiful sight! Check out the staff of Samuel Clemens wearing their Black Lives Matter shirts at school Wednesday.

Wedgewood educators wore their shirts on Wednesday!

Photo credit: Julie Meyer

The staff of Congress School proudly wore their #BlackLivesMatter shirts for their students Thursday. Thank you!

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

MTEA member and Douglass School art teacher John Fleissner worked with his students on a project for the week of action.

Hawthorne School staff holding it down for their students on Thursday (Photo credit: Hawthorne educator Arnold Branch).

The work of MTEA members has not gone unrecognized as Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza tweeted her support and the Washington Post also highlighted MTEA’s work.


Teaching resources, including lessons for the week of action can be found here.

MTEA Black Lives Matter t-shirts can be ordered for local pick-up at the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association office.

#BlackLivesMatter at School Kick-Off in MPS from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Milwaukee Teacher Removed From School Board Meeting for Testimony

Milwaukee public School teacher Ingrid Henry-Walker had her microphone cut and was escorted out by security for expressing her opinion at a board meeting Tuesday night (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Public school districts are strongest when they collaborate and work together with parents and community members. To facilitate a healthy and democratic school district, school board meetings need to be accessible to the public and allow for constructive criticism.

The uptick in reports of publicly elected school boards restricting citizen comments is disturbing. Taxpayers should be able to openly criticize school district decisions, whether it’s a policy around recess, raises, or rent. Public voice should be heard and valued.

This week a video of Louisiana teacher Dayshia Hargrave went viral. Hargrave was speaking at a local school board meeting when her testimony was abruptly cut off and a law enforcement officer aggressively handcuffed her. Her violation: questioning the superintendent’s raise while other district educators had their pay frozen.

Louisiana teacher Dayshia Hargrave was violently handcuffed and arrested for simply expressing her opinion at a school board meeting.

A similar scene played out in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. Ingrid Walker-Henry, a Milwaukee Public Schools educator and the co-chair of a local coalition advocating for public schools in Milwaukee, testified against a lease extension for a private MPS charter school. While the committee chair, Michael Bonds, allowed off-topic and unsubstantiated testimony from supporters of the private charter, he abruptly cut off Ingrid Walker-Henry’s mic for speaking too broadly about the need for fair market lease rates on private charters that use public buildings.

Once her microphone was cut, Walker-Henry turned to the crowd and used her teacher voice to finish her testimony before she was escorted out of the building by district security.

Here is Walker-Henry’s full public testimony that was not allowed by School Board Director, Michael Bonds:

“We are calling on MPS to be more responsible with taxpayer dollars. There needs to be a fair market value lease rate that is charged to privately owned and operated charter schools.

School Board Minutes from 2006 reflect that MPS once had a board approved charter rate of $12/square foot. The current lease for Carmen Northwest is less than half of the 2006 board recommendation and some of the other charters come in at even less.

This raises serious concerns about the way you negotiate leases with private operators.

Last year, Universal Academies taught the District a hard lesson about these leases:
• The original leases approved for Universal in 2013 were for 5 years. Green Bay paid roughly $400,000 per year, Webster $380,000 per year and the Lee campus was for just $101,000 a year.

• In April 2016, the board actually lowered the lease rates for two Universal locations for the 2016-2017 school year.

• And as we all know, Universal DID NOT operate its fifth year in 2017-2018. They turned in their keys and abandoned some of the most economically disadvantaged students in our city. As a result of Universal’s failure, the district only received approximately $1 million total from each school, about half as much as the lease was for.
• The closing of Webster cost the district an additional $1 million.

We need privately owned and operated schools to pay a fair market value. I hope the school board revisits the entire policy regarding non-instrumentality charter leases to make sure they are paying their fair share and are not doing harm to the 76,000 students and families you were elected to govern and are responsible for and not the bad partners like Carmen who is actively working to put a city charter in the same building as one of your public schools.”

Democratic school boards have a moral obligation to provide a forum where local citizens can give meaningful input, both positive and negative, about the actions of the district.

MPS Hosts “Year of the Arts Kickoff” at Red Arrow Park

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“Art, I believe, can be a powerful force that can truly bring us together.”

– MPS Superintendent, Dr. Darienne Driver

Milwaukee Public Schools hosted its “Year of the Arts Kick-Off” at Red Arrow Park on Thursday afternoon. The district featured the artistic talents of students and guest celebrity artists visiting and instructing students in the district this year. The celebration of arts comes from a 2016 federal initiative to increase quality arts programming in U.S. schools. Four MPS schools were chosen – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lancaster, William T. Sherman Creative Arts, and Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. MPS invited the community, “Learn, listen, see and taste how we’re redefining the MPS Experience for students, staff and the Milwaukee community through Year of the Arts!”

This piece was called “Where We Come From.” Students from Lincoln Center of the Arts 8th grade bilingual program worked together to create Keith Haring inspired paintings celebrating their histories and showing how they come together at LCA. The class is led by LCA teacher and MTEA member Jennifer Engel (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The event featured student artwork performances by the Rufus King Drumline, the Milwaukee High School of the Arts Jazz and Choral Ensemble, student poetry, spoken word, dancing by the Hayes Bilingual group Ballet Folklórico, and appearances and performances from several of this year’s guest celebrity artists.

A student from Stillwaters Collective presented some powerful spoken word (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Poetry from an MPS student (Photo: Joe Brusky.

Students from the Hayes Bilingual Ballet Folklórico perform a beautiful dance routine (Photo: Joe Brusky).

A student from the Hayes Bilingual Ballet Folklórico performs (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Celebrity artists include:

  • Jacqueline Suskin, a poet and writer from Los Angeles (Martin Luther King Jr. School)

L.A. poet/writer Jacqueline Suskin not only attended the kick-off, but also attended and performed at the Sankofa-Sebai Mural Dedication at Dr. MLK, Jr.. Elementary in the evening on Thursday (Photo: Joe Brusky).

  • Johnny Nuñez, a celebrity photographer from New York (Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts)

Celebrity photographer Johnny Nunez recorded his introduction on livestream (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Johnny Nunez also took photos during the event (Photo: Joe Brusky).

  • Speech, a Milwaukee recording artist best known for belonging to the band Arrested Development (Lancaster School)

Todd Thomas, better known by the stage name Speech of Arrested Development is introduced by MPS Superintendent Driver (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee recording artist Speech speaks to the gathered crowd (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Speech of the band Arrested Development performed a song (Photo: Joe Brusky).

 

The event commenced with MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver acknowledging the painful past of Red Arrow Park, and inviting Dontre Hamilton’s brothers Nate Hamilton and Dameion Perkins to stand and be recognized for their courageous activism in response to the 2014 police murder of their brother.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver greets those in attendance (photo: Joe Brusky).

Dontre Hamilton’s brothers Nate and Dameion are recognized and honored for their activist work to bring their brother’s killer to justice and work for justice in the city of Milwaukee (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Dameion and Nate stand as Supt. Driver introduces them (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee World Festival president and CEO Don Smiley was also on hand to, announce the group would host a citywide student art festival on the Summerfest grounds next May. Students and their families will also receive art “passports,” giving them entry to many art venues around the city. It’s exciting to see the cultivation of arts and artists in Milwaukee being given this exciting platform to showcase their work!

Don Smiley, president and CEO of Milwaukee World Festival, announced it would host a citywide student art festival on the Summerfest grounds in May (credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Public School educators know their students are multi-talented and the Turnaround Arts Program continues to not only showcase our students’ ability, but also enriches and expands our students’ capacity to creatively express themselves in new and different ways. We look forward to seeing the results as the year progresses.

Supt. Driver snaps a selfie during the kick-off (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Students from Dr. MLK, Jr. Elementary enjoy the event (Photo: Joe Brusky).

More student work on display (Photo: Joe Brusky).

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Summer Organizers Recruit Nearly 500 New Union Members

The MTEA Summer Organizers hold a banner outside the MTEA office (photo: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Summer Organizers hold a banner outside the MTEA office (photo: Joe Brusky).
It was another successful summer for the Wisconsin Summer Organizing program.
This year, the National Education Association hired summer organizers in nine Wisconsin union locals to recruit new union members and identify and develop member leaders.
Our twelve MTEA summer organizers had incredible success educating people about the value of our union. Thank you to everyone who welcomed them into your schools and worked together to grow membership.
Across the state nearly 500 union members were recruited, 190 of them into the MTEA. To honor their success we put their photo on the cover of our 2017-18 MTEA date book.
Thanks again to the 2017 Summer Organizers!

A group photo of Summer Organizers from around the state. This group signed up nearly 500 new members!

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Substitute Teachers ARE Teachers

Members of the Milwaukee Substitute Teachers’ Association (MSTA) hold signs outside of Milwaukee Public Schools (Photo: Joe Brusky).

By Alex Brower, Milwaukee Substitute Teachers’ Association President

 

Substitute teaching is not for everybody. I am in my sixth year as a substitute teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. Every day I am reminded of the tremendous rewards working in public schools. It is wonderful to see a student’s face light up when they figure out a problem or can answer questions about what path they should take in the future. But substitute teaching is still a very challenging job. Taking over another educator’s lesson plans at a moments notice takes talent. It is a challenge, even for the most veteran teacher, to walk into a classroom of unfamiliar students and gain their trust. Classroom teachers spend weeks and months building trust with their students, learning how to connect with them and unlock their potential.

Substitute teachers in MPS have been under attack for years. The previous MPS Administration made sure to shred every last ounce of dignity away from professional substitutes–taking away our health care, sick days, and other benefits that full-time MPS employees receive. Without any type of security, who would want to make the leap into substitute teaching?

MSTA Secretary Terri Brookshire (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Without any incentives to attract and retain substitute teachers, MPS has been reduced to scavenging for substitute teachers through a temp agency, which is not a long-term solution to a teacher shortage. It is reprehensible and sends the wrong message to educators, families, and our children. Not to mention, the temp industry is unregulated and leaves workers with little protections.

MPS students deserve professional substitute teachers –teachers who enter the classroom ready to teach and inspire every single day at a moment’s notice; professionals with resources, mentoring, and support, who believe in our children and the MPS mission. The temp industry cannot provide this–only MPS can. Substitute teacher work needs to be done by educational professionals who are part of the MPS family.

MSTA President Alex Brower (Photo: Joe Brusky).

To attract the substitute teachers our children deserve, MPS needs to offer a quality health care plan to substitutes who make teaching their profession, and end the privatization of substitute teacher work. The temp agency contract with the district expires September 30, 2017 and the School Board has the opportunity to end the substitute hiring provision.

The substitute teacher members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association are ready with solutions to end the substitute shortage. Will the MPS School Board and MPS Administration listen?

Take Action!

• Attend the September 12 school board meeting and consider submitting oral or written testimony in support of MPS subs.

• Contact your school board director and tell them you support subs:

Milwaukee Board of School Directors Contact Information:
Mark Sain, Board President, District #1 414-­‐614-­‐1774
Larry Miller, Vice President, District #5, 414 -­‐469-­‐9319
Wendell J. Harris, Sr, District #2, 414-­‐587-­‐1329
Michael Bonds, District #3, 414 -­‐ 520 -­‐ 3890
Annie Woodward, District #4, 414 -­‐ 510 -­‐ 9079
Tony Baez, District #6, 414 -­‐ 550 -­‐ 4283
Paula Phillips, District #7, 414 -­‐ 207 -­‐ 4817
Carol Voss, District #8, 414 -­‐ 852 -­‐ 5817
Terry Falk, Member At -­‐ Large, 414 -­‐ 510 -­‐ 9173
• Sign the petition embedded below:

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We Must Defend DACA!

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By MTEA President Kim Schroeder

As educators, we have a moral obligation to protect ALL students. We must support the movement to defend our immigrant students and all undocumented people from Donald Trump during this time of injustice.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides renewable permits for nearly 800,000 DREAMers who live, study, and work in the United States–a program that provides opportunities to many of our students. Instead of offering an immigration process that allows a path to citizenship for DREAMers, Trump continues his crusade against immigrant families. His decision to end DACA is especially threatening to our students who haven’t turned 16 yet and are waiting to apply. 

Trump’s decision to end DACA furthers his white nationalist agenda and threatens the opportunity many of our students have to an education.

Students and supporters rally to defend DACA in Racine on Tuesday evening (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

You can show you support with the following:


In the coming days students and their families may be looking to you for strength, courage, and answers. Please continue to be vocal in your support of justice for our students and all immigrants in this country.

Marching to save DACA in Racine, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

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Let’s Welcome Our Students Back in Style

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our students experience a wide range of emotions on the first day of school, and let’s face it so do educators. What better way could we start the year off for all of our Milwaukee Public School students than lining the front school entrance along with educators, school support staff, and any other supportive community members that want to cheer our students on. Let’s get the year started off in a fun and celebratory way.

If you’re interested in having your school participate on the first day of school please contact:
Joe Brusky at bruskyjb@yahoo.com so we can add you to the event campaign map that will help publicize and build buzz for your school’s welcome back event. Or create your own event page below:

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Milwaukee Public Schools Send Seniors Off in Style

MPS Seniors were treated to a “Senior Send-Off” at North Division on Friday to celebrate their new endeavors in the fall (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MPS College & Career Centers organized the 2017 MPS “Senior Send-Off” for seniors graduating and attending college in the fall. Seniors and their guests attended the sunny and warm event on the football field at North Division High School on Friday.

Upon entrance, seniors were given a backpack with useful college supplies and offers as well as a special t-shirt that students could customize with their graduating high school and the college they’re attending in the fall.

 

Seniors recorded the name of their graduating MPS high school and the name of the college/university they will be attending in the fall (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Seniors proudly show the schools they will be attending in the fall (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Demetrace Jude is a proud MPS mother (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Seniors were treated to a catered picnic lunch of hot dogs, brats, burgers, veggies with dip and fresh fruit.

Seniors and their guests enjoyed a catered picnic lunch (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

The event included games, college-friendly raffle prizes, a picnic lunch, and dancing. Seniors earned tickets from the games that were entered into a raffle filled with dorm friendly items to take to school and start the year off on the right foot.

Students played games where they earned entries into a raffle to win prizes (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Photo credit: Joe Brusky.

Donated raffle prizes await MPS college-bound seniors (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A happy raffle winner (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

All the raffle prizes were donated to the event (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Every student left with at least one raffle prize (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Several vendors, including The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County and City Year had tables set up to provide information to seniors.

The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County provided voter information and stickers to students (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Two seniors were also presented with a “Senior of the Year.” award. This award was given to students that took full advantage of the district’s College and Career Center’s services and because of their self-advocacy were more than prepared to take on the next academic challenge in their lives. This year’s winners were Matthew Avendano and Jesse Frye. Great work to the both of you!

Winners of the “Senior of the Year award were presented plaques, new laptop computers, and other dorm-friendly gifts (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Congratulations to all MPS seniors and best of luck in whatever the future holds for you. You make us #MPSproud!

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MTEA President Kim Schroeder Reacts to Proposed $90 Million Cut to Proposed K-12 Budget: Our Students Will Suffer

MTEA President Kim Schroeder speaks to a crowd outside the Milwaukee Joint Finance Committee public hearing on the two-year state budget, where overwhelmingly public education supporters demanded a per pupil increase for K12 funding (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MILWAUKEE – June 6, 2017 – Today the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) president, Kim Schroeder, released comments on Assembly Republicans’ alternative budget proposal that would cut $90 million from the Governor’s already modest K-12 budget and reduce the per pupil funding by $50 per student.

The following statement can be attributed to MTEA President Kim Schroeder:

“Since Walker’s Act 10, Wisconsin students have experienced the greatest cuts to public education since the great depression. The decision to disinvest in public education has resulted in severely understaffed and under-resourced schools, not just in Milwaukee but across the state. From Milwaukee to Shawano, educators are supplementing a significant portion of their classroom materials with funds from their own pockets.


“Wisconsin students and educators cannot suffer one more cut. In a district with over 75,000 students, reducing the Governor’s budget proposal by $50 per student would result in $4 million less to spend on resources that have a direct impact on our students.


“All children have the right to attend fully funded public schools with professional educators, class sizes small enough for one-on-one attention, libraries, safe playground equipment for recess, current technology and textbooks. Every Wisconsin student, regardless of their zip code, needs Wisconsin legislators to commit to at least $200 in per pupil.

“Budgets are about choices. Over and over again we heard parents, educators, and community members testify in support of increased funding for public schools. We call on state legislators to choose our children in this state budget and fully fund our public schools with a minimum of $200 in per pupil funding.”

For over 50 years, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association has been a champion for public education in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association represents over 4,600 educators and support personnel who make Milwaukee’s public education system possible. MTEA, an affiliate of the National Education Association and is the largest educator local in Wisconsin. Learn more at mtea.weac.org.

Statement from the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) can be found here.

Public education advocates painted a banner in February calling for the full funding of public schools in Wisconsin (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

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Craig Montessori Students Organize Peace March

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

“I don’t know what you’ve been told! The violence is getting old!”

– Chant from the Craig Montessori students

The fifth and sixth grade students at Craig Montessori School made posters and banners for a Peace March outside school on Monday afternoon. The students waved their signs for passersby to see in an effort to bring attention to violence in the city of Milwaukee. Thanks to teacher Kenneth Spears and MTEA member and teacher Christina Disterhaft for helping facilitate this important action with your students!

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our future is bright!

 

Flickr album with photos from the Peace March can be found here.

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