Make MPS a real “Sanctuary School District”

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As educators we know that schools should be safe places for ALL students. Yet, under the Trump administration, our students and their families are living with the fear of being torn apart at any moment.
MTEA is joining with our students organized in Youth Empowered in the Struggle to defend against attacks on immigrant communities. We are gathering signatures in support of a school board resolution that would make MPS a sanctuary district.
As a sanctuary district, MPS will not:
• Cooperate with ICE
• Allow ICE on school premises
• Share students’ confidential information.
PetitionA resolution put forth by school board directors Larry Miller and Tatiana Joseph will be before a school board committee on March 23. If it passes committee the resolution will move to the full board meeting for a vote on March 30, so please be prepared to attend this meeting in support.
If  you are interested in circulating a petition in support of the proposed resolution you can download the petition tear off card  or sanctuary petition and return sign copies to the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association office located at 5130 W. Vliet St. or the Voces de la Frontera office located at 1027 S. 5th St.
You can sign a petition in support below:





MTEA Welcomes Educators at Green Bay Avenue to our Union!

Photo: Joe Brusky

Photo: Joe Brusky

In November, news broke that Universal Academy–a non-instrumentality charter school brought into MPS under former Superintendent Gregory Thornton–was closing 2 of its schools.
MPS converted the campus on N. 8th St. back into Green Bay Avenue, a traditional MPS public school and welcome students and families from both closed universal schools.
Over the next couple of months, nearly 100% of the educators organized at Green Bay Avenue to become members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and have been working tirelessly to improve teaching and learning conditions at their school.
On January 11, 2017 MTEA President Kim Schroeder awarded them with the Sid Hatch Outsanding School Leader award for their advocacy on behalf of MPS students!
Welcome to the MTEA, Green Bay Avenue!
MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the "Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader" award at a recent union representative assembly.

MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the “Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader” award at a recent union representative assembly.

Two WEAC members helping develop new computer science standards

Two WEAC members are on a state committee overseeing development of new computer science standards for Wisconsin schools. Among the members of the State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council, which will oversee the Computer Science Standards Writing Committee, are Heather Mielke of Elkhorn, Math Teacher, Burlington High School; and Lisa Sanderfoot of De Pere, Computer and Information Science Teacher, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon School District.

From the Department of Public Instruction

A panel of Wisconsin experts representing classroom educators, school leaders, and higher education are drafting standards for computer science as the next step in a process to define the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn in that subject during their PK-12 public education.

Computer science standards are the first set of standards that are being developed using Wisconsin’s new standards review process. The process began last August with a public comment period on the need and expected outcomes for computer science standards. The State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council examined those comments and recommended that Wisconsin develop academic standards for computer science.

In authorizing computer science standards development, State Superintendent Tony Evers said, “It is critical that our schools keep pace with changes in what citizens and employers expect from our students and how we teach that material. The technology sector continues to grow in Wisconsin and with that comes an increasing demand for people prepared to work in computer science and related fields. To better meet those needs, the state must provide standards to align how we teach computer science to our students.”

Academic standards, like those being developed for computer science, are a defined set of knowledge and skills that students are expected to know and be able to do. Standards set goals for teaching and student learning that help teachers plan curriculum and develop classroom lessons. In Wisconsin, all state standards serve as a model. Locally elected school boards adopt academic standards in each subject area to best serve the local community.

The Computer Science Standards Writing Committee is working on a set of academic standards that span all grade levels. A draft of the Wisconsin Academic Standards for Computer Science will then be available for a period of open review for feedback from the public, key stakeholders, educators, and the Legislature.

“Rigorous, clearly written academic standards are an important part of setting expectations for what our kids know and learn,” Evers said. “The standards review process gives the public a way to share their thoughts, resulting in a set of standards that reflects Wisconsin’s expectations for its students.”

State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council

  • Mike Beighley, District Administrator, Whitehall School District
  • Kim Brown, Director of Learning, Oshkosh Area School District
  • Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Jill Gaskell of Blanchardville, Member, Pecatonica School Board
  • Anne Heck, Principal, Lake Geneva Middle School
  • Jenni Hofschulte of Milwaukee, Parent, Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Stephen Kolison, Associate Vice-President for Academic Programs and Educational Innovation, University of Wisconsin System
  • Howard Kruschke of Roberts, President, St. Croix School Board
  • Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, Wisconsin State Senate
  • Heather Mielke of Elkhorn, Math Teacher, Burlington High School
  • Carrie Morgan, Associate Vice President, Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Joseph Moylan, Principal, Oconomowoc High School
  •  Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon,Wisconsin State Senate
  • Desiree Pointer-Mace, Professor, Alverno College, Milwaukee
  • Chris Reader, Director of Health and Human Resources, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
  • Lisa Sanderfoot of De Pere, Computer and Information Science Teacher, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon School District
  • Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, Wisconsin State Assembly
  • Connie Valenza, District Administrator, Platteville School District

Report says Wisconsin ranks ‘very poorly’ for Head Start program

Wisconsin is one of 18 states that rank “very poorly” for instructional support in the federal Head Start program for children in poverty, according to a report by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

pupils_at_school_300pxHead Start, the report says, varies dramatically from state to state in funding, classroom hours, teacher qualifications and compensation, observed quality, and enrollment.

“Such differences arise, in part, as local programs have been forced to triage limited funding,” the report states. “This report’s findings underscore the need for greater coordination between Head Start and state and local government agencies to build high-quality early learning programs with widespread reach and adequate funding.”

In Wisconsin, Head Start enrolled 14,847 children during the 2014-2015 program year – about 10 percent of the state’s low-income children under age 5, on par with the national average of 10 percent. Federal funding per child exceeded the national average for Early Head Start (EHS) serving infants and toddlers but lagged behind the national average for Head Start (HS) serving 3- and 4-year- olds, when adjusted for cost of living. Instructional support was below the research-based threshold for effective learning, while emotional support and classroom organization exceeded the threshold. Head Start program teachers earned substantially less than teachers in public schools. Specifically:

  • EHS funding per child in Wisconsin was $12,773, exceeding the national average of $12,575; HS funding per child was $7,663, below the national average of $8,038 when adjusted for cost of living.
  • 15 percent of children enrolled attended Head Start for at least 1,020 hours per year – far below the national average of 42 percent. New standards will require at least 1,020 hours per year of programming by August 2021 to provide children enough time to make strong development gains.
  • Percentage of HS teachers holding a BA or higher is slightly above the national average – 74 percent in Wisconsin, compared to 73 percent nationwide. Percent of EHS teachers with a BA was just below the national average, at 29 percent in Wisconsin, and 30 percent nationally.
  • HS teachers with a BA earned $35,354, and EHS teachers earned $33,845, compared to $54,535 for teachers in public schools.

Head Start is a federally funded, locally administered comprehensive child development program that provides early education and support services to children and families with household incomes up to 130 percent of poverty by federal standards (about $33,000 for a family of four). Head Start serves children ages 3 to 5, while Early Head Start serves infants and toddlers.

Many Head Start programs collaborate with child care and public preschool programs to serve eligible children, including children of migrant workers and tribal families.

The State(s) of Head Start report is also the first to report on Head Start classroom quality by state. Across the country, Head Start teachers demonstrated an ability to provide emotionally supportive environments, and the majority of states also scored well on classroom organization. However, programs in just two states, Kentucky and Vermont, could be determined to score above a research-based threshold for effective instructional support. Eighteen states – including Wisconsin – scored significantly below this threshold. The report also finds variation in teacher qualifications, compensation, and turnover that can create problems for providing effective programs.

The report shows that Head Start programs are not uniformly funded at levels adequate to ensure a high quality learning and development experience and attract and retain qualified teachers while providing all the required services. Large differences in funding between states remain even after accounting for differences in the cost of living between states.

NIEER estimates that federal funding falls $14 billion short of what would be needed to serve all eligible 3- and 4-year-olds in high- quality Head Start programs for 1,020 hours per year (at an average of $10,000 per child). Early Head Start is even further from the funding levels needed to fulfill its expressed mission. Although Head Start grantees are expected to raise 20 percent of their total budget from non-federal sources in the form of financial or in-kind donations, these added resources do not make up for the gaps in the federal funds needed to adequately pay teachers to deliver the expected quality and hours of services.

NIEER’s findings highlight the need for renewed attention to meeting the needs of young children in low-income families in every state.

For more information on the State(s) of Head Start and detailed state-by-state profiles on quality, duration, access, and funding, visit

Read NPR summary:

After 50 Years, Head Start Struggles With Uneven Quality

For more than 50 years, Head Start has provided free early childhood education and other services to low-income families and their children. But new national research, out today, shows great variation from state to state in how well the program works.

Elementary teacher preparation programs showing ‘positive signs of growth’

college_classroom_300pxElementary teacher preparation programs have shown ‘positive signs of growth’ since 2014, according to a new review of 875 programs, issued by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

“Some programs prepare teachers whom parents would love to see in front of their child’s classroom,” the review concludes. “Too many others graduate teachers who still need substantial assistance and experience before they are truly ready for the position they now are authorized to fill. Since 2014, programs have made gains in a few key areas, but still have far to go in others.”

Compared to its previous release in 2014, the NCTQ said programs overall showed “positive signs of growth,” especially with regard to teaching reading. For example, it noted, more programs now include all five research-proven elements of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The percentage of programs that require each element individually also has increased.

The NCTQ noted “strong progress” in these areas:

  • Programs are doing a better job teaching reading instruction. Since 2006, NCTQ has focused on early reading instruction more than any other issue. Now we found the number of programs teaching research-based reading instruction is up to 39 percent, a sharp rise from 29 percent in 2014.
  • Half of all selective programs also report diverse enrollments, showing that diversity and selectivity can go hand in hand. These 113 programs are recruiting new cohorts of teacher candidates who are more racially diverse than the institution at large or the state’s teacher workforce.

NCTQ President Kate Walsh stated that, “When programs improve, the big winners are of course future teachers and the children they will one day teach, but also the programs themselves. They are showing a willingness to change to better meet the needs of public schools. Programs that adopt an evidence-based model of teacher preparation are leading the way for others to follow.”

Despite these gains, undergraduate elementary teacher prep programs still have far to go, the report said, particularly in preparing elementary teachers in mathematics. The weak preparation of teachers may help to explain the low performance of the US in the latest round of PISA testing announced this month, with 36 nations ranking higher in math. Only 13 percent of the teacher prep programs have coursework covering the essential math topics every elementary teacher is expected to teach.

The report said only one quarter of the programs (26 percent) are sufficiently selective, generally admitting only the top half of college goers. However, a number of programs are taking it upon themselves to adopt tougher standards. At institutions lacking strong admissions requirements, the number of undergraduate elementary teacher prep programs which independently require at least a 3.0 GPA for admission has increased from 44 in 2014 to 71 today.

Other areas where the report said programs can improve include:

  • Elementary Content – Only a tiny percent of programs (5 percent) require aspiring teachers to be exposed to the full breadth of content needed to teach the elementary curriculum, including literature, history, geography, and science. For the most part, programs either fail to require any courses in the content or allow candidates to select courses from a long list of electives, many bearing no connection to the content taught in elementary grades.
  • Student Teaching – Student teaching serves as a capstone experience, offering teacher candidates a chance to learn and practice under the guidance of a veteran teacher. However, only 5 percent of programs incorporate the elements of a quality student teaching experience. The vast majority of programs (around 93 percent) accept cooperating teachers suggested by a school district, without knowing much about that teacher’s effectiveness or mentoring ability.
  • Classroom Management – New teachers, in particular, find classroom management consistently challenging. But still less than half of all programs (42 percent) give candidates sufficient feedback on their classroom performance.

Another former Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, now President of the University of North Carolina system, also commented, “These findings serve as reminder to me and my colleagues in higher education that we have a tremendous obligation to our public schools and future teachers. We must and can do better.”

This Review only analyzed undergraduate programs preparing elementary school teachers. Over the next two years, NCTQ will release updated ratings for undergraduate secondary, graduate and nontraditional elementary, graduate and nontraditional secondary, and undergraduate and graduate special education programs.

Read the entire report:

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Eau Claire’s Yvonne Novak recognized for involving students in Holocaust research project

Eau Claire South Middle School Principal Dianna Zeegers (left to right), Literacy Coach Lana Leonard; Social  Studies teacher Yvonne Novak, and GT Coordinator Colleen Morgan are working with students on the Holocaust research project.

Eau Claire South Middle School Principal Dianna Zeegers (left to right), Literacy Coach Lana Leonard, Social Studies Teacher Yvonne Novak, and GT Coordinator Colleen Morgan are working with students on the Holocaust research project.

A WEAC member’s classroom project to gather information about how the Holocaust was reported locally in the 1940s has caught the attention of local media.

Eau Claire South Middle School Social Studies Teacher Yvonne Novak has involved her students in a project sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Americans from all over are doing research and looking at how the Holocaust was reported in everyone’s communities,” Novak told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

About 30 students have volunteered to work on the project, and several said they are learning about the events surrounding the Holocaust earlier than many students and at a much deeper level. In addition, they like the fact that Eau Claire is being represented nationally as part of this important project.

Novak, a member of the Eau Claire Association of Educators (ECAE), told the Leader-Telegram she appreciates that the project allows her students to learn methods of research by exploring primary source documents, and said the project has led to deeper engagement from the students.

Read the entire article in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Poring over newspapers to research the Holocaust

While paging through a book that binded together copies of old newspapers in McIntyre Library’s archives, an article caught the attention of eighth grader Chris Jahnke. Published in UW-Eau Claire’s newspaper The Spectator, the article was entitled “Hitler – The Perpetual Menace to World Peace.”


Co-teaching can benefit students and teachers as well

Sauk Prairie reading interventionist Claire Fallon believes in co-teaching. “Research has shown that even just a different person restating what the first person said can help increase learning in students,” the WEAC Region 5 member says in an article this week in the Sauk Prairie Eagle.

Fallon, who teaches at Tower Rock Elementary School, says co-teaching can benefit all students but also helps her grow as an educator while building trust and communication with other teachers.

“Each teacher comes with their own set of tools in their toolbox,” she says. “With co-teaching we get to share our tools. And I have a very full toolbox.”

The Eagle article quotes Grand Avenue Elementary School Principal Craig Trautsch saying co-teaching also benefits teachers by providing an extra set of eyes.

“We have such a diversified student population that one way of trying to explain something or connect with a student doesn’t always work,” Trautsch said. “Having that second teacher there can make a difference in whether a student understands something or not.”

Another benefit, he said, can be found when a teacher may be absent, requiring use of a substitute. “You don’t have that transitional part for the students because the other teacher can step in and lead.”

Read the entire article in The Eagle and

Teachers share duties, learn from one another in the classroom

Two heads are better than one. That old proverb sums up the co-teaching movement utilized in some Sauk Prairie School District classrooms, and it’s become a philosophy for Tower Rock Elementary School reading interventionist Claire Fallon. “Research has shown that even just a different person restating what the first person said can help increase learning in students,” she said.


Number of home-schooled children has doubled since 1999

A new report by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of children being home-schooled in the United States has doubled since 1999. As of 2012, the report finds, about 1.8 million children were being home-schooled.

Among the highlights cited in the report:

National Totals

  • The percentage of students ages 5–17 with a grade equivalent of kindergarten through grade 12 who are home-schooled — the home-schooling rate — increased from 1.7 percent in 1999 to 3.4 percent in 2012.
  • In 2012, there were an estimated 1.8 million home-schooled students in the United States, which is an increase from 850,000 in 1999, when estimates were first reported.

Characteristics of Home-schooled Students

  • Most home-schooled students were white (83 percent) and non-poor (89 percent), lived in cities or suburban areas and rural areas. Home-schooled students spanned all grade equivalents.
  • An estimated 4 in 10 home-schoolers had parents who graduated from college, while about 1 in 10 had parents whose formal education ended before they graduated from high school.

The Learning Context of Home-schooled Students

  • Nine in 10 home-schooled students’ parents reported that concern about schools’ environments was an important reason for their decision to home-school.
  • Websites, home-schooling catalogs, public libraries, and bookstores were the more frequently cited sources of curriculum for home-schooled students in 2012. Curricula from public and private schools were among the least cited.
  • About a quarter of home-schooled students had parents who took a course to prepare for their child’s home instruction.
  • About a third of middle school-level home-schooled students (35 percent) and a third of high school- level (34 percent) home-schooled students took online courses.
  • Most high-school level home-schooled students had home instruction that included basic algebra (88 percent), earth sciences or geology and biology (69 percent each).

Reasons for Home-schooling

In 2012, the most commonly selected reason for parents to home-school their children was a concern with other schools’ environments, which includes factors such as “safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure” at schools (91 percent). Other commonly reported reasons included, “a desire to provide moral instruction,”(77 percent) “a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools,”(74 percent) and “a desire to provide religious instruction” (64 percent).

Read more from the Washington Post:

Number of home-schooled students has doubled since 1999, new data show

Approximately 1.8 million U.S. children were home-schooled in 2012, more than double the number that were home-schooled in 1999, when the federal government began gathering data on national home schooling trends, according to estimates released Tuesday. The increase was fastest between 1999 and 2007, then slowed between 2007 and 2012, according to the estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics.

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Nation’s Report Card shows state science scores largely unchanged

From the Department of Public Instruction

naep_scienceWisconsin students outperformed the nation in both assessed grades on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment.

Average scale scores for Wisconsin public school students in grade eight and grade four were not statistically different from the last administration of the exam. Small improvements in scale scores of Wisconsin takers across subgroups were seen but the results must be viewed with caution due to the fact that the NAEP uses samples of students and is not a census exam.

When looking at performance for subgroups of Wisconsin students, a number outperform the national averages in grades eight and four. Those include English-language learners (EL) in both grades, males and females in both grades, non-disabled students in both grades, and non-EL students in grade eight. Wisconsin student results showed no statistical difference from other groups of takers nationally when comparing American Indian or Alaska Native students in grade four, Asian students in grade eight, Hispanic students in both grades, white students in both grades, students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals in both grades, and students with disabilities in both grades. Students nationally outperformed Wisconsin when compared across subgroups of black students in both grades and Asian students in grade four.

The NAEP science assessment was administered between January and March of 2015 to approximately 2,500 fourth-graders and 2,300 eight-graders in Wisconsin public schools. Nationally, approximately 110,800 fourth-graders and 107,200 eighth-graders took the test. The most recent administration of NAEP science in 2011 was only given to eighth-grade students. The science exam is broken into three content areas that assess knowledge and skills in physical science, Earth and space sciences, and life science. Because the exam is administered to a sample of students, no results are available for individual schools or districts.

Find a detailed breakdown of scores HERE.

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin No. 1 for black-white science achievement gap

Wisconsin students scored above average in science in 2015, but other states are catching up – and making progress toward closing achievement gaps, according to the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

Wisconsin has one of highest rates of new teachers in the nation

Wisconsin classrooms have one of the highest rates of new teachers in the nation, according an analysis from Education Week.

According to a review of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights, 15 percent of Wisconsin’s public school teachers are in their first or second year, compared to 12 percent nationally.

Education Week says the data, while still under review, are consistent with other recent research pointing to a “greening” trend in teaching over the past 20 years.

“They also raise questions both about the overall stability of the teaching force and the ability of school systems to provide adequate support to so many novices,” the article states.

“It’s a really substantive and serious issue when a district or school is dealing [with an influx of new teachers],” said Susan Moore Johnson, a professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Read the entire article:

New Teachers Make Up a Significant Segment of Profession

Everybody involved in K-12 education knows that new teachers tend to need a lot of extra support. What they may not fully grasp, however, is just how many new teachers are out there. As a segment of the total U.S. teaching force, their representation appears to be considerable.