Corporate welfare TRUMPS students in Wisconsin

The Overpass Light Brigade held this message in Milwaukee last Saturday night (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Welcome to Wisconsin, where a multinational corporation can walk away with billions of public dollars while our school children go without books and necessary supplies. What a stark contrast this month, as kids across Wisconsin head back to school and teachers are scrambling to get donations for their students and classrooms.

Why is it that when our public schools are starving there is no money to be found, but when a corporation like Foxconn wants to set up shop, Scott Walker and GOP legislators can find $3 billion almost overnight? If Republicans would spend half that amount of energy advocating for our public schools, every child would have class sizes small enough for one-on-one attention, comfortable classrooms with air conditioning, after school programs, modern technology, science labs, art classrooms, and libraries.

In 2012 alone, our public schools faced the largest cuts since the great depression and they have not recovered. Educators foot the bill for science project supplies, classroom furniture, glue, and paper. School budgets are so tight that districts are making difficult decisions about what programs to cut, maintenance projects to defer, and which front-line educator positions must go unfilled.

Walker and the GOP are throwing $3 billion at a shady corporation with a history of broken promises and workers’ rights violations. Foxconn owners compare their workers to animals and the very presence of their factories is synonymous with riots, workers suicides, and violence. Three billion dollars – and the return for our communities (if it happens) won’t even begin until 2045. Just imagine that kind of investment in education. We could invest in our public schools, reverse the teacher shortage, and give opportunities to every child.

The MTEA is for job creation. We are for family sustaining, safe, unionized Wisconsin jobs–none of which are guaranteed with the current Foxconn deal. The only thing that we know for sure is that it will take nearly an entire generation for Wisconsin taxpayers get back the money spent on this deal.

Instead of funding the Foxconn deal, let’s fund our public schools and educators that inspire creative writers, avid mathematicians, influential scientists, and the leaders of our next generation.

We need fully funded public schools, not corporate welfare.

Kim Schroeder
MTEA President

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MTEA President: Educators Denounce Racist Attack in Charlottesville

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association denounces the racist terror attack in Charlottesville, VA. We stand with the resistance to the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups that have swarmed the streets of this normally quiet college town. Make no mistake, these groups have existed in one form or another for generations in the US, but the racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic language and actions of the Trump administration have emboldened white supremacists. It is a short walk from a Trump rally to the proto fascist violence in Charlottesville.

The MTEA recognizes that the very same administration planning draconian cuts to public urban school districts, like Milwaukee, that serve primarily black and brown children would be paving the way for the kinds of right wing violence we are seeing in Virginia. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the racist terror attack. We stand in solidarity with all those who oppose racism and neo-Nazism.

Kim Schroeder
MTEA President

 

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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MPS Administration and School Board’s Budget Shows How Little They Value Educators

MTEA members Gwendolyn Anderson, Crystal Ealy, and Michael Glabere attended a recent school board public hearing on the MPS budget (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

By Kim Schroeder

On May 23, 2017 progressive MPS School Board Directors proposed a modest budget amendment proposal that would have raised MPS’s lowest wage workers to $15/hour by 2022 and included raises for all MPS employees making less than $80,000 a year. The proposal recognized the hard work educators do every day, directly affecting our students. The original budget put forward by MPS administration included no raise or step increases (not even the cost of living), instead saying there needed to be a “pause” on any salary increases.

We thank Larry Miller for introducing the proposal and Tony Baez, Terry Falk, and Annie Woodward for their unwavering support for our districts lowest paid workers and front line educators. All four fought hard in the attempt to pass this modest budget amendment.

Budgets are about choices. Our school board directors had the opportunity to choose our classrooms and our students. We know that the MPS budget is stretched thin, but we also know that investing in the frontline of care for our students strengthens our schools.

On May 23, school board directors Michael Bonds, Wendell Harris, Paula Phillips, Mark Sain, and Carol Voss voted not to support the amendment and instead revisit the budget during a work session in October. October is too late. . Educators across MPS are now faced with deciding whether they can afford to stay in the district.

Milwaukee Public Schools is the largest employer in the city of Milwaukee. School Board Directors who campaigned as progressives in support of a $15 minimum wage need to stay true to their promise to educators. The Milwaukee County Board had the courage to pass a living wage ordinance for all county employees to be paid a minimum of $15 per hour by 2021. But, thousands of Milwaukee Public School educators are left behind, unable to meet their basic needs.
School Board Director Wendell Harris has continued to let us down.  Although he said he supported raises for MPS employees, he flip-flopped on his position, stabbing MPS educators and students in the back. He ran for office as a champion of public schools and our students. His actions show he is anything but.

Investing in the frontline of our classrooms should be a priority. Together MTEA’s members will join with our colleagues across MPS to continue push for steps and raises.

Please reach out the school board directors who voted against the amendment. (Bonds, Harris, Phillips, Sain, and Voss). Let them know that you are outraged at, their unwillingness to prioritize attracting and retaining great educators. They need to put forward a bold budget initiative that invests in the districts most valuable resource–educators. And they need to do it now.

We need a budget that funds the frontline of our classrooms – not one that puts our educators as an afterthought.

Mark Sain
Board President
District #1
414-614-1774

Wendell J. Harris, Sr
District #2
414-587-1329

Michael Bonds
District #3
414-520-3890

Paula Phillips
District #7
414-475-8284

Carol Voss
District #8
414-852-5817

 

MPS Educator Provides Moving Testimony in Support of Budget th… from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

 

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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MPS Students Collaborate on Performance of “The Wiz”

Students from Rufus King Middle School, Golda Meir, and Story Elementary are performing in “The Wiz” this week at RKMS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Classrooms from around MPS were treated to a brilliant performance of “The Wiz” Wednesday morning at Rufus King Middle School. The students of RKMS, Golda Meir and Story Elementary collaborated to make it happen. Check out these photos from their performance.

Photo slideshow below:

RKMS & Golda Meir Students Perform "The Wiz"
There will be a public showing on Friday at 6pm at Rufus King Middle School.

Tickets are $5.00, and can be purchased at the door (121 E. Hadley Street – enter on the Palmer Street entrance). Please come out and support the Rufus King International Middle School Generals, Golda Owls and Story Gators. This is what collaboration looks like!

#MPSproud

Milwaukee Marches for Justice on May Day

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“Say it loud! Say it clear! Immigrants are welcome here!”

Well over thirty thousand students, immigrants, refugees, and workers made a powerful statement on May Day in Milwaukee. The daylong general strike and march, dubbed a Day Without Latinos, called on participants to cease working, shopping, or attending school to cast light on several key issues:

  • Stop Anti-Immigrant State Legislation
  • Allow Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants
  • Fire Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke
  • No 287g (Bill would deputize sheriff officers as ICE agents)
  • Stop Trump’s War & Deportation Budget
  • Health Care for All
  • Fully Funded Public Schools
  • Living Wage Jobs

The day started when Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) students from Racine, Wisconsin joined YES students at South Division High School walking out and rallying outside the school (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Racine Horlick student Fernanda Elena Jimenez spoke to students outside South Division High School (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students held their fists up in the air during student speakers (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students and supporters took a group photo (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

After rallying, students marched to Voces de la Frontera where they met up with the larger march (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The crowd swelled quickly at Voces de la Frontera (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Attendees sprinted under massive parachute banners as they were thrusted up into the air (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A young signholder along the march route (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The front banners position themselves in preparation for the beginning of the march (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students lead the way to start the march to the Milwaukee County Courthouse (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The parachute banners provided beautiful visuals and fun for families along the march route (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A family walks in front of a “No 287g” parachute banner (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students help carry a parachute banner a “Keep Families Together” message (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A view of the march heading up Wells Street to the Milwaukee County Courthouse (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The march arrived at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where a parachute banner was laid down on the courthouse lawn (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Student rally on the steps of the courthouse (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The energy and intensity of Monday’s march and strike demonstrated clearly the people are ready to fight for Wisconsin families and students. Let’s make those in power listen!

Can You Hear Us Now!

Students Ready to March on May Day from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Voces de la Frontera Delivers Demands to Governor Walker

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“Walker, escucha, estamos en la lucha!” (English translation:“Walker, listen, we’re in the fight/struggle.”)

Voces de la Frontera executive director Christine Neumann-Ortiz delivers over 10,000 signatures to Governor Walker’s office demanding the firing of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The immigration rights advocacy group Voces de la Frontera delivered over 10,000 signatures and three demands to Governor Walker’s Capitol office Monday morning.

• Fire Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke
• Block anti-sanctuary legislation
• Support driver licenses for immigrants

After delivering the petition and demands the group held three different 24-foot parachute banners in the stairwell over Walker’s office.

Massive 24-foot parachute banners were unfurled in the stairwell over Governor Walker’s office (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Voces de la Frontera is organizing a nationwide strike for May Day and will be holding a march in Milwaukee on Monday, May 1 beginning at 11:00am. Please join the march if you can! Here’s how you can help.

 

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe brusky

Voces de la Frontera Delivers Demands to Governor Walker from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

NEA Leadership Visits Milwaukee to Learn More About Community Schools

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Milwaukee Public Schools has been getting some well-deserved attention for its commitment to the Community Schools model–which has grown from the advocacy of educators in the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

The district established the first three community schools in 2015 and has now expanded to a total of seven thriving community schools. Early growth shows improved school culture and climate, significant increases in literacy rates in early grades, dramatic growth in school and community partnerships, increased math proficiency in early grades, increased community engagement, and increased college and career pathways for students.

 

Authentic Community Schools link culturally relevant classroom practices with community services, social supports and neighborhood engagement. The Center for Popular Democracy identifies six research-based strategies that allow for greater student-centered learning and community investment. These strategies include: strong culturally relevant curriculum, high quality teaching; shared leadership; community support services; restorative practices; and family and community engagement.

Milwaukee’s early success with the model prompted National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President Becky Pringle, and Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss and members of the NEA Executive Council to visit. NEA’s trip signals the growing interest to strengthen and build the public Community Schools model nationwide.

 

The visit started with a trip to James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC), where the MPS Administration shared successes and challenges with implementing the Community Schools model.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and her leadership team sit at the table with MTEA leadership and MPS Administration to discuss Community Schools in Milwaukee (Photo: Joe Brusky).

JMAC’s Community School Coordinator and Parent Coordinator provided their expertise to the group. These two positions are critical to establishing engaged parents and community for successful school outcomes.

The Community School Coordinator for James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) presented to the group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Following the visit to JMAC, the group made their way over to the newest Community School in Milwaukee, Lincoln Avenue, where the school’s “Lincoln Cheer Team” greeted them.

The Lincoln Cheer Team greeted the group upon their arrival (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Beck Pringle and Lily Eskelsen Garcia react to the festive welcome (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Lincoln Avenue’s parent coordinator showed off the school’s Parent Center. The center provides a hub for parents to increase engagement in the school’s operation as well as expand access to needed resources, such as Internet and laundry facilities.

Lincoln Avenue’s Parent Coordinator shares the early successes with the Parent Center at the new Community School (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Ryan Hurley of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County spoke on how his organization facilitates community partnerships by helping identify and mobilize neighborhood groups and resources. These neighborhood collaborations provide the school with additional support such as access to health services or other critical needs that must be met to ensure learning occurs.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia observes a reading group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Finally NEA leadership got to see the model in action. They toured several rooms, including a bilingual kindergarten classroom. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Becky Pringle, and Princess Moss used the opportunity to work and speak with students to experience how students are excelling. The early results on the Community School model are encouraging, but there’s no greater proof of the model’s success than seeing students thriving firsthand. We know when our students’ needs are met they flourish.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle checks in on a young writer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

As the model grows nationwide, we look forward to making Milwaukee a place for other NEA educators to come and learn about how the model can enhance the quality of classroom practices and increase community involvement. Public community schools galvanize our educators around a vision inclusive of community control of public education which stands in stark contrast to the corporate destruction of our public schools system.

Lincoln Avenue students ask Lily Eskelsen Garcia and MTEA Vice President Amy Mizialko take a photo as they left the school (Photo: Joe Brusky).

 

Learn more about Community Schools here.