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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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.