Increased Test Scores Release MPS From Takeover Legislation

kim-banner-copyStatement from MTEA President Kim Schroeder:

Today we welcome an important announcement on the status of the MPS Takeover plan. The Department of Public Instruction and MPS have shared that as a result of improved DPI scores, MPS is no longer at risk of takeover under the current legislation.

The MPS Takeover legislation was one of the greatest threats to public education Milwaukee has ever seen. I applaud every member who worked tirelessly to fight this unjust law through grassroots organizing and direct action. It is because of the dedication and commitment of MTEA members, parents, and community members, that our students are performing against all odds to overcome the effects of failed educational policies.

We know what works in Milwaukee because we are seeing the results of positive, educator-driven initiatives like the Community School model. We see what happens in public schools when parents, communities, students, and educators are empowered to take ownership of their schools to ensure the success of every child. The takeover legislation, which threatened to take away local control, is another example of a failed policy created without the expertise of educators who work in our schools.

Every child in Wisconsin has the right to a publicly funded, equitable, and democratically controlled public school and the MTEA is deeply committed to ensuring every child, regardless of their zip code, has access to the schools they deserve. MTEA members will continue to fight any attempts to threaten the public schools that have the commitment, capacity, and legal responsibility to educate all children.

In solidarity,


Kim Schroeder
MTEA President



Wisconsin Education Association Council President, Ron “Duff” Martin sent a formal letter congratulating MTEA on the news from the Department of Public Instruction.


MTEA President Kim Schroeder’s Statement on Sherman Park Events

Black Lives Matter MTEA Photo

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) joins with our students, parents and members of the community to take stock of this past weekend’s events in Sherman Park. MTEA members know that Governor Walker’s calling out of the National Guard is not a solution. We need community led solutions that empower neighborhoods.

The Sherman Park neighborhood, like much of our city, has gone through decades of declining opportunity: the loss of living wage union factory jobs, redlining, hyper segregation, foreclosures, mass incarcerations, and the growth of low wage jobs lacking health care coverage or security. As educators we know that Milwaukee has been ground zero for over 25 years of the failed school privatization schemes that have targeted low-income black and brown communities, leaving our public schools starving for resources and our children in the crosshairs.

We also know as educators that we play a critical role in the lives of our students and their families. In the coming days our students will come to us with questions. Listed below are some resources recommended by educators that can assist you in your classrooms and with your work with family and community members. Many of these titles can be found in the Martin Haberman Library for Social Justice Teaching in the MTEA’s office.

MTEA members are dedicated to fighting for the schools and communities our children deserve.

In Solidarity,

Kim Schroeder
MTEA President


For White Teachers in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter
Teaching for Joy and Justice by Linda Christensen
Rethinking Globalization by Bigelow/Peterson
Failing our Kids by Swope and Miner
Reading, writing, and rising up by Christensen
Rhythm and Resistance by Christensen and Watson
Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching social justice by the numbers By Gutsetin and Peterson
The Line Between Us by Bill Bigelow
Planning to Change the World: A plan book for social justice teachers

Congratulations on retirement to Libby Mitten

LibbyThe Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association would like the express our deep appreciation to Libby Mitten for her long years of service to the members of our union. Libby began working at the MTEA in 1982 part time to help with mailings and other office duties. After four years, Libby was brought on full time by then Executive Director, Jim Colter. Colter was determined to have her work at the MTEA so he sent her to classes to learn how to type and learn general secretarial duties. Libby has lived in Milwaukee her entire life, even attending Neeskara Elementary School as a child. She lived down the street from the MTEA office on 51st for 46 years. Libby married John Mitten in 1964 and had three children, Jackie, Johnnie and Kelly and 7 Grandchildren, her work at the MTEA included EA and Sub Membership, Committees, Grievances, Misconducts, MOU’s, Assaults, Worker’s Compensation along with working closely with Pat O’Mahar on the MTEA publications, which were then called the Sharpener, Team-Mate and Dispatch. In 2001 Libby became Assistant to the Director of Operations. She is a valuable part of the MTEA Family and she will be missed very much as she begins her retirement. Please join us in wishing Libby all the best in her future endeavors. You can send messages for Libby to the MTEA Building or email


Wisconsin Public Education Network Annual Summit – setting the pace for the statewide fight for public education

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WPEN Second Annual Summer Summit Tuesday, August 23

*New Location* Wauwatosa East High School

Join public education advocates from all over the state for the Wisconsin Public Education event of the summer!

William Barber

In addition to an exciting and action-focused agenda of informational breakouts and strategy sessions, the keynote speakers for this year’s event are North Carolina NAACP President and founder of the “Moral Mondays” movement, Rev. Dr. William Barber and John and Tashia Morgridge. These inspiring speakers will help highlight two key themes of the day: the deep value of supporting public
education and strategies for non-partisan advocacy and action that put our values first and hold decision-makers to a high moral standard. Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Evers, will once again kick off the event.

The Summit is the place to get connected, learn more about the issues facing our students and schools, and learn how you can be a part of the growing movement to support public schools.

Special MTEA Member Registration Offer

MTEA will cover the registration cost for the first 50 members who sign up and bring a parent. Registration costs will be covered for both the member and the parent–this includes lunch. To attend dinner as well, you will need to add “Dinner Only” tickets for $20/person to your registration order.

To take advanage of this special offer, select the “MTEA Member + Parent Combo” ticket option.

Space is limited! Register today!

Click here to register

Here is a summary of the agenda – click here for the full schedule:
  • 8:00-9:00 Check-In and Registration. Coffee/pastry/mingling. Note: Registration is required ($20 includes lunch for those who register online by 8/19. On-site registrations will not include lunch).
  • 9:00  Morning Meeting. Welcome: Dr. Tony Evers, Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • 10:00-12:15 Breakouts (two sessions of concurrent panels)
  • 12:15-1:00  Lunch
  • 1:00 KEYNOTE: Tashia and John Morgridge, “80 Years of Public Education”
  • 1:45-2:45 FEATURED PANEL: Building Bridges in a Time of Divides: Coming Together to Support Our Students and Schools, former Wisconsin State Senators Tim Cullen and Dale Schultz and Madeline Power, 371 Productions, producer of “Whatever Happened to Wisconsin Nice?”
  • 3:00-4:15 STRATEGY SESSION: Local-Level Action with State-Level Impact: Strategies for Coalition-Building
  • 4:30 KEYNOTE (open to the public): Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, “Our Moral Moment: Public Education, Civil Rights, and Democracy”
  • 6:30  Dinner at Tosa Pool (1800 N Swan Blvd, 53226 NOTE: Tickets required).

MPS Board President Mark Sain, Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver issue statement regarding OSPP


June 17 Presser Dr.Driver OSPP


June 17, 2016

To Our Milwaukee Public Schools Community,

We truly appreciate your dedication, time and support to promote and encourage the success of Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students and want to provide you with this update on the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP).

In June 2015, the state legislature passed a law creating the OSPP, which gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele the responsibility to appoint a commissioner who has the authority to transfer an MPS school or schools from the district to the OSPP.

On April 21, 2016, Commissioner Demond Means presented a proposal to MPS with a June 23 deadline for response. We appreciate the desire of County Executive Abele and Commissioner Means to develop a partnership proposal that attempts to limit harm to MPS students. However, as we have examined the OSPP proposal over the past six weeks, we have identified the following concerns:

  • The academic and curricular programming lacks detail and clarity
  • The school funding plan is unclear
  • The school qualitative reviews outlined in both state law and the OSPP proposal have not been conducted
  • The request for proposals seeking a school operator was not issued and steps have not been taken to select a school
  • The OSPP proposal contains elements which contradict the legislation, namely that staff at the OSPP schools will remain employees of the district with little guidance about how this would be compliant with state law

Given these concerns, we recently requested a meeting with County Executive Abele and Commissioner Means to discuss an alternative to the OSPP proposal. We know the fundamental needs of our families include greater access to high-quality early childhood education, sustained resources and support, stable school communities, rigorous curriculum led by strong instructional leaders and having a voice in the decisions that impact their children.

With these critical factors in mind, and given that the qualitative analysis as outlined in the OSPP proposal was not completed, selecting a school would be unfair to school communities because they have not had an opportunity to participate in a qualitative review. We have developed an alternative option that will add value and align with the critical work already underway at MPS:

  • Create a high-quality early childhood education program, addressing a community need acknowledged by local leaders and the Speaker’s Task Force on Urban Education
  • Provide the choice for families to opt-in to OSPP
  • Locate the program inside the former 35th Street Elementary School, which is well suited to serve our youngest learners; it would share a separate and distinct space in the same building with Assata, an MPS partnership school; this is a model that has been used in the past and allows for improved achievement and better student and family engagement and support at both schools
  • Next year, as outlined in the OSPP proposal, would be a planning year, with the program opening in the 2017-18 school year

Improving student outcomes is challenging and much work remains. As a district, we have implemented strategies for school turnaround rooted in collective impact including:

  • Developing intentional, mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Making data-informed decisions
  • Implementing research-based programs
  • Strengthening current infrastructure
  • Maximizing resources and managing our assets

Our efforts are yielding results. More students are earning scholarships with a record-breaking $47.8 million awarded this year; more high schools are ranked among the best in the state and nation; and over 100 MPS schools are recognized for promoting positive behaviors by an independent statewide organization. Community engagement is leading to stronger families and a healthier community. With ongoing support from committed community partners, we will continue to see positive results.

MPS is committed to ensuring that all partnerships bring additional value and enhance our current standard of care. In doing this, we must also ensure our school communities are kept intact and we believe our alternative does just that. We are prepared to discuss this alternative with County Executive Abele and Commissioner Means and will continue to keep you informed throughout the process.

For more information, please visit or call 414-475-8274.


Dr. Driver Signature

Darienne B. Driver, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Mark A. Sain, President
Milwaukee Board of School Directors

MPS Press Conference on Abele/Means MPS Takeover Proposal from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Pierce Elementary First Graders Hold Book Signing Celebration

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How many books did you have published at the completion of first grade? Few people can claim five published works before they even step into second grade, but that’s exactly what the first grade students of Pierce Elementary have done. On Thursday morning, they invited family to school to join them for a book signing celebration.

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The students arrived to the gym to find a red carpet laid out for them leading to the head table where they would be signing their books.


The students welcomed family members to their book signing celebration and described some of the things they learned about the writing process.

The students welcomed family members to their book signing celebration and described some of the things they learned about the writing process.


The students delivered their completed books to their loved ones, while they singing. Very few had dry eyes during this moving presentation.

The students delivered their completed books to their loved ones, while singing. Very few had dry eyes during this moving presentation.


Mrs. Haack, the students teacher, spoke along with several other speakers congratulating the students on their tremendous achievement.

Mrs. Haack, the students teacher, spoke along with several other speakers congratulating the students on their tremendous achievement.


And finally the moment the students have been waiting six months for...time to sign!

And finally the moment the students have been waiting six months for…time to sign!


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Like any great celebration, the students ended with cake.

Like any great celebration, the students ended with cake.

Pierce Classroom Book Signing Celebration from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Sixty-Two Years After Brown v. Board of Education, MPS Students Still Facing Inequalities

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On the 62nd anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Supreme Court education ruling, Milwaukee got a first-hand look into the continued attempts to provide less for the students in Milwaukee Public Schools, who are overwhelmingly black and brown children. During Tuesday’s debate over school privatization at Marquette University Law School forum, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Executive Director (MTEA), Lauren Baker schooled Representative Dale Kooyenga on the many ways his ALEC-model, privatization experiments betray the promise of equal educational opportunities for all children.


On May 17, 1954, the unanimous Brown decision outlawed school segregation policies and eliminated “separate but equal” doctrine. It is clear that Kooyenga’s Takeover legislation is a betrayal of Brown.


During the debate, Kooyenga listed the need for changes in governance as a main reason for his Takeover law–a law which will foster racial and economic inequalities by weakening our public schools and eliminating the promise of education as a civil right. Baker warned the audience that within 5 years, Kooyenga’s Takeover could be taking $41 million out of Milwaukee Public Schools, abandoning the very institution of public education, which is the foundation of our democracy.

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“There’s a model that works, and it has nothing to do with governance,” Baker said referencing the proven Community Schools model. “You don’t have to take schools from their democratically elected school board and hand them to private operators to make that happen.”


Baker also criticized Kooyenga for his efforts eliminating the one school “choice” program in Wisconsin that actually worked–Chapter 220–a voluntary integration program in Wisconsin that transferred students between MPS and suburban districts. Kooyenga later responded by calling the Chapter 220 program “out of date” and “offensive,” showing his complete lack of understanding of that powerful desegregation intiative.


Baker further stressed, “the City of Milwaukee has had more experiments in governance than any other city in the country and for the last 25 years and that has not moved the needle.”


Attacks on education that shift public dollars to unaccountable operators will not lead to greater opportunities for Milwaukee’s children, it will not decrease segregation, or eliminate the inequities in school funding that still exist. Education is a civil right and Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association is committed to defending and improving our public schools to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all.

Lauren Baker Lays Out the Flaws in Wisconsin’s School Funding Formula from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Why I Resigned from the MPS Takeover Advisory Council

Statement given to the press by MTEA president Kim Schroeder–May 10, 2016


County Executive, Chris Abele and Dr. Means invited me to sit on the OSPP Advisory Council. When they first approached me, there was a plan on the table to use an empty MPS building to develop an early childhood program that would be used as a feeder into MPS. I was assured that my participation would be an opportunity to influence the policy and implementation of that plan.

I thought my role was to help develop and improve that plan to move into an empty building in MPS. Instead, Dr. Means brought a proposal the school board that was different than what was ever discussed and without sharing the plan ahead of time with the advisory council.

In addition, Dr. Means’ public statements have been inconsistent at best and I cannot continue to sit on the advisory council that is designed to rubber stamp policies that serve an unjust law and will hurt the children and families of Milwaukee Public Schools–therefore, I am resigning from the OSPP Advisory Council.

MTEA President Resigns from MPS Takeover Advisory Board from MTEA Union on Vimeo.


Commonly Asked Questions about the Means/Abele MPS Takeover Plan

Takeover Czar Demond Means introduces his plan for taking over MPS buildings to MPS administration and the school board (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Takeover Czar Demond Means introduces his plan for taking over MPS buildings to MPS administration and the school board (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

What schools are on the list as potential Takeover schools?

The following MPS schools have been identified for potential takeover:

Alliance Hamilton HSMorse-Marshall
Audubon MSHawthorneNorth Division HS
Auer AveHi-MountObama/SCTE
Bay View MS/HSKagelPulaski HS
Barton KeefeRiverside HS
BEAMKilbournRoosevelt MS
BethuneKing Jr. ElemSherman
Bradley Tech HSLaFolletteSouth Division HS
Brown StLancasterStory
BruceLincoln Center of the ArtsThoreau
ClarkeMacDowellThurston Woods
Carson Madison HSTownsend
Carver MetcalfeVincent HS
ClemensMHSAWashington HS
Community HSMKE Acad. of Chinese LanguageWCLL
Daniel U. PrepMKE Community Cyber HSWestside
EngleburgMKE Sign Language

Takeover Czar Demond Means’ Takeover timeline includes a so called qualitative analysis of these 53 MPS schools which will be used to narrow down the list to 8 schools. Those 8 schools will be more closely surveyed, sites visits will be conducted, and a final list of 3 will be identified for takeover.

What is Means’ timeline for identifying Takeover schools?

●      April 22 Phase I Qualitative analysis of initial 53 schools begins.

●      May 6 – Analysis of initial 53 schools completed.

●      May 10  Phase II survey of 8 identified schools with site visits.

●      May 23 – Analysis of 8 schools completed.

●      May 25 – Schools selected for takeover will be announced.

●      June 29 – School management operator to be announced (Commissioner selects without any oversight)

What will Abele/Means’ Takeover plan do to MPS financially?

The Takeover plan could devastate MPS financially. As students are moved from MPS to the new Takeover district, MPS will lose state aid. In the first year, MPS could lose more than $2 million and by the sixth year, that amount would likely exceed $22 million. That loss in aid would be a catastrophe. MPS is already stretched to the breaking point. A loss of $22 million could mean cuts to the number of front-line educators who work one-on-one with students.

When will the Takeover begin?

The initial launch date for the final selected schools is the 2017-2018 school year.

Will employees at Takeover schools remain MPS employees?

The Takeover law says the Commissioner will terminate all employees of the MPS school and require any individuals to reapply for employment at that school. The new operator of the Takeover school would select the staff. There is no guarantee that the new staff would be MPS employees. Means’ current plan says they would be MPS employees. But, that does not comply with the state law.

Will employees at takeover schools remain Union Members?

If a school remains in MPS and you are an MPS employee, then you can be a union member. If another entity manages the school, you will not work for MPS, will not have your MPS benefits, and will not be a member of the MTEA.

How are Takeover schools different than MPS schools?

MPS Public Schools:

●      Directly accountable to our democratically elected school board.

●      Have public employees / Union members.

●      Have curriculum/instructional materials approved by an elected school board.

●      Are legally required to have teachers licensed in the subjects and levels they teach.

●      Implement the authentic Community Schools model with full fidelity.

●      Are required to provide bilingual education, English as a second language and full services for all of our children.

Takeover Schools:

●      Are not directly accountable to our democratically elected school board.

●      Do not have public employees

●      Do not have curriculum and instructional materials approved by an elected school board.

●      It is unknown if takeover schools are required to have teachers licensed in the subjects and levels they teach.

●      Do not implement the authentic Community Schools model with full fidelity

●      It is unknown if takeovers schools are required to provide bilingual education, English as a second language, and other services.

Will Takeover schools be instrumentality charter schools?

Means’ plan says the Takeover schools will “mirror” instrumentality charter schools. It’s important to note that traditional instrumentality charter schools fall under school board governance. The OSPP gives this authority to Means rather than the democratically elected MPS school board. The Takeover school is in a category of its own and cannot be an instrumentality charter school.

Are Takeover schools Community Schools?

The authentic Community Schools model improves student outcomes by focusing on the whole child through six specific approaches: 1.) culturally relevant and challenging curricula;  2.) high-quality teaching vs. high-stakes testing; 3.) social and emotional services that support academics; 4.) positive discipline practices; 5.) authentic parent and community engagement; and 6.) inclusive school leadership. Means defines community schools as glorified wraparound services.

What is the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) of Chicago mentioned in Means’ plan?

The AUSL is a school management nonprofit currently running 32 Takeover schools in Chicago Public Schools. They run an urban education residency program where they seek non-licensed educators with “no formal training in education.”  AUSL Chicago schools have a “zero tolerance” discipline policy. If AUSL implements a similar policy in Milwaukee, we expect AUSL to push students back into MPS.

AUSL school management practices are the polar opposite of authentic Community Schools and have failed thousands of Chicago students. In 2012 all Chicago AUSL schools were on academic probation and performing worse than Chicago Public Schools on average.

It’s unlikely that the AUSL Board of Directors, largely representing conservative powerhouses such as Goldman, Sachs & Co., the Boeing Company, BMO Financial Corp, and Robert W. Baird, have the best interests of our students in mind.

Could the Takeover plan be a good thing?

School privatization and Takeover districts are not a new concept. For over 25 years, Milwaukee has been ground zero for the school privatization experiments that have failed our children and siphoned over a billion taxpayer dollars into unaccountable operators. The plan Darling, Kooyenga, Abele, and Means are trying to force on Milwaukee has been implemented in other urban areas with disastrous results. In Detroit, a Takeover plan has already cost the state over $70 million.

In just a few years, the Takeover could siphon thousands of MPS students into the Takeover district. As more schools compete for limited educational resources, the new system can divide communities against themselves and collapse the MPS System.

Will there be enough openings in MPS?

AUSL has a proven practice of not hiring qualified veteran teachers and may recruit non-licensed staff that have little to no education background. MPS educators that work in areas that are not in high demand may have a harder time finding an opening. Takeover districts, including Chicago, have seen employment changes and job loss that disproportionately impacted women teachers and teachers of colors.

Takeover Czar, Demond Means, unleashes his plans to begin the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools’ most under resourced schools

 MPS Takeover Czar Demond Means presents his plans to take over MPS schools to the school board and MPS administration (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

MPS Takeover Czar Demond Means presents his plans to take over MPS schools to the school board and MPS administration (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The lines have been drawn. The time is now to stand up for public schools!

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, Demond Means laid out plans to the MPS administration and School Board to begin the initial phases of the MPS Takeover. Means has been appointed by County Executive Chris Abele as the Commissioner in charge of the Takeover plan orchestrated by suburban Republican legislators.

From the very beginning, the Takeover legislation spelled bad news for MPS schools. Modeled after failed attempts in other cities to create “Recovery” districts, the Takeover plan gives Means the authority to strip control of our schools from the publicly elected School Board.

Means’ plan flies in the face of promises made by the County Executive earlier this year, when Abele said he would take over no more than one empty building.

5 Ways the Means/Abele Takeover Plan Undermines your Milwaukee Public School

There are numerous ways his plan undermines Milwaukee Public Schools.

  1. Threatens the Authority of Your Democratically Elected Public School Board

Means sent a strong message that he is ready to use his powers granted to him in takeover legislation to select an operator without any oversight or input from the Advisory Council, MPS, or the democratically elected Milwaukee Board of School Directors. The current plan gives the school board “input” instead of control and limits the Board’s statutory powers. Language in the plan defines MPS as an “active partner” instead of the governing authority.

  1. Creates False Promises

The plan puts forward a distorted version of the community schools model, that does not follow the 6 core tenets of the community school model. Means’ plan cheapens the community schools model by offering a counterfeit that is not research based and could be facilitated by a private religious group instead of the only organization in Milwaukee that has already stepped up to implement the Community School Model, the United Way. The United Way acts as a Community Schools backbone partner in many cities across the nation. In order for community schools to provide the positive results that six million students are already benefiting from these core tenets must be implemented with full fidelity. Our students deserve no less.

  1. Reinforces Inequality

Data show that privately run charter schools serve significantly fewer students with special needs, English language learners and more difficult to educate students. Students are counseled out and pushed back into public schools. The new Takeover proposal seeks to sift and winnow schools through a process to find those with more resources, partnerships, or active programs. Once operational, this plan includes creating school admission requirements and discipline procedures not governed by the MPS School Board. These actions all create an uneven playing field that will continue to draw resources from MPS and create schools that are unwelcoming to all of Milwaukee’s children.

  1. Starves Milwaukee Public Schools of Needed Resources

The plan is unfunded and burdens the district by forcing MPS to reallocate already limited MPS staff and resources to support a new, unaccountable, parallel, school system. Under the Takeover plan, MPS will be responsible for carrying out and funding all payroll functions for schools they have no control over. In addition, MPS will be responsible for conducting and paying for all human capital functions including, staffing, background checks, benefits, pre-placement physicals, and more.

Time and time again, Means has mentioned that there is no dedicated source of funding for this Takeover district; claiming he will rely on philanthropic donations. As Milwaukee children continue to be the victims of failed privatization experiments, it is absurd to ask any parent to place their child into a school that has no budget or funding. True public Community Schools need a consistent funding source and should not be subject to the whims of philanthropic donations.

  1. Exacerbates Milwaukee’s Teacher Shortage

School takeovers in other parts of the country eliminate good jobs that can attract and retain a highly qualified workforce. A recent report, found that nearly half of all Wisconsin teachers that have left their school districts have been from Milwaukee.

It is no accident that this plan will not only starve Milwaukee Public Schools of resources, but it will decrease the pool of highly trained, qualified educators who will choose to teach in the district. This is a coordinated attack to further disrupt public schools and take away local control.

This plan undermines Milwaukee Public Schools and destabilizes our community. Means’ Takeover proposal is a vicious attack on Milwaukee Public Schools.

We will never stop fighting for our students until we have secured fully resourced public schools that educate all children. We will continue to organize with families, students, and communities to resist this assault on public education.