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
BarbeeHopkins-LloydPierce
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.

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Come and Learn About Milwaukee’s Four Community Schools

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Community schools are the future for students in Milwaukee. What is a community school? Come and find out!

Join school staff at the four existing MPS community schools, Milwaukee Public Schools administration, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Wisconsin Jobs Now, and participating students as they discuss Milwaukee’s vision for community schools.

Come and Learn About Milwaukee’s Four Community Schools.

RSVP below:
Auer Avenue Community School
Bradley Tech
Hopkins Lloyd Community School
James Madison Academic Campus

May 5 Community School Flyer

What you need to know about the shift to Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) programs in Milwaukee Public Schools

Class-Size-Matters

Written by: Kim Schroeder – MTEA President

Administrators & New Furniture vs. Reduced Class Sizes with more 1:1 attention for Children

Background:
On July 1, of 2015 Scott Walker signed into law Wisconsin Act 53. This law phases out the class-size reduction program known as the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program that provides eligible schools per-pupil funding for each low-income K-3 student. The new law replaces SAGE with the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program. There is no significant difference between the SAGE funding for 2015-2016 and the AGR funding for next school year.

Currently, Milwaukee Public Schools are home to 62 of 325 Wisconsin SAGE schools that receive class size reduction funding for grades K-5 through 3rd. Under the new program, schools that were eligible for SAGE will continue to receive per-pupil funding, but they are no longer under legal obligation to limit class size as long as they incorporate suggested AGR strategies. As a result of the shift to AGR, the MPS administration has proposed an extreme plan to create 62 new positions, which can be teachers or administrators, spend tens of thousands of dollars on classroom refurbishments and eliminate over 120 front-line classroom teacher positions.

 

MPS has softened the impact of their original plan by giving school communities the authority to decide the role of those 62 positions. Who makes that decision is still unclear. And, while every school might want another professional, is it worth losing the class size reduction which has been a hallmark of our early childhood programs in our neediest schools?

SAGE-Schools New

 

There are 4 serious problems with the MPS Administration’s proposal:

 

  1. This plan hurts our children and families

 

Reviews of major research reveal that our children benefit from the 1:1 attention smaller class sizes provide. MPS’s plan will take those needed resources away from our youngest students.

 

Eliminating well over 120 front-line teaching positions and replacing them with 62 positions that could be administrators takes resources away from our children. This plan and its rationale are not student centered. It would take away valuable in-class support professionals that provide one-on-one attention.

 

Research shows that the benefits from class-size reduction are greater for low-income and minority children. Increasing class sizes will only harm our most vulnerable student population.

 

 

  1. MPS’s current proposal would increase class size for students in grades 1, 2 and 3

 

The move from SAGE to AGR does not require larger class sizes and leaves the decision up to each local school district. MPS will still receive per-pupil funding for all 62 former SAGE schools. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) lets school districts decide how to utilize its recommended strategies, which means there is no need for MPS to abandon limits on class size that ensure educators can give K-3 students the one-on-one attention shown to improve student outcomes.

 

  1. The MPS administration is engaging in an undemocratic process by trying to create 62 potential new administrator positions without school board approval

 

The publicly elected school board has the authority to decide how the school year 2016-17 budget will be spent, yet the district posted 62 administrator positions called Early Childhood Program Coordinators on the employee portal before the elected School Board had even approved the shift in personnel.

 

While the exact number of front-line teaching positions that would be eliminated is not provided, a low estimate of 2 teachers per building would eliminate well over 120 teaching positions!

 

 

  1. MPS class size ratios are already higher than nearby districts

 

Families desire communities with well-resourced public schools with small class sizes. When we look at MPS student to teacher ratios compared to other districts, there is a significant issue of disparity. Increasing the current class size ratio will amplify this imbalance and lead to more families fleeing the Milwaukee Public School system.

 

Class size ratio in other districts :

 

  •         Mequon is 17:1
  •         Glendale 16:1
  •         Waukesha 17:1
  •         South Milwaukee 17:1
  •         Milwaukee 21:1


If we eliminate effective class size reduction strategies, how will MPS attract or retain families?

 

MPS could be using the AGR resources in a way that would ensure smaller class sizes in early grades K-3 that are proven to boost student academic achievement.

 

Here’s what you can do:
First, call your publicly elected School Board member and Terry Falk, citywide school board director. Let the Board know the stories of the children in your classroom. Your voices and those of our families need to be heard.

Teacher-Student-Ratio-Meme

 

Second, show up with your parents and community next Tuesday, April 12th at 5:30 p.m. for the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee of the School Board and bear witness to the value of class size reduction for our kids.

RSVP now!

 

Chris Larson Joins Kluge Elementary Kindergarten Class for “Read Across America”

Senator Chris Larson read "Happy Birthday to You! to a kindergarten class at Kluge Elementary on Tuesday (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Senator Chris Larson reads “Happy Birthday to You! to a kindergarten class at Kluge Elementary on Tuesday (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

State Senator Chris Larson joined kindergarteners this morning at Kluge Elementary School for this week’s national Read Across America, an initiative started by the National Education Association (NEA). Students enjoyed having a prominent community guest spend time with them reading from the Dr. Seuss classic, “Happy Birthday to You.”

Senator Larson is well known to MTEA members as a strong supporter of public schools, a co sponsor of legislation to build Community Schools and a fierce opponent of the Takeover of MPS. 

Recap: National Walk-Ins for the Schools All Our Children Deserve

Walk-In_Milwaukee_Cooper-300x169Recap: National Walk-Ins for the Schools All Our Children Deserve

To the thousands of parents, students and teachers who joined the national walk-ins…
THANK YOU!

Last October at the Advancing Racial Justice in 2015 conference in New Orleans, The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools announced the launch of a national campaign to win the schools all children deserve.

After months of planning and building, February 17 marked the first big action in that effort. It was quite the time!

40,000 people participated in walk-ins on and around Feb. 17 at 838 schools in over 30 cities. We want to say a huge thank you to every student, parent, educator and community member who turned out! 

Together we demanded high quality, well-funded public schools, a stop to the state takeovers of school districts, an end to over-testing, accountability for the charter school industry, and racial justice and restorative justice in every school. We sent a powerful message to the enemies of public education, unified our base, and pointed a way forward!

To read more and view video and photos, click here .  Thanks to The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools for posting videos and photos.

National walk-in for public schools: Be a part of history Wed., Feb. 17

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We’ve started a national movement to WALK IN for public schools | Be a part of history on Wednesday, February 17

In September, Milwaukee educators, parents, students and community supporters proclaimed our support for public schools in Milwaukee when we held walk-ins at over 100 public schools in our city to celebrate and reclaim our schools. As a result, we have pushed back school takeover attempts and forced the county executive and takeover commissioner to publicly commit to supporting MPS and to taking over only one empty building.

On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, our movement goes national as families and educators at over 700 schools – in Milwaukee and across the nation – walk in. Together we are standing up against school takeovers and demanding public community schools that welcome and serve ALL children and offer excellent academics, art, music, physical education, libraries, and support services including health care, before- and after-school care, tutoring, and full support for family involvement.

Join us! WALK IN on Wed., Feb. 17, and be a part of history!

RSVP to attend a walk-in at bit.ly/walkinwisconsin

SHARE and INVITE others to attend! Copy this link [bit.ly/walkinwisconsin] into an email message, Facebook status update, or tweet. Include a short message such as “Join me in standing up for public schools in Milwaukee and nationwide on Wed., Feb. 17.”

HOST A WALK-IN AT YOUR SCHOOL. So far, all of the schools on the list below have registered their walk-in event so that participants can RSVP. If you don’t see your school on the list, click here to set up an event.

Academy of Accelerated Learning 

Allen Field 

Auer Avenue  

Barton Elementary 

Bay View HS 

Bradley Tech High School 

Clemens  

Clement 

Community High School 

Congress 

Doerfler 

Elm Creative Arts 

Fairview 

Fifty-Third Street School  

Forest Home 

Franklin 

Fratney School 

Golda Meir  

Grant School

Grantosa 

Greenfield Bilingual 

Hartford Avenue 

Hi-Mount 

James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) 

Kilbourn

King MS 

Lincoln Center of the Arts 

Lloyd Barbee Montessori 

Longfellow 

Lowell Elementary 

M.L King Elementary 

Milwaukee School of Languages 

Milwaukee Sign Language 

Morgandale 

Neeskara School 

New School for Community Service 

North Division 

Parkside of the Arts 

Pierce Elementary 

Project Stay 

Pulaski High School 

Riverside University High School 

Rufus King International High School 

Sherman Multicultural Arts 

Silver Spring 

Starms Early Childhood  

Thoreau

If you don’t see your school on the above list, click here to host an event.