Wisconsin Teacher of the Year joins other top educators at ‘Teach-In for Freedom’ in El Paso

Sarahí Monterrey at the El Paso Teach-In

Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year – and WEAC Region 7 member – Sarahí Monterrey joined dozens of other state teachers of the year and hundreds of NEA members last weekend for the “Teach-In for Freedom,” an all-day event organized by Teachers Against Child Detention (TACD) to protest the inhumane detention of children at the Mexican border and the criminalization of immigrant families.

“The Teach-In in El Paso was a powerful experience because teachers were united to be a voice for the over 10,000 children who are in detention centers across our country,” Monterrey told weac.org. “This was not a protest but rather an opportunity to educate the public about immigration policies and the effects of these policies on children. 

“It was powerful to come together with educators from across the country who shared lessons on various aspects of immigration,” she said. “There were also community organizations present who are doing tremendous work to advocate for immigrant rights, and they provided excellent resources to the public.”  

Monterrey, interviewed by PBS News Hour, said the impact of the administration’s immigration policies reaches deep into her classroom in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She said she sees effects of trauma in her classroom, with students saying they are sad, can’t concentrate or have stomach aches.

It’s very difficult for students to learn,” Monterrey said. “And it’s very hard because, sometimes, even as an educator, it’s hard to find the right words of what to say, because, sometimes, I do feel helpless.”

With support from WEAC, Monterrey traveled to El Paso to participate in the teach-in, which was led by National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning. The goal was to shed light on the impact of child detention policies on the border, which TACD calls a “moral disaster.” The teach-in focused on the harm immigrant kids experience when separated from their families, and aimed to educate the country on why these families have fled from their home countries and how Americans can welcome them legally and contribute to their ongoing care and integration. 

NEA Today also covered the event, noting that educators and others have been outraged by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating immigrant and refugee children as young as 18 months old from their parents.

“Detained in more than 100 government detention centers across 17 states, these children have been denied access to public education, and likely will suffer irreparable, lifelong psychological damage, educators said. The practice also violates their fundamental right to seek asylum,” NEA Today reported.

In honoring Monterrey first as the State High School Teacher of the Year and then as Wisconsin’s representative for National Teacher of the Year, the Department of Public Instruction noted that, as a child immigrant from El Salvador, Monterrey recognizes the pivotal role teachers play in students’ lives.

“The power in making students feel welcome and safe cannot be underestimated,” she said. DPI noted:

Monterrey’s work on inclusion includes the visible, “Dreamers Welcome” and “This School Welcomes You” posters. Not as visible, but just as important, are her extra efforts to ensure a curriculum that is representative of various backgrounds so students feel inspired; her work to improve family communication so parents understand they are part of their student’s success; and her outreach to ensure that English learner (EL) students have access to extracurricular activities and support to be ready for college.

Watch the PBS News Hour report on the El Paso Teach-In:

Amid immigration debate, top teachers gather to protest child detention

Some of the nation’s top teachers recently gathered in El Paso, Texas, to speak out against the government’s practice of detaining children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Dismissing the notion that they shouldn’t get involved in political advocacy, teachers said they see some U.S. policy and procedures as “abusive.”

Read the NEA Today report:

At the Border, Teachers Protest Detention, Separation of Children – NEA Today

On a makeshift stage in El Paso, Texas, former Texas Teacher of the Year Leslie Anaya delivered a message to the roughly 15,000 immigrant children who are held captive in federal detention centers, where they are denied an education and separated from their mothers, fathers, and anybody else who loves them.

Read more about Sarahí Monterrey:

Sarahi Monterrey named a 2019 High School Teacher of the Year

MADISON – In a surprise ceremony at her school today, Sarahi Monterrey, an English Learner teacher at Waukesha North High School, was named a Wisconsin 2019 High School Teacher of the Year. State Superintendent Tony Evers made the announcement during an all-school assembly.

Watertown School District recognizes “Discipline with Dignity’ work by WEAC members Pam and Tim Suski

Pam and Tim Suski

The Watertown School District is recognizing WEAC members Pam and Tim Suski for their work with the “Discipline with Dignity” program that has demonstrated success through compassion and high expectations.

“Often our students who regularly struggle to make good choices at WHS have challenges at home,” the Suskis say. “We want to provide positive support and high expectations for both academics and behavior. Through this program we show that we believe in them and expect excellent behavior — because they are capable of it.”

Read the entire school district newsletter article:

‘Discipline with Dignity’ Focuses on Compassion and High Expectations

The “Discipline with Dignity” program launched in September 2017 with support from a Watertown Way grant is finding success using positive support and high expectations for students who make poor choices.
 
“Discipline with Dignity” aims to go beyond “punishments that are punitive” to a plan that is focused on the “whole child” so:
 
·    Negative behavior declines with more meaningful consequences
·    Recidivism rates drop
·    Students complete academic work during “restorative” time
·    Students become more connected to WHS and Watertown itself
·    Academic achievement and positive behavior improve, setting students up for more positive futures. 
 
Understanding students’ stories
Program leaders Pam and Tim Suski say they understand there are deeper reasons why students make poor choices. Often our students who regularly struggle to make good choices at WHS have challenges at home. We want to provide POSITIVE support and HIGH expectations for both academics and behavior. Through this program we show that we BELIEVE in them and expect excellent behavior — because they are capable of it. We have brought consistency to the restorative time program, earning students’ trust, so they are more willing to work with us and talk with us about their struggles. 
 
During the first hour of restorative time we work on academics and in the second hour we work on social skills/empowerment activities to help them become better members of WHS and the City of Watertown. We also “recruit” our toughest cases who consistently skip detentions (because they want out-of-school suspension) and have them serve time in an in-school suspension with a retired staff member who strives to build positive connections. As they work through this new system, we hope they see that we respect them, and they will then have more respect for the building, teachers, peers,and most importantly — themselves.
 
We were graciously awarded a $4,800 Spark! Health Grant from the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation; we are using those funds to purchase items for building, cooking and recreational projects and compensate teachers for their help with this project.
 
‘Restoration Hours’ include Skyward review, activities
The kids have responded well and seem to like the calm, consistent manner of “restorative hours” on Thursdays. Each week we look up their grades on Skyward to help direct them towards what things they need to do to pass their classes. We have also started with recreational and cooking activities in the first half of the year, and we will now be moving to some small building projects as well as outside projects in the Peace Garden in the spring. The hardest part has been trying to get our students who struggle the most to “buy in” to the system, and sit down to work on school work and/or talk with us, but we keep trying! Overall, due to a variety of changes at the high school, not just from our program, the number of discipline referrals is down.
 
The highlights are watching the kids find success with work and see that they CAN accomplish assignments and that people truly care about their success. It is also wonderful to see kids accept rules, consequences, and high expectations for behavior, as they realize that teachers and administrators care for them and want them to make great choices for future success. It is also great to see these kids interact positively with each other as they learn to play euchre, play an intense game of Uno, bake cookies, decorate for Homecoming or Prom, or work together to accomplish some building project. They feel more connected with the school overall.
 
Slowly, over time we know that our high expectations for them, their academic performance, and their behavior show that we care — and we won’t give up on them. If we can turn just one kid around who is walking a rough path, then we feel we have succeeded.
 

Angela Hayes is latest WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed winner!

Angela Hayes

Congratulations to Shorewood teacher Angela Hayes, the latest winner of our WEAC Badger Red for Public Ed promotion! The honor goes to WEAC members in appreciation for their dedication to students. Recipients are treated to a UW Badger athletic event.

Angela will get VIP treatment at the February 18 UW Badger basketball game against Illinois at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Angela, a WEAC and Shorewood Education Association (SEA) member, is an Elementary Art Teacher, entering her 12th year in the profession. Currently teaching art to Atwater Elementary students, Angela has always been a proud union member, even as a part-time educator.

“I love my job, my students and families, staff and community that supports the Arts,” Angela says. “I believe that a visual arts program should be child-centered and developmentally appropriate, providing sensory engaging opportunities for children to tell their stories that fosters aesthetic behaviors and lifelong inquiry.”

Angela shared the picture below of herself and her students when they toured the Elizabeth Murphy House in Shorewood, designed by Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright as part of her Fourth Grade Art Curriculum.

Visit weac.org/badger to nominate yourself or another deserving educator for a chance to win a drawing for Wisconsin athletic events throughout the school year.

NEA joins Everytown for Gun Safety, AFT to call on lawmakers to adopt proven strategies to make American schools safer

The National Education Association is joining the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and the American Federation of Teachers to call on lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby and take immediate action to finally start protecting our schools from gun violence by implementing strategies that are proven to help improve school safety. The organizations have released a report, available here, that includes new data detailing gun violence in American schools, and provides clear guidance for lawmakers to support policies that have proven to be effective at preventing gun violence and supporting safe and healthy learning environments.

Gun violence in schools is a complex issue, and the report provides a clear roadmap for how to tackle the problem from multiple angles, outlining strategies proven to help improve school safety, including:

  • Policies proven to help keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them in the first place, such as responsible firearm storage laws, laws that raise the age to purchase semiautomatic firearms and requiring background checks on all gun sales;
  • Red Flag laws, which allow families and law enforcement to intervene and temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns when there are clear warning signs they pose a threat to themselves or others;
  • Improving the physical security of schools with proven tactics like installing internal locks and limiting the number of entry points and who can enter schools;
  • Supporting the health of students by creating safe and equitable schools and by providing more counselors to help increase mental health services and social emotional support in schools; and
  • Intervention strategies that can be implemented by school districts, including threat assessment programs that train educators how to safely and effectively intervene when there are signs that a student is in crisis or poses a risk.

“There is nothing more important than protecting children, and providing every child safe, nurturing environments for learning is vital to upholding that promise,” said Becky Pringle, Vice President of the National Education Association. “Gun violence haunts far too many communities and has infiltrated far too many schools. Thoughts and prayers simply aren’t enough to keep our students safe. We must do better. This report sheds light on the stark realities around school shootings. Lawmakers can no longer sit on the sidelines as children die. They must find the courage to act now to provide common sense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators.”

“We can’t expect America’s students to learn and thrive if they don’t feel safe — and we can’t expect them to feel safe if we aren’t doing everything humanly possible to prevent school shootings,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “It’s time for lawmakers to support school violence solutions that are grounded in proven interventions — not political calculations.”

“When the safety of our kids is at stake, we must consider every possible solution to gun violence in schools,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “That means focusing on the approaches that are proven most effective: providing schools the necessary staff and resources to address students’ mental health needs; empowering educators and law enforcement to intervene when students show signs they could be a danger; and keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them in the first place. If other countries have solved these problems, so can the United States. But we have to want to listen to law enforcement, educators, parents and students, rather than the gun manufacturers and their allies. This report offers important new data about the horrific school shootings that have plagued our communities, and details interventions with real track records we can do right now — including safer firearm storage laws, stronger background check requirements, and basic school security upgrades to help make schools safer.”

MORE INFORMATION:

The report also provides a comprehensive overview of what gun violence in American schools looks like, exploring key statistics such as:

  • Since 2013, there have been at least 405 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 109 deaths and 219 injuries.
  • The majority of incidents of gun violence in K through 12 schools — 56 percent — are homicides, assaults and mass shootings. Since 2013, these incidents have resulted in at least 73 deaths and 174 non-fatal gunshot injuries.
  • Approximately 20 percent of gunfire incidents in K through 12 schools were unintentional, resulting in at least one death and 32 non-fatal gunshot injuries.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge to the American public. Learn more at www.EverytownResearch.org.

Wisconsin educators deserve credit for rising graduation rates, Martin says

WEAC President Ron Martin on Tuesday praised Wisconsin educators for the key role they played in helping raise graduation rates.

“Tremendous credit for high graduation rates is due to Wisconsin Public School educators who are working harder in more difficult conditions,” Martin said. “There is still much work to do to close gaps, and educators are already implementing solutions through our union. We stand ready to partner on addressing this critical issue with families, administrators and elected officials.”

Below is the news release from the Department of Public Instruction:

Students in the class of 2018 graduated at higher rates than their predecessors. The overall graduation rate jumped a point from the 2016-17 school year to 89.6 percent. Four-year graduation rates improved from the prior year for most subgroups of students as well.

“Congratulations to the class of 2018. A high school diploma is a ticket to the future,” noted State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “Graduation is to be celebrated because it improves students’ opportunities for better jobs, income, and further education, which contributes to life success.” 

There were some notable gap closures for some subgroups of students. The largest gap closure was 5.1 points between 2013-14 and 2017-18 for students learning English and their English proficient peers, though this may be due to changes in criteria for exiting English learner identification. English learners in the class for 2018 had a graduation rate of 70.1 percent compared to 90.2 percent for English proficient students. For economically disadvantaged students the gap closed 1.6 points over five years.

Economically disadvantaged students in the class of 2018 had a graduation rate of 80.2 percent compared to 94.5 percent for students who are not economically disadvantaged. By race and ethnicity, notable graduation rate gap reduction over five years was 3.7 points for black or African American students, 3.6 points for Hispanic students, and 0.5 points for Asian students. 

“Disparities in graduation rates by race and ethnicity and for English learners, students with disabilities, and students from economically disadvantaged families are truly troubling,” Stanford Taylor said. “We must persist in our work with schools and communities to close gaps.” 

The high school graduation rate counts only students who earn a regular diploma. Students are assigned to a cohort year when they first enroll in a Wisconsin public high school, which for the class of 2018 would be students who started high school in the 2014-15 school year. Graduating in four years or less is the standard for federal graduation rate reporting. 

However, Wisconsin’s Constitution guarantees young people the right to a public education from the ages of 4 to 20. Additionally, federal law requires educational services for students with disabilities, if needed, until the age of 21. Thus Wisconsin calculates five-, six-, and seven-year graduation rates to honor the additional time and effort of students who, due to illness or injury, personal or family events, or lifetime or temporary disabilities, need longer to complete their high school education. 

For 2017-18 data reporting, the five-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 91.5 percent. The six-year rate for the class of 2016 was 90.6 percent, and the seven-year rate for the class of 2015 was 92.5 percent. 

For a more detailed chart, click here.

Sun Prairie’s Sandra Kowalczyk is Wisconsin’s Global Educator of the Year

From the Department of Public Instruction

Sandra Kowalczyk

WEAC Region 6 member Sandra Kowalczyk, a Sun Prairie middle school reading specialist, will receive the 2018-19 Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year award in a brief ceremony January 16 during the Patrick Marsh Middle School all staff meeting in Sun Prairie. 

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor will present the award, commending Kowalczyk for her work to bring an international perspective to her classrooms and community.

“Developing global competence takes time. Sandra captures and sustains middle school students’ attention through global literature and face-to-face opportunities to learn from people of other cultural backgrounds,” said Stanford Taylor. “She is generous with her time, sharing successful practices with fellow educators here and across the world.” 

Fellow teachers, parents, colleagues, friends, or students can nominate a teacher for the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes those who provide high-quality learning opportunities for students and make exemplary contributions to the profession as it relates to global education. In addition to her classroom use of literature to awaken social justice and cultural experiences, Kowalczyk brings international guests to the classroom and school community and facilitates the Go Global Club, an after-school opportunity for students. A parent who supported her nomination noted that Ms. K prepares students to have the cultural curiosity, understanding, and skills needed to be a young global citizen. 

Kowalczyk graduated from Wild Rose High School and traveled to the former Soviet Union at age 17. Since catching the travel-learning bug, she has visited five continents, gaining experiences and insights to share with her students. Her professional commitment to global education brings artists and authors into her classes and community. She builds relationships with schools abroad and shares her work through state, regional, national, and international education events.

To qualify as the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year, a teacher must cultivate students’ global awareness, promote growth of global competencies, model and engage colleagues in best practices for global learning, and employ innovative approaches to building global knowledge and skills. The Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year is selected from among nominees by the State Superintendent’s International Education Council. The recognition includes a $1,000 honorarium from Madison area Rotary Clubs. 

Kowalczyk is a former Wisconsin Middle Level Teacher of the Year and serves on the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year Council. She received the Association for Middle Level Education 2018 Educator of the Year Award at the association’s conference last October. She earned National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification in 2009 in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood. 

Baraboo educators send strong message: There is no room for hate

WEAC Region 5’s Baraboo Education Association members knew they wanted to send a strong message after a widely criticized photo of students who appeared to make a Nazi salute went viral in November.

The image raced across social media platforms on a Monday morning. “When your week starts with a public rebuke from the Auschwitz Memorial Museum in Poland, you know you’re in a bad place,” said Kari Nelson, an English teacher at Baraboo High School and BEA President. “We immediately recognized that our response, as a union, had to acknowledge the world’s shock and distress, but that it also needed to be a visible message in our respective school buildings.”

The BEA Executive Board sprang into action, promoting a “No Room for Hate” T-shirt fundraiser to benefit the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, the first of many groups to condemn the photo. The T-shirt’s stark message? No room for hate. This classroom. This school. This community. This state. This country. This world. 

The BEA pledged a matching gift of up to $500, but after 180 members of the Baraboo School District’s staff joined the fundraiser, the final donation rose to $2,100.

“The Auschwitz Memorial Museum was one of the first international organizations, dedicated to educating the world about anti-Semitism and the horrors of the Nazi death camps, to publicly rebuke our students, school, and community and to offer their educational resources to us,” Nelson said. “All of Baraboo is working together to learn and heal from this experience – which is great to see. Our union wanted to do something immediate and tangible to help.”

Teachers, administrators and support staff wore their T-shirts on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7.

“These symbols continue to be taboo because of the agonizing history they represent. We needed to let our students know that we will be vigilant when it comes to discrimination, bullying and hate in our buildings,” Nelson said.

“After all, with no room for hate, we have lots of space open for acceptance and care and love.”

More Resources:

The Wisconsin Education Association Council works to give teachers resources so they can foster hate-free schools where all people are respected and celebrated. Here are some of the many programs and resources WEAC and the NEA offer:

Black Lives Matter at School
Diversity, Equality and Social Justice Resources
Combatting Islamophobia
Safe and Welcoming Schools for LGBTQ+ Youth
Creating LGBTQ Inclusive Schools
Virtual Book Study on Racial Justice
Take Action on Racial Justice
Combatting Institutional Racism

If your local is interested in trainings for educators, or partnering with your district on any of these initiatives, email us at communications@weac.org.

Spotlight on Locals: Racine Educators United

WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen (middle, left) delivers the WEAC Strong Local Affiliate Certificate to Racine Educators United President Angelina Cruz (middle, right) at the REU Representative Assembly. Racine Educators United members gather in solidarity with signs demonstrating their activism and commitment to their students and public schools in Racine.

By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, WEAC Vice President

When I asked Angelina Cruz, 5th and 6th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, currently serving as the President of the Racine Educators United, about the success of their local, she said, “As we have rebuilt over the last couple of years, new people have stepped up.” This engagement can be seen in the photograph taken at the REU Representative Assembly when I presented them with the WEAC Strong Local Affiliate Certificate. Angelina also told me, “People are embracing an organizing model of our union.”

That organizing work can be seen in their most recent success in partnership with their Community Coalition, My School My Voice. They worked collaboratively with the City of Racine to include a property tax insert outlining state funding levels for Racine Unified and funding levels for private and voucher schools in Racine.

When I asked how they achieved this, Angelina said, “We gathered over 800 signatures in support of voucher transparency to share with Mayor Cory Mason and the Racine City Council through showings of the documentary film Backpack Full of Cash and with tables at other large events and festivals in Racine. Now, I have educators reaching out to me from the villages of Mount Pleasant and Caledonia asking why their tax bills are not showing this information. For us, our first step was the city, and our next step in this campaign includes lobbying the nearby villages.”

That may not be necessary if Governor-Elect Tony Evers is successful in passing state law that would ensure voucher transparency. Statewide, folks in our communities have a right to know how much money is being siphoned from our public schools, which serve all students, to fund private and voucher schools, which serve a select group of students.

Ryan Knudson, 8th grade studies teacher and secretary for the Racine Educators United, told me, “We are the only group fighting for public education and our students. When we stand up, together, for our students, good things happen.” Ryan also said, “Our most important successes are when we talk to our colleagues about who we are and the work we are doing, and they see the value in joining with us and fighting for our community. To me, these are the important victories.”

Norma Cortese, 5th grade dual language teacher, said, “The strength of our local is that although we have different roles in our daily lives, our main goal is to do what’s best for students. We continue to work districtwide in collaboration with the school board and the school district toward decisions that are good for kids.”

Cortese also highlighted the history of local strength success in Racine by saying, “Our local has always been committed to our students and our profession whether it was a few years back when the elementary teachers combined forces to advocate for removal of an ineffective reading program or when we rallied with our union brothers and sisters at the Capitol in Madison.”

The Racine Educators United can be counted on as powerful advocates. Cortese also said, “We need to be involved in broad-based community coalitions which is why I am a part of a number of Hispanic community organizations and engaged with my students and their families outside of the classroom.”

Angelina also said, “Another success was protecting our employee handbook when the School Board recently considered changes.” Since Racine, like districts statewide, has staff guidelines outlined in policy within their handbook, it is important to recognize that changes in handbook language can dramatically impact educators’ working conditions, which have eroded over time. It’s local unions like the Racine Educators United who continue to work toward better conditions for all educators. United, we can advocate for improvements like mandatory prep time and just cause language for all employees.

Gwen Shaw-Scott, a dedicated Education Support Professional for Racine Unified School District, reiterated this sentiment saying, “Our strength is our willingness to fight for issues that come up every day. We always stand firm with administration to resolve any issue working to make our students’ and members’ lives better.”

When I asked Angelina for advice to other local leaders in Wisconsin, she said, “While the challenges in public education feel big and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, find issues that matter to your members and your community. When you begin to tackle these one at a time, you can make a difference for your students and your community. This is difficult work, but important work, that no one else is doing.”

Read all of Peggy’s ‘Spotlight On Locals’ columns at weac.org/Spotlight.

Advocacy by Eau Claire educators leads to postponement of school board action on proposed benefit changes

At a meeting packed with nearly 100 members of the Eau Claire Association of Educators and supporters, the Eau Claire School Board voted unanimously Monday night not to cap health and dental benefits at the current 2018-19 rates and postponed changes to other post-employment benefits (OPEB) for the time being.

Many educators at the meeting spoke out against the proposed changes.

The Eau Claire Leader Telegram reported that ECAE President Mark Goings told the board that while he understands the district faces budget challenges, punishing educators is the wrong way to go.

“You are being asked to balance the books in a system that’s rigged against us,” Goings said. “Staff is the greatest cost, but staff is also the district’s greatest asset.”

The Leader Telegram also quoted Dan Wilson, a special education teacher in the district:

“We have been there for the district,” Wilson said, “but will the district continue to be there for us? If reasonable changes need to be made, then take the time to get all the facts and the data and the information. Then at that point, let’s talk about it.”

Commission’s misguided recommendations on school safety undermine civil rights and dishonor the victims of violence, NEA president says

From the National Education Association

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos created the Federal Commission on School Safety that was supposed to address gun violence in our schools and recommend actions schools should take to keep our students safe. Instead, their commission announced Tuesday that it recommends stripping students’ of civil rights protections, which seek to prevent racial disparities in student discipline. Although the report does not endorse the DeVos idea that teachers should be forced to carry firearms in school, it does recommend pressuring educators to possess dangerous firearms in our schools.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Instead of the Federal Commission on School Safety taking its charge seriously — addressing gun laws in this country and putting supports in place for students after the horrors of Parkland, Marshall County, Santa Fe and the countless other school shootings that have occurred this year — Betsy DeVos and the commission are doing the exact opposite. The recommendations do little to make students safer in our nation’s public schools. They are dishonoring the memory of the students and educators who have lost their lives.

“More to the point, today’s announcement is further proof that we cannot count on Betsy DeVos to protect students’ civil rights. Her decision to rescind critical federal guidance meant to address racial disparities in school discipline undermines the safety and dignity of students and educators in our public schools.

“Schools should continue to advance responsible and fair discipline policies and practices because they are best for students, the learning environment and meet legal obligations to address discrimination. Educators, schools and school districts must continue to enforce anti-discrimination laws. Period.

“Betsy DeVos’ U.S. Department of Education is using the commission to pursue her agenda to dismantle students’ civil rights protections — an agenda that affects our most vulnerable students the hardest. We do not need the appearance of safety; we need real solutions that create safe schools and address the underlying root of school violence. We need strategies to create positive, supportive learning environments and prevention efforts that end the hardening and over-policing of our public schools.

“The commission’s recommendations were decided in a vacuum without any real input from the real education experts — America’s teachers and school personnel working in public schools. We do not need more guns in schools. Students deserve real solutions that will keep them safe — that is what our students have asked of us. It is shameful that the Trump Administration is using the real risk of gun violence in our schools to strip vulnerable students of their civil rights, while doing nothing to keep all our students safe.”

Read more:

DeVos To Rescind Obama-Era Guidance On School Discipline

A federal commission led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recommends rescinding Obama-era guidance intended to reduce racial discrimination in school discipline. And, DeVos says, it urges schools to “seriously consider partnering with local law enforcement in the training and arming of school personnel.”