Educators Must Fight for Our Students and Lead the Way Forward!

Photo of textbooks in an MPS classroom (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Public School students and classrooms have been systematically defunded. Tattered textbooks, crowded classrooms, and shrinking art, music, and physical education classes are just a few of the consequences our students and educators face thanks to Scott Walker’s unprecedented public education cuts. In addition to Walker’s cuts, MPS students also face a structural disparity in per pupil funding when compared to their suburban counterparts.

MPS administration has for too long accepted and passed these cuts on to our students and classrooms. Top this with the fact administration continues to entertain toxic proposals from privatizers that will hand over our schools to private operators. Enough! When will administration put their foot down and demand better for our students?

Riverside High School students and educators rallied and walked in together on Tuesday morning to call attention to the cuts (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Now MPS is proposing an additional 5% across the board cut to students and schools and massive healthcare and benefits cuts to the same education workers already burdened by years of cuts. MPS educators have stepped in to fill the void left by state budgets by purchasing snacks, clothing, and basic classroom supplies for their students, but our students deserve fully funded classrooms, not charity.

We’re tired of our Governor, other politicians who refuse to act, and an MPS administration who continues to pass cuts on to students and classrooms. We’ve had enough and we’re fighting back!

Over 1,500 educators, parents, and community supporters packed MPS Central Office on Tuesday to demand a better budget.

Last Tuesday, the MPS Central Office auditorium, three overflow rooms, and hallways were filled to capacity with educators, parents, and students to demand a better budget. Many MTEA and community members as well as students spoke out against the proposed cuts. Join us for these coming events as we continue to fight to demand our students & educators have the resources they deserve:

• Keep budget cuts away from schools!
• Time for teachers and educational assistants to meet the needs of their students.
• Quality affordable healthcare for ALL full-time education workers – including subs!
• Raises to attract and retain the education workers our students deserve.

Upcoming Events

4/18 Community Planning Meeting

MTEA is calling for an all MPS parent, student, and community member meeting to discuss cuts to our schools and next steps. Please invite parents and neighbors to attend this important meeting

RSVP to attend

Facebook Event Page

4/24 Picket to Defend Our Schools

Last Tuesday, the MPS Central Office auditorium, three overflow rooms, and hallways were filled to capacity with educators, parents, and students to demand a better budget. Many MTEA and community members as well as students spoke out against the proposed cuts.

RSVP to attend

Facebook Event page

To download the April 24 sign up sheet, click here. 

Riverside Rallies & Walks In to Say NO to Massive Budget Cuts to Students & Schools from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Art Build in Support of the Milwaukee “March for Our Lives

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“We are demanding action. It is our time as youth in the community to make a difference. It is our time to stand up and speak out to our state and local politicians.”

– Marvell Reed, Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education sophomore

 

On February 28, we attended a press conference organized by a group of students from around Southeastern Wisconsin, including Marvell announcing a March 24th march entitled the “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.” The students announced they would be joining the nationwide day of action in support of legislative action on school gun violence and in response to the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. The resurgence of student activism in Parkland, around the nation, and here in Wisconsin is inspiring. Milwaukee educators wanted to support the students’ efforts and organized an art build to prepare posters and banners for the march.

Milwaukee artists Paul Kjelland and Nicolas Lampert screen print posters at the art build (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Just Seeds artists Nicolas Lampert and Paul Kjelland, and University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee professor Kim Cosier collaborated with MTEA social media organizer Joe Brusky to plan and organize the art build. A date was set one week in advance of the March 24 marches. Organizers made a call on social media for public school students and local artists to submit images to be used in the march using the slogan “PROTECT STUDENTS NOT GUNS.”

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

Students and local artists submitted several stunning images. Nearly every image was used for the final poster and banner designs, with several of the artists also volunteering their Saturday to trace and paint banners, and run and screen print posters.

Nearly one hundred people, many students, came through the art build during the nine-hour Saturday time window, including the core group of students organizing the march. Dozens of MTEA members, local artists, and community supporters also joined the collective effort.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

1,000 of these “Enough” images were printed. Bay View High School students and their art teacher Bryce Coppersmith submitted this powerful design.

Bay View art teacher Bryce Coppersmith poses with the design he and his students collectively created (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Bryce also spent the day painting posters and banners in support of his students. The poster will be given out on a first come first serve basis before the 3/24 march.

Allen Field art teacher Kristin Cheever makes some finishing touches on a poster (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The prints were lined up along the floor of the Kenilworth Building to dry after being screen printed (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

King Elementary educator Angela Harris and her two daughters Trinity and Zaire (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Artist Pete Railand submitted this stunning “Protect Students not Guns” image of two students walking to school holding hands casting a shadow encasing the message “Protect Students not Guns.” 1,000 of these posters were also screen printed and will too be given out before the march.

This “Protect Students Not Guns” image was created by artist Pete Railand (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Obama sophomore and March for Our Lives – Milwaukee organizer Marvell Reed holds a completed poster (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Daisy was one of the youngest helpers at the art build (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

This powerful “Text Message” image was submitted by Milwaukee School of the Arts student Ana Branderhorst.

Homestead student and March for Our Lives – Milwaukee organizer Sophia Zhang trace banner before it is painted (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Milwaukee student Trenice Ferguson submitted this moving image of a peaceful school community nestled on the inside of a hand gun.

Milwaukee School of Languages student Joya Headley and Homestead student Sophie Zhange (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Elisha Branch and her daughter Daisy (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

MTEA retired member Susan Simensky-Bietila and her son painted this image, submitted by Susan’s 7-year old granddaughter, on a banner.

Retired member Susan Simensky Bietila and her son paint her granddaughter’s image on a banner (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

UWM art education teacher Kim Cosier submitted this banner design, which was painted on two banners.

UWM professor Kim Cosier (Photo credit: Joe Brusky)

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

Several students from Shorewood High School also joined the art build to trace and paint three banners for their sure to be historic 50-mile march from Madison to Rep. Paul Ryan in Janesville, Wisconsin. The students chose Janesville to call attention to politicians like Ryan, who take large sums of money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and do nothing to address the growing siege of school gun violence.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

Leaders Igniting Transformation students not only volunteered at the art build, but they also used the opportunity to circulate their petition to bring an end to the MPS School-To-Prison pipeline.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

It was powerful to watch students, educators, artists, and community supporters working together, forging new networks, relationships, and ideas that can propel and sustain us all for this sure to be long fight.

Student organizers for the March for Our Lives Milwaukee (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

The 2,000 posters created will be handed out before the march at the meet-up for the MTEA educator contingent (10th St. side of the Milwaukee County Courthouse) on Saturday on a first-come-first serve basis (One poster per person). It will be powerful to see these images, posters, and banners backing up the great organizing students are doing locally as well as nationally. Together we will win common-sense reforms for our students. We hope you will join us.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

More photo from the art build here.

Call for Student Art Submissions for Milwaukee “March for Our Lives”

Obama School of Career and Technical Education student and Milwaukee March for Our Lives organizer Marvell Reed holds a sign at a press conference at Homestead High School announcing the day and time of the march (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 14 students and 3 educators were killed and 14 others were wounded, students and educators have been the most outspoken advocates for ensuring that all students have the support to learn, starting with school communities that are safe from gun violence.

A student works at the Milwaukee Art Build for Public Education that took place in the Riverwest neighborhood and ws organized by MTEA members last February (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association members are organizing a Saturday of art to fight for schools that are safe from gun violence. We choose our students, not guns.

The Art Build will take place Saturday, March 17 from 10:00am-6:00pm in the art ed. room in the basement of the UWM Kenilworth Square Building.

 

The community is invited to join us and our students in making banners, posters, and other pieces in preparation for the Milwaukee March 24 “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.”
CALL FOR IMAGES!

Art for the “March For Our Lives” march in Milwaukee

Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

MTEA is sponsoring this one-day art build. The plan is to screen print 2,000 posters with the message: “Protect Students, Not Guns” and to paint banners with the slogan “Never Again.” Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

Specifics for the screen-printed poster:

• Size: 12.5″ x 19″ (can be a horizontal or vertical composition)
• One-color design. (It can printed in any color but please submit a one-color design)
• Text should read: Protect Students, Not Guns
• Leave space in the lower right corner for the MTEA logo to be added.
• Things to consider: Bold designs, bold images, bold text are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Specifics for the banners:

• Banner designs will be projected and painted.
• Text can be: Never Again or Protect Students Not Guns
• Banners will be horizontal compositions. Around 4′ tall by 8′ long.
• Banners will be painted so best if the design is 1-3 colors max.

Things to consider:

Bold designs, bold images, bold texts are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Deadline for the art submissions: Wednesday, March 14th
by 6:00pm. Please email designs to nicolaslampert23@gmail.com

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

Bill would weaken grievance process for teachers

A bill that is being circulated in the Legislature –  SB 419/AB  503 – threatens teachers’ rights to access the statutory grievance procedure that includes review by an impartial hearing officer.

WEAC has issued an Action Alert.
Tell the bill’s authors about your concerns!

Note: Teachers in the Milwaukee Public School System would not be impacted by this bill, because they are not covered by the nonrenewal statute.

“The proposed change to the statutory grievance procedure would create a number of inequitable situations,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “Treating teachers unfairly results in low morale and will only worsen the teacher shortage, and that hurts students.”

Current law requires local government units, including school boards, to have grievance procedures in place that address employee terminations, employee discipline and workplace safety. The proposed change would essentially preclude access to the grievance procedure for teacher nonrenewals and any form of discipline where there is not a financial consequence – such as a letter of reprimand.

The current laws governing grievances and nonrenewals provide separate and independent rights. Under the nonrenewal law that applies only to full-time teachers, teachers have the right to a private conference with the school board prior to a decision to nonrenew. Under the grievance statute, employees must have access to a review process after a decision has been made, including a hearing before an impartial hearing officer, which allows the employee additional time and opportunity to prepare and submit testimony and evidence related to the nonrenewal. Therefore, it is critical that the legislature allow teachers access to both procedures.

Allowing teachers who have been nonrenewed access to the grievance procedure is crucial considering the stigma associated with nonrenewal. School district employers make hiring decisions based upon whether an applicant has been nonrenewed. Applicants for teaching positions posted on the Wisconsin Education Career Access Network (WECAN) are required to complete the WECAN Standard Application which asks: “Have you ever been non-renewed for reasons other than budgetary or program elimination?” Being nonrenewed suggests a teacher’s employment was ended for performance reasons or misconduct, and affects that teacher’s future employability. Thus, access to the grievance procedure is vital.

The bills have been referred to committee, and no public hearings are set. Read the fiscal estimate.

Summer Organizers Recruit Nearly 500 New Union Members

The MTEA Summer Organizers hold a banner outside the MTEA office (photo: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Summer Organizers hold a banner outside the MTEA office (photo: Joe Brusky).
It was another successful summer for the Wisconsin Summer Organizing program.
This year, the National Education Association hired summer organizers in nine Wisconsin union locals to recruit new union members and identify and develop member leaders.
Our twelve MTEA summer organizers had incredible success educating people about the value of our union. Thank you to everyone who welcomed them into your schools and worked together to grow membership.
Across the state nearly 500 union members were recruited, 190 of them into the MTEA. To honor their success we put their photo on the cover of our 2017-18 MTEA date book.
Thanks again to the 2017 Summer Organizers!

A group photo of Summer Organizers from around the state. This group signed up nearly 500 new members!

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Substitute Teachers ARE Teachers

Members of the Milwaukee Substitute Teachers’ Association (MSTA) hold signs outside of Milwaukee Public Schools (Photo: Joe Brusky).

By Alex Brower, Milwaukee Substitute Teachers’ Association President

 

Substitute teaching is not for everybody. I am in my sixth year as a substitute teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. Every day I am reminded of the tremendous rewards working in public schools. It is wonderful to see a student’s face light up when they figure out a problem or can answer questions about what path they should take in the future. But substitute teaching is still a very challenging job. Taking over another educator’s lesson plans at a moments notice takes talent. It is a challenge, even for the most veteran teacher, to walk into a classroom of unfamiliar students and gain their trust. Classroom teachers spend weeks and months building trust with their students, learning how to connect with them and unlock their potential.

Substitute teachers in MPS have been under attack for years. The previous MPS Administration made sure to shred every last ounce of dignity away from professional substitutes–taking away our health care, sick days, and other benefits that full-time MPS employees receive. Without any type of security, who would want to make the leap into substitute teaching?

MSTA Secretary Terri Brookshire (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Without any incentives to attract and retain substitute teachers, MPS has been reduced to scavenging for substitute teachers through a temp agency, which is not a long-term solution to a teacher shortage. It is reprehensible and sends the wrong message to educators, families, and our children. Not to mention, the temp industry is unregulated and leaves workers with little protections.

MPS students deserve professional substitute teachers –teachers who enter the classroom ready to teach and inspire every single day at a moment’s notice; professionals with resources, mentoring, and support, who believe in our children and the MPS mission. The temp industry cannot provide this–only MPS can. Substitute teacher work needs to be done by educational professionals who are part of the MPS family.

MSTA President Alex Brower (Photo: Joe Brusky).

To attract the substitute teachers our children deserve, MPS needs to offer a quality health care plan to substitutes who make teaching their profession, and end the privatization of substitute teacher work. The temp agency contract with the district expires September 30, 2017 and the School Board has the opportunity to end the substitute hiring provision.

The substitute teacher members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association are ready with solutions to end the substitute shortage. Will the MPS School Board and MPS Administration listen?

Take Action!

• Attend the September 12 school board meeting and consider submitting oral or written testimony in support of MPS subs.

• Contact your school board director and tell them you support subs:

Milwaukee Board of School Directors Contact Information:
Mark Sain, Board President, District #1 414-­‐614-­‐1774
Larry Miller, Vice President, District #5, 414 -­‐469-­‐9319
Wendell J. Harris, Sr, District #2, 414-­‐587-­‐1329
Michael Bonds, District #3, 414 -­‐ 520 -­‐ 3890
Annie Woodward, District #4, 414 -­‐ 510 -­‐ 9079
Tony Baez, District #6, 414 -­‐ 550 -­‐ 4283
Paula Phillips, District #7, 414 -­‐ 207 -­‐ 4817
Carol Voss, District #8, 414 -­‐ 852 -­‐ 5817
Terry Falk, Member At -­‐ Large, 414 -­‐ 510 -­‐ 9173
• Sign the petition embedded below:

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We Must Defend DACA!

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By MTEA President Kim Schroeder

As educators, we have a moral obligation to protect ALL students. We must support the movement to defend our immigrant students and all undocumented people from Donald Trump during this time of injustice.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides renewable permits for nearly 800,000 DREAMers who live, study, and work in the United States–a program that provides opportunities to many of our students. Instead of offering an immigration process that allows a path to citizenship for DREAMers, Trump continues his crusade against immigrant families. His decision to end DACA is especially threatening to our students who haven’t turned 16 yet and are waiting to apply. 

Trump’s decision to end DACA furthers his white nationalist agenda and threatens the opportunity many of our students have to an education.

Students and supporters rally to defend DACA in Racine on Tuesday evening (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

You can show you support with the following:


In the coming days students and their families may be looking to you for strength, courage, and answers. Please continue to be vocal in your support of justice for our students and all immigrants in this country.

Marching to save DACA in Racine, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

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Trump abandons DACA promise and shatters dreams of aspiring young Americans

President Trump has made the unwise and cruel decision to end the DACA program; putting 800,000 lives at the mercy of a Congress that has passed no major legislation.

TAKE ACTION NOW!

For the past five years, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program proved to be an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America. The termination of this program impacts students, educators, small business owners, healthcare workers, and so many others contributing to their families, communities, and to the country they call home.

Instead of offering an immigration process that will allow a path to citizenship so that DREAMers can continue to contribute to our communities and economy, this Administration has continued its crusade against immigrant families by stripping away their legal status.

Click here to read the NEA statement.

THREE WAYS YOU CAN HELP #DEFENDACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America. They are students, educators, small business owners, healthcare workers, and so many others contributing to their families, communities, and to the country they call home.

Yet the future of DACA is under serious threat. A coordinated assault on DACA, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, hardline state AGs in nine other states, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is trying to force President Trump into ending the program.

Instead of offering an immigration process that will allow a path to citizenship so that DREAMers can continue to contribute to our communities and economy, hardliners on a crusade against immigrant families are threatening to strip their legal status away. Click here to help now!

Let’s Welcome Our Students Back in Style

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our students experience a wide range of emotions on the first day of school, and let’s face it so do educators. What better way could we start the year off for all of our Milwaukee Public School students than lining the front school entrance along with educators, school support staff, and any other supportive community members that want to cheer our students on. Let’s get the year started off in a fun and celebratory way.

If you’re interested in having your school participate on the first day of school please contact:
Joe Brusky at bruskyjb@yahoo.com so we can add you to the event campaign map that will help publicize and build buzz for your school’s welcome back event. Or create your own event page below:

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