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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Tell Senator Ron Johnson: Do Your Job and fill the Supreme Court vacancy!

U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.

By Brian Washington
EdVotes.org

TakeActionSidebarCongress is returning to Capitol Hill this week — a perfect time to tell members of the U.S. Senate, “Do your job.”

Instead of playing political games and delaying action on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, Republicans, who control the Senate, should break with extreme voices like GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and consider the nomination as well as give it an “up-or-down” vote.

It’s important to note that a few Senate Republicans have already expressed a willingness to meet with Garland. In fact, Senator Susan Collins (ME) shared that the president’s nominee deserves “careful consideration.”

“It’s the duty of the Senate, under the Constitution, to give our advice and give our consent or withhold our consent,” Collins recently said on CNN. “I believe we should follow the regular order and give careful consideration to any nominee that the president may send to the Senate.”

Supreme Court nominees deserve a fair hearing, and both Democrats and Republicans have always provided that courtesy. Now is the time to let your voice be heard. Tell your lawmakers that it’s time to do the will of the people. Polls show that 56 percent of all Americans disagree with GOP Senators who say they will not hold hearings on the proposed replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

TAKE ACTION: Send an email message to your Senators and ask him/her to do their job and fill the current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you want to send them a message via Twitter, below you’ll find sample tweets you can use. Just make sure you add the hashtags: #DoYourJob and/or #WeNeedNine.

  • Senate must fulfill its constitutional responsibility and consider Garland. Doing otherwise is unprecedented and irresponsible.
  • Not holding a fair hearing on Garland would create a constitutional crisis and handcuff all 3 branches of government.
  • There is plenty of time for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.
  • Senators: It would be irresponsible and unprecedented to let a vacancy on the Supreme Court extend into 2017.
  • Besides #SCOTUS, more than 40 judicial nominees are now waiting for a Senate vote so they can do critical work.

You can also help us elevate this important message via social media. But most importantly, make sure you contact your U.S. Senators and urge your friends and family to do so as well. Tell them that U.S. Supreme Court nominees deserve a fair hearing and an up-and-down vote.

DoYourJobSocialLink

Milwaukee community tells school board: Class Size Matters!

A huge outpouring of support from educators, parents, students and community advocates of quality public schools convinced the Milwaukee school board Tuesday night to demand more information before acting on an administration proposal that would threaten the district’s class size reduction efforts.

Among those testifying was Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Vice President Amy Mizialko, who said: “Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs for our children in their futures.”

MTEA took to Facebook to post a series of photos, memes, videos and recaps of testimony from Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Below is a collection of some of those posts, with photos by Joe Brusky (click HERE if the images do not appear below):

Read more about the district’s plan:

Plan to reassign teachers raises class size concerns in MPS

By of the More than 100 teachers could be reassigned, pushing up classroom sizes in some early grades at dozens of Milwaukee Public Schools next year as MPS phases out of the state’s soon-to-be-defunct class size reduction program known as SAGE.

Educators, students, community members ‘walk in’ together to show support for public schools

Mitchell School in Racine held its first ever walk-in to demand the schools all students deserve.

Mitchell School in Racine held its first ever walk-in to demand the schools all students deserve.

Cooper School's walk-in for public schools.

Milwaukee Cooper School’s walk-in for public schools.

Educators, students, and community members came together Wednesday to show their support for public schools by walking into school together in a proud and public display of unity. ‘Walk-ins’ were held in dozens of Wisconsin schools, including schools in Green Bay, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Racine, Solon Springs, Onalaska, Sparta and Tomah. They were among dozens of cities throughout the country that participated.

Walk-Ins for Public Schools are a simple and powerful visual reminder of the extreme support that exists for public schools. The Walk-Ins aren’t new to Wisconsin. Last September, Wisconsin educators, parents, students and community supporters in Milwaukee and La Crosse proclaimed support for public schools by holding similar walk-ins at over a hundred schools. The event succeeded in showing the massive support that exists for public schools, stopping the Milwaukee county executive from a plan to turn a large number of public school buildings over to private schools. In the end, the executive publicly committed to supporting Milwaukee Public Schools and only one empty building was handed over to private interests.

We Are Wisconsin walked in with La Crosse Central High educators to support public schools.

We Are Wisconsin walked in with La Crosse Central High educators to support public schools.

For Milwaukee, February’s Walk-Ins for Public Schools continued the struggle to provide all students with the schools they deserve. Wisconsin has enacted public school takeover legislation and there is a new takeover commissioner who has yet to outline specific plans.

In other Wisconsin cities taking part, local public schools are reeling from massive cuts in state funding and an outflowing of millions from public school budget to instead subsidize private schools. The events are a call for 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 family involvement.

“Walk-Ins for Public Schools send a strong message that we love our public schools and we stand united against any attempt to turn our public schools over to private operators who don’t serve all children and are not accountable to parents, voters, or a locally elected school board,” said Kim Schroeder, a teacher and president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

“If we’re serious about improving schools, we need to invest in the public schools that provide opportunity for all children, no matter what their ZIP codes,” said Betsy Kippers, a teacher and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. “Time and again, Americans have said they prefer improving public schools to spending scare tax dollars on voucher schools or lining the pockets of independent charter schools.”