Thousands Protest to Demand a Student Centered Budget

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

In an incredible show of solidarity and strength, well over 3,000 MPS education workers, parents, students, and community members picketed up and down Vliet Street outside of MPS Central Office. Quickly, the crowd grew so large that Vliet St. was closed as the picketers spilled into the street and took over 5 city blocks.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Neeskara and Sherman Elementary school nurse Maggie Mitchell’s sign points out the inequities Milwaukee Public School students face. MPS students are worth thousands of dollars less per pupil in the eyes of the state’s funding formula when compared to their surrounding suburban counterparts. This means nurses have to purchase their own band aids and other materials students need (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

 

Workers from all over the city joined the picket. Unions representing transit workers, healthcare workers, electrical workers, communication workers, postal workers, auto workers, delivery drivers, and museum workers all came out to support MPS students and educators in our fight for a fair budget. Many groups representing making up the pro-public education Schools and Communities United coalition were also present.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Educators from Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and the greater Milwaukee area also came out in support.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Massive 24-foot parachute banners were unfurled and carried by the crowd.

Parachute banners painted with messages were walked on the picket. Parachute on left: “Community Schools Build Democracy (with “I Matter” photo. Parachute on the right: “Public Education the Heart of the Community (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students and adults alike run underneath the parachutes as they are lifted up into the air (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The picket was so large, MTEA President Kim Schroeder and Vice President Amy Mizialko climbed up on the roof of the union office to address the crowd.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Their message was simple: These cuts are an attack on every MPS student and education worker in this district and we will reject any budget that does further harm to our schools. It doesn’t have to be this way. MPS has a billion dollar budget, and cuts can and must be made farther from the classroom.

“Specials” refers to art, music, and physical education classes in MPS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

A Neeskara School parent with her children highlighting the much-reduced schedule of art, music, and physical education classes in MPS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Click here for more photos from the picket.

To cap off the evening, our entire line headed towards the front door of central office. The doors were locked despite the public school board meeting that was to be held inside. Picketers began knocking on the locked front doors and chanted, “This is a public meeting, let us in!” When the doors were finally opened a loud line of educators, parents, and students streamed through the hallways, chanting to remind the MPS Administration and School Board of our demands.

“This is a public meeting! Let us in!” chant outside MPS Central Office (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Youth Empowered in the Struggle students lead chants inside Central Office and outside the school board meeting (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Chanting through the halls of Central Office (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Even the Rufus King drumline joined in.

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our action yesterday showed our strength and demonstrated our commitment to our students. We will continue to fight against cuts that hurt students and education workers.

Where do we go from here?

Here are key dates and events for you to remember as we fight back cuts to students and educators.
Superintendent Driver’s Preliminary Budget Released

– Friday, April 27

 

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) Facebook Livestream Reaction to Budget

– Sunday, April 29 at 5pm
MTEA Executive Board Meets to Determine Next Steps

– Wednesday, May 2

 

Facebook Livestream to MTEA Members

– Wednesday, May 2 at 7:30pm or immediately following the MTEA Executive Board Meeting

First MPS Budget Hearing

– Thursday, May 3 at MPS Central Office (Time to be determined)

 

Further actions to come to WIN for our students!

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.

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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MPS Students Collaborate on Performance of “The Wiz”

Students from Rufus King Middle School, Golda Meir, and Story Elementary are performing in “The Wiz” this week at RKMS (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Classrooms from around MPS were treated to a brilliant performance of “The Wiz” Wednesday morning at Rufus King Middle School. The students of RKMS, Golda Meir and Story Elementary collaborated to make it happen. Check out these photos from their performance.

Photo slideshow below:

RKMS & Golda Meir Students Perform "The Wiz"
There will be a public showing on Friday at 6pm at Rufus King Middle School.

Tickets are $5.00, and can be purchased at the door (121 E. Hadley Street – enter on the Palmer Street entrance). Please come out and support the Rufus King International Middle School Generals, Golda Owls and Story Gators. This is what collaboration looks like!

#MPSproud