NEA Leadership Visits Milwaukee to Learn More About Community Schools

DSC05295 copy
Milwaukee Public Schools has been getting some well-deserved attention for its commitment to the Community Schools model–which has grown from the advocacy of educators in the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

The district established the first three community schools in 2015 and has now expanded to a total of seven thriving community schools. Early growth shows improved school culture and climate, significant increases in literacy rates in early grades, dramatic growth in school and community partnerships, increased math proficiency in early grades, increased community engagement, and increased college and career pathways for students.

 

Authentic Community Schools link culturally relevant classroom practices with community services, social supports and neighborhood engagement. The Center for Popular Democracy identifies six research-based strategies that allow for greater student-centered learning and community investment. These strategies include: strong culturally relevant curriculum, high quality teaching; shared leadership; community support services; restorative practices; and family and community engagement.

Milwaukee’s early success with the model prompted National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President Becky Pringle, and Secretary Treasurer Princess Moss and members of the NEA Executive Council to visit. NEA’s trip signals the growing interest to strengthen and build the public Community Schools model nationwide.

 

The visit started with a trip to James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC), where the MPS Administration shared successes and challenges with implementing the Community Schools model.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and her leadership team sit at the table with MTEA leadership and MPS Administration to discuss Community Schools in Milwaukee (Photo: Joe Brusky).

JMAC’s Community School Coordinator and Parent Coordinator provided their expertise to the group. These two positions are critical to establishing engaged parents and community for successful school outcomes.

The Community School Coordinator for James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) presented to the group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Following the visit to JMAC, the group made their way over to the newest Community School in Milwaukee, Lincoln Avenue, where the school’s “Lincoln Cheer Team” greeted them.

The Lincoln Cheer Team greeted the group upon their arrival (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Beck Pringle and Lily Eskelsen Garcia react to the festive welcome (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Lincoln Avenue’s parent coordinator showed off the school’s Parent Center. The center provides a hub for parents to increase engagement in the school’s operation as well as expand access to needed resources, such as Internet and laundry facilities.

Lincoln Avenue’s Parent Coordinator shares the early successes with the Parent Center at the new Community School (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Ryan Hurley of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County spoke on how his organization facilitates community partnerships by helping identify and mobilize neighborhood groups and resources. These neighborhood collaborations provide the school with additional support such as access to health services or other critical needs that must be met to ensure learning occurs.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia observes a reading group (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Finally NEA leadership got to see the model in action. They toured several rooms, including a bilingual kindergarten classroom. Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Becky Pringle, and Princess Moss used the opportunity to work and speak with students to experience how students are excelling. The early results on the Community School model are encouraging, but there’s no greater proof of the model’s success than seeing students thriving firsthand. We know when our students’ needs are met they flourish.

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle checks in on a young writer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

As the model grows nationwide, we look forward to making Milwaukee a place for other NEA educators to come and learn about how the model can enhance the quality of classroom practices and increase community involvement. Public community schools galvanize our educators around a vision inclusive of community control of public education which stands in stark contrast to the corporate destruction of our public schools system.

Lincoln Avenue students ask Lily Eskelsen Garcia and MTEA Vice President Amy Mizialko take a photo as they left the school (Photo: Joe Brusky).

 

Learn more about Community Schools here.

‘Are you worthy of your students?’

OrganizeAndAgitate_1200x628px

Repeating a question posed by former National Teacher of the Year Kim Oliver, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle asked participants at the WEAC Summer Leadership Academy Wednesday: “Are you worthy of your students?”

“We cannot say we are worthy of our children as long as fear and inequity, discrimination and injustice exist in our society,” Pringle said. “We cannot answer this question yes as long as one child feels that they are not valued and respected for who they are.

“It’s time to reclaim our profession for educators, our classrooms for students, our schools for our communities and public education for this democracy. It’s time to embrace Bishop Desmond Tutu’s defiant cry, ‘I wish I could shut up, but I can’t and I won’t.’

“If we stand together, they won’t know what to do with us,” Pringle said. “We’ll organize and agitate. We will change hearts and minds. We will stand together, and they won’t know what to make of us.

“We’ll unite social justice warriors all over the country, and we’ll keep coming and keep coming and keep coming, and they will falter. We will stand together, and they won’t be able to defeat us. We won’t shut up! We won’t shut up!”

Comment on Facebook:

WEAC – Timeline | Facebook

Repeating a question posed by former National Teacher of the Year Kim Oliver, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle asked participants at the WEAC Summer Leadership Academy Wednesday: “Are you worthy of your students?” “We cannot say we are worthy of our children as long as fear and inequity, discrimination and injustice exist in our society,” Pringle said.

NEA’s Becky Pringle: Clinton nomination historic, powerful and emotional

Becky Pringle

Becky Pringle

Hillary Clinton’s cracking of the glass ceiling for women at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is amazing, National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle said in an interview with Workers Independent News.

“It was powerful. It was encouraging,” she said. “As a mother of a daughter, it was emotional quite honestly. And 2016, right? First nomination of a woman!”

Pringle said this achievement was built on the backs of powerful women who came before, like Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Gloria Steinem, all the way back to Sojourner Truth.

“Sojourner Truth, in one of her abolitionist rallies, she said, ‘You know, if women wants any more rights than what they’s got why don’t they just take ‘em” and not be talkin’ about it!’ ”

WIN also interviewed American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at the DNC. Listen to the interviews: