NEA Leadership Visits Milwaukee to Learn More About Community Schools

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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.

NEA Executive Committee visits MTEA, applauds Community Schools program

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association welcomed the National Education Association Executive Committee to Milwaukee Tuesday. The NEA leaders – including President Lily Eskelsen García, Vice President Becky Pringle and Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss – met with MTEA’s leadership, MPS Administration and United Way representatives to find ways to continue the success and growth of Milwaukee’s seven #CommunitySchools. The group toured and met the students and staff of James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC) and Lincoln Avenue Elementary, both MPS Community Schools. MTEA’s Joe Brusky shared these – and more – photos on the MTEA Facebook page:

NEA says Trump’s action on transgender students is ‘dangerous and ill-advised’

From the National Education Association

The Trump administration is planning to release a new plan to rescind federal guidance to protect transgender students from discrimination. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest labor union, reiterated its pledge to double-down on protecting the civil rights of our LGBTQ students and members.

Withdrawing the guidance does not change the law. As most courts have held, Title IX protects transgender students, and only courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, can change that. Schools have a legal and a moral duty to support all students, including transgender students. In fact, states, school districts, and schools nationwide are supporting and affirming transgender students, and we believe they will continue to do so with or without guidance from the Trump administration.

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

“Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.

“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.

“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe it to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”

To learn more about supporting transgender students in K-12, please click on the following NEA report titled “Schools in Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 schools.”

Eskelsen García helps U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan launch Public Education Caucus

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García joined U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and other public education supporters Tuesday to announce the launch of a Congressional Public Education Caucus to support the goals of public education under Donald Trump’s presidency and to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

“Making large political contributions to Donald Trump and countless other politicians and organizations aimed at dismantling public education does not count as a qualification for the position of the head of the Department of Education,” Pocan said.

“Betsy DeVos is a danger to students, especially our most vulnerable students,” Eskelsen García said.

According to, Rep. Mark Takano (D-California), who spent over two decades as a public school teacher and is part of the caucus, said at the press conference that DeVos’ lack of experience gives her an “incredibly narrow view of public education in America.”

“She will insert a profit motive into children’s education that will cripple our public schools and punish the millions of students who attend them every day,” Takano said. “Betsy DeVos will create a race to the bottom line.”

Pocan and Takano were joined on by several House Democrats along with Eskelsen García, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and Council of Great City Schools legislative services director Jeff Simering.

Here is a collection of web stories, Facebook posts and Tweets covering the news conference:

Clinton wants to build bridges, not walls, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García says at Democratic National Convention

From the National Education Association

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who leads the nation’s largest union with 3 million members, addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Monday tonight. Eskelsen García began her career in education as a school lunch lady, but she was encouraged to go to college and become a teacher. Just nine years after entering the classroom, Eskelsen García was named the 1989 Utah Teacher of the Year and is the first-ever Latina elected to lead the National Education Association. She is the highest-ranking Latina in the labor movement and one of the country’s most influential Hispanic educators.

The following are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Muy buenas tardes, compañeros.

“What an honor to be here representing the nearly three million educators of the National Education Association.

“My story isn’t so different from my students’ stories: My mom is an immigrant. My dad served in the Army. My parents worked hard so that their six kids could have a chance to get ahead. And they were so proud when I became a teacher.

“But today, too many students in our classrooms feel like they won’t get the chance I got, especially those from immigrant families. They tell us they’re afraid that their parents might be taken away, that they might be deported for not having the right piece of paper.

“Hillary Clinton believes families should be together. She believes in our DREAMers. And she believes educators should be focused on education—not deportation.

“Donald Trump sees things…differently. My mom says that if you can’t say something nice about somebody, at least make it funny. But I can’t make this funny. Donald Trump sees immigrants as criminals, drug dealers, rapists. He’d round up families and deport them. He’d build a wall.

“We’re better than that. Our kids deserve better than that.

“Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to divide people with walls of hate. She wants to build bridges to a better future for all. That’s why America’s educators are with her!

“We will do everything in our power to build a bridge to a future where Hillary Clinton is our president!


NEA President: Obama budget rightly shines spotlight on education, students

Educators remain concerned about impact of budget on implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act

President Barack Obama Tuesday released the final budget of his administration for fiscal year 2017. The president’s budget is the first since the congressional passage of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement.

“President Barack Obama’s budget rightly shines a spotlight on education and students for the eighth year in a row. Educators appreciate and welcome the additional investments in public education.

“However, we are concerned that the budget doesn’t go far enough with investments to create more opportunity for all students, regardless of their ZIP code, especially as we shift our attention towards the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. We believe that essentially flat-funding the main programs aimed at helping the students most in need will undermine the promise of ESSA to provide opportunity for all students.

“And while we appreciate the notable increase proposed for the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education to help enforce civil rights laws and opportunity for all students, we believe a greater investment on the front end for Title I in particular must be part of that effort. Likewise, it is a disappointment that the budget proposes no increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) core grants.

“The stakes continue to remain high for students and working families. We hope that the bipartisanship displayed at times last year in Congress will lead to greater future collaboration and investment. By working in a bipartisan manner, Congress and the president can take a step towards ensuring the success of every student in America.”

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GOP presidential candidates offer up more failed economic, immigration plans, NEA says

Republican presidential candidates met again Tuesday night in Milwaukee to discuss and debate the issues that affect nearly 319 million Americans. The following statement can be attributed to Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union that represents 3 million members:


Lily Eskelsen García

“Tonight is like déjà vu all over again. The debates offered another three hours of Republican presidential candidates offering the same old failed economic ideas that do nothing more than help the 1 percent get ahead while working families struggle to make ends meet. It’s truly shameful that these candidates have spent nearly every minute of their debates bickering while completely ignoring the needs of America’s children and public education in this country.

“When the GOP presidential candidates finally got around to mentioning families, they focused on ways to rip them apart by doubling down on the current arcane and bureaucratic immigration laws. Educators know from experience that family unity plays a critical role in student success. It’s time to fix our broken immigration system and bring about comprehensive reform because keeping families together is essential to keeping America strong.

“The American people will expect more from the next president than what they heard tonight, and voters will demand it at the ballot box.”

Standardized testing mania hurts students, does nothing to close gaps, NEA says

‘Brave solution from federal government’ still needed to diminish volume, misuse of toxic tests

From the NEA

eskelsen-garcia_150pxThe National Education Association, the nation’s largest union with 3 million educators, has been sounding the alarm on the toxicity of the standardized testing mania that has been hijacking America’s schools. Recent statements by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools, and now a new report from Center for American Progress have confirmed that too often and in too many places, the education system has turned into a system of teach, learn and test with a focus on punishments and prizes.

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

“We commend the CCSSO and CGCS for taking a much needed first step to address the sources of over-testing that stem from state and local tests. But in order to reduce the over-use and abuse of standardized tests, we still need a brave solution from the federal government—such as a return to grade span testing. The sheer volume of tests and test prep that students must endure because of over-testing in America’s schools takes away from students’ time to learn and does nothing to close opportunity gaps.

“As educators, we support testing as a way to guide instruction for our students and tailor lessons to their individual needs. When students spend increasing amounts of class time preparing for and taking state and federally mandated standardized tests, we know the system is broken. As experts in educational practice, we know that the current system of standardized tests does not provide educators or students with the feedback or accountability any of us need to promote the success and learning of students. It also doesn’t address the main issues that plague our education system, like ensuring equity and opportunity for all students.

“School is where childhood happens. Even if Civil War dates are forgotten and geometry becomes a blur, one lesson must stick: the love of learning. No bubble test can measure how a kid feels; no standard replaces figuring out how to get along with others. So much happens at school that shapes our children’s tomorrows, including the security, acceptance and joy they feel today.

“Parents don’t want their children to be treated with a one-size-fits-all education approach. And educators know that students are more than a test score, so let educators teach and put an end the toxic practice of punishing students, schools and educators based on test results.”