Craig Montessori Students Organize Peace March

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

“I don’t know what you’ve been told! The violence is getting old!”

– Chant from the Craig Montessori students

The fifth and sixth grade students at Craig Montessori School made posters and banners for a Peace March outside school on Monday afternoon. The students waved their signs for passersby to see in an effort to bring attention to violence in the city of Milwaukee. Thanks to teacher Kenneth Spears and MTEA member and teacher Christina Disterhaft for helping facilitate this important action with your students!

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

Our future is bright!

 

Flickr album with photos from the Peace March can be found here.

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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

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.

Make MPS a real “Sanctuary School District”

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As educators we know that schools should be safe places for ALL students. Yet, under the Trump administration, our students and their families are living with the fear of being torn apart at any moment.
MTEA is joining with our students organized in Youth Empowered in the Struggle to defend against attacks on immigrant communities. We are gathering signatures in support of a school board resolution that would make MPS a sanctuary district.
As a sanctuary district, MPS will not:
• Cooperate with ICE
• Allow ICE on school premises
• Share students’ confidential information.
PetitionA resolution put forth by school board directors Larry Miller and Tatiana Joseph will be before a school board committee on March 23. If it passes committee the resolution will move to the full board meeting for a vote on March 30, so please be prepared to attend this meeting in support.
If  you are interested in circulating a petition in support of the proposed resolution you can download the petition tear off card  or sanctuary petition and return sign copies to the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association office located at 5130 W. Vliet St. or the Voces de la Frontera office located at 1027 S. 5th St.
You can sign a petition in support below:

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Increased Test Scores Release MPS From Takeover Legislation

kim-banner-copyStatement from MTEA President Kim Schroeder:

Today we welcome an important announcement on the status of the MPS Takeover plan. The Department of Public Instruction and MPS have shared that as a result of improved DPI scores, MPS is no longer at risk of takeover under the current legislation.

The MPS Takeover legislation was one of the greatest threats to public education Milwaukee has ever seen. I applaud every member who worked tirelessly to fight this unjust law through grassroots organizing and direct action. It is because of the dedication and commitment of MTEA members, parents, and community members, that our students are performing against all odds to overcome the effects of failed educational policies.

We know what works in Milwaukee because we are seeing the results of positive, educator-driven initiatives like the Community School model. We see what happens in public schools when parents, communities, students, and educators are empowered to take ownership of their schools to ensure the success of every child. The takeover legislation, which threatened to take away local control, is another example of a failed policy created without the expertise of educators who work in our schools.

Every child in Wisconsin has the right to a publicly funded, equitable, and democratically controlled public school and the MTEA is deeply committed to ensuring every child, regardless of their zip code, has access to the schools they deserve. MTEA members will continue to fight any attempts to threaten the public schools that have the commitment, capacity, and legal responsibility to educate all children.

In solidarity,

Kim-Schroeder-Signature

Kim Schroeder
MTEA President

 

 

Wisconsin Education Association Council President, Ron “Duff” Martin sent a formal letter congratulating MTEA on the news from the Department of Public Instruction.

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Pierce Elementary First Graders Hold Book Signing Celebration

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How many books did you have published at the completion of first grade? Few people can claim five published works before they even step into second grade, but that’s exactly what the first grade students of Pierce Elementary have done. On Thursday morning, they invited family to school to join them for a book signing celebration.

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The students arrived to the gym to find a red carpet laid out for them leading to the head table where they would be signing their books.

 

The students welcomed family members to their book signing celebration and described some of the things they learned about the writing process.

The students welcomed family members to their book signing celebration and described some of the things they learned about the writing process.

 

The students delivered their completed books to their loved ones, while they singing. Very few had dry eyes during this moving presentation.

The students delivered their completed books to their loved ones, while singing. Very few had dry eyes during this moving presentation.

 

Mrs. Haack, the students teacher, spoke along with several other speakers congratulating the students on their tremendous achievement.

Mrs. Haack, the students teacher, spoke along with several other speakers congratulating the students on their tremendous achievement.

 

And finally the moment the students have been waiting six months for...time to sign!

And finally the moment the students have been waiting six months for…time to sign!

 

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Like any great celebration, the students ended with cake.

Like any great celebration, the students ended with cake.

Pierce Classroom Book Signing Celebration from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Come and Learn About Milwaukee’s Four Community Schools

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Community schools are the future for students in Milwaukee. What is a community school? Come and find out!

Join school staff at the four existing MPS community schools, Milwaukee Public Schools administration, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Wisconsin Jobs Now, and participating students as they discuss Milwaukee’s vision for community schools.

Come and Learn About Milwaukee’s Four Community Schools.

RSVP below:
Auer Avenue Community School
Bradley Tech
Hopkins Lloyd Community School
James Madison Academic Campus

May 5 Community School Flyer

What you need to know about the shift to Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) programs in Milwaukee Public Schools

Class-Size-Matters

Written by: Kim Schroeder – MTEA President

Administrators & New Furniture vs. Reduced Class Sizes with more 1:1 attention for Children

Background:
On July 1, of 2015 Scott Walker signed into law Wisconsin Act 53. This law phases out the class-size reduction program known as the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program that provides eligible schools per-pupil funding for each low-income K-3 student. The new law replaces SAGE with the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program. There is no significant difference between the SAGE funding for 2015-2016 and the AGR funding for next school year.

Currently, Milwaukee Public Schools are home to 62 of 325 Wisconsin SAGE schools that receive class size reduction funding for grades K-5 through 3rd. Under the new program, schools that were eligible for SAGE will continue to receive per-pupil funding, but they are no longer under legal obligation to limit class size as long as they incorporate suggested AGR strategies. As a result of the shift to AGR, the MPS administration has proposed an extreme plan to create 62 new positions, which can be teachers or administrators, spend tens of thousands of dollars on classroom refurbishments and eliminate over 120 front-line classroom teacher positions.

 

MPS has softened the impact of their original plan by giving school communities the authority to decide the role of those 62 positions. Who makes that decision is still unclear. And, while every school might want another professional, is it worth losing the class size reduction which has been a hallmark of our early childhood programs in our neediest schools?

SAGE-Schools New

 

There are 4 serious problems with the MPS Administration’s proposal:

 

  1. This plan hurts our children and families

 

Reviews of major research reveal that our children benefit from the 1:1 attention smaller class sizes provide. MPS’s plan will take those needed resources away from our youngest students.

 

Eliminating well over 120 front-line teaching positions and replacing them with 62 positions that could be administrators takes resources away from our children. This plan and its rationale are not student centered. It would take away valuable in-class support professionals that provide one-on-one attention.

 

Research shows that the benefits from class-size reduction are greater for low-income and minority children. Increasing class sizes will only harm our most vulnerable student population.

 

 

  1. MPS’s current proposal would increase class size for students in grades 1, 2 and 3

 

The move from SAGE to AGR does not require larger class sizes and leaves the decision up to each local school district. MPS will still receive per-pupil funding for all 62 former SAGE schools. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) lets school districts decide how to utilize its recommended strategies, which means there is no need for MPS to abandon limits on class size that ensure educators can give K-3 students the one-on-one attention shown to improve student outcomes.

 

  1. The MPS administration is engaging in an undemocratic process by trying to create 62 potential new administrator positions without school board approval

 

The publicly elected school board has the authority to decide how the school year 2016-17 budget will be spent, yet the district posted 62 administrator positions called Early Childhood Program Coordinators on the employee portal before the elected School Board had even approved the shift in personnel.

 

While the exact number of front-line teaching positions that would be eliminated is not provided, a low estimate of 2 teachers per building would eliminate well over 120 teaching positions!

 

 

  1. MPS class size ratios are already higher than nearby districts

 

Families desire communities with well-resourced public schools with small class sizes. When we look at MPS student to teacher ratios compared to other districts, there is a significant issue of disparity. Increasing the current class size ratio will amplify this imbalance and lead to more families fleeing the Milwaukee Public School system.

 

Class size ratio in other districts :

 

  •         Mequon is 17:1
  •         Glendale 16:1
  •         Waukesha 17:1
  •         South Milwaukee 17:1
  •         Milwaukee 21:1


If we eliminate effective class size reduction strategies, how will MPS attract or retain families?

 

MPS could be using the AGR resources in a way that would ensure smaller class sizes in early grades K-3 that are proven to boost student academic achievement.

 

Here’s what you can do:
First, call your publicly elected School Board member and Terry Falk, citywide school board director. Let the Board know the stories of the children in your classroom. Your voices and those of our families need to be heard.

Teacher-Student-Ratio-Meme

 

Second, show up with your parents and community next Tuesday, April 12th at 5:30 p.m. for the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee of the School Board and bear witness to the value of class size reduction for our kids.

RSVP now!

 

Education writer lauds successes of Community School concept at Auer Avenue School

AuerAvenueSchool_300pxIn a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, education reporter Alan J. Borsuk this weekend highlights the impressive progress being made at Milwaukee’s Auer Avenue School, a high-poverty inner city public school that has successfully implemented the Community School concept.

“Is there a long way to go? Yes,” Borsuk writes. “Is it going to take sustained and well-executed work to make big progress? Yes. But, in a morning at the school one day last week, what I believe I saw growing there was the kind of school culture — energized, focused, positive, committed — that, even in demanding circumstances, can move a school and its students forward in big ways.”

Auer Avenue is one of four Community Schools as a part of the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership. It is a Milwaukee Public School, not a charter or voucher school. And it has not been “taken over” under a new state law that gives the Milwaukee County executive power to take schools away from MPS and turn them over to outside operators (although it has been mentioned as a possible target of that law).

Borsuk writes about how the Community School concept works:

A pillar of the concept is that kids in high-poverty neighborhoods have a lot of needs outside of school that are unmet or inadequately met. Basic health care. Dental care. Eye tests and glasses. Clothes and food and help to stabilize home life. Make the school a center for improving these, the concept goes, and you improve success in school.

A second pillar calls for warm connections between a school and its surrounding community.

There’s a lot of work being done on both of those things at Auer Avenue. A partial list: There’s a Children Hospital nurse stationed at the school. United Way is paying the salary of an employee who works on community partnerships. The COA youth center adjacent to the school is a close ally. There’s a new parent council. There’s a new school leadership team that meets regularly and includes community members, students, and parents, as well as people from service agencies and, of course, school leaders. The school has introduced some “restorative justice” practices aimed at improving the way people in the building treat each other.

And, most importantly, he points out, these efforts have resulted in improvements in achievement, enrollment and attendance at Auer.

“Show me a school serving high-poverty students that is doing at least comparatively well and I’ll show you a place where the intangible element of ‘school culture’ is impressive,” Borsuk concludes. “I hope and I think I saw such a culture forming at Auer Avenue.

“Go get ’em, everybody. The kids and the city will be in your debt.”

Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:

Auer Avenue School shows signs of improving culture

There’s a surge of new programs at Auer Avenue Community School, and there are some positive results. People within the school, in the Milwaukee Public Schools administration, in the immediate neighborhood, and in the broader community are joining together to support the school and improve the lives and academic success of the children who go there.

Read more about Auer Avenue Elementary School:

Hundreds gather to protect MPS schools from takeover – MTEA

Several hundred public school supporters – parents, students, educators and community leaders – locked arms in front of MPS’s Auer Avenue School this afternoon in opposition to a school takeover plan proposed by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). Participants shouted “Our schools! Our solutions!”

MTEA members celebrate Labor Day 2015

The MTEA Labor Day contingent leaves Zeidler Park led by the Riverside drum line (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Labor Day contingent leaves Zeidler Park led by the Riverside drum line (All photos taken by Joe Brusky).

 

Hundreds of MTEA members, led by the Riverside University High School drum line, marched alongside MPS parents, community supporters, and members of other Milwaukee unions in this morning’s Labor Day march. Members handed out “no takeover” buttons and invited workers from other unions to join our city-wide Walk In for Public Schools events on Friday, September 18.

MTEA members sign up participants for the upcoming September 18th MPS "Walk In for Public Schools" day of action.

MTEA members sign up participants for the upcoming September 18th MPS “Walk In for Public Schools” day of action.

 

Leading Labor Day chants.

Leading Labor Day chants.

 

Milwaukee educators approach the Summerfest grounds.

Milwaukee educators approach the Summerfest grounds.

 

MTEA member Michelle Mackey marches holding a Stop the MPS Takeover sign.

MTEA member Michelle Mackey marches holding a Stop the MPS Takeover sign.

 

A young supporter marches with Milwaukee educators.

A young supporter marches with Milwaukee educators.

 

Marching to Summerfest grounds with downtown Milwaukee in the background.

Marching to Summerfest grounds with downtown Milwaukee in the background.

 

Milwaukee residents lined the street as marchers arrived at the Summerfest grounds for LaborFest.

Milwaukee residents lined the street as marchers arrived at the Summerfest grounds for LaborFest.

 

Thanks to all of the members and supporters who came out to celebrate today! Happy Labor Day to all.

Riverside University High School Drum Line Leads MTEA Labor Day March from MTEA Union on Vimeo.