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!

Educators Must Fight for Our Students and Lead the Way Forward!

Photo of textbooks in an MPS classroom (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Public School students and classrooms have been systematically defunded. Tattered textbooks, crowded classrooms, and shrinking art, music, and physical education classes are just a few of the consequences our students and educators face thanks to Scott Walker’s unprecedented public education cuts. In addition to Walker’s cuts, MPS students also face a structural disparity in per pupil funding when compared to their suburban counterparts.

MPS administration has for too long accepted and passed these cuts on to our students and classrooms. Top this with the fact administration continues to entertain toxic proposals from privatizers that will hand over our schools to private operators. Enough! When will administration put their foot down and demand better for our students?

Riverside High School students and educators rallied and walked in together on Tuesday morning to call attention to the cuts (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Now MPS is proposing an additional 5% across the board cut to students and schools and massive healthcare and benefits cuts to the same education workers already burdened by years of cuts. MPS educators have stepped in to fill the void left by state budgets by purchasing snacks, clothing, and basic classroom supplies for their students, but our students deserve fully funded classrooms, not charity.

We’re tired of our Governor, other politicians who refuse to act, and an MPS administration who continues to pass cuts on to students and classrooms. We’ve had enough and we’re fighting back!

Over 1,500 educators, parents, and community supporters packed MPS Central Office on Tuesday to demand a better budget.

Last Tuesday, the MPS Central Office auditorium, three overflow rooms, and hallways were filled to capacity with educators, parents, and students to demand a better budget. Many MTEA and community members as well as students spoke out against the proposed cuts. Join us for these coming events as we continue to fight to demand our students & educators have the resources they deserve:

• Keep budget cuts away from schools!
• Time for teachers and educational assistants to meet the needs of their students.
• Quality affordable healthcare for ALL full-time education workers – including subs!
• Raises to attract and retain the education workers our students deserve.

Upcoming Events

4/18 Community Planning Meeting

MTEA is calling for an all MPS parent, student, and community member meeting to discuss cuts to our schools and next steps. Please invite parents and neighbors to attend this important meeting

RSVP to attend

Facebook Event Page

4/24 Picket to Defend Our Schools

Last Tuesday, the MPS Central Office auditorium, three overflow rooms, and hallways were filled to capacity with educators, parents, and students to demand a better budget. Many MTEA and community members as well as students spoke out against the proposed cuts.

RSVP to attend

Facebook Event page

To download the April 24 sign up sheet, click here. 

Riverside Rallies & Walks In to Say NO to Massive Budget Cuts to Students & Schools from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

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.

Call for Student Art Submissions for Milwaukee “March for Our Lives”

Obama School of Career and Technical Education student and Milwaukee March for Our Lives organizer Marvell Reed holds a sign at a press conference at Homestead High School announcing the day and time of the march (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 14 students and 3 educators were killed and 14 others were wounded, students and educators have been the most outspoken advocates for ensuring that all students have the support to learn, starting with school communities that are safe from gun violence.

A student works at the Milwaukee Art Build for Public Education that took place in the Riverwest neighborhood and ws organized by MTEA members last February (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association members are organizing a Saturday of art to fight for schools that are safe from gun violence. We choose our students, not guns.

The Art Build will take place Saturday, March 17 from 10:00am-6:00pm in the art ed. room in the basement of the UWM Kenilworth Square Building.

 

The community is invited to join us and our students in making banners, posters, and other pieces in preparation for the Milwaukee March 24 “March for Our Lives – Milwaukee.”
CALL FOR IMAGES!

Art for the “March For Our Lives” march in Milwaukee

Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

MTEA is sponsoring this one-day art build. The plan is to screen print 2,000 posters with the message: “Protect Students, Not Guns” and to paint banners with the slogan “Never Again.” Students and educators from MPS are encouraged to submit designs for either the poster or the banners.

Specifics for the screen-printed poster:

• Size: 12.5″ x 19″ (can be a horizontal or vertical composition)
• One-color design. (It can printed in any color but please submit a one-color design)
• Text should read: Protect Students, Not Guns
• Leave space in the lower right corner for the MTEA logo to be added.
• Things to consider: Bold designs, bold images, bold text are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Specifics for the banners:

• Banner designs will be projected and painted.
• Text can be: Never Again or Protect Students Not Guns
• Banners will be horizontal compositions. Around 4′ tall by 8′ long.
• Banners will be painted so best if the design is 1-3 colors max.

Things to consider:

Bold designs, bold images, bold texts are best read in a crowd and by the camera.

Deadline for the art submissions: Wednesday, March 14th
by 6:00pm. Please email designs to nicolaslampert23@gmail.com

Photo credit: Joe Brusky

 

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

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.

Why I Resigned from the MPS Takeover Advisory Council

Statement given to the press by MTEA president Kim Schroeder–May 10, 2016

 

County Executive, Chris Abele and Dr. Means invited me to sit on the OSPP Advisory Council. When they first approached me, there was a plan on the table to use an empty MPS building to develop an early childhood program that would be used as a feeder into MPS. I was assured that my participation would be an opportunity to influence the policy and implementation of that plan.

I thought my role was to help develop and improve that plan to move into an empty building in MPS. Instead, Dr. Means brought a proposal the school board that was different than what was ever discussed and without sharing the plan ahead of time with the advisory council.

In addition, Dr. Means’ public statements have been inconsistent at best and I cannot continue to sit on the advisory council that is designed to rubber stamp policies that serve an unjust law and will hurt the children and families of Milwaukee Public Schools–therefore, I am resigning from the OSPP Advisory Council.

MTEA President Resigns from MPS Takeover Advisory Board from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

 

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.

MTEA member Mai Xiong is Wisconsin Elementary School Teacher of the Year

State Superintendent Tony Evers presents AAL educator Mai Xiong with the 2015 Wisconsin Elementary Teacher of the Year.

State Superintendent Tony Evers presents AAL educator Mai Xiong with the 2015 Wisconsin Elementary Teacher of the Year.

First-grade teacher and MTEA member Mai Xiong was named Wisconsin Elementary School Teacher of the Year in a surprise ceremony today at MPS’ Academy of Accelerated Learning (AAL).

State Superintendent Tony Evers told students and staff who were gathered for the assembly, “All great schools have one thing in common: great teachers. One of the star teachers in our state is here at AAL. Please help me welcome and honor the 2015 Elementary Teacher of the Year, Mai Xiong.”

MTEA president Kim Schroeder recognized and congratulated Xiong, presenting her with an MTEA tote bag and an MTEA “standing strong” t-shirt.

As Xiong accepted the award, she acknowledged her students and colleagues. “Every day I come to school, I see smiles, I see children who are eager to learn. I give credit to all of my colleagues. They have helped me develop into the teacher that I am today. This award is not only my award, it’s the award of all the children here as well as all my colleagues.”

Looking out into the audience, Xiong realized that her parents and other relatives were also present to celebrate the occasion, and recognized the importance of their support as well.

Xiong began her teaching career at MPS’ Story School in 1998, and has been at AAL since 1999. As someone for whom English was a second language, she is passionate about improving education for children who are English language learners. She also stresses the importance of integrating parents into their children’s education: “I believe a student’s number one teacher is the parent, and educational success is most achievable when there is evident teamwork between parents, teachers, and community.”

After the award ceremony, Xiong said, “I never thought I would receive an award for doing what I love.”

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