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:

MTEA Welcomes Educators at Green Bay Avenue to our Union!

Photo: Joe Brusky

Photo: Joe Brusky

In November, news broke that Universal Academy–a non-instrumentality charter school brought into MPS under former Superintendent Gregory Thornton–was closing 2 of its schools.
MPS converted the campus on N. 8th St. back into Green Bay Avenue, a traditional MPS public school and welcome students and families from both closed universal schools.
Over the next couple of months, nearly 100% of the educators organized at Green Bay Avenue to become members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and have been working tirelessly to improve teaching and learning conditions at their school.
On January 11, 2017 MTEA President Kim Schroeder awarded them with the Sid Hatch Outsanding School Leader award for their advocacy on behalf of MPS students!
Welcome to the MTEA, Green Bay Avenue!
MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the "Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader" award at a recent union representative assembly.

MTEA president Kim Schroeder presents leaders at Green Bay Avenue School with the “Sid Hatch Outstanding Building Leader” award at a recent union representative assembly.

NEA applauds MTEA for fighting for Milwaukee public schools and kids

In its latest newsletter, the NEA Center for Organizing applauds members and leaders of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association for the work they have done to improve students’ test scores and divert efforts by Republican legislators and private interests to take over schools. The newsletter says:

victory took place after nearly three years of fighting and resisting a state mandated and legislative takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. Community members and educators stand proud as the first district in the country to successfully resist a state-mandated takeover. Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) blended teacher quality and standards programs with political advocacy, internal growth and strength work, and led with partnerships and coalition building in the community. The state superintendent, Tony Evers, announced on October 12 that Milwaukee test scores have improved to such a degree that they no longer qualify for takeover under state statute.

Through the Great Public Schools “lighthouse” grants NEA helped establish a teaching and learning department to improve teaching standards in the district. The MTEA teaching and learning department annually has three times more participants in its professional development programs than the district where members are paid to attend. The Teaching and Learning department at MTEA has been crucial in two important ways: first, it helped to grow and improve student outcomes which is evident in the increase in scores on the school report cards, and second, it helped to define the union as a place where educators need to go if they want to excel in their field.

MTEA genuinely engaged members of the community, sought input, supported local issues; and garnered true community partnership in the resistance to privatization. By doing walk-ins, holding community forums, canvassing parents’ homes and engaging the community in the struggle, MTEA has created a model that other school districts that are under attack should replicate. If we don’t resist, we won’t win. Milwaukee has proven, even against all odds, that if you do resist, you can win.

NEA Today spotlights work of union leader Sequanna Taylor, an ESP and Milwaukee County supervisor

Sequanna Taylor

Sequanna Taylor

You think you just don’t have time to be an advocate for your union or public education? Check out Sequanna Taylor, who is spotlighted this month in NEA Today.

The mother of four, Taylor is the parent engagement specialist at Golda Meir School, president of the Milwaukee Educational Assistants’ Association Council (MEAA), and a board member with Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). She is also on the Education Support Professionals (ESP) Committee of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly.

Nationally, Taylor networks with ESPs at NEA ESP conferences such as the latest event she attended in March in Orlando, Fla.

But she hasn’t stopped there.

Last spring, she won election as a Milwaukee County supervisor!

“When that seat became available, I knew I couldn’t just sit around,” she says. “My union prepared and encouraged me to seek higher office, so if the county is going to speak for our students and schools, then I am going to fight from within the system.”

As a county supervisor, she says, “I see firsthand how community issues such as affordable housing, proper nutrition, and decent health care overflows into schools. How can a student focus on learning when they are worried about their next meal or whether or not they have a place to stay for the night?”

A Milwaukee native, Taylor attended South Division High School and has an associate’s degree in criminal justice and bachelor’s degree in human services. She is also a graduate of an eight-month leadership-training program sponsored by Emerge Wisconsin, a national organization active in 14 states that prepares women to run for political office.

Taylor says ESPs nationwide are considered by many as the foundation of their schools since more than 70 percent live, shop, vote, and worship in the same district where they work.

“In Milwaukee, many of us, or our children, attended the same schools where we work,” she says. “Community residents are more likely to listen to someone they know … who they see at school and in the neighborhood.”

Read entire NEA Today article:

ESP Sequanna Taylor Advocates for Students as a Milwaukee County Supervisor

The new law not only sparked massive protests at the state capitol in Madison, it set off something deeply personal in Taylor herself. “I drove to the statehouse for a rally and the moment I stepped onto the grounds I knew I needed to be in the meat of things,” she says.

Takeover Commissioner Means’ resignation a victory for Milwaukee students and community, MTEA says

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) President Kim Schroeder Wednesday released the following statement on the resignation of Chris Abele’s appointed Takeover commissioner, Demond Means:

“Demond Means’ decision to resign from his role as OSPP Takeover commissioner is a victory for parents, students, and community members who have been fighting to keep Milwaukee Public Schools in the hands of a democratically elected school board.

“Public schools are based on local control and local decision making. It is uncertain how any advocate of public education can willingly spearhead a plan that would force a public school district to give up local control.

“We hope that Means’ resignation leads to swift and serious action among state legislators to fully support the students of MPS with adequate funding to provide our students with the resources they deserve, including certified educators, lower class sizes for more one-on-one support, inviting classrooms and well rounded curriculum.

“The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association remains committed to work towards a solution that honors the right of every child in Milwaukee to have a quality public education, regardless of their zip code. We will continue to resist any attack on our community’s fundamental democratic rights that would remove public institutions from the control of our publicly elected school board.”

Read more:

Demond Means resigns as leader of Milwaukee turnaround district

By of the Demond Means, the Mequon-Thiensville superintendent tapped by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to lead a state-mandated school turnaround district, resigned on Wednesday. “Over the last several months, it has become clear to me that efforts to implement the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program law will become increasingly adversarial at a time when adversity is the last thing our children need,” Means said in a statement.

ESP Sequanna Taylor advocates for students as a Milwaukee County Supervisor

From NEA.org
By John Rosales

Sequanna Taylor

Sequanna Taylor

After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the ominous Act 10 into law in March 2011, Sequanna Taylor was curious how the new legislation affected her job as a parent engagement specialist at the Golda Meir School in Milwaukee. After investigating, everything she heard from colleagues about this right-to-work (for less) law made her temperature rise.

“The law stripped most public unions of collective bargaining rights and changed the relationship between educators, the union and school district … for the worse,” Taylor says.

The new law not only sparked massive protests at the state capitol in Madison, it set off something deeply personal in Taylor herself.

“I drove to the statehouse for a rally and the moment I stepped onto the grounds I knew I needed to be in the meat of things,” she says. “I saw how my union stepped up for students and schools and I wanted to do my part.”

In 2014, Taylor became president of that union, the Milwaukee Educational Assistants’ Association Council (MEAA), and a board member with Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA). She is also on the Education Support Professionals (ESP) Committee of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and a delegate to the NEA Representative Assembly.

But she hasn’t stopped there.

When a seat opened up for Milwaukee County Board Supervisor of District 2, Taylor joined the race and was elected April 5.

“When that seat became available, I knew I couldn’t just sit around,” she says. “My union prepared and encouraged me to seek higher office, so if the county is going to speak for our students and schools, then I am going to fight from within the system.”

With her parents and four children (ranging in age from 18 to 9) also residing in the district, Taylor has a vested interest in ensuring that the needs of children and the elderly “are not tossed by the wayside.”

“I got into politics to represent, inform and help my constituents with a voice at the table,” says Taylor, a former special education paraeducator who became Meir’s parent coordinator in 2014.

The MEAA Council represents 850 education support professionals and is one of four bargaining units within the 4,500-member MTEA.

“We are excited to have MTEA members elected into local leadership positions,” says MTEA President Kim Schroeder. “We don’t want to settle for politicians that make blanket statements in support of education. We want to elect strong individuals who have real progressive experiences in the trenches fighting for quality public education.”

As a county supervisor, Taylor says she wants to develop a response system that identifies the health, safety and social needs of families so that children are less distracted by certain adult issues and freer to focus on their studies.

“I see firsthand how community issues such as affordable housing, proper nutrition, and decent health care overflows into schools,” she says. “How can a student focus on learning when they are worried about their next meal or whether or not they have a place to stay for the night?”

A Milwaukee native, Taylor attended South Division High School and has an associate’s degree in criminal justice and bachelor’s degree in human services. She is also a graduate of an eight-month leadership-training program sponsored by Emerge Wisconsin, a national organization active in 14 states that prepares women to run for political office.

Nationally, Taylor networks with ESPs at NEA ESP conferences such as the latest event she attended in March in Orlando, Fla.

“You get to know ESPs from all over and create relationships for a lifetime,” she says. “I like how NEA gears leadership training, education tips, seminars and workshops to the specific needs and responsibilities of ESPs.”

Taylor says ESPs nationwide are considered by many as the foundation of their schools since more than 70 percent live, shop, vote, and worship in the same district where they work.

“In Milwaukee, many of us, or our children, attended the same schools where we work,” she says. “Community residents are more likely to listen to someone they know … who they see at school and in the neighborhood.”

Meir is a “gifted and talented” school offering classes to approximately 750 students in grades 3-10.

“Our student body is very diverse in terms of racial and ethnic groups and family income levels,” Taylor says. “They come from all over — the affluent suburbs and struggling inner city.”

Some families call on Taylor for help locating affordable housing, social services or even an interpreter for business matters since English is not their first language.

“I have an open line where they can call me on my cell or e-mail me and I’ll respond,” she says. “When I leave school, it’s not like I’m off.”

Milwaukee teacher Mai Shoua Xiong throws out ‘first pitch’ at Brewers game on National Teacher Day

Mai Shoua Xiong

Mai Shoua Xiong

To help celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers invited Milwaukee teacher – and Wisconsin’s 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year – Mai Shoua Xiong to throw out the first pitch at Miller Park.

Mai, who is a member of WEAC and the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA), did an amazing job!

Thanks, Mai, for all you do! And thanks to all the great educators in Wisconsin public schools!

Watch more WEAC member videos and find out more about Teacher Appreciation Week.

NEA Foundation highlights Milwaukee urban farming and aquaponics grant program during Earth Week

UrbanFarmingMilwaukee

The NEA Foundation is celebrating Earth Week by highlighting grants that fund special Earth-friendly grant projects such as an urban farming and aquaponics program in Milwaukee.

This NEA Foundation case study and related e-book include valuable insights from two successful STEM projects it funded, in partnership with AT&T, in Milwaukee and New York City. These resources are designed for all educators, whether their districts are rural, suburban, or urban, to grow urban farming or aquaponics programs in their own schools.

Students produce their own food (everything from kale to fish!) and learn about not only science but also social justice, business, healthy eating, and sustainability. These programs have taken root in young minds across each district.

“Once the kids showed up and saw what the class was about, they kept showing up,” says Rochelle Sandrin, a science teacher at Bradley Tech in Milwaukee.

In the spirit of the season, and just in time for Earth Day, you are encouraged to find out more and share these resources. Click these links to post on Facebook and Twitter.

And view this video about the Milwaukee urban farming and aquaponics grant program:

Find out more about NEA Foundation Grants.

Deadlines for applications are
February 1, June 1, and October 15.

NEA Foundation also highlighted these recent Wisconsin grants:
NEAFoundationGrants
 

Milwaukee’s Heidi Reid is a ‘Top Teacher’

Milwaukee Public Schools speech pathologist Heidi Reid – a Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and WEAC member – is WISN TV’s March Top Teacher.

In a WISN video honoring Heidi, who works at Humboldt Park Elementary School, she says her most exciting moments are seeing children make progress.

“Some children might have difficulty talking. Some children might have difficulty with how others understand them. And we work on both of those, or the understanding of language: following directions, asking questions, things like that,” she says.

“Watching them progress, especially with their speech and language skills is really exciting, to see them come from hardly talking at all to talking a lot is really exciting, and to see their parents be happy with their progress and be able to understand them, really inspires me.

“When I see a child be able to do something I knew they weren’t able to do, even last week, that is my best day, whether it is a sound we are working on that they didn’t get, and we’ve been working on it and working on it and all of a sudden they’ve got it, that is my best day.”

Watch the WISN report:

Milwaukee community tells school board: Class Size Matters!

A huge outpouring of support from educators, parents, students and community advocates of quality public schools convinced the Milwaukee school board Tuesday night to demand more information before acting on an administration proposal that would threaten the district’s class size reduction efforts.

Among those testifying was Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association Vice President Amy Mizialko, who said: “Money saved today by increasing class sizes will result in more substantial social and educational costs for our children in their futures.”

MTEA took to Facebook to post a series of photos, memes, videos and recaps of testimony from Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Below is a collection of some of those posts, with photos by Joe Brusky (click HERE if the images do not appear below):

Read more about the district’s plan:

Plan to reassign teachers raises class size concerns in MPS

By of the More than 100 teachers could be reassigned, pushing up classroom sizes in some early grades at dozens of Milwaukee Public Schools next year as MPS phases out of the state’s soon-to-be-defunct class size reduction program known as SAGE.