Celebrating Juneteenth

The importance of the emancipation of 4 million people enslaved in the United States is not marked by a federal holiday. The celebration of the last enslaved people receiving word of their freedom is called Juneteenth. Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19 and Milwaukee’s Northcott Neighborhood House is host to one of the oldest celebrations in the United States. Learn more about Juneteenth along with lesson plans and activities below.

Watch for a Virtual Juneteenth Day Celebration 2020 on WTMJ 4.

What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

Watch the video.

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” is a speech by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass, who himself escaped enslavement years before, gave the speech on July 5, 1852 at an Independence Day celebration in Rochester, New York.

What is Juneteenth? 

by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” —General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

When Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued the above order, he had no idea that, in establishing the Union Army’s authority over the people of Texas, he was also establishing the basis for a holiday, “Juneteenth” (“June” plus “nineteenth”), today the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States. After all, by the time Granger assumed command of the Department of Texas, the Confederate capital in Richmond had fallen; the “Executive” to whom he referred, President Lincoln, was dead; and the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery was well on its way to ratification. Read the rest.

Juneteenth Jamboreevideo series


Teaching Juneteenth: Understanding Emancipation

Teaching Tolerance

Juneteenth is more than an observance of freedom. It’s also a time to share the experiences of those who fought—literally and figuratively—to seek true freedom for future generations. It’s important that we don’t whitewash this history. 

A common mistake among those who teach the history of American slavery is to center the U.S. government’s role in granting freedom while also placing the onus to navigate through a racist society solely on the formerly enslaved.

Perhaps many center Lincoln in this history because we tend to think of the Emancipation Proclamation, instead of the 13th Amendment, as ending slavery. Our 2018 Teaching Hard History report found that 59 percent of high school students couldn’t correctly identify the latter as the legal end to slavery in the United States. 

But it’s important for students to know that enslaved people didn’t willfully accept enslavement or wait for others to free them. They resisted often and consistently. While rare, violent rebellions did occur. Some people successfully escaped enslavement. And everyday acts of resistance, such as breaking tools or pretending to be ill were other ways enslaved people asserted their humanity. Read the rest.

 Lesson Plans

§  Try a Juneteenth reading comprehension worksheet.

§  Read about Juneteenth and compare it with other holidays.

§  Check out Enchanted Learning’s Juneteenth pages.

§  Send a Juneteenth ecard.

§  Read Juneteenth poetry, and try writing your own.

§  Try a simple PDF worksheet on The Emancipation Proclamation. This worksheet asks students to paraphrase passages from the document, so it’s a good practice for paraphrasing, too.

§  Read Juneteenth, a simple but effective picture book about the celebration.

  • Juneteenth Jamboree and lesson plan from Lee & Low Books: Multicultural Children’s Book Publisher
  • Urban Intellectuals, Black History flashcards, posters, books

 Milwaukee and Juneteenth

“June 19 is still not recognized as a federal holiday, even though it has been celebrated for 154 years. The Civil War has no day of commemoration, like when the original 13 colonies declared independence. Yet by many criteria, Juneteenth represents a far greater struggle for freedom than July 4.

The tradition is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Organized by the Northcott Neighborhood House, Milwaukee hosts one of the oldest Juneteenth Day Festivals in the country, and its popularity in recent years has grown. The local event kicked off with a mile and a half parade that began on 19th Street and Atkinson Avenue and proceed down Dr. Martin Luther King Drive to end at Burleigh Street.”

Read more at the Milwaukee Independent

Milwaukee Juneteenth in the News

 Milwaukee’s 48th Annual Juneteenth Day Festival Celebrates Emancipation, Community, and Ancestors

‘A day of celebration and of jubilation’: What Juneteenth Day means to Milwaukee

Juneteenth Pumps Freedom into The Veins of Milwaukee’s Black Community

Contact Ingrid Walker-Henry at walker-henryi@mtea.org

The Masked Sewists of S.E. Wisconsin

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Laura Ridenour sews masks while her daughter watches (Photo: Joe Brusky.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit it became immediately clear there was a massive lack of personal protective equipment. The Masked Sewists of Southeastern Wisconsin stepped up to make sure workers and families had the PPE they needed. Their collective effort has been lifesaving and inspiring to say the least. We visited nine different homes and businesses where regular Wisconsinites began sewing masks as soon as they saw a need. Without everyday Wisconsinites heeding the call to action many more would be negatively impacted.  

Donica Lintner

Donica is the owner of the Log Cabin Sewing Company in Butler. When her shop was asked if they could help spread the word for the need for masks to be sewn the Facebook group “The Masked Sewists of S.E. Wisconsin” was born. Since members of the group have sewn nearly 90,000 masks! The collective effort has benefited nursing homes, group homes, Milwaukee County Transit System drivers, United Steel Workers, the VA Hospital, Froedtert, Children’s Hospital, Aurora clinics and hospitals, and thousands of friends and families.

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Owner of the Log Cabin Sewing Company, Donica Lintner (Photo: Joe Brusky).

In the time we stopped by Donica’s store to snap a few photos we experienced firsthand how the shop was the center of the masked sewists operation.

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Donica Lintner pours out bags of donated maska made by other Masked Sewists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Alka Gondaliya and Neeta Rathod

Alka and Neeta walked into the Log Cabin Sewing Company while we were snapping photos of Donica at the shop. They were dropping off bags of completed masks. Neeta has been helping sew masks as much as possible while Alka has been helping her mother:

“My mom is sewing at least 100 masks per week.” – Alka Gondaliya

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Alka Gondaliya and Neeta Rathod drop off more completed masks at the Log Cabin Sewing Company (Photo: Joe Brusky).

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An appreciative Will Navis of the Milwaukee VA Hospital stopped by the store to pick up a box of masks sewn by the collective (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Sign placed in the window of the Log Cabin Sewing Company (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Gina Jorgensen

North Division High School teacher and Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association member Gina Jorgensen has made hundreds of masks using a sewing machine donated to her by MPS School Social Worker Jane Audette. Jorgensen has sewn masks for delivery drivers for the Milwaukee Community Care and Mutual Aid effort, Aurora Psych, UW-Milwaukee Police, MPD, Rogers Hospital, the Airport Post Office, neighbors, community members, and numerous friends and family.

“I was unable to reach many of my students during the early days and I wanted to do something positive with my time.  I have been bartering for supplies, trading, people have been donating fabric and money to keep me going! I have made hundreds of masks.

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North Division H.S. art teacher and MTEA member Gina Jorgensen sews masks on a sewing machine donated to her by MPS social worker Jane Audette (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Gina holds a few completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Laura Ridenour

Laura Ridenour has made about fifty masks of various designs in her East Side home. Her masks have gone to MPS employees and volunteers handing out lunches. Laura sews while also raising her daughter.

“I started making masks because I felt really helpless given the pandemic. I wanted something that I could do to help, so I did some research. I found that PPE and masks were in great demand, and although hospitals and other essential workers were being helped through various projects and volunteer efforts, other communities were not. I had noticed people handing out lunches to children in front of a nearby elementary school. Shortly after, I was introduced to Mike Glabere (MTEA member) through his call for PPE when a friend tagged me in a post. As I continue to make masks, most are going to MPS. I hope that I’m making a difference, even if it is small.”

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Laura Ridenour checks to see if a completed mask fits her daughter (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Find the right size mask (Photo: Joe Brusky)
Photo: Joe Brusky

Angelica Campuzano, Victor Carrillo, Uriel Xolot, Yaniri Garcia, and Marco Camacho Campuzano of Blest by Campusano

South Side shop Blest by Campusano store owner, Marco Camacho Campuzano along with his mother Angelica Campusano, father, Victor Carillo, and employees Uriel Xolot and Yaniri Garcia have produced and donated over 5,000 masks to the community and to the House of Corrections, as well as St. Luke’s Hospital, and other workers in the healthcare field.

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Victor Carrillo cuts material down to size (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Victor Carrillo, Angelica Campuzano,and Marco Camacho Campuzano of Blest by Campusano hold up completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Angelica Campuzano sews masks on an industrial sewing machine at Blest by Campuzano (Photo: Joe Brusky)
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A rack of completed masks at Blest by Campusano
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Completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Margaret Fish

Wedgewood Park International art teacher and Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association member Margaret Fish has also been sewing masks during the pandemic:

“I learned how to sew in 7th grade at a class offered by Sears. I sewed a lot in high school, and made many of my own clothes at that time. Since then, I haven’t sewn much, but when the opportunity presented itself to try and help people by creating masks, I wanted to try and help if I could. I began by looking for patterns and tutorials online, and made about forty masks for family and friends, and am currently working on a batch for a home care health agency. I am also continuing to experiment with new and improved patterns and ways to get around the shortage of supplies to continue to provide what I can to the people I know that need them. I have also joined The Masked Sewers of S.E. WI group, and through this group I have made seventy-five masks for general donation and am working to create more. There are people that are making many more than I have been able to complete, but I hope what I have been able to contribute helps even just a little.” – Margaret Fish

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Wedgewood Park International art teacher Margaret Fish holds up a completed masks and some of the fabric she’s used to make masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Marva Herndon

Milwaukee School Board Director Marva Herndon sews masks in the basement of her North Side home.

“I made about 25 masks for family & friends. More importantly, I trained others in the use of sewing machines and how to make masks. We’ve had lots of fun and the training will be useful for my students far into the future. This is one of the good things brought on by COVID-19 – many people finding a new interest in basic life skills like cooking, sewing and even cleaning.

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Milwaukee School Board Director Marva Herndon irons out her fabric before bringing it to the sewing machine (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Marva holds up one of her completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Josie Osbourne & Kim Cosier

East Side partners Josie Osbourne and Kim Cosier have made over forty masks using a bunch of different fabrics they had on hand and purchased from a local store. Their masks have been given to CNA’s at a local senior living facility and the volunteers of the Ayuda Mutua MKE a relief effort on the South Side of Milwaukee helping feed many undocumented and refugee families who received no stimulus check yet are dealing with the same fallout from the pandemic.

“I have been sending them to any student or friend or acquaintance who needs one if they send me their address (making it with them in mind/while thinking of them intently envisioning them healthy and able to go out in the world safely wearing it)…mailing them with a handwritten letter. Kim has been making some unique ones too for specific friends and elderly folks we know. It has been a way to nurture, protect, connect…” – Josie Osborne

Josie Osborne and her partner Kim Cosier sew in their basement (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Josie Osbourne holds up a completed mask and the fabric used to make it (Photo: Joe Brusky).

“I used to say that the sewing machine was the one power tool I was afraid of but it is coming to seem like a friend now!” – Kim Cosier

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Kim Cosier works on her sewing machine (Photo: Joe Brusky).
A completed mask with fabric ready to be made into new masks (Photo: Joe Brusky)
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Kim Cosier holds up a few fabric designs for her next masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Beth Lukomski

Beth has sewn masks in the living room of her South Side home. Many of her masks have gone to Milwaukee County Transit System workers. She’s made embroidered masks with names for long term care facilities as well as helped out plumbers, contractors, and gas station attendants. She leaves masks clothes pinned to a tree in the front of her house to be easily picked up in plastic bags with directions on proper handling of the mask.

She’s had a hard time providing masks for the Masked Sewists group as keeping up with the demand of private requests by nursing staff has reduced her ability to retain large enough quantities to deliver:

“I’ve tried to go through The Masked Sewists of SE WI, but the direct requests have been too great to get a large enough batch to deliver. For every stack of 25 completed there are 23 urgent needs.”

I know quite a few that have hid their mask making, because its been too hard to choose whose requests to fill.

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Beth Lukomski can be seen sewing masks in her South Side home from the street (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Lukomski’s living room has been completely outfitted for sewing masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).
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Lukomski leaves her completed masks pinned to a tree in front of her house where they can be easily picked up. They are in ziplock bags with a set of instructions on how to safely care and handle the mask (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Melissa Zombor

“Many nights I sew past my bedtime because I want everyone to have access to a free mask to keep them safe. In the race to get masks out my door, I’ve lost track of exactly how many I’ve made. I’ve donated them to transit workers, Briggs and Stratton workers, healthcare workers, friends, family, coworkers, strangers on the Nextdoor app, and even a truck driver in South Carolina. I work full-time from home during the day so my sewing time is limited. Sometimes it’s faster for me to cut mask kits and give them away to other sewists in need of material who can finish them off.

My front storm door has a steady rotation of masks and materials hanging around the handle for porch pickups. My mail slot is stuffed with outgoing envelopes of masks or elastic (that stuff is harder to find than a roll of toilet paper). 

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Melissa Zombor sets up to sew on her family’s kitchen table (Photo: Joe Brusky).

I was first introduced to sewing in my high school home economics class and I’m forever grateful for that experience because it gave me the courage to buy my first sewing machine. My mom was never a machine sewer, but my grandma was. A lot of the sewing notions I use today (thread, needles, buttons, etc.) were hers.

My house is small so I don’t have a dedicated sewing room. My routine starts with me sanitizing my kitchen table and carrying out my machine, cutting mats, and other supplies from the linen closet. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff you need.

Some of Melissa’s completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).
Zombor holds up some of her completed masks (Photo: Joe Brusky).

While I sew, I think about every person who may wear one of the masks. I try to use a variety of colors and patterns that people will love and want to wear. I know that each mask has the potential to save lives and it’s a pretty heavy feeling. I think about the MPS teacher delivering supplies to students, the transit worker who drives my neighbor to pick up her groceries, the healthcare worker who needs a protective covering to go over the N95 mask they’ve been wearing for a week straight. I think about my family and the people they may come in contact with at the grocery store.

I wish we had proper protective equipment to keep everyone safe. It’s maddening that we don’t, but I’ll continue to sew cloth masks past my bedtime until everyone is protected and safe.

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For more information about the Masked Sewists from S.E. Wisconsin visit their website.

Milwaukee Black Lives Matter at School

If this is your first time or your third time participating in the Black Lives Matter Week of Action, the MTEA strongly encourages all members to get involved. In this blog you will find two tracks, Beginner and Intermediate, to help you understand BLM principles, prepare for discussion, and plan lessons. On January 21, at 4:30pm there will be a Black Lives Matter Week of Action Grab and Go, where members can look over resources and take lessons.

If you have a lesson or activity you would like to submit a lesson plan for sharing with other members, please send it by email Ingrid Walker-Henry at walker-henryi@mtea.org to share on 1/21 and to be added to the MTEA BLM shared drive. Black Lives Matter at School MTEA t-shirts are available.

Pledge to take action!

Beginner Planning Track

January 1-18

Getting Ready to Teach

The students at James Madison Academic Campus in Milwaukee made posters for a Black Lives Matter display at the school (Photo: Joe Brusky).

January 19 – 31

Lesson Planning for the Week

February 1 – 7

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Save these dates)

Intermediate Planning Track

January 1 – January 18

Getting Ready to Teach


Preparing for Discussions


Let’s Talk! Discussing Black Lives Matter

Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics with Students

Let’s Talk! Teaching Black Lives Matter

Let’s Talk! Discussing Whiteness

*Transcripts are available

Students at the African Immersion School in Milwaukee during the 2019 Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action Kickoff (Photo: Joe Brusky

January 19-31

Lesson Planning for the Week

Templates for lessons around a week of action for classrooms. These are suggested resources and ideas that may work for your students.

Multilingual Resources

General Resources to Support Discussion (all grades)

Lessons for Early Childhood and Elementary (elementary)

Lessons and Read Alouds (Youtube) by day (elementary)

Principles Writing Prompt (middle and high school)

Readings and Text to Support Discussion (middle and high school)

Topic Specific Week-Long lessons

Teaching about Youth Activism (elementary and middle)

Zinn Project Teach Reconstruction (high school)

The 1619 Project (high school)

Students collectively make a BLM at School banner at French Immersion School in Milwaukee in 2018 (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Art Lessons for Black Lives Matter at School

BLM Coloring Book (elementary)

Understanding Prejudice through Paper Plate Portraits

Principles Poster Lesson- Turning Ideas into Art

Black Lives Matter School Mural

All Early Childhood Resources

All Elementary Resources

All Middle School Resources

All High School Resources

North Division students hold a Black Lives Matter rally and march before holding an interview session with potential school board candidates in 2019 (Photo: Joe Brusky).

February 1-7

Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Save the date)

  • Teach lessons
  • Request MTEA social media
  • Social Media, use the hashtags #BlackLivesMatteratSchool or #BLMatSchool on FB/Twitter/Instagram
  • Attend the events
    • February 1, Black Lives Matter at School Pep Rally- TBD
    • February 3, Students Amplified- TBD
    • February 4, Push Out Screening- TBD
    • February 5, BLM at School Open Mic- TBD
    • February 6, Intergenerational Kickback and Snack Night- TBD
    • February 7, Black Stories Matter: A Storytelling Social- TBD

* We are grateful for the work of educators in Madison, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington DC, and others in creating and compiling lessons and activities for the Black Lives Matter in School Week of Action.

MTEA Bumper Sticker Design Contest

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association is holding a design contest to create a new MTEA bumper sticker. Anyone can submit a design for consideration to be made into a bumper sticker. The design must meet the following parameters to be considered and to be eligible for the winning prize:

Design Parameters:

• Design can be done digitally or on paper and must include the name “MTEA” or “Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association” on it.

• Design must be in the color(s): Red, Green, Blue

• Design must fit the size dimension of 3 inches x 11.5 inches

Must be submitted in-person to MTEA (5130 W. Vliet St.) or sent electronically to bruskyj@mtea.org no later than 5pm January 15, 2020.

• In addition to design please include: name, email address, phone number, and please indicate whether you’re a student or educator

Winner Will Receive:

• $50 cash prize

• One MTEA green hooded sweatshirt and choice of two MTEA t-shirts in our store (size permitting)

Sample Slogans:

• Red For Ed

• Union Proud

• Union Strong

• I’m Sticking with My Union

• MTEA – Here to Stay

• MTEA: The ❤️ of Milwaukee

• Support Public Education

• Union Strong All Day Long

Winner will be judged by a panel of MTEA leadership and MPS union art teachers

Update on MTEA Meet & Confer with District

President Amy Mizialko speaks with MTEA members following a meet and confer session with MPS Administration (Photo: Joe Brusky).

The MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration Tuesday for a Meet & Confer session. The session included positive testimony from MTEA members who are Speech and Language Pathologists, Sign Language Interpreters, and Registered Nurses.

Speech and Language Pathologists

Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson spoke on behalf of the speech pathologists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We help organize a recruitment lunch for graduate students in their final year to come and work for MPS. Beside student teaching it’s one of our most popular ways of gaining additional speech language pathologists, but it’s something we have to pay for out of our own pocket. The H.R. process is such a long process we’ve lost people. They said we applied we haven’t heard anything so if they don’t contact an additional person it’s really hard for them to get through the process.

– Elizabeth Sedita and Kendra Robinson


MPS has a problem retaining qualified interpreters because we are not paid a competitive wage. As a result we have high turnover. Being an interpreter is a profession. Our career is expensive. On top of a degree, interpreters are required to obtain and maintain certifications and licensure that ensures we are qualified. A specialized license through DPI requires our license to be renewed every five years and we have to fulfill 75 hours of PD requirements to maintain our license. The district offers no relevant PD to us so that 75 hours to maintain our credentials to stay legally employed falls on us.
Maybe the district is satisfied with the idea of the revolving door of private contracted workers, but our students are suffering. Imagine if you had a different regular education classroom with a different substitute teacher every day. It’s a terrible idea. It’s a mess. Our students need stability. We need to hire interpreters and stop spending exorbitant amounts of money on contractors and invest in our own people. A higher salary for interpreters, paid time for prep, a career path with steps and lanes, compensation for our experience and our additional credentials and reimbursements along with our required license fees.

– Brittany Peters and Casey Thomm

Registered Nurses

School Nurse Sarah Gruettner speaks on behalf of the district’s union nurses (Photo: Joe Brusky).

We have registered nurses who are new hires and they are making more than seasoned nurses who’ve been in the district for 5+ years. We have a nurse who started in February 2019 who’s making more money than a nurse who’s been in the district since 2007.”
We have an unfair attendance policy for the department that works the closest with our sick kiddos. When we have sick kiddos with the flu and mom and dad can’t come and get them for five hours, they’re in our office and we care for them. When we get the flu we’re told to use FMLA for it. We’re told we can’t use our sick time without getting in trouble for it.

– Sarah Gruettner

Members spoke to the disastrous effects of MPS eliminating salary schedules which has caused staff turnover to spike and several hundred vacancies. This has cost MPS significant amounts of money and hurts our students. Without salary schedules that are competitive in EVERY job class, we can’t attract the best for our students. Subcontracting further hurts our students and costs the district millions every year.

The district has agreed to salary schedule work groups which will begin in April.

The bargaining team also spoke to our demand for equitable treatment for all MPS workers from our Meet & Confer Platform.

We demand district policies that provide equal treatment to all MPS workers. This includes attendance policies, discipline and due process, pay during school closures, etc.

Then, management said no.

  • No to Time.
  • No to a Bilingual Workgroup.
  • No to our Safety, Climate & Culture Proposal
  • No to more time for Special Education teachers to meet their individualized IEP demands

Our team responded that our students cannot wait.

We have many buildings where elementary principals have thrown up their hands and walked away from their duty to make sure that school buildings are safe, warm welcoming and orderly so educators can teach and children can learn. That is the truth. We don’t believe that you don’t know that. We believe that you do know that. What you do have in front of you are a group of committed, determined, persevering educators who have made this district their professional home and will continue to do so. We are unwilling to walk into another school year pretending that we don’t know what we know about safety, discipline, climate, and culture in our schools.

– Amy Mizialko

Without good faith discussions in these sessions, MTEA members must take the fight to MPS. In less than one week, we can elect a School Board that champions public schools and will create a budget that starts with our students and educators. Click here to RSVP to canvass for the school board our students deserve.

We’ll need to mobilize to School Board meetings, actions and take this budget fight to Madison! Public education workers and our students can’t wait any longer.

MTEA Public Education Workers: Unstoppable Together!

MTEA Bargaining Team (All Photos: Joe Brusky).

On Thursday, March 7th, our MTEA Bargaining Team met with MPS Administration to present many of our economic demands. Those demands include:

  •  Salary schedules for every job class with steps for experience and lanes for certifications, licensure, and training
  •  40 hours of work for those workers who want it
  •  No increases to health insurance costs meaning no increase in employee premium payments or co-pays and other out of pocket costs
  •  Health insurance for full-time substitute teachers
  •  A return to the prior retirement formula
  •  The restoration of prior retirement benefits

All of these proposals are part of the MTEA Meet and Confer Platform. Be sure to read the platform and share with other MTEA members in your school or department.

Our MTEA Bargaining Team and other member speakers spoke to the importance of each of these proposals, both for MTEA members and to the future of MPS and its students.

Salary Schedules for Every Job Class

Cory Bova, a teacher at Rufus King High School, spoke to the destructive effect that the elimination of the teacher salary schedule has had on real wages for educators and to the retention of educators in the district. Bova spoke about his own salary and how, going into his 8th year of teaching, he is less than $2000 above the starting teacher salary. That effect has forced many high quality educators to leave the district, going to suburban districts surrounding Milwaukee. Bova pressed Administration to fix the problem so that we are not the training ground for suburban districts but instead become the standard for the whole state.

One Job Should Be Enough

Crystal Ealy, the President of the ESP 150 unit, demanded that every MPS job class be given the respect of a salary schedule with credit for experience and education that benefits students. She drove home that One Job Should Be Enough, and that educational assistants are vital to our students and their education and should not have to work two, three and four jobs. Combined with 40 hours of work for those employees who want to work 40 hours, MPS must achieve real, family sustaining compensation for every worker in the district.

Anita Blue, the President of the ESP-150 unit, “Why do we keep coming back asking the same question: Can we have a decent living wage?”

Full Time Substitute Teachers Deserve Health Insurance

MTEA and the “Fighting Subs” continued the demand for health insurance for every full time worker in MPS. Despite a School Board motion supposedly giving many full time substitutes the opportunity for health insurance, real movement towards our ultimate goal has been obstructed. Alex Brower, the President of our Substitute Teacher unit, pushed MPS Administration to recognize the dignity of the work of our Substitute Teachers, and to immediately move to restore their health insurance benefits if they work more than 30 hours a week on average.

Restoring the past retirement formula and retirement benefits

Rogers Street Teacher Meg Skwierawski, MTEA Deputy Executive Director Ed Sadlowski, and Kilbourn Teacher Shari Redel speak to MPS Administration during Thursday’s Meet & Confer (Photo: Joe Brusky).

MTEA Bargaining Team members, Shari Redel, teacher at Kilbourn and Meg Skwierawski, teacher at Rogers Street, called on MPS Administration to restore the retirement formula and benefits that MPS Administration and MPS School Board took away in  summer of 2013:  55 years of age, 15 years of service and 812 banked sick hours.  They also spoke of how women, the majority of educators in MPS, face significant, unfair obstacles to accumulating sick hours if they choose to have children and/or are primary caregivers for aging parents. Every public education worker in the district, including those hired after summer 2013, deserve retirement benefits.  

For MPS to attract and retain the best educators for MPS students, Administration must move quickly to re-establish real salary schedules with steps and lanes for every job class in the district.  Over 2000 MPS workers earn poverty wages.  To attract and retain the best public education workers in MPS, 40 hours of work must be offered to all who desire 40 hours. For MPS to ensure continuity of quality teaching and learning when teachers are absent, substitute teachers working full time must be given back healthcare benefits stolen from them by previous MPS Administration and MPS school board.  To attract and retain a stable workforce, MPS must ensure that healthcare insurance costs must be held at current levels with no increases to premiums, co-pays or other out of pocket costs.  

MTEA School Board Candidate Endorsements

The following candidates have been endorsed by the members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

Bob Peterson for School Board Member At-Large

Marva Herndon for School Board District 1

Erika Siemsen for School Board District 2

Sequanna Taylor for School Board District 3

Megan O’Halloran for School Board District 8

Vote for our students, vote for our community, and vote for our profession!

For more information visit, the Milwaukee Election Commission.

To find out what’s on your ballot and where you vote, click here. 

This is an 11.0101(10)(b)(1) communication with MTEA members.

Wendell Harris Must Issue Apology for Fake Endorsement Letter

Monday night, MPS board member and private charter apologist Wendell Harris issued a video statement on his personal Facebook page announcing that Governor Tony Evers has decided “to stay neutral” in the MPS District 2 election. On April 2, Harris faces a strong challenge from retired Neeskara kindergarten teacher Erika Siemsen, a strong supporter of public schools.\

It is very unusual for a candidate to go out of their way to announce they have failed to earn the support of a prominent leader. So why would Wendell Harris do this?

Earlier this month, Wendell Harris got caught lying. In a letter soliciting campaign contributions, Harris claimed “Our new Governor and Lieutenant Governor are strong supporters of public education. They are also supporting my campaign for re-election. ”

Representatives for the governor and lieutenant governor confirmed that they had not, in fact, issued an endorsement. More than two weeks after he was caught in his lie, this bizarre video on his personal Facebook page was the best Harris could do to set the record straight. That’s not good enough.

Wendell Harris should issue a public apology and send a corrected letter, with an apology, to the same group of people he told this lie to, ensuring each of them has the same opportunity to learn the truth as he gave them to believe his lie.

Milwaukee Mobilizes Around Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action

This week, MTEA is mobilizing for racial justice in public schools by actively participating in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. MPS public education workers are proudly standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by supporting the Week of Action national demands:

    • End Zero Tolerance
    • Mandate Black History & Ethnic Studies
    • Hire More Black Teachers
    • Fund Counselors Not Cops


Kick-Off at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary (2/4/19)

The Black Lives Matter at School movement calls on educators to organize for racial justice in education and address the continuing inequities that give way to institutionally racist policies and practices in schools. Staff and students kicked off the 2019 Week of Action at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary Monday. Staff and students gathered in the school auditorium to recite chants, sing songs, and discuss and celebrate Black Culture. (A video from the morning is embedded at the bottom of this blog).

Kick-Off at King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky).

“Raise your hand if you think Black is beautiful. Raise your hand if you think you are beautiful. Raise your hand if you think you matter. If you think you matter raise your hand.
– Recited during the King Elementary Kick-Off Monday (Photo: Joe Brusky)

Monday morning Kick-Off at King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky)


Black Lives Matter Relief Print Display at Madison H.S. (2/5/19)

The history of relief printing is deeply connected to working class social movements and movements for liberation. James Madison H.S. students and their Art Teacher John Fleissner explored different social justice issues that affect their community and drew posters to communicate their ideas visually. Students drew posters speaking out against police brutality and racism, stopping evictions, and celebrating great Black revolutionaries. Students chose one of their posters to transfer to a block of linoleum, carved their block, and printed it. The students know what in society they want to change, they see it all around them. They are learning a visual language to communicate their ideas, and the process of printmaking to make multiples to spread their ideas. More photos can be found here.

Madison student Calvin Brock puts his relief print into the school Black Lives Matter display (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Sincere Glosson holds a print made in Mr. Fleissner’s art classroom (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Khaon Fudge made this print (Photo: Joe Brusky).

John Fleissner and his student Calvin Brock (Photo: Joe Brusky).


North Division H.S. Youth Rally (2/6/19)

North Division High School students organized a youth rally and march Wednesday morning to bring awareness to police, racial and gun violence.

North Division H.S. students march around their school’s block with a banner they made for the day of action (Photo: Joe Brusky).

North Division students hold up solidarity fists (Photo: Joe Brusky).

After marching around North Division several students and community supporters spoke before holding a student Q&A of MPS School Board Spring candidates.

North Division students involved in the group Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT) interviewed candidates for school board (Photo: Joe Brusky).



MTEA, MTEA Black Caucus, and MPS Collaborate on Week of Action

The MTEA Black Caucus, MTEA, and MPS sponsored a series of events celebrating the Black Lives Matter Week of Action.
    • Monday: Panel Discussion Examining the Black Lives Matter at School National Demands


    • Tuesday: Movie Screening and Talk-back on “Talking Black in America”



    • Thursday: MTEA Black Caucus Awards Night and Soup Dinner


  • Friday: MTEA Black Caucus Black Lives Matter Social

The Poetry Slam at Rufus King Elementary (Photo: Joe Brusky).

MPS students and staff shared spoken word, songs, and essays at the Poetry Slam (Photo: Joe Brusky).


Hi-Mount Door Display

We received word Hi-Mount Teacher Kimberlyn Foster was working on a special door display for the Week of Action so we stopped by to take a look. She says the hair will eventually cover the entire wall around the door. She even included a photo of her father who was in the band The Esquires.

Hi-Mount Teacher Kimberlyn Foster poses with her door display for the week of action.


Kimberlyn included a photo in her collage of her father who was in the band The Esquires (Photo: Joe Brusky).



MTEA Black Lives Matter Curriculum Support Plan


King Elementary students take part in a Black Lives Matter event during last year’s National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action (Photo: Joe Brusky).

Are you planning lessons for the Black Lives Matter Week of Action? Here are some resources to help you as you plan.


  1. Start with the James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers,” essay



This essay written in October of 1963 speaks to the need for teachers to be aware of who their students are. It’s a great starting point for all of us to think about how we view the children we teach and why Black Lives Matter.



  1. The 13 guiding principles https://blacklivesmatter.com/about/what-we-believe/

This is the link, but we like the PDF version better. It’s easier to digest, and has the principles grouped in a user friendly way.


The Black Lives Matter 13 Guiding Principles are a great place to start when developing curriculum or lessons to help students to learn that Black Lives Matter is a world view that can be embraced by all.

  1. Black Lives Matter in #PHLed Lesson Resources Overview https://www.facebook.com/The-National-Black-Lives-Matter-Week-of-Action-in-Our-Schools-192373061312325/?hc_ref=ARQnem-mMD4HWKoghmYl7mZbzmNI7

This is the Black Lives Matter at School official Facebook page


  1. African American Read In Tool Kit, NCTE, http://www.ncte.org/aari/toolkit?roi=echo4-37015111013-92042092-a9ff4900f60e566e71978cedbb25a475&utm_source=2016-08-09+Members&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Inbox

Posted last year, a guide developed by the National Council of Teachers of English to design and implement a read in focusing on issues that speak to Black Lives Matter.

10 diverse Books by YA authors of color to read in 2017 https://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/10-diverse-books-by-ya-authors-of-color-to-read-in-2017

This link to Teen Vogue features 10 high quality young adult novels that will pique students’ interest in reading.


  1. Teaching #Black Lives Matter Teaching for Change


A guide to themes and big ideas that can be addressed within a Black Lives matter curriculum.


*Black LivesMatter at School Teaching Materials
*NEA Black Lives Matterat School Teaching Resources


Let us know how your planning and lessons are going.


MTEA is selling Black Lives Matter t-shirts designed specifically for this year’s week if action. Place your order here and pick up your completed order once we email you that it’s ready.