Fight the Takeover of MPS: Schools & Communities United General Membership Meeting

no takeover

Join us as we plan our next steps to fight back against the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. Parents, Community Members, Students, and Educators are encouraged to attend this General Membership Meeting of the Schools and Communities United coalition.

When: Monday, June 1st @ 5:30pm

Where: NAACP Milwaukee Branch – Unit 3254 (2745 N Dr Martin Luther King Dr Suite 202, Milwaukee)

 

Facebook event page is here.

Ayude a salvar las escuelas publicas ¿Que puedes hacer?

  • Jueves, 4 de junio a las 3:30PM. Se reunirán a las 3:30 en Wisconsin Jobs Now, (1862 W. Fond du Lac) para salir juntos a entregarles las peticiones firmadas, hacia la oficina de la Senadora Alberta Darling en Menomonee Falls de 4:30-5:30 (N88W16621 Appleton Ave. Menomonee Falls).
  • Firme la petición en contra de la privatización. En internet o en papel
  • Llame– Mande correos electrónicos a tus senadores y legisladores-Dígale que no aprueben el presupuesto , cortes a la educación publica, y privatización de MPS.
    • 1-800-362-9472
  • Llame al Supervisor de la Ciudad Chris Abele y dígale que NO le quite las escuela a MPS. 414-278-4211
  • Forme o únase a un grupo de padres y maestros en su escuela para proteger a su escuela de los futuros ataques.

Schools and Communities United: Auer Avenue Defense Rally Statement

Schools and Communities United co-chairs Jenni Hofschutle and Ingrid Walker-Henry release the following public statement after a powerful Wednesday Auer Avenue Defense Rally in response to an offensive press release from Senators Alberta Darling and Representative Dale Kooyenga.

“As hundreds linked arms to protect Auer Avenue School from takeover yesterday, Sen. Darling and Rep. Kooyenga issued a press release attacking Auer children, families, and educators for low test scores, and criticizing the the Auer community for standing up for their public school.
Schools like Auer Avenue — where families are struggling with poverty, segregation, joblessness, and lack of health care — need support from state legislators, not attacks and takeovers.
Darling and Kooyenga’s claim that students and parents are “forced to attend Auer Avenue Elementary School” is an insult to parents who choose Auer Avenue for their children, and shows a total lack of understanding about Milwaukee’s educational landscape.
We call upon Sen. Darling and Rep. Kooyenga to listen to residents of Milwaukee about what our schools need to be successful. Come and visit Auer and other MPS schools and talk to parents, staff and students.
We also call upon those who care about the children in Milwaukee to stand up and protect Auer Avenue School and all public schools that are the foundation of a democratic society.”

The press release shows not only a complete lack of respect for the students, parents, and educators of Auer Avenue and Milwaukee, but it also shows ignorance of the real facts about MPS schools like Auer Avenue, detailed below and this blog written earlier this week.

Test scores canary in the coalmine at Auer Avenue and dozens of schools like Auer. Fifteen years ago, Auer Avenue was a “90-90-90 school” – shorthand for high poverty, highly segregated, and high achieving. At that time, Auer Avenue had the resources needed to employ a full team of professional educators to meet the needs of their students – a critical piece of the puzzle for student success in neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment. At that time, Auer and other high-performing, high-poverty schools were fully staffed with librarians, guidance counselors, full-time reading specialists, art, music and physical education specialists, program implementers, technology teachers, paraprofessionals, special education teachers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists, and classroom teachers with small classes that allowed them to provide plenty of individual attention to children.

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Many other schools at that time were also achieving at high levels despite high poverty and segregation:

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What changed? Fifteen years ago, the voucher program was just hitting its stride in Milwaukee. A 15-year streak of defunding public schools – exacerbated by an inequitable state funding system – was just getting started. Since then, over a billion dollars has been siphoned away from the children at Auer Avenue and other MPS schools, and funneled into unaccountable, under-performing voucher schools. Governor Walker put the nail in the coffin in 2011 when he made the largest cut to public schools in Wisconsin history – over a billion in total, with a tens of millions in cuts to MPS.

There is clear evidence that when students living in poverty are prioritized and invested in, with the rich resources necessary to provide students true educational opportunity, their academic achievement thrives. When these supports are withdrawn, student achievement declines.

We know what must be done to increase academic achievement for students in poverty. The people of Wisconsin have the political will to do so, and we expect state legislators to listen. It’s time to acknowledge that vouchers and funding cuts have failed our students, and return to fully funded and vibrant community public schools.

“Stop the Takeover of MPS” Petition Delivery to Senator Alberta Darling

DarlingPetitionSharedLink

The names of residents who are opposed to the Takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools have been flowing in, and now it’s time to deliver them to the co-author of the plan to take over Milwaukee’s democratically elected school board.

We will gather at 3:30pm at Wisconsin Jobs Now, (1862 W. Fond du Lac) where we will meet up for rides and carpooling

***We will deliver the “No Takeover” petitions at 4:15pm at Sen. Alberta Darling’s office (N88W16621 Appleton Ave. – just east of Main Street)

After our petition delivery we will continue demonstrating in front of Darling’s office from 4:30-5:30pm.

Facebook event page is here.

Have you signed the petition?

Download the petition to circulate.

Here’s why we OPPOSE the takeover:

MPS Takeover: A Failed Idea Will Fail Milwaukee’s Kids

An Auer Avenue parent speaks at last Wednesday's

An Auer Avenue parent speaks at last Wednesday’s “No Takeover” action at Auer Avenue Elementary (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

By Bob Peterson May 15, 2015

During my 30 years of teaching fifth grade, I’ve always encouraged my students to look critically at problems and to learn from mistakes.

Sen. Alberta Darling’s and Rep. Dale Kooyenga’s plan to take over public schools in Milwaukee does neither.

The few details in their plan provide no framework for actually improving academic achievement. Equally important, the plan ignores the Milwaukee community’s experience with similar efforts to dismantle our public schools and undermine our democratic institutions.

There are several glaring problems with the Darling-Kooyenga plan.

■Not learning from mistakes. Attempting to improve public schools by turning them over to private charter or voucher operators has been tried before — and failed. For 25 years, vouchers have been a conservative’s dream: no unions, no school board, no state-mandated curriculum or regulations. What has been the result? Voucher schools on the whole perform worse academically than the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Voucher schools have drained over a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money away from public schools and into private schools with little public accountability. The defunding of public schools has meant larger class sizes, less individual attention to students and greatly reduced access to art, music, libraries and physical education within Milwaukee’s public schools. Let’s fully fund our public schools and fix them, not abandon them.

■Undermines democracy. Governance is not the problem with our schools — Milwaukee arguably has more governance options than any urban system in the country. The rhetoric around governance in the Darling- Kooyenga scheme is a smokescreen to get rid of democratically elected and accountable school boards and schools.

There are two ways to undermine democracy. First, by attacking voter rights through limiting early voting options and requiring photo IDs. Another way is to remove entire institutions from democratic control. Yes, democracy can be messy, but the alternative is worse. If we decide to abandon every democratic institution that is not up to our hopes and dreams, why not get rid of the U.S. Congress? Or the Wisconsin Legislature?

■Part of a coordinated attack. The Darling-Kooyenga plan can’t be viewed in isolation. It’s in the context of Walker’s budget that continues deep cuts in public education across the state, and increases statewide privatization of public schools. In addition, Walker’s budget eliminates Chapter 220 — the only educational program in Milwaukee designed to reduce racial segregation in public schools and improve equal opportunity for students of color.

■Exacerbates inequality. Data show that privately run charter and voucher schools serve significantly fewer students with special needs, English language learners and more difficult to educate students. Students are counseled out and pushed back into public schools. The Kooyenga-Darling plan will only increase this problem.

Photo credit: Jill Engel-Miller

Photo credit: Jill Engel-Miller

■Refusal to learn from other urban areas. Other urban districts have tried similar takeovers, with disastrous results. A takeover plan in Detroit is costing the state $72 million, with the mayor raising strong objections. In Memphis, several national charter operators have repeatedly proposed new schools, only to abruptly cancel their plans. And in New Orleans, thousands of students — including those with special needs — are being underserved. Let’s learn from, not replicate, the problems that have come up in these other cities.

■Continues Milwaukee’s plantation mentality. The plan’s colonial implications — what MICAH President Rev. Willy Brisco calls the “plantation” mentality that dominates social policy in Milwaukee — are disturbing. Milwaukee is the most segregated metropolitan region in the nation. Sixty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Brown decision that was fundamental to overthrowing Jim Crow segregation, noted that “separate is inherently unequal.” It should give people pause when two white suburban legislators propose having a white county executive appoint a “commissioner” to be able to pluck schools away from the democratically elected school board of an overwhelmingly nonwhite district.

If we want to truly provide equal education opportunities, why not try something truly radical? Why not build a countywide school system — democratically elected and controlled and open to all children, regardless of the ZIP code where they were born? Not only would this open up well-funded schools with excellent opportunities and learning conditions to the children of Milwaukee, it would attack the dual problems of segregation and inequality that plague our region.

■Sending the wrong message to our children. What message do we send to the next generation when we condone a plan to remove control of public institutions from a democratically elected board? When we undermine a superintendent with a doctorate from Harvard University and instead place public schools in the hands of a “commissioner” to be appointed by a county executive who doesn’t even have a college degree and was not elected to run schools? When we allow a plan that specifically says the children of Milwaukee do not need licensed teachers?

Hundreds showed up Auer Avenue Elementary for an action against the takeover.

Hundreds showed up at Auer Avenue Elementary for an action against the takeover.

These are just some of the many problems in the Darling-Kooyenga plan.

This proposal should be rejected by anyone who believes in democracy and the importance of educating all children.

The Milwaukee Public Schools is the only institution in the city with the capacity, commitment and legal obligation to serve all our students.

Our schools are the foundation of our democracy and of our future. Let’s unite to support and improve our public schools, not abandon them.

Bob Peterson is president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. He has taught 5th grade in MPS for 30 years.

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Takeover by Design – A Closer Look at Targeted Schools

As state legislators rush to impose a public school takeover bill on Milwaukee, people are starting to look more closely at the schools Republicans are labeling “in need of takeover.” And they should.

 

For example: Auer Avenue School, where hundreds of supporters made a human chain yesterday to defend ALL public schools in Milwaukee, was quickly attacked by Rep. Kooyenga and Sen. Darling for its test scores.

 

Test scores are the canary in the coalmine at Auer Avenue and dozens of schools like Auer. Fifteen years ago, Auer Avenue was a “90-90-90 school” – shorthand for high poverty, highly segregated, and high achieving. At that time, Auer Avenue had the resources needed to employ a full team of professional educators to meet the needs of their students – a critical piece of the puzzle for student success in neighborhoods with high poverty and unemployment. At that time, Auer and other high-performing, high-poverty schools were fully staffed with librarians, guidance counselors, full-time reading specialists, art, music and physical education specialists, program implementers, technology teachers, paraprofessionals, special education teachers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists, and classroom teachers with small classes that allowed them to provide plenty of individual attention to children.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 3.36.08 PM

Many other schools at that time were also achieving at high levels despite high poverty and segregation:

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 5.13.33 PM

What changed? Fifteen years ago, the voucher program was just hitting its stride in Milwaukee. A 15-year streak of defunding public schools – exacerbated by an inequitable state funding system – was just getting started. Since then, over a billion dollars has been siphoned away from the children at Auer Avenue and other MPS schools, and funneled into unaccountable, under-performing voucher schools. Governor Walker put the nail in the coffin in 2011 when he made the largest cut to public schools in Wisconsin history – over a billion in total, with a tens of millions in cuts to MPS.

There is clear evidence that when students living in poverty are prioritized and invested in, with the rich resources necessary to provide students true educational opportunity, their academic achievement thrives. When these supports are withdrawn, student achievement declines.

We know what must be done to increase academic achievement for students in poverty. The people of Wisconsin have the political will to do so, and we expect state legislators to listen. It’s time to acknowledge that vouchers and funding cuts have failed our students, and return to fully funded and vibrant community public schools.

 

Auer Avenue Educator Calls Out Attacks on Milwaukee Public Schools

Auer Avenue educator Ingrid Henry-Walker speaks to over 400 parents, students, educators, and community members gathered to fight the takeover of MPS (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Auer Avenue educator Ingrid Henry-Walker speaks to over 400 parents, students, educators, and community members gathered to fight the takeover of MPS (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Auer Avenue Elementary educator Ingrid Henry, who is also an MPS graduate and parent, delivered a powerful testimony against the undemocratic takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools during Wednesday’s “Auer Community is NOT Your Colony!” action. Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Dale Kooyenga want to take away the locally controlled and accountable school board from the people of Milwaukee, while lowering teacher licensure standards for the educators teaching those students, but the people of Milwaukee are fighting back.

“The state of Wisconsin has sent a clear message to the residents of the city of Milwaukee. It has become evident that there are many that do not care for the children and families of our city. Some misguided, unfounded fear of people taking from them has finally given those in power enough leverage to destroy our city.
What do I mean by destroy? I mean cutting food aid to the elderly and children. I mean denying the people a living wage. I mean going forward with laws that will strip many of us of our right to vote. I mean closing schools with qualified teachers and replacing them with a school system that when asked if they would do the same for their struggling schools, every single politician said no.
As a teacher, I know how hard it is for children and their families who live in this city. Education is not the only thing on their mind, survival is. If those people who live in the suburbs want to help Milwaukee; they can do this, provide jobs, a living wage, dental care, health care, glasses, medication, mental health support, new schools, and transportation. Until those with the solutions listen and do what is morally right, I can’t take them seriously.
So I say this to politicians in Milwaukee and all over the state. I’m not compromising. You will not put into place the same legislation that destroyed Detroit. You will not put into place the same bills that bankrupted the Detroit and the New Orleans public schools. You will not follow Chicago and fire veteran teachers and teachers of color, in order to cheapen the work force. You will not sell our buildings to those looking to profit off of our children. You will not sell our children without a fight.
So as a proud MPS graduate I say to the alumni, we need you here to fight for each school. As a proud MPS parent, I say to the parents, we need you here to fight for each school. As a proud MPS teacher, I say educators we need you here to fight for each school. And as a proud citizen of the city of Milwaukee, I say Milwaukee we need each and every one of you ready to fight for each school.”

– Auer Avenue Elementary educator Ingrid Henry

Auer Avenue Educator Calls Out Attack on Milwaukee Public Schools from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

Form an MPS SCHOOL DEFENSE COMMITTEE

Protect YOUR SCHOOL and ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS from the TAKEOVER

What is a School Defense Committee? A School Defense Committee is a group of parents, students, educators, community members/organizations, local leaders, faith- and neighborhood-based associations, and businesspeople who are willing to get involved at YOUR school to oppose the MPS takeover plan.

Who needs a School Defense Committee? Every school needs one. The takeover plan will identify specific schools to take over, but all schools are at risk because the plan affects the financial health of our whole district. A threat to one school is a threat to all of our schools.

What actions can a School Defense Committee take to protect all public schools in our city and state? Here are a few ideas for your committee to consider:

  • Hold meetings or informational leafleting (before and after school) to inform parents, students, educators and community members about the takeover.
  • Recruit people from your school community to participate in events and actions that support our public schools and oppose the takeover.
  • Speak to the media and legislators about your school.
  • Go door to door in your school neighborhood to build support.
  • Make phone calls to inform and activate others.
  • Coordinate with people at other schools and in other cities (such as Racine and Madison) to show that our state is united for public schools.

How can we get a School Defense Committee started at our school? Email Amy Mizialko at amizialko@wi.rr.com. Or fill out the slip below and turn it into one of the organizers at today’s event.

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YES! I’ll help organize a School Defense Committee at my school!

 

Volunteers Needed to Defeat the Takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools

Hello defenders of public education! You are here because you have expressed an interest in defeating the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools. There is no shortage of tasks that need to be completed to make sure our schools remain in the hands of the people of Milwaukee and their democratically elected school board.

Please fill out the form below and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you!

We Will Defend Our Public Schools! / ¡Defenderémos nuestras escuelas públicas!

Students from Youth Empowered in the Struggle gather on the stairs of the Milwaukee County Courthouse on May Day (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students from Youth Empowered in the Struggle gather on the stairs of the Milwaukee County Courthouse on May Day (Photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Via: Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES)

On June 1, the Wisconsin legislature is expected to begin its debate on the state budget. Included in this is a proposal, initiated by Sen. Darling and Rep. Kooyenga, for the Milwaukee County Executive to seize control of public schools at whim and sell them to private vouchers.

The long term goal of this “Opportunity Schools Partnership Program” is nothing short of the elimination of public education in Milwaukee.

This proposal is a blatant attack on the youth of Milwaukee, who will be forced into a school system that is pro-profit, not pro-people.

We are calling on everybody who cares about the future of our city to join YES on June 1st at noon for a rally outside our office. From there we will march to nearby schools that could be affected by privatization and show the state government that MPS is ours, and it cannot be taken from us.

When: Monday, June 1st @ 2:00pm

Where: W. Walker St. & S. 3rd St.

Facebook event page