Milwaukee Residents Deliver 5000+ No Takeover Petitions to Sen. Darling

“Alberta! You cheat us! But you will not defeat us!”

Over a hundred parents, educators and other public school supporters from Milwaukee shouted this chant and others yesterday as they delivered a petition with more than 5500 signatures opposing Senator Alberta Darling’s public school takeover plan.

The crowd gathered to deliver the petitions in front of Senator Darling’s Menomonee Falls office, chanting, waving to passing cars, and distributing flyers that asked, “Menomonee Falls residents: Do you want the Milwaukee County Executive to run your schools?”

Jennifer Epps-Addison, a resident of Menomonee Falls who serves as executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now and is also an MPS parent and graduate, told the crowd: “We came here to Senator Darling’s Menomonee Falls office because this is the last place we’ve seen her anywhere near Milwaukee.” Epps-Addison continued, “We have a plan to improve our schools and to support our students and rather than privatizing our kids’ education, we want Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Dale Kooyenga to support the parent-driven plan to improve our communities.”

Jennifer Epps-Addison speaks to large gathering outside of Senator Aberta Darling's office.

Jennifer Epps-Addison speaks to large gathering outside of Senator Aberta Darling’s office.

Mike Wilder of the African American Round Table said: “We are ready to fight back against Senator Alberta Darling and her allies’ plans to privatize – cause let’s just be clear. The end goal here is to privatize the entire system in Milwaukee, handing over a civil right – public education is a civil right – handing that over to private companies and corporations.”

An employee of the Menomonee Falls Chamber of Commerce said Darling’s sign had been recently removed from the building. A typewritten sign on the front door said the office was closing at 3 p.m. for off-site meetings.


Can You Hear Milwaukee Now?! from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

School Vouchers: A Failed Educational Experiment

Originally posted in the report: Fulfill the Promise: The schools and communities our children deserve, published by Schools and Communities United.

For a quarter century, Milwaukee has been the target of a free-market experiment to transform education from a constitutional right for all children, to a consumer item that privileges wealthy families.

It is a failed experiment. Nonetheless, it remains a key goal of conservative powerhouses such as the Koch brothers and the Walton and Bradley foundations.

Under the voucher program, public tax dollars pay the tuition at private schools. Even if every single student receives a voucher, the school is still defined as private.

Here are four essential problems.

Vouchers siphon tax dollars out of public schools
The state legislature cut per-pupil spending by $635 in fiscal year 2011-12—the second highest cut in the country. That same year, $142 million in public money was funneled to private voucher schools in Milwaukee, and the voucher program was expanded to Racine. Since 1990, $1.3 billion in tax dollars have been given to Milwaukee voucher schools.

Vouchers are a failed educational experiment

In the 2013-14 state tests, voucher school students performed lower than students in the Milwaukee Public Schools in both reading and math.

Voucher schools skirt basic accountability

Voucher schools follow different rules than public schools. They can expel students at will, and do not have to hire certified teachers or provide necessary special education services. They can teach creationism or teach that homosexuality is a sin. In Milwaukee, 89 percent of voucher students attend a religious school.

The goal is universal vouchers

Voucher supporters seek to replace public education with universal vouchers—or, as one advocate said, “a voucher in every backpack.” Today, the Milwaukee voucher program enrolls some 26,000 students—in size, almost as big as the Madison district. It is the largest voucher program in any U.S. city and now the current state budget proposes to increase the program’s reach to the entire state.

Milwaukee’s “Claim to Shame”

Students march in Milwaukee for May Day '15 (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Students march in Milwaukee for May Day ’15 (photo credit: Joe Brusky).

Originally posted in the report: Fulfill the Promise: The schools and communities our children deserve, published by Schools and Communities United.

Traditionally known for our beer and bratwurst, Milwaukee has a new status: The country’s most segregated region.
When it comes to this country’s New Jim Crow, “We’re Number One.”

Jim Crow—legally mandated segregation, bolstered by beatings, lynchings and restrictions on the right to vote—helped overturn many advances after the end of slavery. Today, the New Jim Crow is taking aim at the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, using tools such as mass incarceration, voting restrictions, gerrymandering, zoning requirements, deportations, and “stand-your-ground” laws.

To cite one chilling statistic in the New Jim Crow: The incarceration rate for African- American men in Wisconsin is the highest in the United States—in a nation that imprisons more people than any other country in the world.

It is impossible to underestimate the impact of Milwaukee’s New Jim Crow on our children, our communities, and our public schools.

In the Milwaukee region, as is true nationally, housing patterns determine school demographics. Due to racial and economic segregation, our schools are increasingly segregated. Due to funding disparities, they are both separate and unequal.

The abandonment of our communities and public schools also has spread to our democracy. In 2011, Wisconsin’s Republican- dominated state legislature passed one of the strictest Voter ID bills in the country, with the issue still before the courts. This spring, the legislature drastically curtailed early voting. The measures are in line with a national campaign to suppress the vote.

If the Milwaukee region is serious about equal opportunity—from jobs to schools to healthcare to voting rights—we must dismantle the region’s racial and economic segregation. It will require a broad-based effort involving transportation, housing, economic development, criminal justice, voting rights, and school enrollment policies.

But it can be done.

Photo credit: Jill Engel-Miller

Photo credit: Jill Engel-Miller

Reagan High School Student Explains Why MPS Students Walked Out Monday

Reagan High School student Rafael Diaz is wise beyond his years. Rafael’s school is not on a list to be handed over to third party operators, but that doesn’t mean he and his classmates aren’t fighting back. Watch to see why he and other Milwaukee Public School students walked out of classes on Monday afternoon.

Why Milwaukee Students Walked Out from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

Attend the MPS “No Takeover Information Night”

Parents for Public Schools of Milwaukee is honored to have been asked to be a co-sponsor of this IMPORTANT night of learning and action surrounding the proposed Takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools.

Please join Milwaukee Public Schools leadership and PPS-MKE to learn more about the contents of the MPS Takeover proposal and what we can all be doing to inform our community at large and how we can continue to build momentum to push back against this egregious action.

***There may be a location change. Date & time will remain. Stay tuned for update as necessary. Thank you.***

Monday, June 8th 6PM
MPS Central Office Auditorium
5225 W Vliet

Details to come. Flier distribution to come from schools!
Plan to attend; we will PACK THE AUDITORIUM!
Bring other parents and community members with you.
Educators and Support Staff — join us!

PPS-MKE is dedicated to fight for our public schools.
Not One School
Not One Student
to the Takeover

Download the MPS flyer here.

Students Walk Out to Protest MPS Takeover

south division walkout

Students took to the streets today to stand up for public schools in Milwaukee and protest a proposed takeover of their schools. Students walked out of their classes at several area schools and joined together in front of South Division High School, a school that could be targeted for takeover under a plan being advanced by Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

While many of the students who are actively protesting against the takeover attend schools targeted for takeover, others attend some of Milwaukee’s highest-performing schools. At a rally last week, Reagan High School student Paola Gonzalez told the crowd: “Reagan is not in danger of being privatized, but I am here to stand in solidarity…once one of our schools is targeted, all of MPS is targeted. Senator Darling and Representative Kooyenga, you do not represent the city. You have no business telling us what to do.”