“Separate and Unequal,” 62 years later

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Written by: Jamaal Smith

On May 17, 1954, a landmark decision was made when the United State Supreme Court ruled state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students as unconstitutional. In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the Warren Court stated that “separate educational facilities were inherently unequal,” and violated the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Brown decision was pivotal in the fight for integration during the Civil Rights era. The expectation was that ALL children would have equal access to quality education and opportunity, which should be a fundamental right, regardless of race. However, 62 years since the historic “great equalizer” decision, black and brown students are again the targets of racial inequality within the educational system.

 

Emma Brown, columnist for The Washington Post, recently reported that, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, “the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.” This study is holding true in the state of Wisconsin, as GOP lawmakers have devised laws that continue supporting “separate and unequal” practices. One of those strategies was the elimination of the Chapter 220 program, which allowed for students of color from high-poverty neighborhoods to attend schools in predominantly white suburban school districts. In addition, two Republican legislators, State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), created the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program, a law intended to hand underfunded MPS schools to private, unaccountable operators. Cities like New Orleans and Detroit have been subjected to similar “Recovery Districts” with catastrophic results, but the commonality that exists between those cities and Milwaukee is that these laws are constantly imposed on black and brown communities without input. The OSPP legislation was passed in the middle of the night without a public hearing even taking place.

 

The OSPP legislation hands authority to a Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele with no college degree, who appointed Dr. Demond Means, Superintendent of the predominantly white Mequon-Thiensville School District, as the Commissioner over a predominately nonwhite district. Abele and Means created a proposal that claims MPS can still remain in tact even if one of the schools were moved under the OSPP district, which is inconsistent with the law. At a recent debate with MTEA Executive Director Lauren Baker at Marquette University, Rep. Kooyenga even stated that he was not a supporter of Dr. Means’ proposal because it counters what was written in the legislation. What is most disconcerting with Abele and Dr. Means is that they both admit the OSPP legislation is an unjust law, but insist the democratically elected school board of MPS should give up local control of their publicly-funded schools. Based on this rational, Civil Rights leaders should not have fought against the injustices within Jim Crow because they were law, right. Or the Black Codes, which brought about involuntary labor on freed slaves for minor “infractions” passed by southern states after the Civil War.

 

Just as it was not acceptable to comply with an unjust law then, the same ideology should exist on unjust laws now. An unjust law is no law at all!

 

We must continue the fight against modern day segregation and racial discrimination within our education system. Our children deserve our efforts to stand up for their future just as those before us stood for ours. Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” In the face of an obvious wrong, the time is now to stand and fight for what is right!

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Thousands in Milwaukee & La Crosse “Walk In” for Public Schools & Against Takeover

A photo from Kagel School's Friday walk in.

A photo from Kagel School’s Friday walk in.

105 Milwaukee Public Schools were joined by 14 La Crosse schools in hosting morning “Walk Ins” to demonstrate the widespread support for public schools in the city and the unified outrage over a Takeover that rips local and democratic control from the people of Milwaukee.  This Storify aptly captures the story of many of the schools who took part in the Friday day of action through the social media posts of those involved. ENJOY!

 

105 Milwaukee Public Schools & Entire La Crosse District Ready to “Walk In” on Friday 9/18

105 Milwaukee Public Schools, all 14 La Crosse schools will be taking part in the Friday, September 18th day of action in support of quality public schools for ALL students. Each event will also share information about how public school takeovers will hurt our students and deny critical services, such as bilingual education and special education.

Why walk in?

Watch video of a walk in.

Click on the school you want to RSVP to walk in at:

AAL

ALBA

Alcott

Allen Field

Alliance High School

Audubon Middle & High School

Auer Avenue

Barbee Montessori

Barton

Bay View High School

Bethune

Bradley Tech High School

Bruce

Brown Street Academy

Burbank

Carson

Cass Street: No event page created. Walk in starts a 7:00am

Clarke Street

Clara Barton

Clement

Clemens

Congress

Cooper

Craig Montessori

Curtin

Doerfler

Eighty-First Street

Elm

Fairview

Fernwood

Fifty-Third Street

Forest Home

Fratney

French Immersion

Gaenslen

German Immersion: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Goodrich

Golda Meir Upper and Lower campus

Grant

Grantosa

Greenfield Bilingual

Groppi: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Hamilton High School

Hartford

Hawley

Hawthorne

Hayes Bilingual: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Hi-Mount

Honey Creek

Hopkins Lloyd

Howard Avenue Montessori

Humboldt Park

IDEAL

Jackson

Kagel

Keefe Avenue

Kilbourn

Kluge

Lincoln Avenue: No event created. Walk in starts at 7:00am

Longfellow

Lowell

MLK Elementary

MacDowell

Madison (JMAC)

Manitoba

Maryland Montessori

Mitchell

Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA)

Milwaukee School of Languages

Milwaukee Sign Language

Morgandale

Morse Marshall

Neeskara

New School

Ninety-Fifth Street: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

North Division High School

Obama: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Parkside

Pierce

Project STAY

Pulaski

Reagan

Riley

River Trail

Riverside University High School

Rogers Street Academy

Roosevelt MS of the Arts

Rufus King High School

Rufus King Middle School

Sherman

Silver Spring

South Division High School

Starms Discovery: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Starms Early Childhood Center

Stuart

Story

Thoreau

Thurston Woods: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Townsend

Trowbridge

Victory

Vieau

Washington High School

Westside I

Zablocki

Photo sent from La Crosse Education Association.

Photo sent from La Crosse Education Association.

La Crosse School walking in.

Central HS
Logan HS
Logan MS
Lincoln MS
Longfellow MS
Southern Bluffs Elementary,
Spence Elementary,
State Road Elementary,
Hintgen Elementary,
Hamilton Elementary,
Emerson Elementary,
Northside Elementary
Coulee Montessori,
Northwoods Elementary,
Summit Elementary.

LaCrosse

“Walk In” to Celebrate and Protect Public Schools Friday 9/18 | RSVP TODAY

Students at U.S. Grant Elementary during last spring’s walk-in at the school (Photo credit Mike Erdmann).

On Friday, September 18, almost 60 public schools in Milwaukee will host “walk-ins” to celebrate and protect our public schools, and to share information with parents and community members about proposed public school takeovers.

The state legislature passed a plan to take over several public schools in Milwaukee. County executive Chris Abele is expected to appoint a commissioner this fall to oversee the takeover schools. The commissioner will then identify 1-3 schools this year to be taken over next year. Very few specifics are available. For example, we do not know how the commissioner’s salary will be funded, or how the schools will be chosen.

Community allies are organizing to fight the takeover and to stand up for public schools that welcome and serve all children.

Here are the schools that are currently hosting a walk-in (click on the school to RSVP).

***Check back, this list is growing by the hour.***

AAL
ALBA
Alcott
Allen Field
Alliance High School
Audubon Middle & HS
Auer
Barbee Montessori
Barton
Bay View High School
Bethune
Bradley Tech High School
Bruce
Brown Street
Burbank
Carson
Clarke Street
Clara Barton
Clement
Clemens
Congress
Cooper
Craig Montessori
Curtin
Eighty-First Street
Elm
Fairview
Fernwood
Fifty-third Street
Forest Home
Fratney
French Immersion
Gaenslen
Goodrich
Grant
Grantosa
Greenfield Bilingual
Hamilton High School
Hartford
Hawthorne
Hi-Mount
Honey Creek
Howard Avenue Montessori
Humboldt Park
IDEAL
Jackson
James Madison Academic Campus (JMAC)
Kagel
Keefe Avenue
Kilbourn
Kluge
Longfellow
Lowell
MLK Elementary
MacDowell
Manitoba
Maryland Montessori
Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA)
Milwaukee School of Languages
Milwaukee Sign Language
Morgandale
Morse Marshall
Neeskara
New School
North Division
Parkside
Pierce
Project STAY
Pulaski
Reagan High School
Riley
River Trail 
Riverside University High School
Rogers Street Academy
Roosevelt MS of the Arts
Rufus King High School
Rufus King Middle School
Sherman
South Division High School
Starms Early Childhod Center (ECC)
Stuart
Story
Thoreau
Trowbridge
Victory
Vieau
Washington High School
Westside I
Zablocki

Don’t see your school on the list? Enter the zip code of your school and click on the green button to host an event at your school.

What’s a Walk-In?

Last May, Riverside University High School held one of the first walk-ins.

Last May, Riverside University High School held one of the first walk-ins.

A walk-in is an early morning gathering of parents, students, educators and community supporters who come together to celebrate their school and to share information about how public school takeovers will hurt our students and deny critical services, such as bilingual education and special education. Watch video of a walk-in here.

Walk-In Flyer to distribute can be found here.

Spanish Walk-In Flyer to distribute can be found here..

Sign Up to Walk In for Milwaukee Public Schools!

Last Spring, dozens of MPS schools organized “walk-ins” where parents, students, and educators showed their unity for strong public schools by walking in to schools together, while also putting their foot down to say NO to all attempts to take over MPS buildings. This fall even more schools will walk in on Friday, September 18th to once again send a message that not one student, not one school will be surrendered to takeover.

 Sign your school up or RSVP at a school for what will surely be a historic day!

Register your school or RSVP to attend here.

Milwaukee Walks-In for Public Education from MTEA Union on Vimeo.

School Takeovers Disenfranchise African American & Latino Communities, New Report Shows

Fred Royal of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP speaks at a press conference introducing a new scathing report on school takeovers.

Fred Royal of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP speaks at a press conference introducing a new scathing report on school takeovers.

 

Schools and Communities United held a press conference today to highlight a new report by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools that shows how school takeovers have systematically disenfranchised African American and Latino communities.

The report, issued around the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, shows how local elected governance is dissolved as states take over local school districts, stripping power from elected school boards and denying voters the right to govern their local schools.

The report notes that “these state takeovers are happening almost exclusively in African American and Latino schools and districts – in many of the same communities that have experienced decades of underinvestment in their public schools and consistent attacks on their property, agency and self-determination.”

Data in the report show that in state-run school districts across the country in 2014-15, fully 97% of the students were African American and Latino.

Data in the report show that in state-run school districts across the country in 2014-15, fully 97% of the students were African American and Latino.

Our duly elected County Board of Supervisors’ authority has been arrogated and has left them incapable of performing the responsibilities that we elected them to do. The basic principles of checks and balances has been usurped by the state legislature and placed in the hands of the county executive’s office. The state legislature has given the county executive the ability to sell county assets and underutilized Milwaukee Public Schools without any scrutiny of the County Board of Supervisors. They have also allowed the county executive to appoint a commissioner to develop and manage a portfolio of schools that are said to be “nonperforming” or “failing” and turn them around either through direct or indirect management. The budget to operate the so-called nonperforming schools will be inserted into the total MPS budget. Our duly elected Board of School Directors will have no scrutiny of this process further usurping the checks and balances. In 1787, James Madison concluded, “The structural government must furnish the proper checks and balances between the different departments.” He was right then and is right today. We are here to say enough is enough!

– Fred Royal of the NAACP of Milwaukee

Schools and Communities United, along with the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and other SCU member organizations, are holding school walk-ins all over the city on Friday, September 18 to share information with school communities about impending school takeovers in Milwaukee. We will not allow African American and Latino students to be targeted in this way, and we will not allow our students’ voices and needs to go unheard and unmet. We will fight for the schools they need and deserve.

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