Tag Archives: MTEA

Milwaukee Community Comes Out to Defend Hopkins Lloyd School and Others From Privatization Plans

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Milwaukee, WI - Wisconsin state legislators have been circulating bills that could privatize dozens of public schools and bankrupt school districts. These bills are NOT about improving schools – they’re about taking control away from communities and families, and giving it to private businesses so they can turn a profit.

However, the people of Milwaukee aren’t taking this threat lying down. On Thursday night parents, students, neighbors, educators and community members braved sub-zero temperatures to stand up for one school at risk of privatization. At Hopkins Lloyd Community School over 100 people came together to voice their opposition to the plan, holding the message “DEFEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS” high in the winter air.

Hopkins Lloyd Community School is one of those identified by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction as “failing.” Rather than give the under-resourced school the support it needs to serve its community, however, some Wisconsin legislators seem to think the answer is to turn it into a for-profit business. On Thursday the assembled crowd firmly rejected this faulty logic, and instead demanded real solutions that benefit their children and keep control of the school in the hands of the community.

 

Milwaukee Voucher School Shut Down As Republicans Introduce Bill to Expand Private Charter Schools

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Milwaukee, WI - Another Milwaukee private charter school is shutting business down. It was reported tonight that Washington Dubois Christian Leadership Academy has been busted by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction (DPI) for voucher fraud. It joins Milwaukee’s Mandella School of Science and Math, L.E.A.D.E.R. School, Harambee Community School, and the New Hope Institute of Science and Technology charter school, to name a few, to be shut down for voucher fraud. Milwaukee Public Schools, which is operating in competition with the charter school closed down, must now absorb the school’s entire population while receiving no compensation for doing so. This all comes as Wisconsin Assembly Republicans have authored and brought forth a bill allowing for the expansion of this type of schools, as well as forcing all current charter schools in the state to be operated outside the public domain while still receiving public tax dollars.

 

Milwaukee Educators Visit School Board Meeting with a Message

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Milwaukee, WI - It was hard to not have flashbacks back to 2011, the heart of the Wisconsin Uprising, when teachers came out in force to fight back against Scott Walker’s anti-union Act 10 legislation. Hundreds of educators and their supporters came out to send, and literally bring, a message to the School Board meeting, where the board was deciding whether or not to vote to negotiate a new contract. All MPS teachers have had their wages frozen this year and rather than cower it appears educators are fighting back.

Teachers began the evening by forming a picket line in front of Central Office, while the another group of teachers held an illuminated “STAND WITH US” message.

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After some energetic chanting and marching for 15 minutes the group made their way into School Board meeting, bringing the illuminated message with them.

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One teacher, Gail Milbrath was able to engage Superintendent Thornton as he walked through the assembled group of teachers. She was overheard asking him about working conditions.

Photo credit: Bonnie Brusky

Photo credit: Bonnie Brusky

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After about 10 minutes into the meeting the Board went into executive session and later came out several hours later and ended up voting to lift the wage freeze on teachers, but stipulated that their was no money in the district left to give teachers a wage increase. This statement falls on deaf ears of teachers however, as the Superintendent was recently granted a 3% bonus from the very same School Board now denying teachers full negotiations. We’ll see where this all heads, but teachers are certainly not going to be satisfied with this mild victory and if tonight’s teacher action is any indication, teachers in Milwaukee are organizing and they’re upset.

Milwaukee Public Schools Educators Keep Pressure on School Board and Administration to Negotiate

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Meme created and shared by the Overpass Light Brigade.

Meme created and shared by the Overpass Light Brigade.

Milwaukee, WI - It never looks good when the leader of any group or organization is given a bonus while the workers are forced to sacrifice. Well that’s exactly what is happening in the Milwaukee Public School District, where recently district Superintendent Gregory Thornton received a 3% bonus courtesy of the Milwaukee School Board. Meanwhile, that same board has allowed for teacher wages to be frozen, while also denying those same teachers the ability to negotiate a new contract. The final straw for educators came last week when they each received an apple from Superintendent Thornton for “Teacher Appreciation Week” with an accompanying email:

…I still remember when I was in elementary school and I would give my favorite teacher a shiny, red apple because I appreciated her. This week all school staff members will be receiving an apple as a sign of thanks from the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and the MPS administration. Enjoy this week. Enjoy the apple. And know you have our sincere thanks every day of the year for everything you do for our students and families.

 

- Gregory Thornton email to MPS staff

It’s hard to take the gesture of being given apples for your tireless efforts as “sincere” when at the same time those same people are freezing your wages and locking you out of the negotiating process for future compensation. But it looks like Milwaukee educators are beginning to wake up and fight back. Let’s help these educators receive the respect and dignity they deserve by calling, emailing, or sending a letter to School Board members this week. Word is that the School Board Directors can still pass this at the first full board meeting in December.

Message Is Held Across the Street From Claire Zautke's Home

Milwaukee educators and the Overpass Light Brigade collaborated and on this message in front of School Board Director Claire Zautke’s home.

Contact Information for MPS School Board Directors:

Find out who your School Board member is here.

*** Denotes a Director identified as being “on the fence” for supporting negotiations with teachers.

Michael Bonds
Board President District #3
3519 N. 50th St. Milwaukee, WI 53216 520-3890

Terry Falk
At-large Member
2978 S. Wentworth Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207 510-9173

Tatiana Joseph
District #6
1018 W. Greenfield Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53204 940-1207

Larry Miller
District #5
2584 N. Farwell Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53211 469-9319

*** Mark Sain ***
District #1
5225 W. Vliet St. Milwaukee, WI 53208 614-1774

Meagan Holman
Vice President District #8
3117 S. Logan Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53207 614-1720

*** Jeff Spence *** Right now an emphatic NO
District #2
3180 N. Colonial Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53222 535-0997

Annie Woodward
District #4
1920 W. McKinley Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53205 510-9079

*** Claire Zautke ***
District #7
3162 S. 42nd St. Milwaukee, WI 53215 940-1981

http://d31hzlhk6di2h5.cloudfront.net/20131122/1f/a1/fe/ee/2843cc4c9b6b1ad12a2ac56c/Thanksgiving_letter_template.pdf

Teacher Solidarity FIsts

The same group also held this message outside School Board Director Terry Falk’s home, Wednesday.

Milwaukee Teachers Light Up School Board Directors’ Decision Not to Negotiate

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Milwaukee, WI - Knock, knock. “Who’s there?” “Oh, hello Mr. Director, we have a letter and a message for you”.

That’s just the scenario two Milwaukee Public School Board Directors faced on Wednesday night. Milwaukee teachers found out recently that the School Board had requested Superintendent Gregory Thornton not negotiate with Milwaukee educators under Act 10, in spite of the recently stayed Colas court decision. As a result, Milwaukee teachers have bombarded School Board Directors with emails, phone calls, and now door knocks with the Overpass Light Brigade to get the Board to reconsider their directive Thursday night at the next full-Board meeting.

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The LED lighted letters are passed out before being staged and walked to the first School Board member’s home.

The first School Board member to be visited Wednesday night was Claire Zautke. Teachers held a “REAL LEADERS NEGOTIATE” message across the street from her house, while educator Amy Mizialko knocked on the front door with a letter. The letter stated:

Dear Director Claire Zautke,

As concerned residents of Milwaukee, we understand that strong public schools are vital to the health and well-being of our city. We believe that in order to accomplish that, we need to treat the people that work in our schools with respect and dignity. A significant move towards that would be for the Milwaukee School Board to direct administration to begin negotiations with MPS employees.

We implore your leadership at this critical time and recognize that working conditions of our schools are not separated from our students’ learning conditions but rather are one in the same. Please support our students and our teachers and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Tonight’s “Holders of the Light”

(parents, teachers, students, and members of the community)

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School Board member Claire Zautke waves to the Holders of the Light and screams hello before reading the group’s letter to her.

Zautke waved to the Holders, screamed, “Hello Overpass Light Brigade,” and read the letter. She then walked across the street to speak to the assembled group of teachers. She explained that the Board would be revisiting the issue on Thursday night and could not speak directly about it. The interaction was very civil and although Zautke never did really say whether she would support negotiations she did seem to respect the fact that teachers took the time to visit her with their peaceful and enlightening message.

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This message was held across the street from School Board member Claire Zautke’s home.

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Zautke came out of her house and engaged the group and said she would make sure the issue is discussed at Thursday’s board meeting.

Next, the brigade moved farther south to Bay View. There they unpacked and staged a new message “RESPECT TEACHERS” on Superior Street before parading it to School Board member Terry Falk’s house. Again, the message was placed prominently across the street and this time two teachers knocked on the door to deliver the letter and simultaneously the lighted message. Falk opened the door and said hello to everyone saying he knew exactly why they were there. He said he would make sure the issue would be addressed and that it was important that teachers show up and make their voice heard because otherwise nobody thinks it’s an issue of importance. Falk definitely seemed supportive of teachers.

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Milwaukee educators Michele Hilbert and Stephanie Schneider delivered the group’s letter and pointed out the brigade’s message to Board member Terry Falk.

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Falk now sees the message in front of him across the street.

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“RESPECT TEACHERS” was the second message held Wednesday night at School Board Director Terry Falk’s home.

Falk and his wife hung out with the group for about ten minutes shaking the hands of each letter Holder and asking what school they work at. The brigade finally picked up their message and headed back to Superior Street satisfied with engaging both Board members in a positive and civil discussion about the importance of respecting educators and allowing them to negotiate a contract. Tomorrow night’s full board meeting will be crucial in whether teachers are able to convince the board to negotiate, so turnout should be high. Scott Walker’s union-busting Act 10 law may have aimed to strip collective bargaining but it certainly hasn’t killed the power of collective action.

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Falk ponders the group’s message.

View more photos from the action here.