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During yesterday’s public hearing for the AB1 Public School Takeover bill, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Robin Vos pulled the education committee chair Republican Rep. Thiesfeldt aside to whisper who knows what. Based on the two hours Thiesfeldt spent in the hot seat testifying over his ill conceived bill, probably nothing nice.
Thiesfeldt had just testified that profiting on schools was ok and that he wasn’t really sure why his bill created a separate sanctioning board in Madison for public schools that would usurp locally elected school boards.
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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, 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, WI - Representatives of NAACP – Milwaukee, Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Parents for Public Schools Milwaukee, the MTEA, and other organizations publicly spoke out Friday morning in front of North Division High School to address pending legislation proposed (SB 318) by Republican Wisconsin State Senator Alberta Darling that would force the Milwaukee Public Schools to sell buildings to private companies. Darling’s proposal would allow any of the following to be sold (among others): North Division High School (used for district-wide professional development); Golda Meir’s expanding upper campus; and ALBA School, a teacher-led school whose founding teachers will be in NYC tomorrow accepting a “Teacher of the Year” award from People magazine.
Jen Epps-Addison, a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools, spoke out against legislation that would force the district to sell school buildings to private companies.
“Alberta Darling may be the face of this bill, but the real person behind this takeover is Tim Sheehy,” Wisconsin Jobs Now Executive Director Jen Epps-Addison emphatically stated during her speech at the press conference. Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has been the real culprit pushing the legislation to take away local control of the district’s buildings in hopes of filling them with for-profit schools, including religious schools.
Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz spoke against the Alberta Darling and Tim Sheehy’s proposed MPS Takeover legislation.
Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz also spoke against the takeover saying, “This corporate takeover likes to use the language of saying this is about our kids or our schools, but that is a lie. It’s about destroying public education in order for businesses to profit off our children while rewarding politicians”
Call Tim Sheehy at (414) 271-4100 and tell him that you do not appreciate his attempt to profit off of the children and families of Milwaukee.
Then, call Alberta Darling and tell her the same: (608) 266-5830
Jen Epps-Addison Rips Legislation That Strips MPS of Local Control from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.
Photo album with additional photos from the press conference can be found here.
The Overpass Light Brigade held their “UNIFIED FOR KIDS” message high in the back row of Thursday night’s School Board meeting.
Milwaukee, WI - Over 500 Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) educators and their allies showed up at Thursday night’s Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) School Board meeting in a tremendous show of solidarity and strength. MTEA members and their many supporters were completely silent in entering the meeting and sat holding signs making several demands:
- Economic justice for educational assistants
- Smaller class sizes for better learning
- Restoration of art, music, and physical education classes
- Fair contracts and fair learning conditions
An overflow crowd waits silently to enter the MPS School Board meeting.
The silent protest opened with the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) marching a brilliant “UNIFIED FOR KIDS” message to the back of the room, where each holder of the light raised their letter above their head, while simultaneously a sea of educators flowed silently into the auditorium filling every single seat. Even though every last seat was filled, the entire adjoining hallway was still crammed with overflow crowd. Organizers did an excellent job of moving people in and out of the auditorium to ensure that everyone who showed up in support would receive a chance to sit. Groups of about thirty would get up silently and leave the auditorium as a new group of thirty would immediately fill the vacated seats.
Educators and OLB holders of the light hold their message outside MPS Central Office
The School Board Directors and MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton had to be impressed with the massive showing of solidarity. The MTEA sent a clear message that educators are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure they have the proper working conditions to be able to more effectively provide the proper learning conditions for Milwaukee’s children.
Check out all the action through this video:
OLB and MPS Educators Unified For Kids from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.