Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association
Press Release

Takeover Commissioner Demond Means’ Resignation a Victory for Milwaukee Students and Community

“We will continue to resist any attack on our community’s fundamental democratic rights that would remove public institutions from the control of our publicly elected school board,” said MTEA President Kim Schroeder.

By - Jun 29th, 2016 04:10 pm

MILWAUKEE – June 29, 2016 – Today the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) President Kim Schroeder released the following statement on the resignation of Chris Abele’s appointed Takeover commissioner, Demond Means:

“Demond Means’ decision to resign from his role as OSPP Takeover commissioner is a victory for parents, students, and community members who have been fighting to keep Milwaukee Public Schools in the hands of a democratically elected school board.

“Public schools are based on local control and local decision making. It is uncertain how any advocate of public education can willingly spearhead a plan that would force a public school district to give up local control.

“We hope that Means’ resignation leads to swift and serious action among state legislators to fully support the students of MPS with adequate funding to provide our students with the resources they deserve, including certified educators, lower class sizes for more one-on-one support, inviting classrooms and well rounded curriculum.

“The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association remains committed to work towards a solution that honors the right of every child in Milwaukee to have a quality public education, regardless of their zip code. We will continue to resist any attack on our community’s fundamental democratic rights that would remove public institutions from the control of our publicly elected school board.”

For over 50 years, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association has been a champion for public education in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association represents over 4,500 educators and support personnel who make Milwaukee’s public education system possible. MTEA, an affiliate of the National Education Association and is the largest educator local in Wisconsin. Learn more at mtea.weac.org.

16 thoughts on “Takeover Commissioner Demond Means’ Resignation a Victory for Milwaukee Students and Community”

  1. Milwaukee Native says:

    Demond Means was smart enough to realize that OSPP was an untenable concept cooked up by people with zero awareness of education in general and Milwaukee city schools in particular.

    Even Dr. Means has never had to address the challenges faced by MPS teachers. How much per student does Mequon have to spend as compared to MPS? And do Mequon teachers have to buy their own supplies just to be able to teach?

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    If the story in today’s JS is accurate, Abele and Means handled this in the wrong way. It says they reached out to civic and religious groups and tried to garner their support. What about city residents with children in MPS schools? What about MPS faculty and staff? Abele should read The Prize immediately. One of the biggest reasons the Booker/Christie/Zuckerberg plan to turnaround Newark’s schools failed, if not the biggest reason, is because no attempt was made to garner community support, the very people whose lives would be most impacted by the changes. On a related note, what have Darling and Kooyenga done on that front? Are they just outsiders trying to force change on MPS without making any effort to communicate with MPS parents? Again, that’s exactly the wrong way to do this.

  3. Milwaukee Native says:

    Vincent, thanks for mentioning “The Prize.” This review makes the book sound like inspiring and informative reading for anyone interested in improving public urban education. I remember when that project was announced and wondered about the outcomes.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/books/review/the-prize-by-dale-russakoff.html

  4. AG says:

    Vincent, from what I read they did reach out to MPS in addition to the civic and religious leaders. They were trying to reach out to everyone who has a stake in the community. They were even going to keep teachers, students, property, etc all within MPS. It seems like they were bending over backward to try to work together.

    Apparently MTEA thinks that an “increasingly adversarial” environment is somehow good for the kids of Milwaukee. I’m highly disappointed that education leaders in our city are so opposed to anything new or any sort of change just because it comes from someone outside of MPS or MTEA.

  5. AG says:

    Forgot to add… I spoke with someone in leadership at Bradly Tech who stated they were one of the schools under consideration for the take over but MPS blocked it by saying if that was the school chosen for this program they would remove all MPS property from the school. aka, all computers, desks, workshop equipment, etc. Anything that made bradley tech into the technical program high school that it is.

  6. Vincent Hanna says:

    Where did you read that AG? Reached out in what ways? What about parents with children in the district? What have Darling and Kooyenga done in terms of community outreach?

  7. Ag says:

    I saw in the news that Means met with MPS for discussions last week and had met in April I think as well? I’m sure they would have talked between there as well, but don’t know that for sure. Abele has said numerous times how he’s tried to work with MPS.

    As for Darling and Kooyenga, they said they spent time “in schools, businesses, churches, and community centers in high unemployment areas over the past four years.” That’s all I got on them, we can all believe or not believe them I suppose.

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    So not much effort in other words. It takes two to tango, but one meeting with MPS is hardly sufficient considering what’s at stake here. As for the lawmakers, that’s pretty vague, and without more details, consider me very skeptical. I’d love to know more about their efforts and one would think if what they claim is true, they’d be ready and willing to offer more details as it would give more legitimacy to what they are doing.

  9. Dave says:

    If Kooyenga and Darling were really interested in improving the education of children in Milwaukee, they might want to try helping reduce poverty and providing hope to inner city residents in an effort to create and enable better parenting rather than constantly attacking the city of Milwaukee, demeaning it’s citizens and blaming our public schools when they are hardly the root of the problem.

  10. WashCoRepub says:

    You’ve got to hand it to MPS… by extending their fake dance and stall tactics with Means and Abele for nearly half the summer, they managed to torpedo any meaningful action that could have taken place for the coming school year. Now it’s back to square one so that bought them what, another six months with zero action, at least?

    No biggie. Milwaukee’s largest employment program continues.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    WashCoRepub, I’m tempted to believe that for people like you MPS exists as an easy punching bag, nothing more. I find it hard to believe you truly care about it. But I’m willing to be proven wrong. Do you think it’s fair to believe that sincere, comprehensive efforts are made to secure support from the community, including parents of MPS children, before major changes are made?

  12. AG says:

    Vincent, you know I have a personal stake in seeing some success from our schools, but anything I’ve tried to do in encouraging our school board and local city leaders to be open to any change has been met with resistance. If it didn’t come from within MPS then it’s seen as an attack on MPS… regardless of the merits of an idea. They even opposed legislation to fix the “funding flaw” in the choice system legislation just because choice proponents supported it.

    I’m pretty much done with it at this point I think… recent events, including the mind boggling end to the STOP program has pretty much convinced me I will indeed move out.

  13. Vincent Hanna says:

    I understand that suburban politicians and Chris Abele might not receive a warm welcome from MPS. Isn’t that why it’s important to work to secure the support of parents with kids in MPS? Or at least make a serious effort to gain their support? Isn’t it possible that if enough parents buy-in and vocalize that, MPS would be more open to change? Again, the lessons of Newark (and Howard Fuller’s quote from it) apply here. If you don’t really try to get that support and buy-in, you’re going to be perceived as meddling outsiders forcing change and people directly impacted have every right to be skeptical of and opposed to that.

  14. AG says:

    From all impressions I get, Abele and Means tried working with them. If they won’t work with Demond Means, I doubt they’ll work with anyone.

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    Come on AG. One meeting can hardly be considered a legitimate attempt to secure community support. That takes time and effort.

  16. Vincent Hanna says:

    I would have liked to have seen Abele and Means go to Darling, Kooyenga, and other legislators and say something like: “Listen, we are fully committed to this, but it’s a complicated and massive endeavor, and it will never work if we don’t get support from the community, including MPS parents. Look at Newark. We need time to do this right, and it’s too important to not do it right.” That is what they should have done.

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