Milwaukee fights back against school takeovers with “walk-ins” at more than 100 public schools
Thousands of parents, educators, students and community leaders held “walk-ins” at more than 100 public schools across the city of Milwaukee.
Thousands of parents, educators, students and community leaders held “walk-ins” at more than 100 public schools across the city of Milwaukee to celebrate public schools and to share information about how a proposed public school takeover will hurt students and the Milwaukee economy.
The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and the Schools and Communities United coalition organized the walk-ins in response to a public school takeover plan that was passed in July as part of the Wisconsin state budget.
The school takeover plan charges Milwaukee county executive Chris Abele with choosing a takeover commissioner this fall. The commissioner would then choose 1-3 schools to convert into privately run charter or voucher schools for the 2016-17 school year. In each subsequent year, up to five schools could be handed over to private operators.
Parents and community members have raised several concerns about the takeover plan, chief among them its disenfranchisement of Milwaukee’s African American and Latino voters and communities. A recent report by the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools shows that nationally, of nearly 50,000 schools whose schools were taken over, 97% were Black and Latino. The report also underscores how takeovers eliminate democratic local control.
NAACP-Milwaukee president Fred Royal said: “We are walking in today at more than 100 schools because our students deserve better. Simply handing our public schools over to a private charter or voucher operator does not guarantee student success. Parents in Milwaukee have a different plan. They want Community Schools – they’ve worked across the country and they can work here. State legislators and the county executive need to focus on creating the supports our children need, instead of attacking our schools and handing them over to unaccountable operators.”
State representative Christine Sinicki, speaking at a walk-in at Fernwood Montessori School, said, “We need to send (County Executive) Chris Abele a message: ‘not one child, not one school, not today, not now, not ever.’”
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“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.
We are witnessing international resistance against attacks on public education and attempts by states to strip away rights.