JOIN THE WALK-IN TO SAVE MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Thousands of parents, educators, students and community leaders will hold “walk-ins” on Friday, September 18 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. In addition to Milwaukee, all public schools in LaCrosse, Wisconsin will also hold walk-ins in solidarity with Milwaukee students.

When we walk in on Friday, we are demanding justice for our kids and our city, and we are willing to unleash all our collective power to win that justice. When we walk in tomorrow we will be saying that we will not stop until our students have the schools and communities they deserve.

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association and the Schools and Communities United coalition are organizing the walk-ins in response to a public school takeover plan passed as part of Wisconsin’s 2015-17 state budget. The takeover is part of a coordinated attempt by Governor Walker and state legislators to turn as many public schools as possible over to private operators, whether it be through takeovers, statewide voucher expansion, special needs vouchers, or additional charter school authorizers.

The takeover plan charges Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele with appointing a takeover czar this fall. The takeover commissioner would then choose 1-3 schools and attempt to convert them into privately run charter or voucher schools in 2016-17. In subsequent years, up to five schools per year could be targeted for takeover.

Milwaukee parents and community members are concerned about this takeover plan for several reasons:

• The takeover threatens the entire school district – not just the schools targeted for takeover. In Milwaukee, more than 40% of students already attend privately run charter or voucher schools. Similar challenges have brought school systems to their financial brink in cities from Detroit to Chester Uplands, PA.

• The takeover plan offers no new ideas or resources to help students succeed. Simply changing who runs a school does not automatically lead to student success.

• Many students will be left without critical services. The takeover schools are not required to meet the needs of special education students or English language learners.

• School takeovers eliminate good jobs, particularly for African Americans and Latinos. Takeovers have hurt the economy in New Orleans, Memphis and Detroit. They have eroded middle class communities of color, and have led to a less diverse teaching force.

• Takeovers eliminate democratic local control, and disenfranchise African American and Latino communities. A recent report by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools shows that across the nation, school takeovers target almost exclusively African American and Latino students: of nearly 50,000 students whose schools were taken over nationwide, 97% were Black or Latino.

Milwaukee parents have a better plan to promote and strengthen public schools, and make sure all students – regardless of zip code – get a great education. Community Schools, a nationally recognized model that increased graduation rates in Cincinnati by more than 30%, have begun to take root in Milwaukee and have wide support from Milwaukee-based state legislators.