Week of action: Students opposed to MPS takeover plan being considered in Madison walk out of class

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MILWAUKEE -- Students from three middle and high schools in Milwaukee walked out of class on Monday, June 1st to protest a proposal being considered by lawmakers that would give the county executive authority over the lowest-performing schools in MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools). The proposal would allow the county executive to appoint a commissioner for these schools, and they could be turned into private or charter schools. Some lawmakers say it's an effort to improve under-performing schools, but it's a proposal some don't agree with.

Students from at least three schools took part in demonstrations Monday. South Division High School is one school that would be directly affected by the proposal being considered by lawmakers in Madison.

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"The reason I walked out is because this is our house and nobody can take our house away from us!" South Division High School student Patti Tejeda-Barillas said.

Tejeda-Barillas joined others in the student-led rally and walkout on Monday.

"I`m really proud of all the kids that walked out. I know it takes a lot of courage to walk out of your school," Tejeda-Barillas said.

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Monday's demonstrations were the start of a week of action. Those opposed to the "Opportunity Schools Partnership Program" are trying to get the attention of the lawmakers behind it.

"We`re a public charter school, so we don`t directly get affected by this, but us walking out, we know we are supporting and that we`re making a difference," Ramon Rivera, a student at Escuella Verde said.

The plan would give under-performing schools to a commissioner appointed by the county executive.

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"South Division has a variety of different languages spoken by Latino and Hmong communities in their schools and if that is privatized, chances are they`re going to lose ELS and ELL programs," Francisca Meraz, with Youth Empowered in the Struggle said.

Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), one of the lawmakers behind the proposal, heard about Monday's demonstrations and responded in a written statement:

"The children of MPS have every right to be upset, but they should be upset with the schools failing them. My goal is to change that and make sure every child has the opportunity for a great education."

Senator Darling has invited people to call her office if they have policy suggestions.

Milwaukee police were on hand near the end of the rally at South Division High School, to monitor what was taking place.

Organizers say those opposed to the proposal have events planned for each day this week.

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20 comments

  • Romana

    Calling this a student led protest is beyond misleading. Throughout the last week, organizers with Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES, a branch of Voces de la Frontera) have been meeting with students at schools during school hours.

  • Mel

    Lol, like a kids going to refuse leaving school if the opportunity!? Yeah, right. Let the school fail. They think they can fix it, put your power where you mouth is and lets see. I’m for freedom of choice. And the only way people learn sometimes is LOSING. So rating a school as failing is not always on teachers. The kids come from a home. It SHOULD BE where all love of learning starts in their lives. And the kids that are working hard to succeed there shouldn’t be punished cause another group that messes off lowers the schools gpa to failing. I say give them a year yo prove themselves. They may succeed.

    • Wilson

      Yes ok mel you liberal union teacher. This school has been failing for years under the current setup, time for qualified people to step in and turn it around. Just remember mel, Those that can do, those that can’t teach!!!!

  • Dave

    To Patti Tejeda-Barillas – Since you are still in high school I’ll assume you are not yet paying property taxes… It’s the tax payers house.
    To Francisca Meraz – Learn English! – Problem solved.

  • R

    “It takes a lot of courage to walk out of your school”

    Not when half of them don’t show up in the first place! WE’RE FIGHTING FOR MEDIOCRITY! WE’RE FIGHTING FOR A BILLION DOLLARS TO GRADUATE 60% OF OUR STUDENTS!

  • TeacherofMPS

    Anyone who has been working or going to MPS for the past decade knows that charter schools are NOT the answer and private schools are only going to allow the “smart” kids! Senator Alberta Darling needs to come into these schools and talk to these kids. It’s NOT the teachers! Nor the learning that is happening! It is the lack of motivation because many students are living in a city of hell. Violence, killings, drugs, parents who are in prison, out at night partying…. Be a teacher and learn where the real issues are! What’s next? If your a poor black or Hispanic kid, you won’t be allowed public education in Wisconsin? That’s were this whole thing is headed. Taxpayers be aware, you are going to pay for a new Bucks arena, but were not putting any money into the schools! Think. Think. Think about what is trying to be done. It is 2015, not 1815!!!!

    • Wilson

      Just the exact response you would get from a liberal teacher, the blame game. Oh it iss the violence, drugs, and parents fault, it could NEVER be the teacher’s fault!!! So you looking to somehow get a raise out of this teacher??? What an absolute pathetic person you are. Unionists afraid of losing their part time hours/full time paying job because someone from the private sector can step in and actually improve the school system??? Just remember teacher, Those that can do, those that can’t teach!!!!

    • Maria

      Dear MPSteacher, I have taken the liberty of proofreading your statement. There were several grammatical errors. The word “your” was used incorrectly in lieu of “you’re”. You omitted a few apostrophes in crucial locations such as the word “we’re”. In addition, a few of your sentences required slight rewriting in order to be grammatically correct and/or understandable. Here is the proofread version: Anyone who has been working or going to MPS for the past decade knows that charter schools are NOT the answer, and private schools are only going to allow the “smart” kids! Senator Alberta Darling needs to come into these schools and talk to these kids. (The problem is) NEITHER the teachers nor the learning that is happening! It is the lack of motivation (that many students are experiencing) because (they) are living in a city of hell. Violence, killings, drugs, parents who are in prison, out at night partying…. Be a teacher and learn where the real issues are! What’s next? If you’re a poor black or Latino kid, you won’t be allowed public education in Wisconsin? That’s hwere this whole thing is headed. Taxpayers, be aware, you are going to pay for a new Bucks arena, but we’re not putting any money into the schools! Think. Think. Think about what (they are trying to do). It is 2015, not 1815!!!!

  • IDIOTS

    Why would the students care who is the one in charge. They should be more worried about what kind of education they are getting. I would like to know more about this. What changes are proposed? How will this effect the teachers and there pay? I doubt these kids organized this themselves. This smells of every other child protest that was directly influenced by teachers or parents trying to get there point across by using children. People cry it’s for the children but evidence shows the current state of there education is poor and something needs to be done. A change is proposed and people fear for themselves instead of caring for the children.

    • Wilson

      You are correct idiots it is the loser teachers who are responsible for brainwashing the students in an attempt to protect their union jobs. The teachers are one of the main reasons these schools are failing in the first place. This school system has been DOA for decades it is indeed time to try something new!!!

    • Maria

      You are correct in your discernment. This is more about pay and unions than any other reason. If failing public schools are turned over to voucher or charter schools, then existing employees would have to re interview for their jobs, and they would not have union representation in the new school.

    • Maria

      Dig deep enough past the newly formed “parent” groups, and you’ll find that the people and organizations behind this are: Larry Miller, ACLU, Wisconsin Jobs Now, MTEA, Youth Empowered in the Struggle, Voces de la Frontera and the list goes on.

  • Chuck Gilfillan

    It takes courage to walk out of your school. But not intellegence. Schooling is a costly benefit, even a poor school, but many students don’t appreciate it. This shows students being manipulated by some group for the group’s benefit, not the students’.

    • Wilson

      Hey kraphead, Alberta Darling received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1966. She also did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1972 to 1974. I bet you never even graduated from 8th grade loser!!!

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