Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Issue #2- June 21, 2011

What This Is…
Issue #2- June 21, 2011
Included are the updates from yesterday's Board of Education meeting and the meeting of the MTI Crisis Committee held today.

Passing on information from today's Crisis Committee meeting.  This is exactly what Eve sent out to MTI members today, sums it all up perfectly.
MTI Crisis Committee met this morning to discuss and further plan MTI’s recall efforts. Many MTI members are already making individual efforts in conjunction with various groups. The Crisis Committee has decided to expand individual participation into MTI group volunteer events, and we need your help to get this off the ground! We are coordinating with the State AFL-CIO “We Are Wisconsin” group in upcoming recall events. Kevin Gundlach (kgundlach.union@gmail.com) will be our contact person.

Tomorrow, June 22, we will begin making phone calls to mobilize our fellow MTI members, per the above. Help us! Please come to MTI with your cell phone between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. (Note, you will likely need to park on a side street, as Williamson Street is under construction.) We will be calling MTI members to solicit volunteers for the following events:

n      Thursday, June 23 – inaugural MTI group phone banking and data entry event, at the Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park Street. This will be a weekly MTI group event, and we’re looking for 20-30 volunteers every Thursday for the next 6 weeks. Hours are 3:00-9:00 p.m. Shifts are 2 hours. We will be phone banking (calling) fellow MTI members. Food and drink are provided.

n      Sunday, June 26 – MTI group canvassing in Baraboo and/or Portage. We need you!  The schedule will be:

§         10:30 a.m. Meet at Labor Temple (free parking) for coffee & donuts and canvassing instructions
§         11:00 a.m. Depart for Baraboo/Portage via car pools (we’ll also have a bus available if we have over 40 volunteers)
§         12:00 noon Arrive at canvassing site; meet up with local public school employees/other local activists; short re-briefing on canvassing/distribution of neighborhood maps
§         12:30-2:30 p.m. Canvassing in groups or pairs
§         2:30-3:00 p.m. Everyone re-gathers at canvassing site for Solidarity follow-up to debrief; picnic or dinner (at a pro-worker local restaurant) to follow
§         4:30-5:00 p.m. Return to Madison, arriving no later than 6:00 p.m.

June 26 is our inaugural MTI group recall event. Plans are underway for more canvassing, possibly in other Wisconsin Senate districts.

IMPORTANT: -- Help get the word out about phone banking this Thursday, June 23, and every Thursday thereafter at the Labor Temple.

n      -- RSVP to MTI if you are able to commit to phone banking, and/or recruit other volunteers for this Thursday, June 23. Call or email MTI: 608.257.0491 or www.madisonteachers.org. Provide the names of all volunteers, so that I can reserve phones and computers for MTI group use. Please also get volunteers’ phone numbers and email addresses, so we can continue to build our MTI data base. Come to MTI tomorrow afternoon, from 2:00-6:00 p.m., if you want to make calls in a group setting. Bring your cell phone.

n      -- RSVP to MTI if you are able to commit to phone banking on Thursday, June 23, and /or canvassing on Sunday, June 26 (see above schedule). Call or email MTI, no later than 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, June 22, for these 2 events.

n      -- Last, but not least: Everyone is welcome to phone bank and canvass; get commitments from your family, friends, and other pro-labor/pro-public education acquaintances who wish to help in the recall effort. Also, we advise that all volunteers wear neutral clothing—Wisconsin Badgers or Green Bay Packers go over well in any community. Our purpose is to assist in getting the vote out in communities and districts not our own.

THE DEADLINE TO VOLUNTEER FOR THIS WEEK’S EVENTS (JUNE 23 AND JUNE 26) IS TOMORROW, JUNE 22, 6:00 PM, so that I (Eve) can coordinate our efforts (doughnuts, bus, phones, computers, etc.) with Kevin at “We Are Wisconsin.”

The Board met yesterday and discussed the preliminary budget and several amendments to the budget for next year (2011-12).  I tried to follow as best I could, but we didn't get supporting paperwork until after the meeting was under way.  According to Supt. Nerad the budget is balanced and reflects a 4.98% reduction.  It includes the 4K program and is based off the recently passed 2011-13 WI budget.  Several new departments and programs were included in the amendments, including a Director of African-American Achievement, a Family Engagement Coordinator, keeping OTA's and several other programs.  Final discussion and approval of the budget will occur next week. 

Once interesting fact that jumped out at me was the statement that there is $600,000 in unused Title I money available each year.  I believe that this is accurate, I don't know the reason for the extra money.  It just struck me as interesting that we had over a half a million dollars we didn't use. 
Wednesday, June 22 5:00 p.m.
Special Board of Education Meeting in Closed Session
3. Confer with legal counsel for the District who will be rendering oral or written advise concerning the strategy to be adopted by the District with regard to currently pending litigation brought against the District by the Wisconsin State Journal, et al. pursuant to Wis. Stat § 19.85(1)(g)
Special Board of Education Meeting Continued in Open Session
5. Public Appearances
6. Student Code of Conduct
7. Adjournment

Why We Fight…
Parts of a couple of interesting articles recently posted online…

The first one is a little long, but full of great facts, couldn't think of much to cut or summarize.

     Private voucher schools are failing Milwaukee children with disabilities. When these voucher schools ignore their obligations to educate and accommodate children with disabilities, they force Milwaukee Public Schools to pick up the slack - while giving MPS fewer resources to do so. Voucher schools' large-scale exclusion of children with disabilities has led to a segregated environment with a disproportionate share of children with disabilities attending MPS.
     Indeed, if the state Legislature and governor have their way and expand the voucher program, the separation and exclusion of children with disabilities will only get worse.
     That is why civil rights groups have filed the first systemic disability discrimination claim against a voucher program, at a time when well-financed pro-voucher lobbies are pumping money into voucher expansion efforts across the nation.
     Separate is not equal, but separate is exactly what is occurring in Milwaukee: Voucher schools educate about 20% of Milwaukee students, but a mere 1.6% of voucher students receive services due to disabilities. That compares to the more than 19.2% of MPS students who receive special education services. If the voucher program expands, it will take more non-disabled children and the segregation of children with disabilities in MPS will inevitably increase.
Voucher supporters claim that they really serve a greater number of children with learning disabilities, but they have no proven data to support their arguments. Besides, their own numbers say they are only serving half as many children with disabilities as MPS.
    Voucher supporters also talk only about serving children with learning disabilities. Meanwhile, MPS serves children with a wide range of disabilities - such as deafness, autism, cognitive delays and mental illness, as well as profoundly disabled children whose expenses the district also must absorb.
    The vouchers were sold as a better alternative for all of Milwaukee's families. But the truth is that even though they do not serve students with disabilities, voucher schools are failing Milwaukee children. Testing data released this year shows that overall MPS performs better than voucher schools.
    Realizing they are losing the argument on quality, voucher supporters now try to emphasize that they educate cheaply. But the voucher schools do not just get state and local tax dollars. In fact, one of the reasons we are asking for an investigation is that the voucher schools receive millions of dollars a year in federal money and services. The receipt of federal money obligates the private schools to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.
     This failure of voucher schools to serve children with disabilities has led to the segregation of children with disabilities within MPS, while reducing resources the public school system needs to educate all students. That's a separate - and unequal - system that cannot continue, let alone expand, in its current discriminatory form.
Courtney Bowie is senior staff attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union Racial Justice Program; Karyn Rotker is senior staff attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin; and Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick is managing attorney, Disability Rights Wisconsin.

Green Bay teachers upset by change calling for more work hours, less planning time

3:04 PM, Jun. 21, 2011
More than 100 Green Bay teachers dressed in red packed the School Board meeting room on Monday to say they feel betrayed by a recent school district directive that would require them to work longer hours and lose planning time.
The Green Bay School District recently sent a memo to teachers indicating they would be required to work an extra half-hour a day and would lose planning time to make room for staff and other meetings.
Sound familiar?  Our fight for elementary planning time hasn't ended yet either.

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