Teachers and parents held a rally Monday afternoon in support of the hundreds of Milwaukee Public School teachers who are losing their jobs. Organizers want emergency federal funding to keep more teachers in the classroom.
The district mailed out layoff notices to 482 teachers, 600 substitute teachers, and 233 educational assistants. Including Mayor Barrett’s wife Chris, who is a teacher. The teachers union is fighting the cuts.
Organizers of the rally put 700 pairs of shoes on the steps of the federal building to symbolize the number of teachers laid off. “Who will fill my teachers shoes” was the theme.
Wendell Harris, vice-president of the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP and chair of the Education Committee of the NAACP opened the rally, where teachers, parents, students and advocates spoke in support of the students who are losing educators due to these cuts.
“It is unfortunate for everyone involved, my children are in the district as are many other aldermans’ and constituents’ children.” said Alderman and Common Council president Willie Hines, Jr. “We need structural changes within the system and we need to create new business partners.” he continued.
According to MPS, the emergency money that the organizers are asking for will not be enough for any long term solutions, however organizers say that it will keep teachers in for some time, and during that time other solutions could be worked on.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore spoke at the rally as well, and she stated that the rally was an act to exercise emergency democracy. Not only are our children’s futures at risk here, so are the realities and day to day lives of those being threaten with layoffs.
Rally attendees were encouraged to call on Senators Feingold and Kohl to support the ‘Keep Our Educators Working Act’, a bill that would provide $23 billion to financially strapped school districts.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, one of the sponsors of Monday’s rally released a statement: The economic recession has devastate state and local revenue which provides the vast majority of education funding.
Only the federal government can provide the immediate funding necessary to rehire laid off MPS educators and staff. Without the help of Congress, the cuts in MPS will deeply damage the educational future of our children and the economic future of the City of Milwaukee.