Educate All Students, Support Public Education

February 21, 2011

Statement by School Board President Michael Bonds on Budget Debates and MPS

Filed under: MPS — millerlf @ 4:21 pm

Press Release

February 21, 2011

For Immediate Release

The ongoing political activities and budget debates at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison involve very emotional and passionate issues that challenge all of us.  These are real issues that have real implications for our students, families, staff, and communities, both in the short term and in the long term.  While I’m personally 100% supportive of public education and the rights of workers to have collective bargaining, I’m also 100% committed to the 80,000+ MPS students and their families.  Our students and parents have rights too.  Our students have the right to be educated and to be in school daily, even during these challenging times.  Our parents and community have rights and expectations for MPS to carry on its responsibilities during these challenging times. Therefore, I’m requesting that all MPS employees be present on Tuesday and the remainder of the week so we can resume our primary function of educating our children. But I’m also asking all MPS employees to take this opportunity to educate our students, families and community about these issues, if the opportunity should arise after school, outside of the classroom, or as an extension of the curriculum. While these are very emotional and challenging issues, I do not want us to lose our focus of educating our children on a daily basis in a safe and conducive environment. This must continue to be our main focus.

I am requesting that the MPS Administration refrain from making threats of disciplinary action toward our employees.  The use of threats does not send the appropriate message to our employees, nor does it serve any constructive purposes.  There will not be any blanket disciplinary actions of employees.  District collective bargaining agreements require personal conferences prior to disciplinary actions. We have contracts with our employees, which outline procedures relative to the use of sick leave and disciplinary procedures.  Any disciplinary actions administered by the MPS Administration will be considered on a case-by-case basis and follow MPS’ currently established policies and contractual language. I am also requesting that members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors refrain from commenting on disciplinary matters or on any potential disciplinary actions to ensure that there are no impediments to the procedures as outlined in the contracts.  While District staff has an obligation to follow contractual guidelines and to be present to educate our students, our employees also have the right to express themselves openly and freely about these important issues within the appropriate contexts and venues.

In addition, I’m asking all members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors to hold meetings throughout the week and on the weekend in their districts and throughout the city to allow our employees, students, families and members of the community to weigh in on these issues. This would serve a dual purpose: to allow us to continue to educate our students during regular school hours daily; and to provide the opportunity for staff, parents, students and community to express their views on these issues in a constructive manner.

In closing, I am calling on all MPS staff, the MPS Administration, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) to work positively and cooperatively together during these challenging times so we can stay focused on our main objective of educating our children on a daily basis.


Michael Bonds

President, Milwaukee Board of School Directors


  1. Thank you Mr. Bonds for your balanced response, especially for addressing the Superintendent’s threats to reprimand staff.

    Comment by Pat LaCocque — February 21, 2011 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  2. This was a wonderful letter, perhaps providing some feeling of “safety” for MPS teachers. By threatening teachers who are standing up for their rights, the superintendent is showing MPS teachers just what they have to look forward to under Walker’s “budget repair bill”. My grandmother taught before collective bargaining and the type of “bullying” being displayed by the administators of this recent turn of events, was exactly the type of bullying she saw daily. If Walker gets his way, MPS will need to educate their administrators on how not to become dicators and bullies in each of their schools. MPS has a hard enough time retaining teachers due to some working conditions/student bodies. If we want to continue to grow as a district in the right direction, collective bargaining rights will need to be replaced with actual respect of the teaching and supportive staff. Currently, in many schools, principals do not give respect to their teachers and the climate can be very hostile. We all try to do our jobs effectively and thoroughly….thank you for remembering that!

    Comment by Sarah A — February 21, 2011 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  3. Yes, we need to build a broad coalition to oppose draconian cuts to public education. Madison has been the focus for collective bargaining rights. I would like to see Milwaukee become the focus for the public school funding crisis. I am glad to hear Michael Bonds beginning to sound the alarm. But why isn’t this prominently posted on the MPS home page? How is this message getting home to parents? Why isn’t Superintendent Thornton telling parents that the proposed cuts to K-12 education and refusal of Title 1 funds will devastate MPS???

    Comment by Jasmine Alinder — February 22, 2011 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

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