Educate All Students: Larry Miller's Blog

May 23, 2012

Teaching Untold Stories During Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Filed under: Multiculturalism,People's History — millerlf @ 1:23 pm
Posted: 05/23/2012 Huffington Post
Moe Yonamine

“They’re Latinos … I think they’re some kind of farm workers.” “No, they’re Asians with name tags.” And then a student in a quiet voice walked by me slowly and muttered, “I think something really bad is happening to them.” 2012-05-23-Photo1_JapaneseInternmentPhoto.jpg Japanese Peruvians en route to U.S. Internment Camps. April 2, 1942. U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo. National Archive. My students at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregon — one of the state’s most racially diverse schools — studied each black and white photo posted around the room, inspecting the background and the facial expressions — confused, anxious, frustrated. They began a journey to uncover the hidden story of the Japanese Latin American removal, internment, and deportation during World War II. Most U.S. history textbooks now acknowledge that beginning in 1942, the U.S. government rounded up more than 110,000 people of Japanese descent — even those who were U.S. citizens — and sent them to internment camps. What the textbooks fail to include is that the United States encouraged that Latin American governments do the same thing, and turn over their own internees to U.S. authorities — and that these internees went on to become refugees with no country to call home. Even before Pearl Harbor, in October 1941, the U.S. government initiated plans to construct an internment camp near the Panama Canal Zone for Japanese Latin Americans. The United States targeted people it deemed security threats and pressured Latin American governments to round them up and turn them over. Beginning in 1942, 13 Latin American governments arrested more than 2,300 people of Japanese descent in their countries — largely from Peru — including teachers, farmers, barbers, and businessmen. The U.S. government transported these individuals from Panama to internment camps in the United States, confiscating passports and visas. Most remained in the camps until the end of the war, when the government deemed them “illegal aliens.” Meanwhile, the Peruvian government refused to readmit any of its citizens of Japanese origin, thus hundreds were deported to Japan. 2012-05-23-Photo2_Art_Shibayama.jpg Art Shibayama holds a portrait of his family who was interned by the U.S Government. (c) Tyler Sipe, PRI’s The World Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a good opportunity for teachers — and all the rest of us — to explore important untold stories like this one. I learned this history by coincidence 14 years ago. I was on a bus from Portland to Tule Lake, California, site of one of the largest Japanese American incarceration camps. My former middle school teacher, who had first taught me the history of Japanese American internment, had asked me to join her on this pilgrimage, which included hundreds of survivors. “I am from Japan,” the elder sitting next to me said in Japanese. “But I am originally from Peru.” An elder sitting in front of us turned around and said in English, “He looks very familiar.” As I translated their conversation, it came out that they were both young boys interned at Tule Lake. “I know him!” said the Japanese American elder. “He was my friend!” Grabbing the Peruvian man’s hand and shaking it firmly, he explained that they played baseball together often but that one day his friend disappeared. His friend spoke Spanish, so he could never ask him what he was doing in the camp. The Peruvian Japanese elder’s face beamed with joy as the two continued to shake hands, not letting go. “I am so glad you are safe,” he said. As I absorbed this moment between the two long-ago friends, I was struck with joy and at the same time, anger. How could this be that through all of my education there was never even a mention of this? I remembered elderly people I knew and loved in my home island of Okinawa. These elders were Okinawan by ethnicity but spoke Spanish. I remember that some of them told about their childhood days in Peru. Could they too have survived such a past? From subsequent research, I discovered that large numbers of Okinawans migrated to South America beginning in the late 1800s as the once-sovereign Ryukyu island chain was brought under Japanese control. By World War II, the majority of immigrants to Peru were Okinawan. There was also a large group in Brazil. As a result, many families in Okinawa today have relatives from South America including my own, but stories of their migration and their lives thereafter remain largely untold. My own questions turned into my inquiry as a history teacher. How can I teach my students to imagine the experiences of people from another time and make connections to today? Back in the classroom, as part of our study of the internment of Japanese during World War II, I showed the class a map of the detention centers and incarceration camps. Immediately, students saw Portland on the map and a hush spread through the room. I walked over to one of the photos posted on the wall and said, “This is the Expo Center.” Shouts of disbelief rang through the room. The Expo Center is in North Portland near our own high school, now used for large community events and cultural festivals. I explained that many people from Portland were affected and the Expo Center was a detention center used to round up Japanese American families from our own area. I developed a role play — included at the Zinn Education Project website — to spark the students’ curiosity. The students’ job was to represent characters with different perspectives and to present to the Commission on whether or not Japanese Latin Americans should receive redress for their forced removal, internment, and deportation. In each class, students passionately debated, staying in character. The student judges delivered various decisions but all concluded that this history must be taught. In one class, Nikki said, “How are we supposed to make sure that this doesn’t happen again if we don’t talk about it?” She went on: “If we don’t teach the kids, they’re not going to learn from all of the mistakes that have been done … just like with the Native Americans here and the Aboriginal people in Australia.” Joseph, who played a member of the Congressional Judiciary Committee, approached me after class: “It was so hard to have to make the decision … This is really people’s lives. You can’t make it all better by any of this. It’s not enough.” How then do we “undo” injustice? I believe it is through empowering young people to imagine a different world. In my classroom, students filled the room with interruptions and passion to call out the injustice they see and to say how this connects to their own lives. What’s more, they stood up for how it should be, how such acts of racism, hatred, and violence should never occur. Steve stated it best, writing, “We can’t afford not to learn this history and histories like this. It has everything to do with us because injustice is all around us — whether it’s racism or war…. The only thing that separates doing the right thing and the wrong thing is learning from the past.” During this commemorative month to raise awareness of Asian/Pacific Island peoples, I draw hope from my students who are leading the way to unlearn the past and imagine a more just world for all people.

Lily Ledbetter MJS Op-Ed on Walker’s Denial of Working Women’s Rights

Filed under: Scott Walker — millerlf @ 10:21 am

Wisconsin’s working women deserve fairness

By Lilly Ledbetter Milwaukee Journal Sentinel May 22, 2012

When Wisconsin passed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act in 2009, it completed a 20-year fight to strengthen the state’s equal pay law. The act finally gave women in the workplace the right to hold employers accountable for discrimination in Wisconsin.

On April 6, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature quietly voted to repeal the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Scott Walker took away 20 years of hard work that ensured our daughters and granddaughters equal rights in the workplace. It’s this type of belief system that created the divisiveness we’ve seen all too often recently.

Walker has launched a civil war on Wisconsin’s middle-class men and women. From ending years of gender equality enforcement to record job losses, Wisconsin’s working families are under attack. We need a governor who will bring all parties together and find solutions to return rights to women and put Wisconsinites back to work.

Republicans know that the public doesn’t agree with their views, so some have turned to misconstruing the facts. The governor and his friends in the state Senate want us to believe that there is no problem, that the pay gap exists only because women choose lower-paying jobs, that the law didn’t work and that remedies exist for victims of pay discrimination. But the truth is, the facts show otherwise.

According to the National Partnership on Women and Families, women in Wisconsin on average earn $10,033 less annually than male workers, amounting to over $8 billion in lost wages for Wisconsin’s working women and their families each year. This means that women make just 75 cents for every $1 a man makes for the same work. This isn’t just an issue for women; it’s an issue for families.

If the wage gap were closed, and Walker actually listened to the people he represents, Wisconsin families would have enough money to buy 91 more weeks of food or over 2,500 gallons of gas. What would your family do with $10,000 more in income each year? Pay off burdensome debts? Save for your children’s future? Invest in your local economy?

On the national level, the first bill that President Barack Obama signed into law was the Fair Pay Act in 2009. I couldn’t be prouder that this legislation bears my name, as I personally have lived the challenge still facing far too many women in the workplace. Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act was legislation similar to that federal law.

Today, Wisconsin is a better place to live, work and raise a family due to this federal legislation, but Walker’s war on women is a direct assault on that fairness. We should stand tall for all of our mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters and work to restore that fairness.

Lilly Ledbetter, a 20-year employee of Goodyear Tire, was the plaintiff in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

 

May 22, 2012

Right-Wing Walker Group, Citizens for Responsible Government, Attacks and Slanders Janesville Teachers

Filed under: American Injustice,Scott Walker,Wisconsin Class Warfare — millerlf @ 2:56 pm

Citizens for Responsible Government tied to anti-teacher flier

By STAN MILAM WTMJ Tuesday, May 22, 2012

JANESVILLE — An anti-teacher flier distributed over the weekend in Janesville is the work of a conservative Milwaukee organization with local representation.

Citizens for Responsible Government, also known as CRG Network, filed a freedom of information request with the School District of Janesville on March 29, said Brett Berg, spokesman for the district. Those figures were used to create the flier, said CRG Executive Administrator Chris Kliesmet.

“The group and its representative, Orville Seymer, filed a freedom of information request for a list of all Janesville district teachers, their job titles and annual salaries,” Berg said.

When contacted by The Gazette, Seymer said he knew the names of local participants but was asked not to release them.

“They want to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation,” Seymer said. “However, this is all public information.”

The flier lists the names and salaries of 321 teachers whose salaries range from $59,344 to $75,695. The district employs 765 teachers; the lowest salary is $34,676.

“We did most of the grunt work at the request of people over there,” Kliesmet said. “We did the freedom of information request and gathered the data. People in the area printed the flier and distributed it.”

At the bottom of the flier is a “Parents’ Rights Protection Form” urging parents to send it to Superintendent Karen Schulte and request that “my child be assigned to a classroom taught by a non-radical teacher during the 2012-2013 school year.”

When asked about comments regarding “radicals” and taking students out of classes, Seymer said he did not have any input on the content of the flier.

The flier does not say what its authors mean by “radical,” but it does include information directing people to a website listing state residents who signed the petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.

Schulte said if she receives any of the requests, “they’re going in the trash.”

CRG conducted a similar exercise in 2008 highlighting Milwaukee Public Schools expenditures. The group was also involved in an unsuccessful effort earlier this month to recall state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and boasts on its website of the successful effort to recall former Milwaukee County Executive Tom Ament.

The flier did not state who produced it.

Stephanie Kortyna, a fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Elementary School, said she wasn’t bothered to see her name on the list, but she objected to being classified as a radical.

“I couldn’t care less about people knowing my salary,” she said. “But if these people are this concerned with this, why the anonymity?

“Why are they not saying who is this group, who is the leader of this group, where is the money coming from to make these fliers? If you have a beef with us, or if you are angry with us, make yourself known,” Kortyna said.

The flier was distributed in Gazette home-delivery tubes.

Gazette representatives said the newspaper did not authorize the use of its tubes, and the flier is not connected to the newspaper.

Gazette Circulation Manager Lon Haenel said Gazette tubes are for newspaper use only. The paper asks unauthorized people or groups to stop using The Gazette’s tubes, Haenel said, and will contact the police if they do not.

Schulte said she was shocked when someone showed her the flier Saturday. She said it was interesting that she saw the flier at Craig High School, where 400 people including teachers were volunteering to package food to be sent to feed the hungry in Haiti.

“I think it’s wrong to go after any group that has an honest profession,” Schulte said. “I don’t understand where this intense anger is coming from.”

The flier distributed this weekend is done in the same style as a flier stuffed in some Janesville mailboxes in March. Those fliers listed the salaries of some district administrators and teachers and made specific charges against public schools, including “dumbed-down curriculum,” “Marxist/globalist agenda,” “sexualization of children” and “union bullying and vindictive targeting of students.”

The first flier also contained no information about who made it. It suggested parents pull their children from public schools and put them in private schools.

The Gazette contacted local private schools at the time, and officials said they had nothing to do with it. Some were upset because their schools were listed on the flier.

Only two teachers make more than $74,000. Salaries are based on a salary schedule that awards pay raises for years on the job to a maximum of 17 years and for continuing education up to the doctoral level. Teachers pay out of their own pockets to take the graduate courses. Teachers also receive extra pay for additional duties, such as coaching.

Vouchers by Another Name: Public Dollars (Scholarships) for Private, Sectarian Schools

Filed under: Vouchers — millerlf @ 2:33 pm

NYTimes May 21, 2012

Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools

By STEPHANIE SAUL

When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy.

The program would be supported by donations to nonprofit scholarship groups, and Georgians who contributed would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits, up to $2,500 a couple. The intent was that money otherwise due to the Georgia treasury — about $50 million a year — would be used instead to help needy students escape struggling public schools.

That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year.

“A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund,” Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an informational session. “The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it.”

A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school.

“If a student has friends, relatives or even corporations that pay Georgia income tax, all of those people can make a donation to that child’s school,” added an official with a scholarship group working with the school.

The exchange at Gwinnett Christian Academy, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, is just one example of how scholarship programs have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children.

Spreading at a time of deep cutbacks in public schools, the programs are operating in eight states and represent one of the fastest-growing components of the school choice movement. This school year alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for 129,000 students, according to the Alliance for School Choice, an advocacy organization. Legislators in at least nine other states are considering the programs.

(more…)

May 21, 2012

Milwaukee: You Can Vote Now to Get Scott Walker Out of Office!

Filed under: Recall,Scott Walker — millerlf @ 8:31 pm

End the vile right-wing agenda. Set an example to the America and the world.

Vote Now.

*Hours of Operation for City of Milwaukee below:

In-person dates and times:

  • Monday, May 21 – Friday, May 25, 8:30 am – 7:00 pm;
  • Saturday, May 26, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm;
  • Sunday, May 27, 12:00 noon – 4:00 pm;
  • MEMORIAL DAY Monday, May 28, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon;
  • Tuesday, May 29 – Thursday, May 31, 8:30 am – 7:00 pm;
  • Friday, June 1, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.
  • Location: Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway, Room 102
  • Request a ballot by mail: May 31, 2012, 5:00 pm is the deadline for electors to request absentee ballots by mail for the Recall Election.
  • *For other municipalities please call them directly for hours of operation.

Milwaukee’s Education Privatization Explained: What’s the Difference Between Public Schools, Voucher Schools and Charter Schools?

Filed under: Charter Schools,Vouchers — millerlf @ 7:28 pm

What’s the Difference? Voucher schools, Charter schools, Milwaukee Public Schools

Published in May 2012 by the non-partisan Democracy and Education Research Group.  Email: democracy.education.milwaukee@gmail.com

Overview

In recent decades, there has been an expansion of the types of schools in Milwaukee receiving public tax dollars. In some areas, differences may seem slight. In other areas, there are significant differences. This is especially true in terms of students’ rights, public accountability, and democratic oversight.

There are three main types of schools in Milwaukee that receive public tax dollars:

  • Private voucher schools, charging tuition but also open to students who receive publicly funded vouchers.
  • Charter schools approved by the City of Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  • Schools overseen by the Milwaukee Public Schools district.

The voucher schools, by definition, are private schools and do not have to follow the same rules as public schools. Most provide religious-based education and may charge tuition to private-paying stu­dents and, in some cases, to high school students receiving vouchers.

The charter schools approved by the City of Milwaukee and UWM are considered public schools, but do not have to follow the same state rules, regulations and public oversight as traditional public schools. They are beholden to a “contract” (or charter), granted significant autonomy, and operate as independent entities. The schools are expected to provide greater academic results and innovation, although this has not necessarily happened in practice. Like all charter schools, they are non-religious and may not charge tuition. They are governed by privately appointed boards of directors.

The MPS district primarily oversees traditional public schools, including both neighborhood schools and a range of specialty schools and citywide schools, from language immersion to Montessori. The Milwaukee School Board also oversees charter schools that are part of the MPS but that have a specific “contract” or charter, often to provide a particular curricular focus. Finally, MPS oversees alternative and partnership schools. All MPS schools are non-religious and may not charge tuition. They are gov­erned by the democratically elected Milwaukee School Board. Most MPS schools also have school-based councils of parents, teachers and community members.

Details

Voucher schools

The biggest difference between voucher schools and charter and traditional schools is that, by defini­tion, voucher schools are private schools and can provide religious-based instruction. There are approxi­mately 22,300 students in Milwaukee receiving vouch­ers in the 2011-12 school year, mostly at religious schools. In 2011, for the first time Milwaukee students could attend a voucher school located outside the city.

While the voucher program initially began as an ex­periment promoting “choice” for poor people, a family of four with an income of $67,050 may now receive vouchers. The median family income in Milwaukee is $35,921.

Because they are private schools, voucher schools have limited public accountability and operate un­der different rules than public schools. For instance, voucher schools do not have to follow the state’s open meetings and records law. They do not have to provide information on staff qualifications, student suspen­sions and expulsions, graduation rates, and so forth to the public. Their meetings are not open to the public.

Voucher schools must accept students who require special education services, but they are not required to meet the students’ needs beyond what can be provided with minor adjustments. As a result, many students requiring special services leave voucher schools and attend a Milwaukee public schools. (Less than 2 per- cent of students in voucher schools are identified as receiving special education services, compared to about almost 20 percent in the Milwaukee Public Schools.)

As private schools, voucher schools do not have to honor constitutional rights of due process when students are suspended or expelled. Nor do private voucher schools have to follow Wisconsin law that

prohibits discrimination against students in a range of areas including, sex, pregnancy, marital or parental status, or sexual orientation. Voucher schools, howev­er, must follow federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Charter schools overseen by the City of Milwaukee and UWM

There are seven schools chartered by the City of Milwaukee and 11 schools chartered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The schools enrolled a total of approximately 6,500 students in 2011-12.

Information on the UWM charter schools can be found on the webpage of the Office of Charter Schools at UWM (http://www4.uwm.edu/soe/centers/char­ter_schools/). Links on the website provide data such as the name of a particular charter school, its address, when it was chartered, and its email and school web-site. Detailed data on special education students, racial makeup, curricular offerings and so forth is not easily accessible via the website. A 62-page annual report from 2009-10 is available through the website. The report does not indicate who appoints the staff and leadership overseeing the Office of Charter Schools, nor when and if the office holds meetings open to the public.

The only data available on the City of Milwaukee website specifically regarding charter schools is a phone number where one can get an application to become a charter school (http://city.milwaukee.gov/ CharterSchoolApplication.htm). The charter schools are overseen by a “Charter School Review Commit­tee” appointed by city officials. Meetings and deci­sions by the committee are not available on the City of Milwaukee website, nor is it clear where one can attain such information.

Limited data on individual charter schools, both for UWM and the City of Milwaukee, is available through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, but not for the schools as a group.

Milwaukee Public Schools

There are 175 schools within MPS in 2011-12, with 80,098 students. Schools include traditional schools, charter schools, and partnership schools. Charter schools include both district-run charters (instrumen­tality) and independent charters (non-instrumentality).

Information on schools, programs, enrollment and demographics can be found at the MPS website (http:// mpsportal.milwaukee.k12.wi.us). MPS is governed

by a nine-member School Board, which each member elected to a four-year term in public elections. The board holds monthly public meetings, in addition to committee meetings, open to the public.

The Milwaukee Public Schools is the city’s largest educational institution, and the only one with the com­mitment, capacity, and legal obligation to serve the needs of all the city’s children.

Overall, almost 20 percent of MPS students require special education services, and 10 percent are English Language Learners. The district offers Spanish/Eng­lish bilingual programs at 24 schools, and Southeast Asian/English Bilingual Programs at two schools. English-as-a-Second Language programs are available at the bilingual schools and an additional 14 schools.

MPS issues an annual Report Card for the district as a whole, and for individual schools. The reports cards are available publicly via the MPS website. Con­tact information for the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, agendas, meeting calendars and audio records of board proceedings are available at the MPS board governance website.

May 14, 2012

The Company Owned By Walker’s Billionaire Friend, Whom He Told On Camera That He Would Divide And Conquer Wisconsin’s Unions, Paid No Income Taxes For 2005 Through 2008

Filed under: Scott Walker,Wisconsin Class Warfare — millerlf @ 8:30 am

Billionaire Walker donor pays no state corporate income tax
Diane Hendricks gave $500,000; her Beloit firm pays $0 income tax

Institute for Wisconsin’s Future May 2012

Beloit billionaire businesswoman Diane Hendricks has been in the news recently because of her politi­cal activism on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker. It was in a conversation with Hendricks that Walker made his now-famous comment about using a “divide and conquer” strategy against labor unions.

During a three-month period in 2012, Hendricks donated $500,000 to Walker’s campaign, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. She is the largest single donor to the governor’s anti-recall campaign, outspending even fellow billionaires Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas casinos) and Richard DeVos (Amway).

Hendricks, whom Forbes magazine says is worth $2.8 billion, heads Beloit-based ABC Supply Com­pany, which the magazine calls “the nation’s largest roofing, window and siding wholesale distributor” with annual sales approaching $5 billion.

ABC Supply may be a huge money-maker for Hendricks, but the Wisconsin corporate income tax returns she files claim the company makes not a penny in taxable profit.

ABC Supply paid exactly $0.00 in state corporate income tax in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, accord­ing to the state Department of Revenue. Tax data for more recent years were not available when the information was requested from the department.

Hendricks helped make headlines last week when a video emerged of a conversation she had with

Walker in Beloit. In the video, Hendricks asks Walker: “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a com­pletely red state and work on these unions and be­come a right-to-work state? What can we do to help you?”

Walker replied: “Well, we’re going to start in a cou­ple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collection bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Hendricks is well-known as a financial backer of conservative causes and candidates. Her political donations in Wisconsin date as far back as a $1,000 gift to then-Gov. Tommy G. Thompson in 1991, ac­cording to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

And she speaks out herself in favor of low taxes and less regulations. The opening sentence in an op-ed she wrote in 2010 for USA Today says: “Taxing job creators is a sure way to stop the engine of eco­nomic growth.”

Well, she’s found a way to get around paying any state income tax on her business. After all, state tax law is full of plenty of loopholes for her lawyers and accountants to work with. It’s not known which loop­holes ABC Supply used to avoid income taxes.

ABC Supply was founded in 1982 by Hendricks and her late husband, Kenneth Hendricks. She was a very active partner while he was alive and has been running the company since his death five years ago.

 

 

 

 

Attempts in Milwaukee to Put Schools in Unsafe Buildings for Profit

Bad Players, Shady Business Deals.

By Harriet Callier [hcallier@live.com] 09May2012 Milwaukee Community Journal

Welcome to new (Unsafe, Emotionally Challenging) School where “Gun Safety Will Be Practice at all times around the children.” Dieter insists on putting a school into this building because ‘it pays!’ He explains that he made some bad choices in other business deals with this building and he needs to make his money back.

While we want the best possible education for our children, parents and grandparents have a long list of factors to weigh in finalizing those decisions. Questions regarding physical and emotional safety should be on the checklist. Increasingly, Milwaukee Kindergartens and K4-12 schools are circumventing the rules to open under challenging—even dangerous circumstances. On May 15, another instance of this will occur if our elected officials do not hear to the contrary.

See Picture School Denied by Zoning board

Academy of Excellence – 633 South 12th Street (Case# 111483) also uses the name
Whole Village Institute and the side street address 1236 W Pierce. (Case#31075)

In late July 2011, Randall (Randy) Melchert, Anna Horneck and Matt Boutilier (File# 31075) were DENIED by the City of Milwaukee Board of Zoning and Appeals for their request to put a Christian school into a heavy industrial area above an air gun target practice business in a building that is owned by James (Jim) Dieter. Melchert has close ties to VCY Administration; Boutlier and Horneck have ties to Churches whose congregations meet outside of Milwaukee proper—as far away as Hartland, WI.

In the actual videotaping of the public hearing, Melchert was questioned regarding the safety and welfare of the children—ages 2 to 18+—who would occupy this school for the better part of a school day. Specifically, the questions related to the heavy flow of tracker trailer units to surrounding manufacturers and produce warehouses. A more telling question asked about the only entrance to the school’s space (to the left of the car in the photo) that empties directly onto the sidewalk/street for 120+ school children and 48 daycare children ages 2 – 4 years of age.

Melchert made every effort to explain away BOZA’s direct questions. What could not be captured here is was the emotional distress that these children would have been subject to with men in full-gear paramilitary camouflage and gas mask running throughout the building in actual target practice. The school shares the building with Airsoft Jungle Club. The guns and gear in the video and website closely resembles what we seen in the pictures of the war on Al-Qaida and Afghanistan. The Club requires everyone to fully acknowledge that “anyone stepping on the PROPERTY” should be protected with eye and body protection. Their videos show the Club making target practice use of the full range of the building.

So why the discussion about a BOZA denial. Dieter/Melchert are going back into the City Council for a permanent variance that would allow them to put children into this building. This time they won’t waste their story with the BOZA folks because they will talk directly to the a panel of Aldermen with the request to change the overall code of the building from heavy industrial to mixed use.

Nothing has changed with the makeup of the community—it is still a very active industrial area. What changed is the name of the school from Whole Village Institute to Academy of Excellence. Because it is a corner lot, Melchert uses the address for the front door where Dieter lists the side entrance. And no one is to be the wiser.

So how can we fix this. From where I stand, it is highly inappropriate to work to circumvent the legal processes—especially for a form of business that will be unmonitored for the most part as these schools have little to no reporting requirements that are released to the public. That concern takes a back seat to the fact that this will put children in harm’s way just to make a dollar.

Remember, nothing has changed in this business district to move it from a heavy industrial zoning. School buses and parents’ cars will all compete for parking and driving space in an industrial area that has no way of defending itself of children darting between parked cars. In fact to the contrary, this zoning change has capacity to take property out of play that is best suited for bringing real, family supporting jobs in large numbers into our communities.

But each of us have a voice that counts. Write or call the Alderman. The most recent appointments to the Zoning, Neighborhood & Development Committee are Ald. Bauman (rjbauma@milwaukee.gov), Ald. Bohl , Chair (JBohl@milwaukee.gov), Ald. Murphy (MMurph@milwaukee.gov), Ald. Wade (WWade@milwaukee.gov) and Ald. Witkowski (twitko@milwaukee.gov). The main number is 414-286-2221. This is scheduled as Item#5 on the Agenda at the 9am (City Hall, Room 301B) before the Zoning, Neighborhood and Development Committee.

Lastly, I strongly encourage you to remain informed and engaged. Women Committed to an Informed Community has held several forums throughout the city to get us up to speed on the Charter/Choice Program and how it best fits into each family’s decisions. The Committee invites you to come a Community Forum, Thursday, May 17, 6:00 p.m., Solomon United Methodist Church, 3295 N. Martin Luther King Drive.

Harriet Callier is the Senior Field Agent for ARACOPA Coalition for Social Justice. She is Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the Milwaukee Branch NAACP and an active member of the Education Forum with the Wisconsin State Conference of the NAACP. She is an active member of the Community Justice Committee of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee.

May 11, 2012

Walker’s Treachery Exposed Once Again

Filed under: Recall,Scott Walker — millerlf @ 9:12 am

(View Walker telling Beloit Billionaire that he will make Wisconsin a non-union state using “divide and conquer” tactics:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/in-film-walker-talks-of-divide-and-conquer-strategy-with-unions-8o57h6f-151049555.html)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 5/11/12

Madison – A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use “divide and conquer” as a strategy against unions.

Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor’s campaign – making her Walker’s single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.

The filmmaker has done work on Democratic campaigns and gave $100 in 2010 to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker’s challenger in the June 5 recall election.

In the video shot on Jan. 18, 2011 – shortly before Walker’s controversial budget-repair bill was introduced and spawned mass protests – Hendricks asked the governor whether he could make Wisconsin a “completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work” state. The Republican donor was referring to right-to-work laws, which prohibit private-sector unions from compelling workers to pay union dues if the workers choose not to belong to the union.

Walker replied that his “first step” would be “to divide and conquer” through his budget-adjustment bill, which curtailed most collective bargaining for most public employee unions.

Video for documentary

Documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein, who says he captures both sides in his work, videotaped the conversation that Walker had with Hendricks and Mary Willmer-Sheedy, a community bank president for M&I Bank. The filmmaker was recording what Willmer-Sheedy and others in Janesville were doing to try to create jobs in an area hard hit by the shutdown of its General Motors plant and related businesses.

In the video, Hendricks told Walker she wanted to discuss “controversial” subjects away from reporters, asking him:

“Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions -”

“Oh, yeah,” Walker broke in.

“- and become a right-to-work?” Hendricks continued. “What can we do to help you?”

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill,” Walker said. “The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”

The entire conversation was not released Thursday with a video trailer of the documentary, but Journal Sentinel reporters were allowed to view the raw footage.

“So for us,” the governor continues, “the base we get for that is the fact that we’ve got – budgetarily we can’t afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there’s no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out. . . . That opens the door once we do that. That’s your bigger problem right there.”

He goes on to talk about curbing liability lawsuits and government regulations.

Right-to-work issue

Walker co-sponsored right-to-work legislation in 1993 as a freshman in the state Assembly, but as governor has consistently downplayed seeking any restrictions on private unions in public statements.

“From our standpoint, it’s never going to get to me,” Walker said of right-to-work legislation in an interview with the Journal Sentinel on April 27. “Private sector unions are my partner in economic development.”

Walker, however, has repeatedly declined to say whether he would sign or veto a right-to-work bill if passed by the Legislature. Supporters say right-to-work bills give more freedom to workers and make it more attractive for companies to invest and hire employees in a state. Opponents say they undermine unions and workers’ wages and don’t help the economy.

In response to the documentary trailer, Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said Thursday that the governor’s position on right to work was clear.

“Governor Walker has made clear repeatedly that he does not have an interest in pushing right-to-work legislation,” Matthews said.

The taped conversation occurred at the Beloit headquarters of ABC Supply, the roofing wholesaler and siding distributor Hendricks founded with her husband, Ken, who died in a 2007 fall. Walker was there to attend a meeting of the economic development group Rock County 5.0, which Hendricks co-chairs.

Lichtenstein videotaped the conversation that Walker had with Hendricks and Rock County 5.0’s other co-chairwoman, Willmer-Sheedy.

Hendricks did not return phone messages seeking comment. In a brief email Thursday, Willmer-Sheedy said the conversation was a private one between Walker and Hendricks and that she had nothing to add to it.

Lichtenstein is now promoting his finished documentary, “As Goes Janesville,” which is expected to be shown at film festivals and on PBS stations this fall.

Lichtenstein was preparing to film a Rock County 5.0 meeting that Walker was to attend when Hendricks said she was going to greet Walker personally when he came in. Lichtenstein said he asked to join her and she agreed.

On Thursday, Barrett said Walker’s exchange with Hendricks shows the governor will say one thing to the public and another to his top-tier donors.

“This is another colossal bait and switch that goes directly to his honesty,” Barrett said. “What he claims he is not in favor of publicly, to the person who has made the largest contribution in state history, he says exactly the opposite. You can’t trust him.”

Barrett has been hammering Walker on right-to-work legislation for weeks, frequently using the phrase “divide and conquer.” Barrett said he used that term because he believed that was Walker’s strategy, but did not know until Thursday that Walker himself had used it.

Union manager troubled

In the 2010 campaign, Walker won the support of Operating Engineers Local 139, a union that represents about 9,000 heavy equipment operators in Wisconsin. The union is not endorsing anyone in this year’s recall election.

Terry McGowan, the union’s business manager, said the union gave its 2010 endorsement only after getting assurances Walker would not pursue right-to-work legislation. The union backed Walker because of his support for road building done by the group’s members, McGowan said.

He said Thursday he was troubled by the footage of Walker with Hendricks, but that he was continuing to take Walker at his word given his public statements and conversations he has had with him.

“You don’t hear him say, ‘Yes, I’m going to go after right-to-work legislation,’ ” McGowan said of the video.

But he added that divide and conquer is a phrase that is anathema to those in the labor movement.

“It means turning worker against worker,” he said.

Hendricks, whose net worth Forbes Magazine estimates to be $2.8 billion, has a strong history of supporting conservative causes and Republican candidates. Not including donations to Walker, Hendricks and her husband, Ken, since 1997 have contributed just over $500,000 to political candidates and committees in races ranging from the state Assembly to the presidency, with the overwhelming majority going to Republicans, according to federal data as well as state data compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Between 2009 and 2011, Hendricks gave $19,100 to Walker. That included a $10,000 donation – the maximum at that time for a four-year election cycle – that was made on Feb. 1, 2011, about two weeks after the personal meeting with Walker.

Because Walker faces a recall, a quirk in state law allowed supporters such as Hendricks for a time to donate unlimited sums to the governor’s campaign for certain expenses. Last month, Hendricks contributed $500,000 to Walker, bringing her total donations to him to $519,100 and the donations by her and Ken to all candidates to more than $1 million.

On Feb. 16, 2011 – about one month after her meeting with Walker and five days after the governor unveiled his public union bill – Hendricks’ company, ABC Supply, gave $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association. The association has run ads in support of Walker.

Ben Poston, Bill Glauber and Steve Schultze of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this article.

 

May 9, 2012

UW-Madison Study Shows Impact of Walker’s Destructive Education Policies

Filed under: School Finance,Scott Walker — millerlf @ 1:38 pm

University of Wisconsin-­Madison

ELPA Policy Brief

May 2012

Making Matters Worse: School Funding,
Achievement Gaps and Poverty under Wisconsin Act 32

 

By James Shaw and Carolyn Kelley

The 2011-­‐13 Wisconsin biennial budget (Act 32) reduced state aid to school districts by $792 million. This budget reduction follows a reduction of $284 million in the 2009-­‐11 biennial budget, reducing overall state aid to public schools by more than a billion dollars.

In addition to the reduction in general aid, Act 32 reduced the revenue limit in Wisconsin school districts by 5.5%, which is equivalent to an overall reduction in taxing authority of $1.6 billion in addition to the $792 million reduction in state aid. The lowered revenue cap requires that 241 of the state’s 424 school districts reduce school property taxes, exacerbating the impact of state budget cuts.i

Wisconsin boasts the highest high school graduation rates, the third highest ACT scores, the highest Advanced Placement success percentage of any Midwestern state, and high rates of highly qualified teachers.ii At the same time, the state has some of the largest achievement gaps for poor and minority students, and struggles to provide adequate funding for all school districts.

By analyzing school district budgeted expenditures in the 30 highest and 30 lowest poverty districts in the state for 2011-­‐12,iii this study examines the impact of Wisconsin Act 32 on education funding, teacher quality, student learning, and property taxpayers. Budget data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction represent the best currently available estimates of the impact of Act 32 on district expenditures.

Financial Impact of Act 32

Wisconsin state school aids are designed to equalize revenues among school districts with high and low tax capacity. In 2010-­‐11, the thirty highest poverty districts in Wisconsin received average state revenue per member of $7,237.55 compared to $3,361.39 for the thirty low poverty districts.

State budget cuts hit high poverty districts the hardest. Analysis of district budget data shows that compared with the 2010-­‐11 budget year, high poverty districts lost $702.97 in average state revenue per member while low poverty districts lost $318.70 in average state revenue per member.

Because high poverty districts are larger, the resulting share of budget decrease from state aid cuts for the 30 highest poverty districts was $88,452,606 ($703 per student times 127,842 students) compared to a loss of only $20,299,915 ($319 per student times 63,696 students) for the 30 lowest poverty districts.

High poverty districts have less state revenue to support the needs of children, and taxpayers in high poverty districts pay taxes at increasingly higher rates. In 2009­‐- 1 0 the total equalized property value per member in high poverty districts was $426,937.90. In low poverty districts the equalized property value per member was $944,333.95. Low poverty districts have more than the twice the equalized property value or tax base per member than high poverty districts.

Prior to the reductions in State revenue contained in the Wisconsin 2011-­‐13 biennial budget, the average mill rate ($10.94) for the 2010-­‐11 school year budget in high poverty districts was 29% higher than in low poverty districts ($8.56).

After the passage of the Wisconsin State Budget and reductions in State revenue for school districts, the average 2011 -­‐12 mill rate ($11.08) in high poverty districts is 32% higher than the average mill rate ($8.39) in low poverty districts.

The average mill rate increased 14 cents per thousand dollars of property value or 1.4% ($10.94 to $11.08) in high poverty school districts; and decreased 16 cents per thousand or 1.8% ($8.56 to $8.39) in low poverty school districts.

Reductions in employee compensation hit high poverty districts the hardest. Act 1 0 limits collective bargaining rights for public employees and reduces total compensation by making employees responsible for paying a larger portion of health care and retirement benefits. Under Act 10 reductions in state aid for public education are offset by reductions in public school employee compensation and/or a reduction in the workforce. For cuts in employee compensation to absorb the total $431 million reduction in state aid to school districts in 2011-­‐12, total compensation for each school employee would have to be reduced by $3941. Because state revenue reductions are more than twice as large in high poverty districts, compensation reductions must be more than twice as large, $6436 per employee, compared to low poverty districts, $2768, to offset reductions in revenues.

These reductions adversely impact high poverty districts. Even without the added burden of absorbing larger cuts to employee compensation, recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers is more challenging in high poverty districts. iv

Reductions in the size of the workforce hit high poverty districts hardest. The state biennial budget reduces state aid by $431 million in the first year and $361 million in the second. Using average teacher compensation as a proxy for average public school employee compensation and without considering the Act 10 mandated reductions in employee compensation, a reduction of 5.4% of the public school workforce or 5,448 school employees would be needed to offset the $431 million reduction in state aid for the 2011-­‐12 school year.

Because state revenue is reduced more in high poverty districts than in low poverty districts, to offset the budget cuts, the workforce must be reduced 8.2% in high poverty districts and only 3.5% in low poverty districts. These cuts would increase class size, particularly in high poverty districts. Large class sizes have been shown to have a particularly negative impact on student achievement for the low income and minority students served by high poverty districts.v

In fact, recently released data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction show that the number of full-­‐time equivalent (FTE) public school total staff was reduced by 2357 or by 2.29% for the 2011-­‐12 school year. FTE public school staff was reduced by 877 or 5.71% in high poverty districts, and by 81 FTE staff or 1.13% in low poverty districts.vi

Act 32 increases funding gaps for poor and minority students. The reality of budget cuts hits low-­‐income students harder, as reductions in state revenue are more than twice as large in high poverty school districts as in low poverty school districts. These reductions in state aid decrease the number of educators, and the compensation and incentives for recruiting and retaining high quality teachers, especially in high need districts. They reduce program support for the students most in need, while increasing class sizes and property taxes in high poverty school districts.

i Reschovsky, A. (2011). The Impact of property taxes of the governor’s 2011-­‐12 school funding proposals. Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, La Follette School Working Paper No.

2011-­‐012.

ii Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (2011, February 9). Wisconsin Advanced Placement Results Continue to Climb. News Release DPI-­‐NR 2011-­‐15B. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from dpi.wi.gov/eis/pdf/dpinr2011_15.pdf. Department of Education. (2011).

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (2011, August 17). ACT Results Up In Wisconsin. News Release DPI-­‐NR 2011-­‐89 C. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from

dpi.wi.gov/eis/pdf/dpinr2011_89.pdf.

Balfanz, R., Bridgeland, J.M., Bruce, M. & Fox, J.H. (2012). Building a Grad Nation Report. Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, & Everyone Graduates Center at John Hopkins University. Retrieved April 25, 2012 from

http://www.americaspromise.org/.

iii Poverty is measured by the percent of students in the district qualifying for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program.

iv Committee for Economic Development. (2009). Teacher Compensation and Teacher Quality: A statement of the policy and impact committee of the Committee for Economic Development. Washington D.C.: Committee for Economic Development.

6 Nye, B. A. (2000). Do the disadvantaged benefit more from small classes? Evidence from the Tennessee class size experiment. American Journal of Education, 109, 1-­25.

7 Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Annual 1202 School Staff Report, released April 18, 2012.

About the Authors

James J. Shaw and Carolyn Kelley are Wisconsin educators with expertise in school reform and school leadership development.

 

They are coauthors of the book, Learning First!: A School Leader’s Guide to Closing Achievement Gaps (2009).

Jim Shaw has been a Wisconsin educator for more than forty years. He is a former teacher, psychologist, school administrator, superintendent, and Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-­‐Madison. He is also a former Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year and has been recognized by numerous organizations including the Public Policy Forum, the University of Wisconsin, the Saturn Corporation, the National Education Association, and the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators for his leadership and contributions to public education at both the state and national level. He served most recently as the Superintendent of the Racine Unified School District.

Carolyn Kelley is a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-­‐Madison. She is an internationally recognized scholar in teacher compensation policy and strategic human resource management in schools. Professor Kelley is coauthor of the book Paying Teachers for What They and Do: New and Smarter Strategies to Improve Schools (with Allan Odden, 2001). She is a principal developer of the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL) survey designed to promote school leadership and instructional practices that improve student learning.

For more information about the analysis presented in this ELPA Policy Brief, see the full paper and analysis, available on the ELPA website, elpa.education.wisc.edu.

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