This Week in Education Organizing - September 30, 2016

Welcome to our September 30th newsletter! As always, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.

Be Part of History on October 6th!

Next week, over 100,000 parents, teachers, students and community members in over 200 cities around the United States will walk in to their public school. It’s a national movement to demand the investment in public education that we need to give our students get the schools they deserve. 

Whether you are able to walk in or not, help this historic day gets the attention it deserves by boosting our social media. Click here for our social media guide.

Below are a couple of profiles on walk in cities, as well as other education justice news…

Milwaukee Walk-ins

Community and youth-led groups, along with the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association—together known as Schools and Communities United – are working towards a walk in at every single public school in Milwaukee for the schools all students deserve.

The focus of the walk-ins in Milwaukee will be next year’s state budget.  Participants will be demanding millions of dollars in investment in public schools, and the closing of tax loopholes that allow the wealthy and corporations to avoid paying their fair share into the state’s coffers. They also want funding for sustainable community schools.

With many state elected officials continuing to call for the takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools, the coalition is using the actions – and social media – to build a list of engaged parents and educators for future action and quick mobilization.  Schools create an Action Network page for their walk-in and engage parents and educators by sending them to the Action Network page to sign up.  Once signed up, the school is listed on the Stop the MPS Takeover website and provided access to a wide range of member resources and toolkits, along with an ever-growing list of participating schools.

Walk-ins are becoming a tradition in Milwaukee, which has participated in all three AROS walk-ins, and was one of the early utilizers of the tactic in previous years.  Union leaders Melissa Zombor and Joe Brusky say that they are “see-and-be-seen” events for politicians, who call ahead of time to find out where the largest walk-ins will be taking place.

 CUNY Rising is Using Pictures and Action to Call for Investment

Walk-Ins aren’t just for K-12 schools!  In New York City, faculty and students at four campuses of the City University of New York (CUNY) are participating in a creative action on October 6th to spotlight the university’s crumbling infrastructure and the need for investment.

October 6th at CUNY will involve a coordinated photojournalism action. The Professional Staff Congress—the union the represents CUNY’s 27,000 faculty and staff, along with CUNY Rising, an emerging coalition, is asking faculty and students at Bronx Community College, Brooklyn College, Hostos Community College and Lehman College to grab their cameras and take pictures of crumbling buildings and classrooms, and other evidence that the system and its infrastructure have been neglected over the years.  The images will then be used in an aggressive social media campaign, including Twitter and Facebook posts.  CUNY Rising is aiming for hundreds of pictures, and will start posting preliminary photos in the days leading up to their official day of action on October 6th.

 US Department of Ed continues to undercut public schools

The U.S. Department of Education announced $245 million in new grants this week to expand charter schools across the country.  The grants are going to state education departments in eight states (California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington) and to 15 charter management organizations.  Incredibly, grants are headed to Georgia to open 20 new charter schools under the Opportunity School District—the proposed state takeover district – even a public vote on the plan is still weeks away.  With these grants, the US DOE is approaching the $4 billion spent to expand charter schools.  Read the NEA’s response, pointing to persistent incidences of fraud, waste and abuse, here.

 Senator Elizabeth Warren Joins Students, Parents, Educators Calling for No More Charter Expansion

 Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced her opposition to a Massachusetts ballot measure that would expand the number of charter schools in the state, draining hundreds of millions from public schools every year.  The Save Our Public Schools campaign, coordinated by the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance, has been mobilizing thousands of community members to knock on doors and make phone calls to defeat the measure.  On October 6th, hundreds of schools are planning walk-ins to support more funding for public schools not charters. See this piece by blogger Jeff Bryant about Warren’s announcement. In addition, 130 local school committees (district school boards) have now passed resolutions opposing the ballot measure.  None are supporting it to date.