Students and Educators Deserve Safe Classroom Conditions
MTI strongly advocates for MMSD to pursue an all virtual learning model as the 2020-21 school year begins. Virtual learning is the best model to ensure the physical and emotional health of our students, staff, and the families in their households. As educators, this is a difficult decision for us because we pursue our profession out of our love of working with children – and that work is done best when we can do work with them in person. Commencing September 1, we will be ready to teach! We are excited to work with our students and families. But we refuse to jeopardize the lives of our children or our families with a reopening plan that relies on magical thinking and unfunded mandates.
MTI staff and leadership continue to engage with the district and community stakeholders seeking information and expressing health and safety, staffing, instructional equity issues, and workload concerns regarding the myriad of plans being considered for the 2020-21 school year.
We know during uncertain times you may have questions about your financial future. Steve Pike (retired teacher and current WEA Member Benefits Consultant) is available for a complimentary 60-minute financial consultation. These virtual consultations will be held over the phone at a time that’s convenient for you. Steve can provide general retirement planning guidance whether you are just starting out, nearing retirement, or anywhere in between. Visit weabenefits.com/mti to sign up for a complimentary consultation with Steve.
Anti-Racism Statement, Asks MMSD to provide mental health & financial
resources creating the schools our students and community deserve.
union calls for removal of School Resource Officer (SROs) with the caveat that
this only occurs when all four high schools are properly staffed with
counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and mental health
specialists according to the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
TODAY, Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) Board of Directors
released a comprehensive statement regarding the anti-racism efforts the
organization is committed to and calls upon the Madison Metropolitan School
District (MMSD) to fund programs like mental health specialists instead of
School Resource Officers (SROs).
MTI President Andy Waity said, “This statement represents a
shift in our previous position regarding SROs. A shift that emphasizes the
continuing evolution of our organization. This evolution is driven by our
members and their dedication to anti-racist education and social justice. We
see the systematic racism that exists in our current structures and join the
voices of our students and our community in calling for dramatic change in how
we educate and interact with all of our students, especially those most
marginalized in our schools and society.”
MTI is a member-led organization that represents about
3,000 employees of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The union has
maintained a strong voice on wages, benefits, and working conditions while
advocating on issues of racial and social justice.
“As a union of educators, as a union of human beings
believing our purpose is to uplift the lives of all children, we must make
changes that actually reflect our desired goal of becoming an anti-racist
organization dedicated to liberating our marginalized children of color. Since
2018, we have endorsed Black Lives Matter in Schools Week of Action and
encouraged our educators to uphold the four principles of the BLM in Schools
movement: ending zero tolerance policies, hiring and retaining more staff of
color, adopting ethnic studies in all curriculums on a K-12 level, and the
removal of police officers and fully funding behavioral and mental health
specialists,” said MTI Vice President Michael Jones.
We call for the removal of all School Resource Officers from the four
comprehensive high schools with the caveat that this only occurs when all four
high schools are properly staffed with counselors, psychologists, social
workers, nurses, and mental health specialists according to the national
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommended levels. Historically, MTI has
supported School Resource Officers in our four comprehensive high schools in
order to create safe places for our students and staff. We have heard from our
union members, including our Black members at the high school level, that
School Resource Officers build strong relationships with students, provide a
sense of safety and security for all people, and often take on more of the role
of a social worker or counselor than that of a law enforcement officer. We
acknowledge and appreciate their partnership and commitment to our schools.
However, it has become apparent from conversations with our children and
community that the benefits of having police officers stationed inside our
schools is outweighed by the racialized trauma experienced by some of our
community members of color.
Changing our position centers our students’ needs. Our
children’s emotional and mental health needs are not being met and often lead
to unstable and unsafe situations. Thus, any discussion of removing SROs
from high schools has to include the demand that our MMSD Board and leadership
must staff all high schools with the appropriate number of student support
specialists. Our district is harmfully understaffing our schools. According to
the American Civil Liberties Union’s metric of equitable staffing in schools,
each of our comprehensive high schools is understaffed. East High students
should have one more counselor, one more nurse, one more psychologist, and four
more social workers. LaFollette students should have one more counselor, one
more nurse, one more psychologist, and five more social workers. Memorial
students should have two more counselors, one more nurse, one more
psychologist, and five more social workers. And West students should have one
more counselor, one more nurse, and seven more social workers.
Bottom line: If we
remove police officers from our schools, but do not adequately staff those same
schools with social workers, nurses, counselors, and psychologists, we are
perpetuating harm upon our most vulnerable young people. If we are serious
about being anti-racist as a Madison community, we must fully support our
students, not just by subtracting one group, but significantly adding another.
In conjunction with the previous priority, MTI calls for more full-time
social workers, nurses, psychologists, counselors, as well as a genuine and
comprehensive implementation of restorative justice including staffing,
training, and systems at all elementary, middle, and high schools. This
includes training at every level, including administration. In order to create
restorative classrooms, we need to have restorative schools, supported by
restorative relationships and restorative systems for decision making. And we
must have people solely dedicated to this work within every building.
MTI calls for MMSD to commit to social-emotional learning that is
culturally relevant to the needs of our children and not a canned curriculum
geared towards compliance. As Dr. Bettina Love has stated, social-emotional
curriculums like “Second Step” make false and racist assumptions of our
children and are only used so they are quieter in the classrooms or follow
teacher directions. When given the opportunity to meaningfully engage with our
students and communities in developing SEL curriculum, our teachers have proven
that we can develop stronger social-emotional learning opportunities based on
authentic relationships, instead of seeking compliance.
MTI calls for Crisis Prevention Institute’s (CPI) Nonviolent Crisis
Intervention training for all employees to ensure all adults who work
with children can focus on de-escalating difficult situations instead of
escalating the situation (whether intentional or unintentional). We need
training that is comprehensive and focused on community-specific
trauma-informed practices instead of working through prescribed checklists and
modules. This is an equity strategy that would help decrease potential
escalations between students and staff in school.
MTI calls for the collaborative Union/District development of a
comprehensive and teacher driven menu of professional development to support
educators’ growth as anti-racist educators and development of anti-racist
classrooms, curriculum, schools, and systems.
MTI calls for school security assistants (SSAs) to be placed in the
professional pool alongside teachers, administrators, and student support
staff. During the COVID-19 crisis, SSAs have been designated by the District as
essential workers that needed to be at their schools. Our District relies on
our SSAs to complete a multitude of tasks dedicated to the safety and security
of our school community, including developing strong and authentic
relationships with our children outside of the classroom. The removal of SROs
logically requires a greater professional investment and support in our SSA
workers. Their work must be honored as essential and important year-round, and
not just during a crisis.
MTI demands that this work is not resolved through staff reduction and
salary cuts. This work cannot be done on the backs of educators and staff. We
call for the District budget office and leadership team to submit a vision that
increases educational funding instead of decreasing it. We recognize that a
pandemic brings about unique and dire challenges, but the removal of more
educators, be it classroom teachers, educational assistants, or other
categories of workers, perpetuates racist outcomes by increasing class sizes,
decreasing individual supports, and reducing the chances of building authentic
relationships — one of the top ways we know we can improve outcomes for our
children of color.
Madison Teachers Inc stands together with WEAC and NEA against racism in all its forms and practices. We condemn the murder of George Floyd and the countless others who have been victims of violence perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. A culture that NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia states is the “primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and white privilege. It is a privilege that manifests as white people weaponizing the police against [B]lack [people] going about their daily lives.”
Throughout this pandemic, across the state of Wisconsin and in our own city of Madison, we have seen Black and Brown people treated differently than white people. This has been an intentional and structured problem since the founding of our community. The pandemic merely illuminates what so many of our Black citizens have been telling us for centuries and decades. Before George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, there was Tony Robinson. And before Tony Robinson, there were countless Black citizens who have been subjected to different rules and interpretations by Madison’s and Wisconsin’s white supremicist culture.
According to Eskelsen Garcia, “The overarching sentiment about these cases for so many people—including many of our students and their families—is that the lives and the dignity of [B]lack people in the United States do not carry the same value or importance as others.”
President Ron Duff Martin states, “The Wisconsin Education Association Council acknowledges the deep divides that exist in our state and nation. In Wisconsin, our union is increasing our support to be sure educators in public schools have what they need to drive efforts to recognize and end racism in all forms and in all institutions. From bridging the shameful achievement gaps that exist in Wisconsin schools, to fostering economic justice in our poorest communities, to recreating government and police institutions that respect people of color – this is our time as educators to advance this critical priority. WEAC members across Wisconsin are already bonding together to make a difference.”
We echo President Eskelsen García, “And so, we say: Black Lives Matter… because All Lives have not mattered. Racism takes [B]lack and [B]rown lives. Explicit racism foments hate and aggression. But implicit bias grows unreasonable fear and suspicion, moving people to act unreasonably on their fear and suspicion. We must do better.”
MTI commits to the ongoing urgent work of becoming an anti-racist organization and supporting educators in our collective work to grow as anti-racist educators in order to create anti-racist classrooms and systems. Our members hold positions in a system that mirrors the culture it exists in. One that is systematically biased and inequitable in ways that perpetuate existing barriers for our students of color. As a collective group we must, and we will, engage in efforts to challenge existing systems, change existing practices, examine our current policies, including our current School Resource Officers policy, and fight for the students and communities we serve.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
On March 27, the $2-trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The bill is a good start and, while not perfect, does address many needs of our students, educators, and schools. It is intended to help stabilize workers, families, and the economy during the COVID-19 public health crisis and is the third relief package Congress has passed during the coronavirus pandemic. The National Education Association (NEA) is also advocating for additional stimulus funds in a fourth package.
For urgent matters, contact MTI directly at (608) 257-0491 for assistance.
While MTI Offices will be closed to members and visitors for the foreseeable future, we are committed to continue to provide members with the advocacy and support they deserve.
Solidarity Fund Loan Available for Members
While we await District assurance on employee compensation in the event of school closures, and while we await a needed response from our state and federal government, MTI has taken immediate action to deploy union resources to provide financial support to members impacted by the pandemic. Commencing immediately, the MTI Solidarity Fund is available to provide no interest loans of up to $1,000 for MTI members who suffer a financial impact due to the pandemic.
Answer: If this closure is not during a customary break period, or extends longer than the customary break period, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.
If members have Unemployment questions after reviewing these sites. Contact MTI staff.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Update
All MMSD schools are closed through at least April 24. Governor Evers has closed schools for the duration of the pandemic (i.e. until further notice).
Monday, March 16, 2020 Update
We received notice from the District that all employees will be paid during the school closure except substitutes not in extended long term assignments. Notice will be sent to all employees by the District.This is good news for many employees and the result of our collective advocacy. We will continue to work to resolve payment for substitutes. MMSD COVID-19 Compensation Chart
Sunday, March 15, 2020 Update
Today, our union’s leadership sent a message to the Madison Board of Education regarding compensation for ALL employees. Read the full statement below. We will update you once we receive a response.
Dear MMSD Board of Education and Administration,
We are writing to you on behalf of the 3,000 employees represented by MTI. We ask that you commit to continuing compensation for all employees of the district using the existing pay schedule and structures. These are challenging times and your employees need the support of their employer as they work to meet the needs of their students and families.
This is a critical issue for all employees, but especially for our hourly staff and substitutes. Hourly staff are vulnerable to disruptions in school schedules and face financial hardship when schools are closed. Substitutes rely on daily assignments for their income. Many substitutes have jobs already scheduled during the times that schools will be closed and have planned for that income.
Having a guarantee that compensation will continue provides some stability for employees who are working to support the students and families of Madison’s public schools. We have a staffing crisis in our schools and need to commit to retaining our excellent staff.
MTI leadership is prepared to meet and confer with you on this issue immediately.
MTI Board of Directors ESEA-MTI Board of Directors USO-MTI Board of Directors
MTI Requests Modification of Employee Handbook to Ensure no Loss of pay in the event of School Closures
On March 11, MTI sent a letter to the Interim Superintendent Belmore and members of the Board of Education requesting the District modify the Employee Handbook immediately so that no staff lose compensation should schools close due to coronavirus, COVID-19. While we are not aware of any imminent plans to close schools in Madison, this action is being taken in preparation for such considerations. We will keep you posted on this important issue moving forward.
To: Interim Superintendent Belmore & Members of the Board of Education
We are aware that the District has a group actively working on plans to respond to the coronavirus. The District has recently invited MTI staff to join this work group and we look forward to participating in this important work. It is our hope and expectation that the District is prepared to take whatever prudent action is suggested by public health officials to mitigate the impact of the virus on our students, staff, and community.
That said, today we are requesting that the District modify the MMSD Employee Handbook effective immediately to ensure that no MMSD employee loses compensation should schools be closed for any reason. This is an issue MTI has been pursuing for some time but the urgency has escalated with the current risks associated with the coronavirus. Last year, the MMSD experienced multiple school days closed due to weather and this year we see the very real possibility of more extensive schools closures due to the coronavirus. This has made the issue of guaranteeing continued compensation for school staff all the more pressing. Any loss of pay during school closures will encourage employee exodus and complicate an already acute staffing crisis in the MMSD.
Again, we look forward in joining the Districts work group tackling this issue but wanted to get this critical issue on your agenda now.
Douglas Keillor Executive Director Madison Teachers Inc.
We were surprised to hear that Dr. Gutierrez decided to rescind his acceptance of the MMSD position. We can respect his decision to stay in his current district given the drastic change in conditions over the past few months. We also know that this decision has a significant impact on the staff, students, and families of MMSD.
The MTI Board of Directors believes that the MMSD Board of Education should work to find a high-quality replacement as quickly as possible. We understand that there will need to be an interim superintendent and want clarity around who will fill that position immediately. However, there are too many critical issues facing our schools, staff, students, and community for us to have another year without a permanent leader in place. While it is difficult to predict what the future holds and what the new “normal” will be, we know that our public schools will be a critical part of the recovery efforts in Madison. A permanent superintendent is necessary for that work to move forward effectively.
We believe that the district should reopen the search and not offer either of the two finalists from the earlier search the position. The focus of the new search should be on candidates who understand our community and who have connections locally. The Madison community is going through a traumatic experience that is impacting all areas of our lives. We need someone who knows Madison and who believes in the staff who work so hard for all of our students.
Last spring, we shared our members’ feedback around the key characteristics they wanted in a new superintendent. These still hold true and in many ways are more important as we work to recover from the pandemic. Our members said a superintendent:
• Needs to advance the work around racial equity and maintain high expectations for everyone who works and learns in our schools • Needs to make staff feel respected and supported • Needs to be present in the schools on a regular basis • Needs to be committed to shared leadership and meaningful collaboration with staff • Needs to be transparent in decision making • Needs to propose fewer initiatives and top-down mandates • Needs to have a strategic plan to build trust in our community overall, with a specific focus on trust between educators and administration
We are happy to continue this conversation with you and look forward to continuing to collaborate as we serve the students and families of the Madison public schools.
MTI Cares, the community outreach committee for Madison Teachers Inc., is partnering with the Food 4 Thought Initiative (Food4TI) for our 7th Annual Bowl-a-Thon (and Silent Auction).
The event takes place on Sunday, April 19, 2020 from 12-3 PM at Village Lanes in Monona (208 Owen Rd.).
Food4TI currently supports food pantries at five Madison schools and needs support to keep them stocked!. Food4TI also runs “Thea’s Table” a weekend based food program that works with MMSD school social workers to help provide weekend meals for homeless or at risk families; currently serving over 50 families in need. As education professionals we encounter this need in our schools every day and are excited to partner with Food4TI to help address this problem.
All proceeds go to the Food for Thought Initiative (Food4TI) for operating and program costs. View Food4TI’s website at: http://www.food4ti.org/
Register your team for the 7th annual MTI Cares Bowl-A-Thon to benefit Madison’s Food for Thought Initiative to improve food access and alleviate hunger among Madison area school students and their families.
The cost to participate is $6.00 per bowler and will cover three games and shoes.
Each team must have a minimum of three (3) bowlers to reserve a lane (max. 6). MTI Cares encourages each team to set a fundraising goal of $20 per bowler. There will also be a silent auction again this year for friends or family members who do not wish to bowl.
you want to work on the 2020 presidential election? Are you looking for an
opportunity to launch your career in politics?
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on a campaign is a great way to develop communication, leadership, and
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are their upcoming training programs in Wisconsin:
Immersion: April 27-May 31, 2020
5-week, hands-on training offered in Madison &
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Application Deadline: March 4th
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application can be found at www.organizingcorps2020.com.You can also learn
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