Marci NEA Speech MZ

Being Black Under the Threat of Privatization

My name is Marcielia Nicholson. As 4th grade teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools I am a proud member of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association and the Journey for Justice Alliance.

When I tell people I’m a teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools I get that face. If you work in an urban district or an underfunded district you might know that face:

  • That face that says how do you do it?
  • That face that says why do you do it?
  • That face that says how much longer can you do it?

But more recently, when I tell people I’m a teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools they ask me about the MPS Takeover plan–which is a new racist state law passed by a couple of suburban legislators in an attempt takeover our public schools from our democratically elected school board and replace them with private schools. This plan would reinforce our cities inequality and drain MPS of needed resources.

Under this law, there are over 50 schools that have been “identified” for possible takeover–my school is on that list.

In Milwaukee, we’ve been following what’s been happening to New Orleans and Detroit. We’ve seen what’s happening in Chicago when CPS brought in the AUSL.

The vast majority of teachers in takeover schools are NOT rehired.

Under public school privatization:

  • Educators of color are disproportionately affected
  • Educators of color are replaced with younger teachers
  • Educators of color are replaced with less experienced teachers
  • Educators of color are replaced with teachers more likely to have temporary licenses
  • Educators of color are replaced with teachers who don’t share students’ culture
  • Educators of color are replaced teachers who are white

And not only do educators of color suffer under school takeovers, but so do students of color. Because now students lose that veteran teacher–that veteran teacher who lived in their community, looked like them, spoke the same language, knew their families, and most importantly had developed an irreplaceable deep relationship.

Every student deserves a resourced, equitable, and democratically controlled public school. And every student deserves licensed professional educators who are treated as such. And that is exactly why we aren’t letting some outside suburban legislators take ANY of our public schools in Milwaukee. We are standing up to fight for the schools ALL children deserve. To fight for the schools with a DIVERSE teaching workforce. The schools that Serve ALL children. And when someone asks me where I work, I am proud to say I work for Milwaukee Public Schools.