KPS Teachers Protest Outside Administration Building

KPS Teachers Protest Outside Administration Building

Kalamazoo, MI- Prior to the start of the regularly scheduled Kalamazoo School Board, dozens of teachers, parents and community members were seen holding signs protesting outside the administration building. Standing room only, recognizing area students for their athletic achievements. The meeting’s priority for many in attendance, t step raises for teachers after one year of service. KEA, President, Amanda Miller states, “the other way teachers receive compensation increases are when we bargain an increase on the step schedule. The money budgeted doesn’t even get us to the step that teachers earn for last year’s service”.

A very emotionally charged meeting, parents and former KPS students shared their experiences of support from a  KPS teacher that “took that extra time” or provide resources to them that they were not able to get on their own at the time. Teachers current and retired shared emotionally charged stories as well. Students that were able to move past a barrier or challenge in their lives and contributing part success to the dedication of KPS teachers.

George White,  Lead parent advocate for SEE Change a local group from Kalamazoo, states, “It appears there was an agreement in principle to a 2.2 percent step increase for teachers this coming school semester.  Recruiting and retaining quality teachers depends on stability/dependability of employment and step increases after their first year to assure that teachers feel valued and are able to support their families”.  

White has met with many KPS parents and working with them to “navigate” through the “chain of commands”. In addition, White adds, “80 new teachers last year aided by a very high turnover ratio in Kalamazoo Public Schools.  Kalamazoo Public Schools enrollment is thriving/growing over the last 10 years and students received an increase in per pupil funding this school year.  It is no secret the school board has never met with teachers and this action serves to even deepen the rift. Our pupils deserve a school board that visits the schools and talks to the students/teachers and places the value where it belongs”. 

The next KPS school board is scheduled for August 31, 2017, at 7 pm. The administration building is located 1220 Howard Street.

SEE Prosperity Speaks Out in Kalamazoo, MI

Kalamazoo, MI- An aspiring group of WMU social workers hosted SEE-(Social,Economic,Educational) Prosperity, a collective of community members graciously sharing their experience, living Black in the world, specifically in Kalamazoo.

Four black representation of systemic barriers and stereo types put a face, emotions and their own words on issues that they face every single day. All of the participants, raised in single parented homes were able to create a life for themselves and try to prosper despite their daily struggles.

Elisheva Johnson, organizer from Michigan United said, “I too, made a mistake over 20 years ago, which resulted in a felony. I have been forced to live that mistake over and over again and this has greatly impacted my life and my children’s lives to this day”.

SEE Prosperity is working on Raise the Age, a nation-wide initiative that has “seeded” in Kalamazoo. Raising the Age currently from 17 to 18 years old in the state of Michigan. Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency

Raise the Age is packaged as-The “Youth in Prison” package also includes:

*Increasing the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old;
*Increasing the County Child Care fund reimbursement rate for qualifying community-based services for youth by 25 percent;
*Prohibiting the placement of youth under 18 in adult jails and prisons and provide access to age-appropriate rehabilitation;
*Eliminating three offenses from the list of Specified Juvenile Offenses;
*Requiring equal consideration of all mitigating factors prior to waving jurisdiction in traditional juvenile waiver cases;
*Requiring public monitoring and oversight of youth under the jurisdiction of the MDOC who entered for an offense committed prior to turning 18 years old;
*Restricting the use of administrative segregation in prison for youth aged 18 and under; and
*Establishing a family advisory board within the MDOC to ensure effective partnerships with families and victims.

SEE- Social, Economic, Educational Prosperity, and many other campaigns and community stakeholders will be traveling to the state capital on May 17, 2016 for “Capital Day”.

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