Rep. Sargent (Recycled) Statement on Assembly Republicans’ Refusal to Adopt Universal Background Checks in Wisconsin — Again

Rep. Sargent (Recycled) Statement on Assembly Republicans’ Refusal to Adopt Universal Background Checks in Wisconsin — Again

MADISON – A month ago Assembly Democrats attempted to pass Assembly Bill 65, a bill introduced by State Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison) requiring universal background checks on firearm purchases in Wisconsin. Democratic efforts then were stymied by Assembly Republicans who, refusing to vote on background checks for gun purchases, instead pulled several procedural stunts, and ultimately gutted Democrats’ universal background check proposal.

Today, Assembly Republicans amended Assembly Bill 1031 with an amendment relating to firearm background checks that, remarkably, did nothing to address the gun show loophole or private gun sales. State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) re-released the following statement concerning Republicans’ continued refusal to adopt universal background checksin Wisconsin:

“Republicans should have to justify their actions today, and they should have to answer to every child who is afraid to go to school, every teacher who is afraid to go to work, and every family who has been affected by gun violence due to Republican inaction.

I stood with high school students from our community in the Capitol just last week while they begged Wisconsin lawmakers to take action on gun violence. And yet, based on Republicans’ theatrics this afternoon, it’s clear our kids’ pleas didn’t just fall on deaf ears, they fell on ears that just don’t give a damn

Inaction is complicity. It’s not a matter of if the next shooting is going to occur, it’s when, and it could happen in our watch in Wisconsin if Republicans don’t start acting like the adults our kids expect us to be.”

Melissa Sargent is a State Representative in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 48th Assembly District, which covers the east and north sides of the city of Madison and the village of Maple Bluff.

“Not One More:” Milwaukee High School Students Participate in National School Walkout

“Not One More:” Milwaukee High School Students Participate in National School Walkout

By Evan Casey

Students and faculty gathered after the walkout to share how they want to see gun laws reformed. (Photo by Evan Casey)

[/media-credit] Students and faculty gathered after the walkout to share how they want to see gun laws reformed.

“Life is not a partisan issue.” This statement was repeated many times by numerous students while standing hand in hand outside of Rufus King International High School last Wednesday in a march of remembrance for the seventeen students who were killed in a high school shooting in Florida last month.

More than 1,200 students and staff marched in silence around the school’s football field while the names of the students who were killed in the Feb. 14 Parkland, FL shooting were read aloud. The walkout and march were part of the National School Walkout that was intended to encourage lawmakers to take action on gun laws.

“They say that we are not activists,” said Rufus King student government members Ruth Fetaw and Morgan Coleman. “They say that we cannot be voices and agents for change, but on behalf of the 17 lives lost on a day that was supposed to be full of love…we say enough is enough.”

There were multiple protests planned at Milwaukee Public Schools including North and South Division, among others, according to the #Enough National School Walkout website. The number of students who decided not to participate in the march was not released.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver released a letter to MPS families in support of the walkout. (Photo by Evan Casey)

[/media-credit] MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver released a letter to MPS families in support of the walkout.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said in a letter released to parents before the march that she supports students in expressing their constitutional rights to assembly and peaceful protests. She also said that students are not required to participate. Dr. Driver was also present at the march and spoke to media following the event.

“As a superintendent, when people ask me what keeps me up at night, it’s keeping my children safe,” said Driver. “This was a student led initiative, and they said it best when they said life should not be a partisan issue.”

Olivia Schmitz also took part in the march. She said that she hopes that lasting change occurs because of the large numbers of students taking initiative.

“It was incredible to see everyone show up and taking this seriously,” said Schmitz. “Our school has had a week of action involving sessions of education relating to this issue. We will be holding letter writing campaigns and be contacting representatives as well.”

Pulaski High School issued a “code red” earlier in the day on Wednesday, after there were false reports of a gun on campus. Although there was no gun found, the lockdown was still a reminder that a shooting could occur at a moment’s notice.

Last week, the Trump administration proposed providing firearms training for some school personnel. Superintendent Driver offered her opinion on this new proposal.

“That argument is void of reason and rational thought,” said Driver. “Schools are a safe haven, and the idea of putting a weapon in a school is absolutely ludicrous.”

As the march came to an end and students met in the middle of the football field to speak to the school and media who had gathered there, a young student spoke through tears to share a story about her cousin whom she had recently lost to gun violence in Milwaukee.

“I just want to tell my cousin that I love him. All I have to say is that I just want it to stop, and I miss him.”

COMMENTARY: Milwaukee’s Youth Bring Their Demands for Justice 50 Miles Further

COMMENTARY: Milwaukee’s Youth Bring Their Demands for Justice 50 Miles Further

Lena C. Taylor

Lena C. Taylor

Local students have announced their plan to join in Madison on March 25 to march 50 miles south to Janesville, to the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan, in what they’ve named the 50 Miles More March. Led in part by Shorewood High’s own Katie Eder, the students have sited the 1965 Selma to Montgomery civil rights march as inspiration for keeping the school safety issue front and center following the March 24 March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C.

They will make their way down to Janesville, a journey that will take them four days’ time with overnight stays at local high schools along the way. Like the Selma to Montgomery march, our young people will be putting their time and bodies on the line to remind those who are entrusted with their safety and well-being that many issues truly transcend politics. And like the Selma to Montgomery March, I am reminded that it can take looking at our children to be reminded what pure, unbiased intentions look like.

On one hand it saddens me to see that the fight for common sense legislation is still going on decades after Dr. Martin Luther King led thousands to Alabama’s Capitol in 1965. On the other, I could not be prouder to see the young people of my district following in Dr. King’s footsteps, and peacefully protesting so that the 17 students and staff members killed in the Parkland, Florida tragedy will be more than just another set of numbers.

It came as no surprise that a large portion of the students marching, including several of the event organizers, are from Milwaukee area high schools. It’s not the first time our young people voiced their concerns in the form of non-violent protest. This very month four Milwaukee Public Schools participated in an organized effort to oppose ending the DACA program. Time and again, our young people have shown how willing they are to step into action and cut to the heart of reforms we have allowed to become far too political in nature.

They’ve made it clear that if Paul Ryan and other Republicans continue to roll over for special interest groups on these issues, they’ll find overwhelming opposition in the form of continued protest in the streets, the schools, and ultimately in the ballot box. The loose gun legislation in this country is a problem that needs more than thoughts and prayers, it needs to be addressed through constructive discourse and swift legislative action. I commend the students of Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole for their continued push for change. The rally cry of justice that was started by the survivors of Parkland, has been echoed by the young people of Milwaukee. They too have been the victims of gun violence, and they too are done waiting for action from politicians that for too long have remained silent. Their resilience and aspirations for real change make me proud to call Milwaukee home.

Positions Open: Educators for Multiple Schools in Southeastern Wisconsin – Recruitment Fair on April 7th

Positions Open: Educators for Multiple Schools in Southeastern Wisconsin – Recruitment Fair on April 7th

Calling all educators, pupil services, educational assistants, administrative staff, and those in the process of obtaining their license! Come to the Educator Recruitment Fair on Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 8 AM to 1 PM at Shorewood High School, Shorewood, WI. Multiple schools in Southeastern Wisconsin are looking to fill vacancies for the 2018-2019 school year. Register to attend:

Milwaukee Urban League and GE Healthcare show commitment to O. W. Holmes School

Students at Oliver Wendell Holmes School on Milwaukee’s north side are making new friends – with volunteers from the Milwaukee Urban League and GE Healthcare. Volunteers from both organizations are engaging with students as tutors and mentors and using their expertise to raise student achievement. Milwaukee Public Schools has similar mentor relationships in many schools that provide students with individual attention from caring adults.

The Milwaukee Urban League is growing its relationship with O. W. Holmes and the community by providing a variety of resources for school families. A generous contribution of $15,000 from the Milwaukee Urban League will support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the school as well as family programming. The organization also regularly sends staff to connect families with community resources such as employment, financial literacy, adult education and driver’s license assistance. The Milwaukee Urban League is leveraging its Guild and Young Professionals affinity groups and its relationship with GE Healthcare to send volunteers to the school.

The MPS Department of Business, Community and Family Partnerships is grateful to the Milwaukee Urban League, its Guild and Young Professionals groups, and GE Healthcare for their generous support of O. W. Holmes students and families.

Oliver Wendell Holmes School offers Head Start through 8th grade and is located at 2463 N. Buffum St. Kindergarten enrollment for fall 2018 is open until March 4, 2018. To enroll, visit or call (414) 475- 8204.

MILWAUKEE: Kindergarten enrollment ends Sunday

MILWAUKEE: Kindergarten enrollment ends Sunday

Time is running out! This Sunday, March 4, 2018 is the deadline for Milwaukee families to choose the Milwaukee Public Schools kindergarten or Head Start program that starts their 3-, 4- or 5-year old on the path to success. Enrolling by this deadline gives families the best chance of their child being placed in the school of their choice. Enrollment applications can be completed online at, any MPS school or Welcome Center, or the MPS Enrollment Center, 5225 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee.

With 160 school options in MPS that serve more than 76,000 students, the district offers many different programs. The website tool, can help families select which of the many great district opportunities that are best for their child.


Kindergarten for three-year-olds helps children get excited about school and learn classroom routines. Caring teachers guide learning through movement, art, music, play, and group activities.


In four-year-old kindergarten, dedicated teachers help children have fun with skills such as counting and recognizing letters. Classroom routines build good habits and children learn to recognize the feelings of others around them.


Five-year-old kindergarten prepares children for first grade and beyond. Through positive work, play, and learning, caring teachers help students take on new challenges and respect others.

Important: Wisconsin law requires that all children attend five-year-old kindergarten before entering first grade.

COMMENTARY: Out of the Mouth of Babes

COMMENTARY: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Regrettably, in the wake of another mass shooting in this country, the GOP has responded in its usual fashion: guarded lip service and no thought of political action. If there has been one ray of hope in the aftermath of this horrific event, it’s been the courageous response of the individuals that were directly affected: the surviving high school students.

Leon D. Young

Leon D. Young

In recent days, Emma Gonzalez, a student at the Parkland, Florida high school where 17 people were left dead after a mass shooting has become the public face and the strident voice of what potentially could become a real movement to enact commonsense gun control measures. And, what’s really telling – this response is being led by the students themselves. The young, articulate senior, in delivering remarks in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, pulled no punches in expressing her grief and outright anger. She explicitly stated, “If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it’s time for victims to be the change we need to see.”

As protests and rallies continue to crop up across the country, in support of gun control action, the Alt-right and Republicans have begun to push back with some ridiculous assertions. For instance, an aide to Florida State Representative Shawn Harrison, using state email, sent out a picture and message alleging: “Both kids in the picture are not students here but actors that travel to various crisis when they happen.”

Contributing to this lunacy, former US Congressman Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, sent out the following tweet: O really? “Students” are planning a nationwide rally? Not left-wing gun control activists using 17yr kids in the wake of a tragedy? #Soros #Resistance #Antifa #DNC.”

Meanwhile, the asinine occupant in the White House has offered his perspective on this horrific incident. In his statement to the media following the event, Trump never mentioned the word guns during his remarks, rather he talked about mental illness as being the culprit. This clueless president is even on record for being in support of militarizing our schools – teachers and coaches having access to handguns, to combat this reoccurring threat.

Here’s the naked truth: The mass shooting mania that grips this nation is directly linked to the ready availability of assault weapons and guns that can be converted into automatic weapons. Moreover, assault weapons serve no legitimate, recreational purpose, but are intended solely to maim and kill on a mass scale.

Student activism is not a new phenomenon in this country. During the Civil Rights struggle the Freedom Riders, who were mostly college students, led “sit-ins” at segregated lunch counters throughout the South. This new call to action by students is real, wonderful to see, and hopefully will be the catalyst for meaningful gun control change.

WISCONSIN — UWM Prof Makes a Difference by Mentoring Students

WISCONSIN — UWM Prof Makes a Difference by Mentoring Students

In addition to her teaching and research, UWM Professor Wilkistar Otieno devotes significant time to mentoring students, in particular women and students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in engineering.

[/media-credit] In addition to her teaching and research, UWM Professor Wilkistar Otieno devotes significant time to mentoring students, in particular women and students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in engineering.

MILWAUKEE COURIER — The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee’s Wilkistar Otieno knows firsthand that young women, especially young women of color, need strong mentors and role models. She knows that need is magnified in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math – STEM for short. So she’s committed to making a difference. A professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, she advises UWM’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. And through the UWM STEM-Inspire Program, she mentors women and students of Latino, African- American and other backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. It’s all part of enhancing their experience at UWM, one of the nation’s top research universities.

“What I have seen,” Otieno says, “is that these students may not pursue engineering because of a lack of access to STEM opportunities in their prior educational experiences. Or, they may face a lack of role models.”

Women account for less than 15 percent of the engineers working today, and less than 20 percent of college engineering majors are women. The desire to grow those numbers is part of what drives Otieno’s call to mentorship, which also includes her participation in the UWM National Science Foundation Engineering and Computer Science Scholars Program and K-12 STEM outreach projects.

She wears many other hats. In addition to teaching and designing graduate and undergraduate courses in engineering, she conducts long-term research projects with top Wisconsin companies like Rockwell Automation and Harley-Davidson. All the while, she works so her mentees can follow similar paths in their chosen fields.

UWM’s STEM-Inspire group pairs every participating STEM major with a faculty mentor, peer mentor and a tutor. Partially funded by the Wisconsin Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or WiscAMP, it provides opportunities like internships, STEM lectures, workshops, research opportunities and library study nights. This school year, the program has 18 participants, and you can learn more about the program at uwm. edu/steminspire.

Stem-INSPIRE mentors like Otieno seek to build a community among those students, whose majors cam range from mechanical or computer engineering to biological sciences or architecture. Doing so cultivates a sense of belonging, which maximizes their chances for academic and professional success.

It’s the kind of community that Otieno sought 20 years ago at Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. She was one of only three women studying mechanical and production engineering there – out of 40 total students – during her undergraduate years. She worked closely with a small group of other underrepresented students, eager to fulfill her dream of becoming an engineer and educator.

“I had to work a lot harder than I needed to just to make the point that I belonged in mechanical engineering,” she says. She took seven to eight courses per semester, sleeping five to six hours a night.

Today, she participates in corporate research and training programs with industry partners who rely on UWM as a major educator of science and technology professionals. Her graduate students are involved in this research, enhancing their skillset as future engineers and educators.

That’s the path Priyanka Pillai is on. In May 2017, she earned her master’s degree from UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, and Otieno’s mentorship played a key role in that success.

English is Pillai’s second language, and she worried her English writing skills would hinder work on her master’s thesis. Otieno stepped in as a writing coach, giving Pillai additional articles to read and reviewing early drafts of her writing.

“Dr. Otieno made me a better writer,” Pillai says, “because she is always giving her students the push to try something different.”

It worked. Today, Pillai is a supplier quality engineer and thinking about pursing her own doctoral degree in engineering.

Thousands Attend 34th Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration at Marcus Center

Thousands Attend 34th Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration at Marcus Center

By Mrinal Gokhale

O.N.F.Y.A.H. African dance and drum ensemble. (Photo by Marcus Center of Performing Arts)

[/media-credit] O.N.F.Y.A.H. African dance and drum ensemble.

MILWAUKEE COURIER — Thousands gathered at the Marcus Center of Performing Arts on Sunday, Jan. 14 to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From 1 pm to 3 pm, local elected and community leaders gave speeches on Dr. King’s legacy, and Milwaukee Public School students delivered speeches and displayed artwork inspired by Dr. King.

Other than Atlanta, Milwaukee is the only other city that has celebrated Dr. King’s birthday since 1984. Each year, Milwaukee Public Schools students in grades K-12 participate in an art, essay and writing contest that honors Dr. King’s legacy. This year’s theme was “take a stand for truth and justice.”

Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team. (Photo by Marcus Center of Performing Arts)

[/media-credit] Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver was one of the communityleaders who spoke this day.

“We have had 5,000 students participate in the preliminary contest, and 56 won,” she said. “Our young people are finding ways to get active in our community.”

Amir Johnikin, grade 3, was the first place speech winner for the 3-4thgrade category. He attends Elm Creative Arts Elementary School. Without a paper in his hand, he was one of the first to share his entire essay on stage. He stated that the same streets that Dr. King marched were the same streets where his father’s life was taken. He also mentioned African Americans like Sandra Bland, who died at the hands of police officers.

Ameen Atta, winner of the 9-10th grade speech category speaks against the racism he has experienced as a Muslim. (Photo by Marcus Center of Performing Arts)

[/media-credit] Ameen Atta, winner of the 9-10th grade speech category speaks against the racism he has experienced as a Muslim.

“King had a dream that people of all races would co-exist in peace,” he said. “I challenge you to stand up for what you believe in, I challenge you to stand up for justice, and I challenge you to stand up for truth.”

Tenth grader Ameen Atta feels especially passionate about the theme when it comes to Islam. Atta won first place in the 9-10th grade speeches category.

“As a Muslim, I stand against violent, senseless acts against Islam,” he said.

He also said that it is “disgusting” to hear “hateful remarks and proposals by leaders of our community.”

“If it’s African Americans, more police. If it’s Hispanics, build a wall. If it’s a Muslim, travel ban,” he said. “But if it’s none of the above, even if the person is the deadliest mass shooter in the history of our country, the only proposal is to send thoughts and prayers to the victim.”

Amir Johnakin, winner of 3-4th grade speech category challenges the audience to stand up for justice. (Photo by Marcus Center of Performing Arts)

[/media-credit] Amir Johnakin, winner of 3-4th grade speech category challenges the audience to stand up for justice.

Mayor Tom Barrett was one of the first to speak when the event began. He believes that although Dr. King has helped bring social and racial justice to our country today, our current president is not doing so.

“Rather than having an individual who is appealing to our better angels, we have someone who is not appealing to our better angels but to our lesser angels,” he said.

In addition to contest winners, Milwaukee Tumblers, O.N.F.Y.A.H, United Indians of Milwaukee and Latino Arts Strings performed during the multi-cultural salute portion. After the event ended, the art winners were honored in a reception at the Bradley Pavilion.

WISCONSIN: Madison East teacher named Global Educator of the Year

WISCONSIN: Madison East teacher named Global Educator of the Year

Contact: Tom McCarthy, DPI Communications Director, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — Claudine Clark, a world language teacher at Madison East High School, has found innovative ways to bring the world into her classroom, earning her the third annual Global Educator of the Year Award. Nomination letters cited the thousands of dollars in scholarship support Clark has secured so her students can see the world. She is noted for bringing international teachers to her school, promoting lifelong language learning, and sharing what she has learned with colleagues.

“Wisconsin graduates need to be able to communicate, collaborate, and compete with others across intersections of language and culture,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers in presenting the award today. “Ms. Clark prepares global scholars with these skills, ensuring that they are world-ready.”

A Wisconsin native, Clark earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary education, French, and English as a second language from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She has taught in Hortonville, Green Lake, Janesville, and for the past ten years, the Madison Metropolitan School District. Her international education travel experiences include time in Benin, Japan, France, Canada, and Egypt.

To qualify as the Wisconsin Global Educator of the Year, a teacher must cultivate students’ global awareness, promote growth of global competencies, model and engage colleagues in best practices for global learning, employ innovative approaches to building global knowledge and skills, and implement the Global Education Achievement Certificate program. There are currently 84 high schools that have implemented the Global Education Achievement Certificate program. The certificate is awarded to graduating high school students who have demonstrated a strong interest in global citizenship by successfully completing a global education curriculum and engaging in co-curricular activities and experiences that foster the development of global competencies. In 2017, 75 students were recognized as global scholars.

The Global Educator of the Year is selected by the State Superintendent’s International Education Council, chaired by Gilles Bousquet, University of Wisconsin-Madison French professor and department chair. The recognition includes a $1,000 cash honorarium from the Madison area Rotary Clubs. Evers and DPI World Languages and International Education Consultant Pam Delfosse presented the award to Clark on behalf of the DPI International Education Council at Friday’s General Session of the Wisconsin State Education Convention in Milwaukee.

NOTE: More information about global learning is available on the department’s International Education website.