The South Milwaukee Wisconsin school board started paying attention after students logged off their regular classes to protest virtual learning outside their high school. Parents held their own protest Monday evening.
Listening to the parents and students, the South Milwaukee school board voted Monday night to put students back in the classroom. Elementary kids will be in-person starting Feb. 1, and middle and high schoolers on Feb. 8.
Opting out of their 7:30 a.m. virtual classes, the students clearly didn’t feel they were missing much. “I really miss school and I miss seeing my friends and getting the proper education that I was, like, promised,” Elizabeth Brown, a senior at South Milwaukee High School told WISN 12 at the protest. “It’s weird to say, but I just really want to go back to school.”
Students at South Milwaukee were only in the classroom for two days in the fall. Aside from that, they have been in remote school since March.
“(It’s been) pretty miserable,” said Aaron Henry, another senior. “I mean, I wake up, it’s pretty hard to stay focused. The teachers don’t really like it, you can tell.”
“We think that it’s time,” Henry asserted. “We’ve been out of school for 10-11 months now, and we’d like to go back. We think that it’s safe enough. We’ve been told multiple times it’s safe enough. Schools around us are back, so we’re just wondering when South Milwaukee is going to.”
Henry, Brown, and their classmates can now look forward to going back to in-person learning very soon.
Luckily, South Milwaukee is not under the dominion of teachers unions, who have been some of the biggest proponents of closing schools, even though studies have proven, as Henry said, that it’s safe. Some unions have even enacted positivity rate thresholds that mandate a return to remote learning or have simply refused to come back to work unless a vaccine is available.
In Wisconsin, teacher unions’ power has significantly decreased ever since former Gov. Scott Walker in 2011 enacted Act 10, which prevented government employee unions, including teachers’ unions, from collective bargaining.
South Milwaukee parents and students show that it is possible to revolt against irrational school shutdowns that have no basis in science. It also proves that power allocated to local school boards, not teachers unions, gives kids and their parents a greater say in their education.