by Maria Patterson
During the school year, students at Reagan can join endless different clubs ranging from the Art Club to the Yearbook. One club that is special and dear to many is the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). This club explores the importance of LGBTQ+ rights and creates a safe place for people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and/or support the community. GSA adds value to the Reagan community and helps to support the students who are in search of a place where they are safe and are encouraged to be themselves.
UWM Graduate, Ms.Loos, is advising GSA this year and says, “I have always tried to be involved in some way.” Many students can say the same with regards to GSA. GSA helps inform our community at Reagan and keeps us connected and reminds us that we are together.
We need to address LGBTQ+ injustices now. Administrations are making an effort to establish difficulties for the LGBTQ+ community to access health insurance, and are trying to force transgender individuals to use facilities they don’t necessarily want to use. These issues need to be resolved, and we need to take advantage of our voices being heard and you can make a change by joining GSA.
While interviewing Governor Tony Evers about LGBTQ+ rights he said, “Diversity makes us stronger as a society.” He is right. As a society, we need to be inclusive. We need to care about others and stand up for our friends and family. After all, we all bleed the same blood.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ community is very important to countless people. Maybe you’re like Ms.Loos and supporting the community is important to you because you are surrounded by the presence of the community. Or maybe you are part of the community. Either way, it is key to accept yourself and support others.
Many people have fought for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and LGBTQ+ rights haven’t been around for very long. For example, gay marriage was finally legalized on July 26, 2015. That just over 5 years ago! Yet, people still have to fight for equality. Two years ago the pride flag had flown for the first time in the Capitol and will continue to do so. This was a small step, but essential to show how important advocating really is.
Little things do mean a lot. That is why supporting the community is significant. It shows that we care about the people around us. According to the National Education Association, “While some students are open about their LGBTQ identity at school, only 21% are out at home.” This is why we need to be open and caring to our community here at Reagan, to let each other know that who they are is okay.
As claimed by Mental Health America, “Sixty percent of LGBT students did not report incidents to school staff. One-third who reported an incident said the staff did nothing in response.” At Reagan, we have lots of support systems and we need you to know that we are here for you. If something is happening and you don’t know how to deal with it, reach out. If you can’t, visit https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for the LGBTQ+ helpline. Additional resources include https://www.glbthotline.org/talkline.html, https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/support/hotlines, and https://www.youthline.ca/.
After asking Gov. Tony Evers, “Do you think supporting the [LGBTQ+] community has helped your career as Governor,” he replied, “Some people would say no.” And he’s right, supporting the LGBTQ+ community isn’t a priority to some. First, let’s take a look into what homophobia is.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines homophobia as the irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. There is also biphobia (“...fear, hatred, discomfort, or mistrust, specifically of people who are bisexual,” says Planned Parenthood) and transphobia (“...fear, hatred, discomfort with, or mistrust of people who are transgender, genderqueer, or don’t follow traditional gender norms,” Planned Parenthood explains). Many people have these phobias and Ms. Loos says, “A lot of close-mindedness comes from misunderstanding.” To prevent homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, we can educate our community and make sure that people have a strong understanding of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, etc. GSA members and extra are here for any questions you may have and we are here to educate Reagan.
As Tony Evers said in response to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, “It’s just the right thing.” And, it is. We are stronger as a community if we know that we can rely on each other.
If you would like to join GSA, we meet every other Monday from 1-1:30. The Google Classroom the code is gk3dpy6. We look forward to seeing you!
As Freddie Mercury once said, “Don’t be afraid to show off your true colors.”
by Gabriella Hartlaub
Virtual learning has left a lot of students struggling to get physically active everyday. Between the four hours of synchronous classes, and the independent work time in the afternoon, it can be hard to find the time to get outside and be active. Exercise has many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It can help with the stress caused by schoolwork and transition to virtual learning, so it’s an important part of the day. But something as simple as a walk can help you reach your step goal and bring you all the benefits of moving your body.
The best walks are the ones where you can take in the view. This is something I learned during quarantine where my family was struggling to find things that got us out of the house for the day, but that wouldn’t have us be around a lot of people. Wisconsin is full of amazing parks, trails and other places to check out and get a good walk in, and the Milwaukee area is as well.
I’ve put together four of the best places I’ve walked in and around Milwaukee. Some of these are a bit of a drive, but they are well worth it. I’ve also included photos I’ve taken on my walks, there have been so many great landscapes, flowers, and sometimes animals to wonder at and experience. The addresses of the parks that I've been to are below so you can check them out as well.
Lion Den Gorge Nature Preserve - 511 High Bluff Dr, Grafton, WI 53024
Ice Age Trail - Eagle W364S7310 WI-67, Eagle, Village of, WI 53119
Summerfest Park - Milwaukee 200 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
by Rebeca Acosta
After a complaint in 2014, the Office of Civil Rights conducted an investigation. The complaint was on the disproportionality of African American students receiving referrals, suspensions and other disciplinary actions. Students across Milwaukee Public Schools would make the same complaint today, 6 years later.
Earlier in the year of 2017, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and The United States Department of Education created a resolution that aims to help in decreasing the disproportionate disciplinary rates of African-American and Latino males to White males in Milwaukee Public Schools. The agreement was to implement an Office of Civil Rights (OCR) committee in all MPS Middle and High schools in order to ensure change happens to solve the issue and to stop further issues from occurring.
Black or African American students represented 51.4% of the district’s total enrollment in 2019-2020, when the school year ended on March 13, 2020 due to COVID-19. Examining all behavior events documented by staff members for behavior incidents, 79.25% of all events were documented for Black students, for a disproportionality of 28.19% Looking specifically at behavior referrals for behaviors coded as “learning environment,” 78.93% of all “learning environment” referrals were written for Black students. Looking just at behavior referrals for subjective behaviors (defined as chronic disruption, disorderly conduct, endangerment, inappropriate personal property, inappropriate use of electronics, personal threat, substantial environmental disruption, and verbal abuse), 78.71% of all subjective referrals were written for Black students.
Looking at the specific resolutions of a restraint being used or police involvement, we also see disproportionality. Of all behavior referrals in which a restraint was used, 75% were with a Black student and of all behavior referrals in which police were called, 90% involved a Black student.
In early September, MPS had a Broadcast where testimonies were given in support of Resolution 2021R-007 . The resolution states that “The District shall suspend no student below the sixth grade or under the age of 12. The resolution explains That suspensions and expulsions shall be tools of last resort and that when a student is referred to the school’s office for disciplinary action, the first response shall be to seek interventions and attempts to change the student’s conduct, not to default to suspension or expulsion. It also adds that the Administration explores further opportunities to train school staff, parents, and students in cultural awareness, conflict resolution, violence prevention, restorative justice, tolerance for divergent viewpoints, etc.
Testimonies from MPS students and community leaders expressed how such actions are reflective of underlying problems. Additionally, testimonies advocated for the use of restorative practices. Restorative practices are steps taken before disciplinary action that allow both parties to have a conversation on the problem. Restorative practices are a step to combating implicit and explicit bias, and understanding the student.
The Office of Civil Rights is a first good step in the direction to end the racial disparity in MPS. Now more than ever, in MPS and across all districts, the fight to end racial disparity in education has to be on the forefront of the agenda.
By Jesse Guardiola
On Tuesday afternoon, I had the chance to interview a senior here at Reagan who performed at the Virtual Coffeehouse. Maliq performed for the coffeehouse partly because Mr. Murphy wanted him to perform and partly because he wanted to perform. According to Maliq, “It kind of gets you out of a bubble, is the way I think about it.”
Maliq has been playing the trombone for about 7 years. Maliq feels that it’s important to not only perform musically, but in all artforms. Maliq stated “We still do those throughout the pandemic because for the simple fact that those are people's outlets to kind of escape reality…”
He’s never had a specific genre, but he really loves classical music. Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky being some examples. Some more modern artists include Earth, Wind and Fire, The Temptations, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, etc. As well as many more artists. He isn’t restricted to a certain style of music. Some of the musicians that he looks up to are Michael Jackson, Prince, and Joseph Alessi.
When I asked Maliq how music has changed him, he gave these beautiful responses “#1 it’s just helped me enjoy life a lot more…”, “...and then 2, I think- when you’re a musician- it’s helped me carry myself as well”, “...It’s kind of given me a meaning to life, you know? And not to say that I didn’t have one before, but before I wanted to be a heart surgeon.”
So, that was my interview with Maliq Veal, the marvelous musician. You can catch the Virtual Coffee House on Wednesdays at 1:00 as well as past performances. You! Yes, you can also perform. Don’t hesitate to sign up. You can do that all at this link: https://tinyurl.com/reagancoffeehouse.
by Rebecca Acosta
On April 7th, the polls were open amid a pandemic; only 5 out of the 180 Milwaukee polls were open, about 400,000 state residents voted in person, and another 1, 239,611 requested absentee ballots, yet only 113,849 absentee ballots were returned. Despite voters having to choose between their vote or health, Milwaukee voters made their voices heard: YES for MPS as 78% of voters voted YES for the MPS referendum asking for 87 million dollars.
A couple weeks later, MPS Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley established the MPS budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The budget is set to increase academic achievement and accountability, improve district and school culture, develop staff, ensure fiscal responsibility and transparency, and strengthen communication and collaboration. Furthermore, the budget includes 35 teachers to help reduce class size, 64 mental health professionals, four restorative practice coaches, eight art teachers this year, two paraprofessionals, and professional development around teaching.
Gianmarco Katz, an 11th grade MPS student, was an active supporter for the YES for MPS campaign. Katz has collaborated with Voces de la frontera to promote the referendum. He shares that he has “canvassed and phone-banked for the referendum for 40 hours, had a meeting with the regional superintendent about the allocation of funds. I also have been fortunate enough to help lead efforts along with other great activists from around MPS, in a letter to the superintendent focused on prioritization of funding.” Katz and other MPS students have drafted a letter for Dr. Posley. “Our hope with this letter is that it provides the central office with the students' perspective on how to ensure equability throughout our district,” Katz says.
Katz goes on to explain “As a Reagan student, I am very fortunate to have access to full time electives such as: art, choir, band, orchestra, and language. I am also very fortunate to have four assistant administrators and four secretaries. However, other schools that serve disenfranchised populations receive less funding solely based on their student body. This algorithm is not equitable and caters to more fortunate, well-equipped schools like Reagan.”
Other schools across MPS have not been so fortunate. Teachers have had to teach classes they are not qualified for, classrooms have windows with broken screens, and students are learning by cover-less textbooks. Katherine Villanuevaa, a 10th grade student at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL), says “one thing MSL doesn't have is a full-time librarian. Having one full time will allow us access to books any day of the week whether it’s a book required for a class or one we want to read for our own pleasure.” Z
To ensure schools like MSL get funded, the letter proposes MPS with a set of areas of what students needs’ need to be addressed, including child literacy, reading comprehension, the math proficiency gap, nutrition, retaining qualified teachers, staffing, hiring paras, full time electives, and outdated educational tools.
MPS students should be receiving the best education in the best learning environment. For students who see a problem within the educational climate, talk to your school's principal or union leader because it takes student voices like Gian to assure that all MPS students are granted the best education. Katz says “We believe that this letter combined with pressure and people voicing themselves, we can affect how funds are allocated.” It is important that students express their opinions because “Students see the challenges the district and it’s students face everyday. There is no other population of people better equipped to speak on the disparities in our district.”
Students or parents who want their voices heard can share their concerns or comments on Tuesday, May 19th at the MPS Board meeting at 5:30pm. Testimonies, which will be only two minutes long, will be taken live during the meeting. Those who want to speak to the Committee must register by 3:00 P.M. on May 19, 2020. To register to participate by dial-in, call 414-475-8200 and follow the instructions; to register to participate via email, visit the Broadcast page of the MPS website to send an email request: https://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/…/School-Board/Boardcast.htm; to submit comments to the Office of Board Governance by mail, address to 5225 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee, 53221; by email, to email@example.com; or by fax, to 414-475-8071. Public comments received before 3:00 P.M. on May 19, 2020, will be forwarded to the Committee for its consideration.
The referendum has passed but it is up to the community to ensure they get what they voted for. Katz notes, “the fight is not over to guarantee equitable education in our city. We need constant participation and support. For anyone reading this that has not been a participant up to this point. I implore you to get involved as this is not only fighting for you, but your teachers, relatives, and your neighbors.”