Activists to Gather in Milwaukee

National Coalition of Education Activists to hold biennial conference this July in Milwuakee.

By Kelly Dawson

Several hundred parent, teacher and community activists from around the country will meet in Milwaukee this July 25-28 at the biennial conference of the National Coalition of Education Activists (NCEA).

The conference, titled “Reclaiming our Children’s Education: Uniting Families, Schools and Communities,” offers “a chance for supporters of excellent and equitable public schools to share experience, skills, and information,” said Debi Duke, NCEA organizer. The conference will take place at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Participants will learn and strategize together in workshops, caucus meetings and social events. Workshops include:

“Building a Teacher/Student/Parent Anti-Racist Movement,” facilitated by an activist from the United Teachers of Los Angeles (see article, p. 20); “Clearing a Space for Social Justice Unionism;” a session on how to campaign against vouchers, and many others. Caucus meetings provide opportunities for attendees of the same racial or ethnic group to network, share experiences and discuss issues of particular concern to their group.

A strength of the conference, and of NCEA itself, is the diversity of its participants. NCEA describes itself as a “multiracial network of families, school staff, community activists, teacher educators and others working for better, more equitable public schools.”

Duke estimates that 400-500 people will attend this year’s conference. Based on attendance in previous years, 50 percent will be public school staff, with 25-30 percent parents and community activists. Other participants will include professors and students of education. Duke estimates that nearly half of the attendees will be people of color. Conference brochures and materials are available in English and Spanish.

Several Milwaukee organizations are co-sponsoring the conference, including the Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee Catalyst, the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, and Rethinking Schools.

“We’re really excited to have activists from all over the country coming here,” said Stephanie Walters, a second grade teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools who is helping to organize the conference. “We think it’s a great opportunity for organizing around issues such as testing, assessment and funding. We’re making every effort possible to recruit Milwaukee teachers, parents and other activists to the conference this year.”

According to Duke, the event is open to “parents, teachers and other school staff, community activists, teacher educators, and others working to make sure all children are well served by public schools.” More information can be obtained by contacting NCEA at