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Milwaukee Schools Give Cash To ACLU

From the MacIver Institute:

MPS Sends Cash to ACLU for Public Art Program

MacIver News Service | February 24, 2011

Milwaukee, Wisc — While Milwaukee Public School Board members publicly bemoan the impact of pending state-funding cuts, the MacIver News Service has learned that MPS gave nearly $20,000 to the ACLU this school year.

The ACLU of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Public Theatre applied for a $19,990 Partnership for the Arts grant late last year to launch the Public Arts Student Alliance (PASA). The funds go toward a program that promotes community engagement to confront civic apathy by “identifying community/social issues of concern: planning ways to address them through public art, and honing their skills in speaking, writing and visual art/puppetry and theatre.”

Well, the teachers should know something about puppetry.

MPS Communications Director Roseann St. Aubin explained the rationale behind giving the ACLU funds from the school district’s coffers

“MPS leaders created the Partnership for the Arts with the knowledge that it is essential to foster learning in all its forms and that the arts teach ways of learning, thinking and inquiring that can be applied back to all subjects,” said St. Aubin.

For the ACLU program, that means going beyond simply exposing students to art, steering them towards a specific ideology and encouraging political action.

In the past, the ACLU has “found that the arts are particularly effective in working with youth. Examples of past workshops include: ‘Creating Audio & Video PSAs’, ‘1st Amendment Rights and T-Shirt Screening’, ‘Political Cartooning and Art’, ‘Freedom of Speech and Screen Printing’, ‘Art, Graffiti, Stenciling and Protest’. Their youth-created videos have been shown throughout MPS,” according to the grant application.

The ACLU’s stated mission in the application is “to promote and protect the civil liberties and civil rights of all people in Wisconsin in a non-partisan manner.”

Well, certainly the ACLU is not partisan. After all, they are an official taxpayer supported 501c3 ‘charity.’ An d you can’t have that status and be partisan.

Students involved in PASA will participate in the Summer of Peace Parade, the All-City People’s Parade (Labor Day) and the Youth Social Justice Forum.

The ACLU program will involve at least 60 students from three different MPS high schools: Madison University High School, Alliance High School, and New School for Community Service.

“These schools are in areas where these is disproportionate minority contact with the police. Many of these young people do not understand their rights and responsibilities during an encounter with law enforcement, and risk incarceration. The skills and avenues for expression that offered [sic] through the Public Arts Student Alliance will help them to better navigate and address the conflicts they will invariably encounter,” reads the application.

First lesson: ‘don’t snitch.’

For some of the students, the program may lead to a summer job.

“A core group of 6 youth, two from each school, will be selected from these workshops and be paid in the summer as youth peer leaders and mentors, helping to facilitate and document ongoing workshops and using popular social media like twitter to reach out to other youth and families,” according to the proposal.

Maybe they will even get hired by Organizing For America or AmeriCorps.

MPS said it is fully aware of what the program entails.

“Proposals are reviewed by a team of experts prior to any award,” said St. Aubin. “The project addresses issues of racial discrimination, violence prevention and civic apathy through public arts and leadership training that are designed to increase self esteem, team work and community engagement. The program includes arts residencies, a mentorship program and free-to-the- public arts workshops as well as opportunities to perform/exhibit student’s work through free public art events.”

Meanwhile, two thirds of the students in the eight grade in Wisconsin schools cannot even read proficiently.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, February 25th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

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