Skip to Content

NEA bestows upon the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association its highest honor

MTEA is among a dozen recipients of prestigious NEA Human and Civil Rights Award

Minneapolis - July 01, 2018 -

Since 2010, when midterm elections swept a wave of anti-union, anti-public employee candidates like Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Unions there weathered some of the most relentless political attacks in the country. In spite of these unprovoked efforts to silence the voices of workers and educators, the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association persisted in its commitment to make sure students thrive. Today, the NEA presented to MTEA the Association’s highest honor, the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award.

“The human and civil rights champions we honor tonight are the epitome of the fierce urgency of now that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about in his ‘I have a Dream speech,’” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

“Through their deeds and actions, they have demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction to stand up for racial and social justice. They have shown an unrelenting resolve and ferocity to make a real difference for public education, students, and our nation’s future. They are shining examples of social justice activism, fighting against injustices every day, and making sure that our great nation lives up to its promise.”

MTEA was one of 12 outstanding social justice heroes honored at the 2018 NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards, which recognized the work of 12 outstanding social justice heroes during an annual event held Sunday, July 1, in Minneapolis. The occasion honors educators, individuals, community partners, and organizations that are advancing the mantle for human and civil rights. It is the byproduct of the historic 1966 merger of the National Education Association and the American Teachers Association.

“We are honored to receive the Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award,” said MTEA Vice President Amy Mizialko. “We reaffirm our commitment to advancing and developing leaders of color, fighting back against anti-immigrant legislation, and promoting the teaching of social justice in every school.”

Through collaboration with students, allies and community members, MTEA has won important victories for all Milwaukee students. When the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) sought to cut 120 frontline staff positions, MTEA led a fight that won a resolution guaranteeing smaller class sizes in grades K-3. When students weren’t receiving developmentally appropriate physical activity, MTEA members won additional recess time for all MPS grades K-5 students. And when Wisconsin legislators proposed anti-immigrant legislation, MTEA joined together with students at rallies and day-long general strikes to fight back. In collaboration with MTEA, student members of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (affiliated with Voces de la Frontera) successfully organized and won a Sanctuary District resolution for MPS. The measure passed the school board with unanimous support.

MTEA fights to ensure that the collective voice of educators and public workers is heard, supports developing leaders of color, and addresses the needs of educators and students. They have created governance opportunities that give educators of color a stronger voice in the union. MTEA has also established professional development courses designed to help educators meet the needs of a diverse student population.

In addition to MTEA, NEA also recognized former first lady Michelle Obama and the Know Your Rights Campaign, founded by professional quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick, for continuing the quest for human and civil rights in America.

To view the bios and achievements of all 12 awardees, click here. To see MTEA in action, click here.

Follow the conversation on Twitter #NEARA18 #EdJustice2018 @NEAMedia

# # #

The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Miguel A. Gonzalez, 202-822-7823,