By Alex Brower, Milwaukee Substitute Teachers’ Association President
Substitute teaching is not for everybody. I am in my sixth year as a substitute teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. Every day I am reminded of the tremendous rewards working in public schools. It is wonderful to see a student’s face light up when they figure out a problem or can answer questions about what path they should take in the future. But substitute teaching is still a very challenging job. Taking over another educator’s lesson plans at a moments notice takes talent. It is a challenge, even for the most veteran teacher, to walk into a classroom of unfamiliar students and gain their trust. Classroom teachers spend weeks and months building trust with their students, learning how to connect with them and unlock their potential.
Substitute teachers in MPS have been under attack for years. The previous MPS Administration made sure to shred every last ounce of dignity away from professional substitutes–taking away our health care, sick days, and other benefits that full-time MPS employees receive. Without any type of security, who would want to make the leap into substitute teaching?
Without any incentives to attract and retain substitute teachers, MPS has been reduced to scavenging for substitute teachers through a temp agency, which is not a long-term solution to a teacher shortage. It is reprehensible and sends the wrong message to educators, families, and our children. Not to mention, the temp industry is unregulated and leaves workers with little protections.
MPS students deserve professional substitute teachers –teachers who enter the classroom ready to teach and inspire every single day at a moment’s notice; professionals with resources, mentoring, and support, who believe in our children and the MPS mission. The temp industry cannot provide this–only MPS can. Substitute teacher work needs to be done by educational professionals who are part of the MPS family.
To attract the substitute teachers our children deserve, MPS needs to offer a quality health care plan to substitutes who make teaching their profession, and end the privatization of substitute teacher work. The temp agency contract with the district expires September 30, 2017 and the School Board has the opportunity to end the substitute hiring provision.
The substitute teacher members of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association are ready with solutions to end the substitute shortage. Will the MPS School Board and MPS Administration listen?
• Attend the September 12 school board meeting and consider submitting oral or written testimony in support of MPS subs.
• Contact your school board director and tell them you support subs: