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not one of the 519
the milwaukee public school system starts understaffed
by beth clement

I am a Milwaukee Public School teacher who thankfully has a job next school year. 519 of my colleagues cannot say the same. Some are truly getting a raw deal. They were fired at the end of the last year and then rehired and now have gotten another pink slip. Since we follow the “last one hired first one fired” philosophy, those who have five years or less experience have been given their walking papers.

In some cases experience speaks volumes, especially in the public school setting where classroom management is paramount to student learning. There are also young teachers who have drive, energy and bring a fresh perspective to the job who truly deserve to stay rather than those who are in it for the paycheck/insurance, (they’re out there, trust me).

Here are the facts as written in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Most of the teacher cuts are at the elementary school level - kindergarten through eighth grade. The layoffs were largely determined by seniority, in accordance with the union contract. Some less-experienced teachers with specialized training were exempt (ie special education).

The district has about 125 elementary schools. Those most affected by layoffs participate in a program partially funded by the state to reduce class sizes. Twenty-seven of the 75 schools in that program will lose class size reduction money and teachers. (Superintendent) Thornton estimated class sizes will then average 33 to 34 students.

I know that not too long ago those were the class sizes, but now think about the fact that Milwaukee Public Schools serves a largely urban, poor population with different challenges than other districts. Also think about the fact that there could be a classroom that had 20 five year olds now with 33. Who would like to work in that room, come on down!

Also right now the bitterly contested decision of not paying 5.8% towards pensions to keep 200 positions is being played out in the media and there are many comments being made for and against the union, public schools, their staff, the Governor (Scott Walker is either a saint or the devil depending on what you do for a living). I am just tired of all the fighting about the economy, we just need to get back to the business of teaching and working to have students’ needs met.

I know that whether my colleagues agree with me or not on personal politics, at the end of the day (or the beginning of the school year – July 29th on the “Year-Round” calendar). We will be there for our students and their families.

I hope the rest of the state takes notice of that.


An early childhood teacher with many roles and even more opinions!

more about beth clement


katherine (aka clevertitania)
7.22.11 @ 4:47p

We all know there are amazing & lousy teachers in the world, we also have decades of evidence that the biggest problem with US education is lack of funding. There's stacks of stats saying that smaller classrooms equals better efficacy in education.

But now Walker and his ilk are throwing the blame for the educational system on teachers. Whether you agree with their other political views or not, that makes them 100% wrong in this argument. Defunding is a mistake and the educated people know it.

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