MPS substitute teachers concerned over temp agency hires

Posted at 6:18 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 19:18:18-04

Substitute teachers in Milwaukee schools are speaking out about the district using a temp agency to fill positions.

A petition is growing to convince the district to stop outsourcing its substitute teachers and make them district employees instead.

The district currently has about 500 substitute teachers available to work, and of that, about 75 to 100 are hired through a third party temp agency, according to Alex Brower, the president of substitute teachers under the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association.

Brower says he believes by hiring through a temp agency, it's leading to a lower-quality education for students.

"A temp agency puts people who don't have security in their job in the classroom and they are not going to do the best job they can if they're insecure about their job," said Brower. 

He says the Milwaukee Public School District is currently facing a teacher and substitute teacher shortage.

To address the issue, he says they began using a third party temp agency called Goodwill TalentBridge about a year ago to hire subs.

"We've heard good things and not good things about these subs and I think on average they're doing an OK job but they will do a better job if they are part of the MPS family," said Brower.

Brower has worked as a substitute teacher with MPS for the last six school years.

"What our union is advocating for to help stop the shortage is to offer quality health care for subs who choose to make this their profession and work full time," he said.

Right now, the district offers a pension to substitute teachers after three school years, but otherwise does not offer any benefits.

Brower says they used to receive benefits when they still had a contract with the district, but that hasn't been the case for about six years.

The district's contract with the temp agency expires September 30. MTEA is hoping for a public meeting before that so the school board can hear the community's concerns.

"The best people to do the work at MPS and the best people to serve our kids are those who are part of the MPS family," said Brower. "We believe that wholeheartedly."

In comparison, the Waukesha School District does not use a third party agency. All of its subs are district employees, however a representative with the district says they've considered using a temp agency in the past.