Sen. Darling wants to eliminate residency requirement for Milwaukee teachers

CREATED Feb. 5, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee School Board now gives teachers two years to move into the city, but State Senator Alberta Darling wants to get rid of the residency requirement altogether.

But one school board member wants to know why a senator from River Hills is proposing a bill about Milwaukee Public Schools.

“We are struggling in Milwaukee with our education system and they deserve better,” said Sen. Darling.

MPS is looking to hire 700 teachers next year, and Darling argues they can fill the positions with good teachers if the district allows teachers to live where they want.

“We are only one of two cities in the country, the only city in our state that has residency requirement for our teachers,” she said.

And it seems like many parents agree with the senator.

“I think they should live where they want to live,” said parent Betty Smith. “They shouldn't have to move here to keep their job if they are coming to work every day.”

School board members voted in December to relax the requirements, now giving teachers at least two years to move into the city.

Board member Terry Faulk argues school board members know what's best for the district, not state lawmakers.

“For some odd reason they feel that we are incapable of governing ourselves,” said Faulk. “So you have legislators from little towns all over Wisconsin who feel they know what's best for the city of Milwaukee.”

But Darling is confident she can speak to the issue.

“I have represented Milwaukee in the past,” said Darling. “I'm a big advocate for education, big advocate for children. I think I have to care about all of the children.”

Darling contends the district isn't doing enough to attract the best teachers to fill the hundreds of openings.

“I say shame on our school board for making decisions that aren't in the best interest of our children,” she added.

Sen. Darling is hoping the bill will pass in time for next school year. Milwaukee Public Schools is holding recruitment sessions in March to start filling some of the openings.