Milwaukee Choice Schools’ Teachers Adapting

MacIver News Service – An emergency waiver allowing experienced teachers in many of Milwaukee’s private schools to continue working in the classroom while getting a bachelor’s degree stood without incident in a public hearing at the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Monday.

The waiver, which allows teachers in participating Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) schools who have five or more years tenure but no bachelor’s degree a grace period in which to earn one, received no opposition in the day’s meeting, as no testimony was heard. As a result, a handful of teachers who were in danger of failing to meet new state qualifications will now have a five year period in which to obtain a college degree.

The reason for the lack of upheaval over the waiver was likely related to the small scope of the issue. Thanks to tighter hiring processes and stricter qualification guidelines, “only a handful” of waiver applications are expected at the DPI. “The accreditation process raised the bar,” said DPI Director of School Management Services Robert Soldner. “The large majority of teachers are already certified.”

As a result, only a few select educators will need the waiver, which only applies to current teachers with at least five consecutive years of experience under their belts.

This exception, which was created in December of last year in anticipation of this year’s stricter requirements for the MPCP, appears cleared to become policy. Though state and national regulations turned up the heat on Milwaukee’s private school instructors, most institutions were not only ready for the change but even steps ahead of it.