Help me be there for the kids, young teacher asks Milwaukee School Board

Allison Watson wants to stay in MPS because she loves her students, but it’s getting harder and harder for exceptional educators like her to do so. In a very personal and emotional testimony, she asked the Milwaukee School Board to fund the salary schedule they agreed to last year.

“Having a competitive compensation plan is critical to recruiting and retaining great teachers for our students,” she told the board.

“I am an educator but I am also a person that needs to make my rent, car payments, grad school loans, cable and internet payments, insurance, credit card bills, and heat and gas bills monthly.  I never thought I would be 30 years old and barely making ends meet; going to my parent’s house to have them buy me groceries.

“Without a competitive compensation plan, I will never be able to buy a house, pay for a wedding or be able to afford to have children.  But forget the larger purchases for a moment and think about the impact on my classroom.  I will definitely not be able to supplement the lack of supplies given to my students and my classroom.  I won’t be able to buy the glue that’s never provided or the crayons or construction paper.  I will not be able to buy more books or play dough or toys; color ink for my personal printer that I keep at school to make new centers or even simple things like cleaning supplies and wet wipes. I won’t be able to buy coats for my students that don’t have them or socks for kids when it’s snowing.”

Allison said she could be paid far more working in the private sector but, “I don’t want to do that.  It’s not where my heart lies.  I belong in a classroom and I am an exceptional educator.  My kids and their families deserve to keep exceptional educators.”

She concluded: “I really hope that you will prioritize our students by creating a budget that will attract and retain great teachers. I am actively looking for opportunities in other districts and so are many of your new teachers.  We can see the writing on the wall and for us; if you don’t fund the salary schedule, MPS is a dead end in terms of career advancement.  There are two reasons I am still with MPS and haven’t accepted another position.  I am fiercely loyal to my kids and their families and because an MTEA member texts me every week to see how I am doing and make sure I am OK.  Don’t let me disappoint her, don’t let me disappoint my kids.  Give me a reason to stay and be as fiercely loyal to MPS as I am to my students, their families and the MTEA.”

Watch Allison’s testimony: