State lawmakers are considering a proposal to end the requirement that Milwaukee Public School teachers live in the district. State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says the rule puts a tough restriction on teachers and denies them the right to choose where they live.
Darling says it also limits who applies for jobs in the district, which could be a concern as MPS struggles to improve student achievement and find teachers who can add the most value to education.
Milwaukee and Chicago are the only two cities in the country with a residency rule still in place. Darling claims Chicago is also considering proposals to eliminate its rule. She says other major cities that have done away with similar restrictions have seen improvements.
Chris Thiel with MPS argues the decision is one that should remain in the community and not be mandated by the Legislature. He says the residency rule has been part of bargaining agreements with teachers for some time, and it has helped to establish communities with concerned citizens who stay involved.
MPS officials say the bill could impact where about 6,000 employees decide to live. Thiel says there are worries it could lead to an exodus of teachers to areas outside of the city.
The legislation is being considered by a Senate committee, which held a hearing on the measure Wednesday at the Capitol.
The proposal is the second in the Legislature this session aimed at where public employees in Milwaukee can live. The Senate also took testimony this week on a bill lifting the residency requirements for city police and firefighters.