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Alex Brower: A hunger strike until MPS substitute teachers get health care coverage

At the time of this writing MPS substitute teacher Alex Brower began the 12th day of his hunger strike. He has vowed to not eat until substitute teaches with Milwaukee Public Schools are granted full health insurance.

On day 7 of his hunger strike Brower released the following statement to the local media:

“Over the past year, the MPS Administration has ignored MPS substitute teachers’ demands for restoring healthcare benefits for all full-time substitute teachers. Substitute teachers are asked to gamble with our health and well-being every day by working without access to affordable, quality, healthcare benefits.

When regular classroom educators are temporarily absent, substitute teachers are ready at a moments notice to ensure that every child continues to have a quality education. Many MPS substitute teachers are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. You may have seen the story of a substitute teacher, Mr. Harvie who could not afford dental insurance so he had to remove an infected tooth by hand.

Budgets are moral documents and MPS substitute teachers believe it is unconscionable that the school board failed to take action and that Dr. Driver released a budget that fails to fund substitute teacher healthcare.

MPS has left us with no choice. One week ago, I entered a hunger strike until the MPS School Board votes to restore funding for substitute teacher healthcare. During that time a number of educators in my union have committed to enter day-long solidarity fasts.

This hunger strike is a form or resistance aimed to resolve this district’s moral crisis. We are asking for the same basic human dignity that MPS educators, MPS administrators, and even MPS School Board Directors are afforded–healthcare.

MPS already struggles to attract and retain substitute teachers. Offering healthcare benefits will help bring more qualified educators into classrooms ensuring there are no gaps in a child’s education.

Today marks one week of my hunger strike for healthcare and time is running out for school board directors to amend the budget. MPS substitute teachers need your help.

We ask that you contact your school board director and ask them to introduce and support an amendment to provide healthcare benefits to full-time substitute teachers. Our fight is part of a larger fight for a fair budget that honors students and educators. You can also follow the hashtag #StandwithSubs”

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Joe Brusky

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