Tamarine Cornelius
Wisconsin Budget

New Report Finds Teacher Shortages

More than half of school districts face “extreme shortages” of math, science teachers.

By , Wisconsin Budget Project - Jan 13th, 2017 11:37 am
Wisconsin School Districts Struggle to Fill Teacher Vacancies in STEM Fields

Wisconsin School Districts Struggle to Fill Teacher Vacancies in STEM Fields

Many Wisconsin school districts are having a difficult time finding well-qualified teachers, with the scarcity particularly pronounced in northern Wisconsin, according to a new report released today from the Wisconsin Budget Project.

In northern Wisconsin, school districts faced “extreme shortages” in filling 56% of teacher vacancies, compared to 46% in the rest of the state, based on a statewide survey conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The survey defined “extreme shortage” to mean that a school district received few applicants for the job opening and few, if any, high-quality candidates.

The shortage is particularly acute for teachers of math, science, and technology. More than half of school districts with vacancies in these fields faced extreme shortages in hiring teachers.

In the survey, districts indicated that the most commonly-used strategy to hire a teacher in the face of shortages in a variety of subjects was for the hiring district to lower its standards. In hiring for about one of out of five vacancies, districts hired a teacher below the desired standard of experience or quality. Other frequently-used strategies used to address shortages were:

  • employing a teacher on an emergency permit or licensure;
  • filling a vacancy with a substitute teacher; and
  • giving another teacher an overload assignment.

The DPI survey only includes information from one year, so we don’t know the extent to which the dramatic reduction in resources for Wisconsin’s public schools has driven teachers out of the profession and exacerbated shortages in Wisconsin. Given that school district spending on employee salaries and benefits in Wisconsin has fallen sharply – by 7.4% between 2004 and 2015 – it’s not surprising teaching is becoming a less attractive profession compared to other potential career paths. The difficulty in finding teachers also occurs in the wake of Act 10, which reduced job security for teachers and gave them less control over their work environments, in addition to reducing their take-home pay.

For more information about school spending in Wisconsin, teacher shortages, and the shortfall of teachers of color, read Budget Cuts and Teacher Shortages: With Fewer Resources, Schools Struggle to Find Educators.

27 thoughts on “Wisconsin Budget: New Report Finds Teacher Shortages”

  1. SteveM says:

    This trend has been happening for some time, but really kicked into gear post Act 10. This says more about the political landscape than it does about teachers or students going into education.

  2. Sue says:

    We showed those teachers, didn’t we!

  3. Tom says:

    Teachers sure were taught a lesson in how much they were hated by the majority of residents of Walker’s Wisconsin. Five years after Act 10 and teachers in many school districts are still subjected to the widespread hatred for teachers that now has become deeply woven into the social fabric of Walker’s Wisconsin.

    The manifestations of the general hatred that Wisconsinites have for teachers can be subtle or pronounced. Across Walker’s Wisconsin, hundreds of teachers get “flipped off” every morning by parents driving through the teachers parking lot after dropping their children off for school. It is not uncommon for total strangers to stop and admonish a teacher with a newer car, often ripping the teacher by saying” I think we’re paying you too much if you can afford to drive a Silverado”. Rejected by their communities, many teachers have been forced to live almost reclusive lives, shying away from community gathering places so as not to get trashed or have their children exposed to the hatred towards them for being a teacher.

    I regularly encourage the few young people who are entering the teaching profession to follow the “Five & Flee” teacher career program. No more than five years teaching in Walker’s Wisconsin before fleeing to a state where teachers are still valued and compensated as professionals. Minnesota has begun to actively recruit teachers from Walker’s Wisconsin, especially STEM teachers. In Walker’s Wisconsin, after 5 years, teaching is essentially a dead end job with frozen pay of about $45,000 to $55,000 for the remainder of your career. That’s why we counsel teachers to spend no more than 5 years of their career in Walker’s Wisconsin before fleeing. Glad to see that so many young teachers are taking this advice.

  4. Jason says:

    Public teachers should just rename themselves the working poor.

  5. WashCoRepub says:

    It’s really a shame that the education unions had to go so far overboard with the unsustainable health insurance benefits, to increase their cost structure beyond what the general public would bear, year after year. If they had been a bit more moderate or not refused any negotiation over Act 10 (along with the truly unhinged demonstrations), a compromise probably could have been reached. In this case, extremism cost them a lot more than it probably had to.

  6. kayakguy says:

    WashCoRepub – and I bet you blame cancer on the sufferers. You’re a real peach of a human.

  7. Jason says:

    Where is the articles on the shortage of plumbers, electricians, nurses, or butchers for that matter. We have more than a third of adults not working, yet the public sector asks more from the private sector. The public sector does not make a stink about individuals that choose not to work individuals that live off the system. They attack the private sector, they attack how we commute, they attack what we listen too and to what we watch. They tell us who to vote for and if they don’t get their way they protest.

  8. Tom says:

    WashCoRethug & Jason define “extremism” as the desire to earn more than $25,000 per year as a starting salary, or $50,000 per year as a maximum career salary.

    Congratulations to both of you. since your hero Scott Walker made denigrating teachers his #1 priority, in Walker’s Wisconsin, teaching is no longer a family supporting career, only a temporary dead end job to work at for a few years until something better comes along.

    Friends don’t let friends teach in Walker’s Wisconsin.

  9. Vincent Hanna says:

    Jason stop spreading that nonsense. Fact checkers have rated that claim false like 48 times now. The right-wing media echo chamber is doing serious damage to your brain.

  10. Big Al says:

    WashCoRepub – yeah, like Walker and Vos ever negotiated with anyone. They had the goal of destroying the unions, consequences be damned. Now they can figure out how to fix it, or continue to ignore it like they’re so good at doing.

    The fact that they are now at odds over the transportation budget just makes me chuckle. I really enjoy two unreasonable pompous know-nothings pretend they know better than each other. Instead of ‘Race to the Top’, we here in Wisconsin have a ‘Race to the Bottom’!

  11. Wifather2000 says:

    Washco- The teacher’s unions offered concessions, as they had done in the past in republican caused downturns, Walker refused!


  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    The union bashing is partisan nonsense. Law enforcement unions do the exact same things teachers unions do. They go above and beyond to represent their members. They play hardball and forcefully defend cops accused of crimes and other transgressions. It’s incredibly difficult to fire a police officer. Yet because they tend to be conservative, they get a free pass while teachers unions do not.

  13. Jason says:

    Does all the Obama memorabilia hanging in Wisconsin teaching institutions come down January 20th ? Do the principals and teaching staff convert their Obama pictures,awards and special letters into a prayer wall for the next four years. Will students kneel before the Obama wall. Will high school students be able to watch the inauguration of the next president or will that be seen as to much stress for the children at Nicolet or Riverside.

  14. Vincent Hanna says:

    You have a special knack for asking inane questions no one else is asking or cares about because of how utterly stupid they are. Actually at schools nationwide, including Wisconsin, students supporting Trump have demanded a safe space to watch the inauguration.

  15. Reader says:

    Schools that display picture of the president will change them to Trump. I don’t know if is standard to display the president.In public schools the school is not allowed to sanction prayers.
    My son attended Catholic schools during Bush Clinton Bush Obama. I have no specific recollection of there being a picture. I know he had to go to mass / prayer but it was Jesus stuff. In regards to the inauguration I don’t know if its shown. I dont believe they did for my son.. I do recall that for Obama there was a big kerfuffle to showing a film that was basically a study hard message similar to the ones Bush42 and Reagan did. Should president Trump offer a similar thoughtful message as those 3 president did for the children I hope it is shown. They should be subjected to that small minded racist demonizing censorship again.

  16. Jake says:

    I think the fascists in the state, once known as Republicans are totalitarian. They don’t give a shit, it’s all about power. They support Trump and by extension, are guilty of sedition. They are not patriots, but traitors.

  17. Ingrid Buxton says:

    My DH is a science teacher for MPS. What he sees is the flight of teachers out of the city, out of the state, into retirement, out of teaching altogether. In one week two teachers just called it quits in the middle of the week. They walked off. It isnt just the low wages, it is the utter disrespect of the administration, students and parents. Teachers are well educated and can make a lot more money in other professions and the best minds will now do just that. They want to make a livable wage, pay off their student loans, buy a car, buy a house, have kids, have security. So why go into teaching or stay in teaching if they are young enough to start over, find a new purpose in life?

  18. Ed Kowieski says:

    With the impending election of the Superintendent of Public Instruction this spring, voters will have the choice of having the lone non-GOP leader in charge of a major state department – or one of the strongly supported voucher candidates who will do the bidding of Walker and Co. and ALEC. Tony Evers may be the last hope of those who believe in PUBLIC education in Wisconsin.

  19. Tom says:

    Thanks for your story Ingrid. As we monitor the steadily deteriorating working conditions for teachers across Walker’s Wisconsin, we see teacher quitting at all times of the year and literally walking away from their jobs mid-week. This not only occurs on a regular basis in MPS, but in all the suburbs surrounding MPS and across the rest of Wisconsin as well.

    In Cudahy, four new hires didn’t even make it through the first week of school before calling it quits. School districts across Walker’s Wisconsin are regularly advertising for teachers to finish the year because the original teacher found a better paying job and just up and quit.

    Not surprisingly, the worst places to teach have the highest number of teachers that just up and quit. Some of these districts have increased contract “break” fees from the $500 before Act 10 (when Wisconsin was still a good place to teach) to up to $10,000 for the real craphole districts. Teachers in these craphole districts are literally trapped in jobs that they hate because they cannot afford to pay the district $10,000 to walk away. What kind of learning environment do you think the kids in these districts are going through?

    I always appreciate the thank you emails from young teachers who have followed my “Five & Flee” career plan and are now happily teaching in another state where teachers can be the primary income earner for the family in a professional career, not a “Dead End” job that so many school districts offer in Walker’s Wisconsin.

  20. Jason says:

    I recall the last time the teachers union ran the state legislature in December of 2010 that they were determined to ram long term health care down the tax payers throat. Yep, the teachers union was one Wisconsin Democratic Senator away from providing all retired teachers the benefit of free home care, nursing aids and nursing home coverage all at the cost of the Wisconsin tax payer. Thank you, Democratic State Senator Russ Decker.

  21. Tom says:

    More lies from Jason. There never was any legislation such that Jason describes to give alll retired teachers such benefits. Total fabrication on Jason’s part. All in the name of ginning up even MORE hatred for teachers in Wisconsin to somehow justify the non-stop denigration of every teacher in Walker’s Wisconsin.

    Jason, please take your meds so that the NEXT time you “recall” something about teachers, you will at least recall something that actually happened in the real world, not your isolated, right wing echo chamber world of Faux News and Right Wing Hate Radio that spews lies and gins up hatred for teachers 24/7 across Walker’s Wisconsin.

  22. Lee Bitts says:

    Well, I still think that job-hungry people will fill the various teaching professions throughout the state regardless of the political issues currently surrounding the teaching profession in Wisconsin.

    I can’t see that things are going to change for the long-term future. We seem to be locked into a certain political environment and perspective. I think the economy is causing a wide feeling of separation between the haves and the self-perceived have-nots. This seems to be a gap that is too wide to bridge so we are not going to have much intelligent reasoned discourse unless major changes in society occur.

    That just seems like a long time coming to me.

  23. TomDurkin says:

    Jason (post 19), the 2010 State Legislature vote had nothing whatsoever to do with teachers—it rejected a proposed contract for STATE employees (none of whom are teachers).

    BTW, Wisconsin taxpayers still eventually pay for nursing home care for many (most??) older Wisconsinites through Medicaid.

  24. TomDurkin says:

    Lee Bits (post 21), most “job-hungry people” don’t have college degrees (much less education degrees) and aren’t qualified to teach. And even many certified teachers lack the aptitude to teach specialized STEM courses (science, math, etc).

  25. Ingrid Buxton says:

    Yes, we taxpayers end up paying for all the related health care costs, food, housing and everything else when employers dont pay for a livable wage with proper benefits, like Walmart, and all those red states with right to work laws. It is much better than people EARN their own benefits, work for them rather than taking charity. The better the wages and bennies, the more incentive to show up for work and work hard. Just ask those employers who have moved to cheap wages/no bennies countries where the people may or may not show up and dont have the American work ethic.

  26. Sue says:

    Lee @21, the teacher shortage extends to schools of education. Enrollment in teacher colleges has been falling for years, and not just in Wisconsin. If you’ve got talent in STEM, teaching is probably not the first thing you or those recruiting you think of.
    Contempt for teachers is nationwide. Walker and Co. just stoked the fires to their own advantage.

  27. Nillew says:

    Tom Durkin: I think I have merely given voice to the conservative’s argument that we needn’t worry too much about teacher shortages because of “job-hungry” applicants who are desperately willing to work for little to few benefits much less sustainable wages, etc. I grew up in a dark-blue collar world which made this a standard assumption. It’s sort of like a beggars-can’t-be-choosers mentality when it comes to workers seeking employment. I was told as a kid “to take anything” just to have a job. I believe many people adhere to this thought process whether they’re aware of it or not. I hate to say this: but the focus was not on education – it was on simply finding a job. It is frustrating to remember that the family-wide network never seemed to encourage academic goals/excellence in conjunction with finding meaningful employment. I guess my personal blue-collar world was more about jobs than careers. It’s probably why many people disparage education as a whole as well as the teachers who are trying to provide it.

    Sue: I think you will have a difficult time convincing a staunch conservative of the validity of your statement. If you say enrollment is failing, they may counter you with “so what?” They will think you are engaging in an alarmist sort of hyperbole by fudging your estimates and presenting a worst case scenario in that not enough students are enrolling to fill the gaps. Without evidence, they will rule your statement “false” because they believe you are simply promoting a “liberal agenda.” Again, conservative thought tends to assume that “things will take care of themselves” and that “the market will rectify any issues.” All of this simply translates to “nothing to worry about” for the people making these assumptions.

    But thanks very much for the comments/insights. They are especially important to be read by individuals who are not even considering them to begin with.

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