Dramatic Changes to Wisconsin’s Public School System Resulted in Loss of Experienced Teachers

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 2:00 AM by

Teachers in Wisconsin school districts have less experience that they did a few years ago, according to a new Wisconsin Budget Project analysis released today. Most of the loss of teaching experience occurred between the 2011 and 2012 school years, in the aftermath of dramatic changes that lawmakers made to Wisconsin public schools.

Currently, about 4 out of 10 school districts have a teaching staff with an average of at least 15 years experience. That’s down substantially from the 2010-11 school year, when more than 6 out of 10 districts had teaching staffs with at least 15 years experience. 

Share-of-schools-with-experienced-staffs

Examples of school districts with a decline in the teaching experience of their staff include:

  • Waukesha, in which the average number of years of teaching experience dropped from 16.9 in the 2010-11 school year years to 15.4 years in 2013-14;
  • Eau Claire, in which the average number of years of experience dropped 16.2 to 14.7 years over that period;
  • Tomah, in which the average number of years of teaching experience dropped from 15.7 to 12.4; and
  • Green Bay, in which the average number of years of teaching experience dropped from 13.5 to 11.8.

Lawmakers made a number of changes in 2011 to Wisconsin’s public school system that precipitated the decline in the average number of years of teaching experience, including:

  • Increasing the amount of money that teachers and other public employees are required to contribute to their retirement and other benefit costs;
  • Limiting the ability of unionized public employees, including teachers, to collectively bargain for salary increases; and
  • Dramatically reducing state support for public education, and prohibiting districts from raising property taxes to make up for the loss of resources.

Combined, those changes appear to have encouraged many experienced teachers to leave teaching or to retire. Those changes have likely also contributed to discouraging potential new teachers from entering the profession. Some school districts in Wisconsin are reporting difficulties filling teacher vacancies, citing a decrease in the number of interested applicants. The decline in the number of students in local teacher training programs in Wisconsin will further reduce the number of potential candidates for teaching positions.

The new analysis can be found here: Fewer Teachers, Less Experienced Teachers Mean Challenges for Wisconsin’s Public Schools.

Tamarine Cornelius

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