Wisconsin Democratic Representative Wants More School Funding in Back-to-School Teacher Shortages

by Benjamin Yount


One of Wisconsin’s outgoing lawmakers is using the back-to-school rush to push lawmakers to pay teachers more.

Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, on Wednesday released his final back-to-school op-ed in which he says lawmakers must do more.

“Education is the foundation upon which Wisconsin can solve any issue that confronts us. We need a well-educated workforce, whether that education is in science, liberal arts, or the trades,” Hebl wrote. “We have to adequately invest in our schools if we are to maintain a high-quality public school system.”

His comments come as schools across Wisconsin claim they’re in the midst of a teacher shortage.

Milwaukee Public School leaders on Tuesday said they are 230 teachers short for the new school year. Madison Metropolitan School leaders said last month they have more than 100 openings, and school districts as small as Manitowoc say they are resorting to signing bonuses to try and fill their open slots.

“If we consistently underfund our schools, qualified teachers will find other fields of employment, valuable educational programming will be eliminated, the quality of education will eventually suffer, and our children and our economy will pay the price,” Hebl added.

But Wisconsin schools have seen a record amount of money over the past two years.

The federal government has sent Wisconsin $2.4 billion in coronavirus stimulus money since the outbreak began in 2020. Governor Evers also spent millions from his coronavirus stimulus stash on public schools.

Many school districts across the state this spring approved state-maximum raises for the teachers heading into the new school year.

School boards in Milwaukee, West Allis-West Milwaukee schools, Kenosha, Oshkosh, Green Bay, and Eau Claire have all agreed to give their teachers 4.7% raises, the maximum allowed by Wisconsin’s Act-10 law.

Hebl did not mention that in his column.

Wisconsin is not alone in teacher shortages in certain subjects such as mathematics, science, and special education as older teachers leave or retire.

School starts for most kids in Wisconsin in the first week of September.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square. 




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