Teacher Supply on a Decline

Teacher applications to schools have gone down tremendously in the past years


In Wisconsin and throughout the nation, teacher preparation program enrollment has decreased, and that impacts teacher supply. According to the74million.org, 340,000 fewer students entered the teaching preparation program in 2016-17 than in 2008-09. 

Retirement and high demand in other workplaces are both reasons for fewer teachers, and that decrease in available teachers affects Jackson County. 

“In the early 2000s, we would often get 75 applications for an elementary opening.  Currently, we are excited to get 25 applicants.  The great news is that we have hired some phenomenal teachers from the candidate pools,” Superintendent Shelly Severson said.

The substitute pool has also shrunk at a time when subs may have to handle more than one class at a time.  COVID-19 has also been a factor.

“We had some substitutes decide not to sub for us this year because they were concerned about exposure to COVID-19.  We had one teacher that chose to retire due to this as well,” Severson said. 

In 2011, the State of Wisconsin passed Act 10, which decreased teacher budgets and salary. People are always looking for very high-paying jobs, and teaching is not on that list. Act 10 harmed the teacher workforce with the decrease in pay.

“The Wisconsin Legislature passed a large series of laws that broke up what used to be a really strong teachers union. It angered a lot of teachers, but it also created a lot of tools for school districts to save a lot of money and to be able to do things that they hadn’t before,” Principal Tom Chambers said. 

In the music department, BRFHS was notified last July that the choir teacher had found a job closer to home. 

“She was young, fresh out of college, she took a job here working here for several years, was commuting from New Lisbon, got married and pregnant. A position for a choir teacher opened up at the high school in her hometown. She applied and got the job, so now we had an opening for choir. In July we opened it up, and we got no applicants. So, we ended up having to start the year without a teacher,” Chambers said. 

Beginning with trimester three, the choir classes were brought back when a teacher was hired to replace her. 

Despite lower teacher training program enrollment, some people still want to be teachers. 

I wanted to be a teacher because I love helping people understand things, and I have a lot of patience. Both are necessary for teaching. I chose to teach high school because my teen/early adult years were tough for me, and I want to help other teens get through what can sometimes be a difficult part of life,” math teacher Atlanta Stanton said. 

Stanton applied at many different schools.

I chose to work here in BRF because I wanted to be as close to home as possible–only 15 minutes! I have only ever heard good things about the staff. Specifically, I had met Dr. Severson at a presentation for another school, and I was blown away by her enthusiasm and dedication, and I knew I would love working where she worked,” Stanton said.