Voters support raising taxes to pay teachers more

MILWAUKEE — Wauwatosa School District Superintendent, Dr. Demond Means, said there is a teacher shortage across the country, but it’s more pronounced in Wisconsin.


What You Need To Know

  • In an Exclusive Spectrum News/Siena College Poll, 68% of likely voters in Wisconsin would support a state and local tax increase to pay teachers more
  • 90% of Democrats support a tax increase, 50% of Republicans do
  • The average starting teacher in Wisconsin makes $39,000
  • The average teacher salary in Wisconsin is $66,000

“We don’t have as many young people going into colleges or schools of Ed, colleges of education, and universities and colleges across the state of Wisconsin,” Means said. “That number has decreased. That makes the recruitment of existing teachers even more important and significant.”

One thing that holds a lot of schools back with recruiting and keeping teachers is the salaries they’re able to pay.

“It’s not all money, but money is very important,” Means said.

It’s important enough that the Wauwatosa School Board approved an increase in teacher pay, changing the current salary structure to promise teachers a 3% raise every year until they reach $95,000.

Teachers are also no longer required to submit a portfolio of their work to get that salary bump.

“If you are working in this district from year to year, you shouldn’t have to present a portfolio or some other type of work that demonstrates your worth,” Means said. “The fact that people come here year after year is evidence to me that they’re committed to the children of Wauwatosa.”

This pay increase will cost the district $1.2 million — an increase of about $800,000 every year from what the district was spending.

But, they don’t have enough money to bolster the pay of Educational Assistants.

Something that would help, Means said, is more funding from the state.

According to our Exclusive Spectrum News/Siena College Poll, 68% of likely voters in Wisconsin support a state and local tax increase to help pay teachers.

It’s bipartisan support too; 90% of Democrats, and 50% of Republicans would support that increase.

That’s not a shock to Amy Mizialko, the president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

“Wisconsinites collectively know that investments directly into our children, through their public schools, is good for our students, our families, our communities and our state,” Mizialko said.

Right now, the average starting salary for a new teacher in Wisconsin is $39,000. The average teacher makes about $66,000. Mizialko said it should be more, starting teachers at $60,000, and allowing veteran teachers in a district to make up to $100,000.

It all comes down to getting more funding to schools.

“I think that every day people have to force and lobby and pressure elected officials at all levels, especially federal and state, and they need to get out and vote in November,” Mizialko said.

Spectrum News asked state Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly about the poll results. She said the state has to step up.

“When we talk about opportunity gaps or we talk about achievement gaps, we make those gaps larger when we have to go to referendum because some communities are able to pass it, and some communities are not, so then you have this have and have- not districts,” Underly said. “We need strong teachers in front of all our kids. We need to recruit the best and brightest, and pay and respect our part in that.”

If there is no change in funding to help increase teacher pay, Mizialko said our future generations will suffer.

“That’s not what will happen — it’s what’s happening right now, today in public schools across Wisconsin,” Mizialko said.

She said these poll results show that likely voters in Wisconsin don’t want that to happen.

For a full list of the poll results, click here.

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