Wisconsin schools suffering substitute teacher shortage - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Wisconsin schools suffering substitute teacher shortage

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Bangor, WI (WXOW) -

Recent legislation in Wisconsin now allows those with an associate's or bachelor's degree to become temporarily licensed to teach, regardless of field of study. Wisconsin is currently experiencing a shortage, particularly in substitute teachers.

Those interested in becoming a substitute teacher can attend a seminar at the end of April. It's held in West Salem, but encouraged for anyone across the region.

School districts like those in Bangor experience the effects of the substitute teacher shortage first hand.

"I mean we used to get 40 to 50 applicants and the last couple positions we've filled, we were down to under 10," said Bangor Middle and High School Principal Don Addington.

The problem stems from a general shortage in teaching state-wide. Addington argues that the profession has become more politicized and less appealing to young people in the last decade.

"It just seems that there's a perception that there's a lower priority on K-12 funding and K-12 education in Wisconsin as opposed to some other states," Addington said.

The principal said in their community, sometimes finding enough people to cover classes is a daily struggle.

"We actually bargain back and forth between our elementary school and the middle/high school too, because if we have have subs in the building and they happen to be short and can't find [any], sometimes we'll share."

Susan Adams teaches science at Bangor. Her students were learning conservation of mass through a hands-on activity.

"Right now, my students are doing a lab and I needed prep time to get that ready for them," Adams said.

Adams is often called on when a substitute isn't available. That sometimes means foregoing the prep work for her own classes.

"...or else I have to stay after school or come before school, take more homework home to grade. It's just is harder to get my work done, too."

Some steps have been taken to address the shortage, like opening the pathway to a temporary license without an education-specific degree, but that comes with it's own challenges.

"That will help the shortage, but I don't think that will really do much to increase the quality of the candidates that we get," Addington said.

Another issue working against them is salary. The average median nationally for a substitute teacher is only about $13 an hour. Many college graduates used to apply for substitute jobs as a way to gain entry into the field but financial responsibilities following graduation combined with the smaller wages has made that less appealing.

The seminar in West Salem is on April 26th and 27th at CESA 4. You can register if you have an associate's or bachelor's degree, it does not have to be education-related, it can be any field of study. 

The seminar requires registration and a $250 fee, more information on that can be found on CESA 4's website. 

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