Teacher Exodus In Wake Of Anti-Union Law In Wisconsin

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September 1, 2011 2:30 a.m.

Today begins a new school year in Wisconsin – but not, as it turns out, for a perhaps record number of public school teachers.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, about double the number of Wisconsin public school teachers have retired this year when compared to the past two years, before Scott Walker’s anti-union law — which stripped away most collective-bargaining rights for public-sector unions, and required greater contributions by public employees for their healthcare and pensions — was ever proposed or much less passed.

“It wouldn’t make sense for me to teach one more year and basically lose $8,000,” said Green Bay teacher Ginny Fleck, age 69, who has 30 years of experience.The retirement request records obtained by the AP show overall public employee retirements have been double that of 2009 or 2010, totaling 9,933 retirements, including 4,935 school district employees, and 1,091 University of Wisconsin System employees.

Many of these positions will be filled, though no comprehensive statistics are available. But the issue does remain that the school systems have spontaneously lost an unusual amount of total experience.

“You can’t get experience through a book, you’ve got to teach,” said Green Bay teacher C.J. Peters, who for her own part has retired after 24 years. “I think a lot of talent has been lost.”

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