Students celebrate the last day of school as the end of homework and the start of summer. But for many teachers across Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on public employees are still in full swing, the end of this school year may also be the beginning of an early retirement.
More than 130 teachers in Madison and its surrounding counties will be retiring this June–a retirement rate that’s 62 percent higher than the average from the past five years. Of course, it’s not just teachers who find their retirement on the line. The number of Wisconsin public employees that have filed for retirement in 2011 is up nearly 80 percent over the same period last year.
Why the sudden increase? You guessed it, Gov. Scott Walker and his friends in the state legislature.
With drastic changes to their retirement benefits and collective bargaining rights on the horizon, teachers—like other public employees—are being forced to retire early just to ensure a secure retirement for themselves and their families.
And they’re not the only ones who will pay the price for Gov. Walker’s attacks on unions. A high retirement rate could spell trouble for students and the schools they attend, as districts foresee having to replace veteran teachers with inexperienced or part-time instructors.
The number of teachers retiring in Madison alone should be a warning sign that Gov. Walker’s unionbusting policies aren’t what’s best for workers, students, or the state.
If Walker were truly committed to educating the next generation, he’d recognize that giving teachers a voice on the job and a secure retirement is the only way to keep good teachers in the classroom—and the best way to invest in Wisconsin’s students.
Photo by Rob Chandanais, courtesy of SEIU.