For a long time, teachers have been blamed for the shortcomings of public education.

Teachers have been villainized and given many new hoops to jump through. Is it any wonder that a shortage of teachers exists?

Some teachers have left Wisconsin for Minnesota. Other teachers have left the profession. College students are choosing careers other than education.

Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction in Wisconsin, spoke at the Wisconsin Public Education Network Summit in Wauwatosa about the teacher shortage. Hundreds of Wisconsin supporters of public education attended the second annual Summit.

Evers said about the teacher shortage: “I think it’s about money. I think teachers are underpaid. And second of all, the kind of dysfunctional dialogue we have about public schools, where it always seems to turn to the teachers as the villains here. That’s a national issue, but I think it’s amplified here in Wisconsin.”

Voters continue to support public education. Local districts across the state are passing referenda to pay for school programs and services.

However, poorer districts cannot afford to continue passing referenda. As a result public education in Wisconsin is becoming a system of “haves” and “have nots.”

Tony Evers said the Department of Public Instruction will ask the governor in the next state budget to provide equitable distribution of state aid for schools.

Teacher shortages are a big problem in some districts in Western and Northern Wisconsin. Evers is seeking new ways to attract more teachers to these areas.

The Department of Public Instruction already is making it easier for retired teachers to receive a license to teach for 5 years. Prospective teachers also are being helped to become certified.

Public education is the foundation of democracy and a strong economy and high quality of life. All of us have benefited from public education and we need to continue to strengthen public schools for all children. Every child deserves a good school.