Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

As Wisconsin’s 2022-2023 school year begins, Democratic Governor Tony Evers has taken steps to address teacher shortages and expand mental health services in the state’s K-12 public schools.

Districts from northeast Wisconsin, Madison, Milwaukee and beyond have reported struggling to fill staff positions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and a coarsening discourse surrounding educators.

Evers announced this week that the state would surge $90 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to districts across the state. Up to $75 million can be used for hiring additional teachers, with the remainder dedicated to enhancing mental health services in K-12 schools.  

Since Evers was sworn in as Governor in 2019, Wisconsin’s K-12 schools have improved in the national ranking, leaping from 18th in the country to 8th. The former Superintendent of Public Instruction – the state’s version of an ‘Education Secretary’ – is the first Governor to sign a budget funding two-thirds of public education in decades. 

After the Republican legislature shut down for the year in February, Evers’ options for addressing challenges facing the state in the wake of the pandemic are limited. Federal dollars available to Wisconsin under the American Rescue Plan made this latest investment in kids possible.

The American Rescue Plan was signed into law by Democratic President Joe Biden. Wisconsin’s senior Senator, Republican Ron Johnson, voted against the law, as did every single Republican member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation.