Two days before the April 1 teacher retirement notification deadline in Milwaukee Public Schools, Karen Scharrer-Erickson drove to the district's human resources office on her lunch break.
The teacher of 43 years entered the room. Then she burst into tears.
"I am totally not ready," Scharrer-Erickson, a literacy coach at the Academy of Accelerated Learning, said this week. "I never thought about retiring until the (Gov.) Scott Walker situation, because this school is so special and I am working with the most incredibly caring teachers I have ever known."
At a time when the governor's plan to eliminate most collective bargaining for teachers and increase state employees' payments for health care and pension costs looms overhead, some school districts are seeing record numbers of senior teachers such as Scharrer-Erickson turn in their retirement paperwork.
Some districts, such as Oshkosh, Appleton and Madison, have extended their retirement deadlines to Friday. Preliminary figures reported by Oshkosh and Appleton showed a large increase in the number of teachers filing retirement paperwork. Oshkosh's 37 staff retirements is double last year's number and the highest since the district started tracking in 1994. Appleton already had seen 70 retirements from teachers and others in their bargaining group this week, up 29 from last year.
Mequon-Thiensville's retirements just about tripled from last year: 28 teachers by the Feb. 14 deadline vs. 10 last year. Green Bay also saw three times as many retirements this year compared with last: 140 teachers and 15 administrators, according to a spokeswoman.
"The amount of experience and expertise that walks out the door with these retirements is going to be impossible to replace,"
In Milwaukee Public Schools, Scharrer-Erickson is one of 207 teachers who have filed paperwork to retire with full benefits, according to the district. That's about double the teacher retirements the district recorded in the summer of 2010, but not the exodus some people had predicted.
In the Mukwonago School District, where officials declined to extend the teaching contract to keep those guarantees in place, 40 teachers have submitted their retirement requests this year - at least double what Prairie View Elementary School music teacher Jan Rolfe said she has seen in her nearly three decades with the district.
She's leaving sooner than she expected because she fears what would happen to her retirement plans if she stayed. But she also fears what will happen to the schools in her district when she and the other teachers leave.
"We're the teachers that these parents have been waiting for their kids to have," she said. "We're the teachers that their brothers and sisters have had. We're the teachers that mentor the newer teachers. And we're all going to be gone."
But it's all about the kids right??????????????????????
Governor Walker in Washington DC
"Just how much did weakening government workers' collective bargaining rights save the state of Wisconsin? demanded Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.
"That particular part doesn't save any," Walker replied. Earlier in his testimony, he told the committee the changes would save local governments in Wisconsin more than $700 million a year."
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the District of Columbia, asked Walker whether he's met with union representatives since the bill passed. Walker said no, but a member of his administration has.
Norton suggested Walker should take a lesson on civility from Congress, of all places. Though she often disagrees with Issa, for example, "I have always felt that this was somebody I could talk with and we could have a civil conversation."
In your shoes, she told Walker, "I would want to take the high road."
And it is not about busting unions either is it????????????