WEAC’s Broad Interpretation of “Educator Layoffs”

Two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Education Association Council issued a press release stating, in part:

The fact is, the governor’s numbers don’t add up. Consider:

FACT: 97 percent of school districts received less state aid this year than last, resulting in nearly 4,000 educator layoffs and larger class sizes.

PolitiFact Wisconsin decided to take a look at that claim, and discovered WEAC’s definition of “educator” includes everyone who works for a school district, and “layoffs” include retirements, contract non-renewals, people who left of their own volition, and extrapolations.

The source upon which the claim was based, a survey of school superintendents, yielded the following table:

That’s 1,428 total layoffs, of which 678 were teachers. Wisconsin has more than 58,000 K-12 teachers. You’ll also notice that among teachers there were significantly more new hires than retirements – enough that they covered all but 223 of the layoffs as well. The teachers who suffered the most were the non-tenured, non-renewed teachers, who, by definition, were hired in the last three years. During that period, statewide enrollment declined by about 2,400 students.

PolitiFact rated the union’s claim “False.”