MADISON, Wis. -

Wisconsin's schools superintendent says people can slow a growing shortage of teachers if they stop bad-mouthing them.

Superintendent Tony Evers said during his annual State of Education speech Thursday that fewer people are entering the teaching profession and schools are having a tougher time filling positions in special, bilingual and technical education.

Evers says filling the shortage will take long-term solutions. But people can help by ending what he called "negative rhetoric" about the teaching profession.

He also called for better teacher pay, saying too many districts are going to referendums to bolster their funding. He didn't offer any plans to boost pay, however.

He issued a news release after the speech saying he plans to ask Gov. Scott Walker to increase per pupil aid in the next state budget.