Solutions Needed Now to Address Educator Workload, Stress
Educators are at a breaking point. There’s no time to waste in forming solutions.
By Peggy Wirtz-Olsen, President
Wisconsin Education Association Council
Going into a New Year, Wisconsin teachers and school support staff continue to do everything we possibly can so students are successful, supported and safe.
COVID cases are growing, and so is Wisconsin’s teacher shortage. To keep students learning and schools open in 2022, Wisconsin needs a solution. There’s no time to waste.
Wisconsin students need more support than ever before, but there are not enough of us. Ask any educator, in any school district. Our workload has dramatically increased since the pandemic began as we combine classes, work without preparation time and fill in for other grades and courses.
We are at a breaking point: our students need so much, but there are not enough educators or resources to meet their needs. Impossible demands are driving great educators out of the profession.
Given the stress and exhaustion educators are experiencing, there’s no time to waste in forming solutions. Some relief for the education workforce is on its way as districts receive federal Elementary and Secondary School Act relief funding, along with an additional $110 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds directed to schools by Governor Evers.
It’s critical that educators be at the table in how that money is spent locally, directing it toward hiring and retaining staff so students have enough teachers to get them through this difficult time. Ask your school district what kind of voice educators have in these decisions.
In the long-term, the solution lies in state school funding that meets the needs of students and a change in state law that makes it legal again for teachers to negotiate with our employers on issues of safety, pay and school conditions.
Let’s make this a year when we unite around the promise of a quality public education for every child. Let’s commit, together, to the potential of each student in 2022 and beyond.
Peggy Wirtz-Olsen is an English and art teacher serving as president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest educator association.