Dunn County’s future depends on how we treat our public-school teachers and staff today | WisCommunity

Dunn County’s future depends on how we treat our public-school teachers and staff today

March 29, 2022 - 10:49am
Abe Smith
Abe Smith

Letter to the Editor - Abe Smith

Teacher burnout is the number one problem facing schools across the country. The last two years have been tough for all working families, and our teachers and staff have been particularly overworked and demoralized, with the whole weight of the community on their shoulders.

The situation is particularly dire for the paraprofessional and special-education staff. These staff are the key to personalized student success, but their pay and promotion scale can be worse than many entry-level retail jobs. We are expecting these staff to rescue kids from precarious situations, while we keep these staff in precarity themselves.

Across the state, experienced teachers and staff are leaving. Many key roles are handled by only one person, with no backup. New teachers and staff burn up even faster, being thrown into stressful situations without sufficient support. We can’t keep going like this.

Now is the time for our community to step up and act on our shared values. We must ensure that current expert teachers and staff see a chance for growth and influence. We must ensure that young teachers and staff see Dunn County as a place where they want to build a stable long-term career.  We need professional teachers to say “Yes, this is where I want to work. This is where I want to buy a house. This is where I want to live. This is where I want my own kids to go to school.”

This means providing good pay and regular promotion opportunities. This means stabilizing workload and setting predictable schedules. This means improving benefits at affordable rates.

Most of all, this means setting a culture of professional respect, where teachers and staff are confident that they can discuss problems openly—and try ideas collaboratively—without fear of retribution. This means working as a team of peers, seeking the direct advice and guidance of teachers and staff on tough decisions. It definitely means that we never place bureaucratic burdens on teachers that would take away from their preparation time or distract them from the kids in the classroom.

Across Wisconsin, teachers need our support on April 5.

-Abe Smith, Town of Menomonie, Dunn County, WI

Abraham Smith is currently running as a candidate for the board of the School District of the Menomonie Area.

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