Teachers deal with pandemic stress

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GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) — The new school year may have just begun, but teachers continue to deal with the added stress and responsibilities of the pandemic.

The state hopes it can alleviate some of these additional stressors, using federal funding. But Republicans say that’s the wrong approach.

According to a Rand Corporation report, American teachers and principals suffer from chronic work-related stress at twice the rate of the general population of working adults.

“At the end of the day, we really have to consider how much people are paid,” said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

About a third of teachers interviewed for the survey who took on extra work said it caused them stress or frustration, in part related to salary.

“Part of it is the respect they get as professionals doing their best every day to make sure kids are learning,” Evers said.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Institution, the average teacher salary in the Appleton School District was $58,331 during the 2020-2021 school year. The Green Bay District average was $57,624.

“There is a moment when a young person asks himself: ‘Am I going to choose this career or this career?’ Obviously both are rewarding, but one pays way more, so that’s where they’re going,” Evers said.

“One of the things that I hope we can address in the next session is to raise the minimum wage for every teacher in Wisconsin,” said state Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay.

The 4th District Republican agrees that good teachers deserve more money. But he says Evers’ $90 million investment isn’t the solution.

“If any people in Wisconsin still have any doubts or misunderstandings about why we have runaway inflation, it’s because of this,” Steffen said.

The $90 million comes from the US federal bailout. The governor’s office says it will amount to nearly $100 in funding per student.

Of the federal funds, $75 million will go towards hiring more staff and addressing other issues caused by rising costs. The remaining $15 million will go to mental health services.

“It’s disgusting to have this kind of federal government spending through our governor’s office,” Steffen said.

“Going forward, we must continue to invest in our schools,” Evers said. “That’s the bottom line. Money isn’t everything, but it certainly makes a difference.

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