More than half of educators nationwide facing burnout, and La Crosse schools no exception

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A National Education Association poll finds more than half of teachers are considering quitting, and the pool of future educators could be getting smaller.

We’re seeing these struggles unfold here in La Crosse.

“There are more demands put on these kids every day, every year. And there are more demands put on these teachers every year,” said John Havlicek, a La Crosse teacher who is president of the region’s teacher’s association.

Many educators are feeling disrespected, misrepresented and burnt out. Havlicek said.

“I don’t think we can pin it on one thing… it’s a lot of different issues colliding… I think the pandemic elevated a lot of these,” said Matt Johnson, interim executive director for Viterbo University in La Crosse. “People are starting to listen now.”

These problems with education aren’t new.

“We have really a chronic defunding of public education, and we have for 20 years,” Havlicek said.

Before, those jobs weren’t hard to fill. But today, positions stay open as the school years begin.

“We have jobs that go unfilled to start the school year,” Havlicek said, adding that several colleagues have expressed the desire to quit since then.

At UW-La Crosse, undergraduate enrollment in the education department is the lowest it has been since 2016.

Johnson is seeing a similar trend at Viterbo, but he’s also seeing a silver lining, noting a rise in alternative education programming at the university.

“I might say is a little bit down, but I don’t think it’s anything alarming,” Johnson said.

Havlicek agrees — the situation isn’t hopeless, but it will take some work.

“You can break things very easily. It’s a lot harder to build, or rebuild, or repair them,” Havlicek said. “If we start now, it’s gonna take 10 years.”

Havlicek tells me that he believes things will improve for teachers as the pandemic eases and new doors will open for solutions. Proper government funding, he said, would go a long way.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers introduced another solution for educators this week.

His proposal calls for spending $1 million on Teacher Training and Recruitment Grant Programs.

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