How educator burnout and stress is playing out in Minnesota schools

A group of people stand holding signs.
On Feb. 23, educators with the Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers unions filed a formal notification of intent to strike at the state's Bureau of Mediation Services. Educators in both cities could strike March 8 if they don't reach contract agreements with the districts.
Ben Hovland | Sahan Journal

Many teachers say the last two years have been the most stressful of their careers. First there was the instantaneous pivot to distance learning. Then came the prolonged uncertainty, political fights over public health measures and heightened tension around how to address racial inequalities.

The isolation of the pandemic also left many students with increased mental health needs and rusty social skills, adding another layer of challenge to already overwhelmed teachers and school staff. 

Some burned out educators are leaving and others are doubling down, reluctant to abandon their students.

In this context, Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers unions have each filed an intent to strike as soon as March 8 — unless they reach an agreement with their districts. 

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with teachers and school staff from around Minnesota about the strain of the past two years. 

Guests:

  • Norma Garcés is executive director of Academia Cesar Chavez School, a K-8 charter school in St. Paul. She is a 2019 Bush Fellow and was previously director of a charter school Minneapolis and a teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. 

  • Natalia Benjamin is an English language and ethnic studies teacher at Century High School in Rochester and was selected as Minnesota Teacher of the Year for 2021.

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Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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