Districts struggle with teacher shortage ahead of start of school

The Hartford Public Schools district is just one of many districts that have struggled with teacher shortages.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 11:22 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 6:50 AM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – A massive teacher shortage is gripping both Connecticut and the country.

The Hartford Public Schools district is just one of many districts that have struggled with teacher shortages.

Recently, it hired 15 bilingual teachers from Puerto Rico to try and address the problem.

The capitol city is still trying to fill about 230 teaching vacancies.

Nationwide, there are more than 280,000 fewer public school teachers than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said on top of lack of good pay, some are leaving as classrooms become politicized.

“We are really labelled with mistruths. Things that aren’t real and what’s going on inside classrooms in Connecticut. So that feels sensitive, hurtful, it drives people out of the profession. ‘I am not appreciated, I am not respected,’” Dias said.

It’s not just the capitol city. Schools in New Haven have run into similar issues.

New Haven school and city officials met Tuesday night to discuss how to improve test scores and the classroom experience, but there was a cloud that loomed over the Elm City that teachers said needs attention.

“If we want to address student achievement, we have to first and foremost make sure there is a certified teacher in every classroom. And we have to make sure they have the support so they can do the job they have been hired to do,” said Leslie Blatteau, New Haven Federation of Teachers.

The New Haven Federation of Teachers said there are about 300 open teacher positions in the district.

Even with recent hires, Blatteau said the problem won’t be fixed. Many teachers simply switched districts.

“When we see students in other districts, in New Haven with wealthier population, less students of color and those teachers get paid more than New Haven Public School teachers and other urban districts, that’s a problem the state of Connecticut should absolutely be working to address,” Blatteau said.

As schools enter a new year, teachers said it’s their passion to help our future that keeps them going amid violence, politics, and low wages.

“Certainly, the pandemic thrust us into the frontline of questions about air quality working conditions and compensation and those have not really been unanswered by districts across the state,” Blatteau said.

Schools start next week for some districts. Overall despite the challenges, teachers said they are confident they will once again thrive.

A massive teacher shortage is gripping both Connecticut and the country.
Schools around the state are dealing with a teacher shortage.