Educators propose possible solutions to tackle Connecticut’s teacher shortage

Legislation to raise teacher salaries
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 2:44 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut has a teacher shortage, and educators are proposing possible solutions.

One is to pay teachers more.

The average salary is $47,000 a year. They want to raise it to $60,000.

The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) said salaries and working conditions are making it hard to retain and recruit new teachers.

At the start of this year there were 1,200 vacant positions across the state.

“What we are finding is this is an ongoing problem. Teachers are leaving mid-year. Some teachers are leaving in the middle of a day. So just understand the pressure these teachers are facing is really intense,” said Kate Dias, CEA President.

“We just want to be heard, we just want to be appreciated,” said Gale Jorden, a Bloomfield teacher.

Jorden supports raising teachers’ salaries and providing more resources.

“What we are finding is this is an on-going problem. Teachers are leaving mid-year. Some teachers are leaving in the middle of a day,” said Dias.

“That’s a big factor because I didn’t have a lot of money up front,” said Olivia DeLoach.

DeLoach will graduate this May from Mitchell College. She wants to be a teacher but is concerned about pay and large class sizes.

Another proposal is to raise the minimum age for kindergarten. Only a few states allow 4-year-olds. One report shows Connecticut has the youngest start age in the country.

“Our kindergarten teachers have really said the age doesn’t reflect where kids are socially and emotionally and developmentally at,” said Dias.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, however, said any legislation to raise the minimum age should: “….not take effect until Connecticut has moved to universal pre-K, which requires thoughtful collaboration with our federal partners.”

They all agree something must be done to protect education.

“It’s just an incredible amount of stress placed on all our teachers. Elementary to middle to high. They are all teaching extra courses,” said Kevin Egan, a Waterbury teacher.

While there is a shortage of teachers across the state, urban schools have the most vacancies.

Another issue that was raised Wednesday is extra pay during the pandemic. Teachers were not eligible for hero pay because they are municipal workers, but they feel they should have been part of that.