Initiatives announced to tackle state teacher shortage

Teacher talent pool programs seek to help shortage
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 4:44 AM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 12:17 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - State education and labor officials announced more initiatives to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

Gov. Ned Lamont participated in a news conference at the Grasso-Fauliso State Office Building in Hartford at 11 a.m. on Tuesday:

Gov. Ned Lamont and the state education and labor commissioners unveiled a proposal on May 16 to both hire and keep teachers in Connecticut.

Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker and Labor Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo were also there.

The initiatives announced on Tuesday will support the creation of a new teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program, provide more investment to create paraeducator fairs, and expand existing high school “grow-your-own” programs, which recruit and train teachers from within communities where they live and work, according to officials.

“Connecticut has the best educators in the nation and they are the backbone of our education system,” Lamont said. “While we have made some gains recently in teacher hiring, there remains a shortage in many school districts, and it is critically important that we maintain the talent pipeline necessary to address these challenges. The most important education reform is a great teacher in the classroom, and our administration remains committed to fully funding our education system.”

Back in March, an initial round of initiatives was announced. They included a new educator evaluation and additional support for staff.

Most educators are pushing for increased pay.

Data from the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research showed more than 1,300 teacher vacancies and more than 1,300 paraprofessional positions that need to be filled.

Lamont said the new $3 million initiative, led by the Connecticut State Department of Education and the Connecticut Department of Labor, will double the number of high schools offering programs for aspiring educators and help expand educator diversity. The agencies will also launch a statewide campaign to attract more paraeducators to the classroom, including expanding paraeducator test sites, test preparation programs, job fairs, and recruitment events held in collaboration with the American Job Centers.

The governor said the collaboration will:

  • Create two pilot programs statewide to launch the teacher apprenticeship program, which is designed to reduce financial barriers to becoming an educator. The state will support the pilot districts to create a template to expand the program across Connecticut. The teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program will build off the state’s current teacher residency programs and NextGen Educator program.
  • Provide seed funding to an additional 18 school districts across the state that are interested in starting an Educators Rising “grow-your-own” high school program, which exposes students to careers in education and feeds into teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education. Currently, 15 school districts offer the Educators Rising program.
  • Fund a joint Connecticut Department of Labor and Connecticut State Department of Education recruitment campaign to attract more educators and paraeducators to the profession to fill approximately 1,300 job openings statewide. Job fairs will include information about current openings, job requirements, paraeducator test requirements, test preparation assistance, and resume writing and coaching. In addition, resources will be dedicated to expanding paraeducator test sites, subsidizing test preparation programs, and the cost of taking the exams.

Lamont said overall, staffing levels increased 4 percent between the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 school years. That represented an increase of more than 4,000 full-time equivalent staff in schools and districts across the state. The percentage of educators of color working in schools has increased to 11.2 percent in 2022-23, up from 8.3 percent in 2015-2016, adding 1,649 new diverse educators.

Isaias Rodriguez Sanchez is a high school sophomore in New Britain.  A teacher made a lasting impression in his life, and he wants to make a difference for someone else.

“Ever since I was in 8th grade I was inspired by my teacher Mr. Hemmy and I saw that I love to help people,” he said.

More information about the apprenticeship program can be found here.

State leaders announced new initiatives to address Connecticut's school staffing crisis.
Connecticut’s governor planned a press conference on Tuesday morning to unveil initiatives to improve teacher recruitment and retention.
The next round of initiatives will be announced later this morning, and most educators are pushing for increased pay.