CT Teacher Shortage Worsens As School Year Ends
Friday, June 2, 2023
As the school year ends, Connecticut's teacher shortage seems to have only worsened.
In March, school districts across the state reported having 2,600 vacancies for teachers and paraeducators, leading to increased class sizes, which causes educators to get burned out more quickly.
A 2022 survey from the Connecticut Education Association found 74% of educators are more likely to leave the profession or retire early.
Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association, noted a problem once affecting higher-need districts is afflicting every district in the state.
"The vacancies are now leading to school closures, and that's where we are seeing sort of an uptick in, 'Well, we can't actually staff our school today,'" Dias observed. "That's a real problem that I don't see getting better without a significant intervention."
Long-term state-level solutions include apprenticeship programs established by the state's Department of Education and Gov. Ned Lamont.
Dias argued barriers to becoming a teacher in the state need to be removed and wages need to be raised for teachers. A 2023 survey showed 65% of voters in the state feel teachers are not paid enough.
One challenge Dias emphasized is making sure funding is spent in the right place to bring about much-needed changes. She noted providing aspiring teachers with some kind of incentive could help alleviate the shortage.
"To solve the problem today is about how do we attract people to this profession, career changers? How do we convince people that this is a really viable and important profession?" Dias asked. "Come here and work. So, it's attracting people from out of state and attracting second-career educators."
She added the state needs to utilize a workforce shift to its benefit in hiring teachers. Other factors leading to a decline in teachers include high college costs. A 2019 Center for American Progress report found growing costs caused enrollment in teacher programs to drop by more than a third between 2010 and 2018.
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