HARTFORD, Conn. — Tuesday, education leaders and state legislators gathered at the Legislative Office Building for a call to action to address what they say is a rising wave of stress, burnout, shortages, and teachers leaving the profession.
The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) surveyed over 5,600 K-12 educators last month, finding 72% dissatisfied with their working conditions and seven in 10 experiencing high levels of frustration and burnout.
Leaders and lawmakers call these numbers “shocking” and are now planning to make this a top priority for the upcoming legislative session.
“We need to listen to the voices of our public school teachers here in Connecticut and they are crying out for help,” said state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, (D-West Hartford).
“If we fail to take care of our educators, they will fail to be able to take care of our students,” added CEA president Kate Dias.
She cited the new CEA survey showing 74% of teachers are more likely to leave the profession or retire early, up 100% from fall 2021.
Advocates also say 98% of those surveyed identified stress and burnout as their top issue, while listing increasing staffing shortages, lack of respect for teachers’ mental health, and student behavior as other serious problems.
State leaders are now calling on the legislature to remedy the situation.
“The crisis is bigger, the challenge is greater, but we can solve this problem,” CEA executive director Don Williams said.
Some lawmakers want education reform to be top of the agenda for the upcoming legislative session, but say the response has to be bipartisan.
“We have a full plate and a full charge ahead of us,” said state Rep. Kathleen McCarty (R-Waterford). “But I'm hopeful that we will come together and find the best solutions.”
Some of CEA’s suggested proposals to increase hires include raising educator salaries, incentivizing positions and reevaluating the certification process.
“I'd like to see us turn it around by January, but I think realistically, a three-year is very consequential,” Dias said when asked about a timeline for addressing this situation. “I challenge our legislators to be more ambitious than that, to be more aggressive than that, to be bold.”
McCarty said there haven’t been formal talks between legislative leadership on both sides of the aisle yet, but said she’s confident this will be a priority come January.
She discussed possible pushback though, as there is a budget surplus now, but there could be disagreement in the future on where some of this funding might come from.
Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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