HARTFORD, Conn. — Educators are calling on the state legislature to pass new measures they say will end Connecticut’s teacher shortage and improve schools.
Advocates and lawmakers behind these bills say right now Connecticut has an “education crisis,” but at the same time, also has the resources to solve it.
Those resources are money in the state budget they want to go toward improving teacher recruitment and retention.
“Teachers are leaving mid-year some teachers are leaving in the middle of the day,” said Connecticut Education Association (CEA) president Kate Dias.
She and other teachers painted a grim picture Wednesday of the current state of education in Connecticut.
“My brother who works in finance has a yearly bonus greater than my salary,” Michael McCotter, an educator from Torrington said.
“It took a toll on me mentally, never mind just physically,” added Gale Jordan of Bloomfield.
Teachers, advocates and lawmakers are urging the state legislature to pass two measures they believe will reverse the current teacher shortage and address recruitment and retention issues.
“It's really hard to look past such a large factor such as a salary in your career choice,” said Mitchell College senior Olivia DeLoach, who’s studying to become a teacher.
The two proposals would increase teacher pay by implementing a statewide minimum salary, provide pandemic pay pension benefits, raise the starting age for kindergarten from four to five, implement uninterrupted prep time, create an “Educator Bill of Rights,” and more.
“We've been so eager to support our teachers because we know supporting them is the most important thing we can do to support our children,” state Rep. Jennifer Leeper, (D-Fairfield) said.
Lawmakers on the Education Committee hearing public comment on these two bills Wednesday, with more than 600 teachers submitting written testimony.
“Now we have to get it across the goal line, passed and secure the future of our educators, our schools, and the future of our children,” CEA’s executive director Don Williams continued.
The next step for these measures is a committee vote in the coming weeks.
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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