Survey: 74% of Connecticut teachers want to leave profession, up dramatically from last year
As students prepare for a long Thanksgiving weekend, a new survey released Tuesday warned that most Connecticut teachers want to leave the profession due to “burnout,” low pay and “excessive mandates.”
The Connecticut Education Association surveyed 5,656 educators in October. It found that 74% of them want to leave teaching. That’s almost double the figure from a CEA survey just one year ago.
"We're at 74% right now, ladies and gentlemen,” said CEA president Kate Dias. “We cannot afford to hit 100."
Dias warned that fewer teachers means more crowded classrooms. In New Haven, one school is already so understaffed that the district is asking students to transfer to other schools. But the teacher shortage even looms over wealthy districts.
"I was talking to the [CEA] president in Greenwich,” said Dias. “They had 20 resignations in this last month alone."
Although teachers cited low pay, most said "burnout" was driving them away from the classroom – along with juggling too many classes, a lack of preparation time and "excessive" mandates.
"I would be lying if I said that I, myself, wasn't one of those 74% that thought about leaving this profession,” said Kevin Brown, a teacher from Vernon who was just elected to the General Assembly.
Some state lawmakers want to take a fresh look at the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula, as well as teaching requirements.
"It might have to start with certifications – trying to change some of the dynamics in which are required, and then trying to, maybe, lessen some areas,” said state Rep. Anthony Nolan (D-New London).
The state Department of Education is already making changes. Schools now recognize teaching licenses from 11 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. CSDE has also relaxed rules around who can teach certain classes.
“We are acutely aware of the challenges our districts face in both hiring and retaining a high quality and diverse educator workforce,” the department said in a statement. “We look forward to working with each member of the legislature, CEA, and AFT [American Federation of Teachers] to provide additional supports and solutions through legislation and policy changes to further supplement the work already being done.”
CSDE has also stepped up recruiting efforts:
The NextGen Educators Initiative was rolled out in November of 2020 to provide districts with immediate access to new talent while allowing college students to gain classroom experience working alongside trained and certified educators. This program is designed to bring highly motivated college students seeking education degrees into Connecticut’s classrooms today. NextGen has been in effect for over a year and has yielded over 150+ placements in school districts. Students gain experiential learning and are compensated while districts gain a part-time employee and potential recruit.
The Educators Rising Initiative introduces high school students early on to careers in education and diversifies pipelines to the state’s teacher workforce. Research shows that pre-college engagement that includes supplemental support, financial incentives, and targeted exposure for young, prospective teachers allows districts to invest in current students of color while also cultivating future educators. This past week, 160 new students participated in the educator’s rising initiative.
To lure talent to the state's poorest performing districts – including Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk – teachers can now refinance up to $25,000 of their student loans at super-low interest rates.
But will it all be enough to keep the “great resignation” out of the classroom – and prevent inflation from hitting class sizes?
"You start to see things like, 'Well, we'll have study hall in the cafeteria, and we'll put two adults with 500 children,'" said Dias.