CT Educators Stretched Thin in Teacher Shortage
Wednesday, August 24, 2022
A new report confirms Connecticut isn't the only state where school districts are scrambling to cover a shortage of teachers and other school professionals.
The American Federation of Teachers report "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?" says even before the pandemic, almost 300,000 teachers were leaving the profession.
In the New Haven School District, Leslie Blatteau, president of the local AFT chapter, said the ongoing cycle of teachers needing to cover those vacancies had led to faster burnout and sagging morale. She predicted that the upcoming school year won't be easy on educators.
"Most likely in some schools, it's going to be some of my colleagues stepping up and working to provide the coverage," she said. "We're going to push for compensation for those teachers who are giving that extra time, because we want to send a message that teachers' time is important, and there is a fixed amount of hours in the day."
Blatteau said teachers' planning periods often are the first thing eliminated in staffing shortages, leaving them less time to handle their responsibilities. According to the Connecticut Department of Education, there are current statewide shortages of certified educators in eight key areas -- from math, science and languages to school psychologists.
The AFT report made recommendations to remedy the shortages, including improving the teacher-to-school-staff pipeline. It also suggested better funding for teacher preparation and professional development, and encouraging partnerships between school districts and teacher colleges.
Blatteau said she feels the issue isn't only about getting more teachers hired - but retaining them from year to year.
"We need to make sure that people who are choosing to become teachers, especially in our urban districts, are getting all of the support and that obstacles are being removed," she said. "Because we want to send a clear message to them - we need you, we want to partner with you and we believe you are important, so we're going to do the things that it takes to keep you in the profession."
At the end of the last school year, all full-time New Haven school employees received a $1,000 retention bonus, which the district said will be made available again in January. Blatteau said the money is appreciated, but thinks more intentional investment would be more helpful in the long run.
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