“We have teachers here in Connecticut who are starting the school year being told they need to teach extra classes. ‘I need you to be a teacher and a quarter, a teacher and a half.’ We have class sizes that are larger than desirable,” CEA President Kate Dias told Brian Shactman on WTIC 1080’s Brian and Company show yesterday.
It was only her latest media appearance calling attention to the need to remedy the teacher shortage that is affecting schools here in Connecticut and around the country. Earlier this week, she also discussed the issue on Eyewitness News 3 and News 8.
She told Shactman that the pandemic only worsened a perfect storm of issues that have been brewing for decades, including poor indoor air quality, insufficient facility maintenance, salaries that aren’t commensurate with teachers’ education or experience, and a lack of respect.
To address the teacher shortage, Dias said, will take a combination of actions that can be taken in the short term such as certification and pension fixes and pandemic pay as well as long-term solutions such as improving teacher salaries.
“One of the things we’re looking for at CEA is—essential workers have been given pandemic bonuses, and teachers have been specifically excluded from those,” she said. “So we’re going back to the legislature and having specific conversations about, what does pandemic credit look like for teachers.”
She continued, “We’ve received a lot of pats on the back, but no action. That really has to be addressed.”
While Dias brings attention to the teacher shortage here in Connecticut, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made several media appearances this week to discuss the issue on the national stage.
“We’re at the doorsteps of a crisis,” he told CNN Wednesday.
In an appearance on CBS Mornings, he said, “If we’re serious about addressing the teacher shortage issue, we must address the teacher respect issue. That means providing competitive salaries, that means improving working conditions for teachers across the country.”
He continued, “We have teachers with master’s degrees across the nation who have to drive Ubers on the weekend to make ends meet. That’s unacceptable.”