Wide range of proposals favored to address teacher shortages and improve the education experience for students include increasing teacher pay, supports for disruptive students, hero pay for educators, and mental health supports for students
Voters have positive views of Connecticut public schools and teachers but recognize the growing crisis facing educators, students, and communities and the need to address it. As Connecticut continues to suffer from a shortage of teachers and staff, a CEA survey released today finds strong support from Connecticut voters for a wide range of proposals to address teacher shortages, including higher pay, more school funding, and additional resources to address student mental health and disruptive student behavior.
Serious issues identified by 85% of voters were teacher shortages (53% very serious) and student mental health and wellness (52% very serious). Eighty-two percent of voters cited stress and burnout as a serious issue for teachers, with 51% indicating it’s a very serious issue.
The survey also found majorities of voters support the following: competitive teacher salaries in line with professions that require comparable education backgrounds, the state’s continued commitment to the teacher retirement fund, improved mentoring for new teachers, college tuition credit for students who pursue and complete teaching degrees, and limits on non-teaching duties and excessive paperwork.
- 90% of voters say teachers’ compensation should be comparable to or higher than professions with similar education and training requirements.
- Nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) say teachers are not paid enough.
- Three-quarters of voters favor the state providing more funding to cities and towns to support teacher salaries.
- 71% of voters believe teachers who worked during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic should receive “hero pay” or other compensation for that work.
- 63% of voters say funding for public schools is not enough to meet schools’ needs.
“Teaching is harder than ever,” said CEA President Kate Dias. “The COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright light on the issues teachers have dealt with for decades—including a lack of support and resources to meet students’ needs, low salaries, and high levels of stress and burnout–all exacerbating the existing problems and leading to record numbers of teachers exiting the profession or retiring earlier than planned.”
Burnout, lack of respect, and inadequate funding to meet students’ needs are all factors driving the teacher shortage, but insufficient pay is one of the primary reasons that fewer people are entering the profession and more are leaving it.
“Too many college students are refusing to enter the teaching profession because of low starting salaries and the opportunity to earn much more in other fields right after graduation,” said Dias. “Plus, while we know teaching is the greatest profession and the one that makes every profession possible, there is a black cloud over public education as attempts to rewrite curriculum, ban books, and threaten educators who teach facts have intensified and turned talented professionals away from the field.”
Connecticut residents understand the importance of having highly trained, experienced teachers in the classroom and the need to appropriately compensate them. According to a CEA member survey released in November, nearly three-quarters of educators (74%) say that compared to a few years ago, they are more likely to leave the profession or retire early. That’s up from 55% of teachers surveyed by the National Education Association in January and 37% of teachers surveyed by CEA in the fall of 2021.
“We have dire staff shortages, and the current crisis is nearing catastrophic proportions as there are not enough educators to teach our students,” stressed Dias. “Something must be done, and quickly.”
Voters support a wide range of solutions to address the teacher shortage and improve recruitment and retention.
- 83% support increasing teacher salaries, with 57% voicing strong support.
- 83% strongly support continuing to meet the state’s commitment to the teacher retirement fund (54% strongly support).
- Nearly 9 in 10 voters support improving mentoring for new teachers (53% strongly support).
- 83% support providing college tuition credit for students who pursue and complete teaching degrees and for teachers who complete master’s degrees (51% strongly support).
- 84% support increasing play-based learning and creativity in kindergarten through third grade (50% strongly support).
“Districts are recognizing they can no longer take educators for granted and must invest to get the best,” said Dias. “Connecticut is now witnessing the detrimental impact of wage stagnation and salary freezes on teachers and their students, and everyone is realizing that more must be done to make the profession attractive.”
Voters strongly support several proposals to improve educational experiences.
- Nearly all (95%) favor supports to address disruptive student behavior, with 66% voicing strong support.
- 89% support ensuring teachers have uninterrupted planning time, with 53% strongly supporting.
- 8 in 10 voters support allowing teachers to incorporate more play-based learning strategies and increasing the minimum amount of time for undirected play and physical activity in kindergarten through third grade, with more than half strongly supporting.
- 84% support increasing resources for English learners and bilingual education, with 46% strongly supporting.
- 84% support providing incentives to school districts to reduce class sizes, with 44% strongly supporting.
Educators have long faced increasing day-to-day demands, including a host of out-of-pocket expenses and non-teaching responsibilities, without pay that would be considered commensurate with their educational attainment, expertise, and contributions.
“Inadequate educator pay comes at a high cost for our students, who must deal with the ramifications of high turnover and teacher shortages, especially in high-needs districts where educator salaries are lowest and turnover is greatest,” Dias noted. “These issues are real. They affect our students. They affect our teachers. They affect our future. We must take action today.”
The survey of 800 Connecticut voters was conducted December 6-11, 2022. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.