The legislature’s Education Committee is considering landmark legislation on issues of vital importance to students and teachers at its next public hearing Wednesday, March 15—now is the time to speak up!
House Bill 6884, An Act Concerning the Recruitment, Retention, and Enhancement of the Teaching Profession, contains nearly all of CEA’s top priorities for the legislative session and could have resounding impacts on you, your students, and our profession. This landmark piece of legislation includes proposals on vital items like:
- Statewide Minimum Teacher Salary – Establishes a minimum teacher salary of four times the federal poverty level for an individual (currently $58,320).
- COVID Pension Benefit Enhancement – As we understand it right now, for educators who worked through the pandemic (2019-20 and 2020-21 school years), depending on their age at retirement, the number of years of retirement credit, and the retirement date, the proposed COVID pension benefit bonus will increase their annual pension for life. Here is an example of how we believe it would work for a teacher retiring in 2026 at age 60 or older with 30 full-time years of Connecticut service and a final average salary of $90,000. Under current law, the teacher would receive 2% x 30 years=60% x $90,000 = an annual pension of $54,000. Under HB 6884, that same teacher could receive an increase of 25% of the 2% multiplier (i.e., 2.5%) for each of the two COVID years. So, the benefit would be:
2% x 28 years x 90,000 = 50,400
2.5% x 2 x 90,000= 4,500
Total pension = 54,900/year, an increase of $900 per year
Again, this is a “normal retirement” example and does not reflect teachers with part-time years, those who have purchased service, or other circumstances outside of “normal retirement.” The amount of the increase for each educator is dependent on individual factors. Moreover, the bill may be amended before it passes, so it is prudent to wait until the final language is adopted to make any retirement decisions. More information regarding the calculation is forthcoming from legislators, and CEA will share it as soon as it is available. See Section 3, beginning on page two of the bill.
- Teacher Tax Credit – $500 refundable income tax credit for teachers with an Initial Certificate.
- Ending edTPA – Eliminates the edTPA standardized portfolio system for aspiring educators effective July 1, 2025.
- Raising the Kindergarten Start Age – Requires that children starting kindergarten are at least five years old as of Sept. 1 of the school year (rather than Jan. 1).
- Play-Based Learning – Requires play-based learning to be incorporated in preK and kindergarten; permits play-based learning in grades 1 – 5; permits the board of education to exclude a student from play-based learning based on board policy.
- Duty-Free Prep Time – Establishes minimum prep time of 30 minutes, uninterrupted.
- Educator Bill of Rights – Boards of Education are required to adopt an Educator Bill of Rights mandating (1) an environment free from threats or harassment, (2) the freedom to teach pedagogically sound books, (3) the use symbols, flags, etc. if pedagogically valuable or related to the well-being of students.
Right now, these are just proposals. For the measures in this bill to become law, legislators need to hear from you.
Tell legislators how the proposals in this bill would personally impact you. How have low starting salaries (compared to those of other similarly educated professionals) personally impacted you and your colleagues? Would a COVID pension credit make remaining in the teaching profession more attractive? Legislators are swayed by the personal stories of Connecticut residents; please share yours.
Easily submit testimony in favor of this bill so that it becomes law.
Additionally, Senate Bill 1198, An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the School Indoor Air Quality Working Group, CEA’s priority bill regarding school indoor air quality and temperature standards, will also be heard on Wednesday.
CLICK HERE to read more about SB 1198 and easily submit testimony in support of the changes being recommended.