Norwich teachers have been facing a climate of fear and intimidation that has forced many out of the district. Teachers have been sharing how the abuse and fear of retaliation are affecting them and their students with legislators, and CEA President Kate Dias is amplifying that message with the media.
In a survey of members, the Norwich Teachers League discovered disturbing trends.
“One hundred sixty teachers left the district last year. That’s more than half of the population—that’s extraordinary,” Dias told NBC Connecticut. “The climate surveys found that 89% of Norwich teachers feel their job security depends on their remaining silent on issues, and 95% fear retaliation from the superintendent and assistant superintendent if they speak up. That’s an overwhelming majority. It might as well be 100% at that point.”
Teachers feel that the problems in the district are so significant that a large scale response is required.
“What’s going on now is harming kids. When you create a culture where people can’t work together successfully, children are impacted,” Dias said. “You are hearing from these educators that yes, they are really uncomfortable in their work environment, they aren’t free to talk about the things that need to be improved, because they are afraid that it’s going to end up with retaliation against them. But at their core, what they’re really most devastated by is that they’re not able to advocate for those kids successfully.”
Norwich teachers, with CEA’s support, will continue to advocate for change.
“Our goal is to resolve this and create an environment that’s successful and productive for our teachers and our students,” Dias said. “We’re not done yet. We’re not going to let this issue go. This is not going to be something that we move past unless there’s real resolution. Rest assured our job is to ensure that there’s consistent pressure on this issue, and it doesn’t go away. We expect more. We expect our school districts to support and care for teachers so they can do the same for our children.”
Watch Dias’ interview with NBC Connecticut below.