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CT teachers are burnt out, new Connecticut Education Association report says

The Connecticut Education Association to release the findings of a new CEA survey on the growing crisis crippling school systems across the state.
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public
“Political and personal attacks, toxic disrespect, and threats leveled at educators during school board meetings all contribute to the rapid pace of educators quitting the jobs they love,” said Kate Dias, president of the Connecticut Education Association.

A union for Connecticut teachers released a survey of 7,600 members who say they are burnt out by teaching.

Educators say burnout is the result of inadequate pay, poor working conditions and not being respected. They say those concerns — among others — are adding to the state’s growing teacher shortage.

The report by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) said as a result of being burnt out, more teachers are retiring early and many students are being discouraged from pursuing a career in education.

CEA president Kate Dias is concerned for the sustainability of the profession and said 100% of the teachers surveyed are worried about burnout. She said there has been growing unwanted political attention and criticism of school curricula.

“Political and personal attacks, toxic disrespect, and threats leveled at educators during school board meetings all contribute to the rapid pace of educators quitting the jobs they love,” Dias said.

Teachers feel overwhelmed by the amount of responsibility they need to take on for a below average salary. They say solutions are obvious.

Over 90% of teachers surveyed are asking for a livable wage, more support in the classroom including more prep time. They also want non-teaching duties limited and more effective school policies to address student behavior and mental health needs. Educators who were surveyed also believe smaller class sizes and more teacher autonomy for class instruction would be beneficial.

“We must work together to make bold changes to improve working conditions, compensation, support, respect, and overall job satisfaction if we want to keep our teachers in the classroom,” Dias said. “People come into teaching for all the right reasons. They want to help children … and we lay on to these teachers a whole lot of other additional responsibilities that they’re not prepared to manage.”

Dias said it should be up to politicians to talk more openly about the value of education and teaching. This would send a signal to students that education would be a fulfilling career where you’ll be respected and valued.

“That's something that has to be done publicly, not behind closed doors, it has to be something that is repeated so that people look to Connecticut and go, these are people that value education,” she said.

Teachers say they feel the fallout from the pandemic every day, according to CEA vice president Joslyn DeLancey. Along with their full workload, they are facing increased student mental health challenges, worsening behavior, and academic challenges. She says they struggle to meet all their students' needs without help.

“So many educators went into the field because of a teacher who made an impact on them,” DeLancey said. “If teachers can no longer promote the profession to new generations, the pipeline will continue to diminish as people select careers with less stress, more autonomy, and better pay.”

Pay equity is one of the biggest factors in the growing teacher shortage, Dias said. Most schools encourage teachers to have a master’s degree but pay them significantly less than other professions. For example, in Connecticut, a first-year teacher with a master’s degree can have a starting salary of $46,000 a year.

A livable wage for one adult in Connecticut is just over $36,000 a year, according to MIT. Yet when you have a child, the wage you’d need to survive in the state jumps to $78,000 a year.

“Teachers are responsible for helping the next generation reach their potential, but we are overwhelming our teachers and asking them to sacrifice their own needs to serve their students,” Dias said. “The cost of these sacrifices is unsustainable. We must provide educators with the conditions they need to help students thrive.”

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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