(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont, Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, and Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo today announced the launch of several new multi-agency state initiatives designed to address educator shortages in Connecticut. The initiatives will support the creation of a new teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program, provide more investment to create paraeducator fairs, and expand existing high school “grow-your-own” programs, which recruit and train teachers from within communities where they live and work.
Recent survey data shows a high number of certified educator and paraeducator vacancies in the state, particularly in shortage areas such as special education, math, and science. As of March 2023, school districts reported about 1,300 teaching vacancies and another 1,300 paraeducator vacancies. More than 60% of the vacancies are located in the state’s Alliance Districts. Nearly half of all teaching vacancies are in special education, math, or science, while nearly three-quarters of all paraeducators vacancies are in special education.
“Connecticut has the best educators in the nation and they are the backbone of our education system,” Governor Lamont said. “While we have made some gains recently in teacher hiring, there remains a shortage in many school districts, and it is critically important that we maintain the talent pipeline necessary to address these challenges. The most important education reform is a great teacher in the classroom, and our administration remains committed to fully funding our education system.”
“This investment will expand programs that we know are working to bring educators into classrooms, such as Educators Rising and NexGen Educators,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “These initiatives, coupled with new investments to initiate registered apprenticeship programs, will enable us to continue a forward momentum while developing a diverse workforce. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Labor, higher education, and other key partners to ensure program expansion and innovation to meet the staffing needs of Connecticut’s school districts.”
“Registered apprenticeships are a great fit to address worker shortages in industries that depend on a highly skilled workforce,” Commissioner Bartolomeo said. “With classroom training, on the job learning, and experienced mentors, this program can help municipalities throughout the state inspire and support the next generation of educators. Encouraging people to pursue jobs in education will increase the talent and diversity in the hiring pool and get help into classrooms to prevent teacher burn out. I want to thank Governor Lamont for his commitment to education and workforce development and Commissioner Russell-Tucker and the Connecticut State Department of Education team. This is a strong partnership that will bring up new classroom leaders.”
This $3 million initiative – led by the Connecticut State Department of Education and the Connecticut Department of Labor – will double the number of high schools offering programs for aspiring educators and help expand educator diversity. The agencies will also launch a statewide campaign to attract more paraeducators to the classroom, including expanding paraeducator test sites, test preparation programs, job fairs, and recruitment events held in collaboration with the American Job Centers.
The collaboration will:
Create two pilot programs statewide to launch the teacher apprenticeship program, which is designed to reduce financial barriers to becoming an educator. The state will support the pilot districts to create a template to expand the program across Connecticut. The teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program will build off the state’s current teacher residency programs and NextGen Educator program.
Provide seed funding to an additional 18 school districts across the state that are interested in starting an Educators Rising “grow-your-own” high school program, which exposes students to careers in education and feeds into teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education. Currently, 15 school districts offer the Educators Rising program.
Fund a joint Connecticut Department of Labor and Connecticut State Department of Education recruitment campaign to attract more educators and paraeducators to the profession to fill approximately 1,300 job openings statewide. Job fairs will include information about current openings, job requirements, paraeducator test requirements, test preparation assistance, and resume writing and coaching. In addition, resources will be dedicated to expanding paraeducator test sites, subsidizing test preparation programs, and the cost of taking the exams.
This additional investment builds on earlier investments by the Lamont administration, the Connecticut State Department of Education, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to develop, recruit, and retain a diverse educator workforce in Connecticut. Recent data shows those efforts have resulted in increased staffing levels and educator diversity.
Overall, staffing levels increased 4% between the 2018-2019 and 2021-2022 school years. This represents an increase of more than 4,000 full-time equivalent staff in schools and districts across the state. The percentage of educators of color working in schools has increased to 11.2% in 2022-23, up from 8.3% in 2015-2016, adding 1,649 new diverse educators.
Above average increases in staffing levels were observed in the following areas:
General education – paraprofessional instructional assistants (12% increase)
Counselors, social workers, and school psychologists – district central office (13% increase)
Instructional specialists who support teachers – certified (16% increase)
Additional information on this teacher Registered Apprenticeship Program is available online at portal.ct.gov/dol/student-teacher-apprenticeships.
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