Connecticut will dedicate $3 million dollars to doubling the number of high schools offering programs to students looking to become teachers and creating a new registered apprenticeship program for teachers.
On May 16 the offices of Gov. Ned Lamont, State Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker, and Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo announced several new multi-state agency initiatives that will seek to address the state’s teacher shortage.
According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, the state had 1,300 paraeducator vacancies as of March 23, 2023, 75 percent of which were in special education. Further, 60 percent of the state’s teacher and paraeducator vacancies were reported in the state’s Alliance Districts, school districts identified as the 33-lowest performing school districts in the state and which qualify for additional funding.
The newly announced initiatives, which are being lead by the DOE and the DOL, not only seek to double the number of high school programs being offered to students interested in becoming teachers, but 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” according to a press release.
In addition, the initiative will create two state-wide pilot programs that will launch a teacher apprenticeship program designed to reduce financial barriers for those seeking to become teachers. The pilot programs will receive state support in an effort to create a template that will allow the program to expand and become available across the state. It will build off existing programs, including current teacher residency programs and the NextGen Educator program.
The $3 million set aside for the initiatives will also provide seed funding to 18 school districts interested in starting their own Educators Rising high school program. Currently available in 15 school districts in Connecticut, the Educators Rising program is a nation-wide, community-based career and technical student organization that integrates intracurricular learning opportunities into existing teacher education and training programs.
Lastly, the announced initiatives will fund a recruitment campaign, managed jointly by the DOE and DOL, to attract more educators and paraeducators. The agencies will also host job fairs focused on current job openings and which will also provide resources about test preparation assistance and resume writing, among other things. Further, the agencies will dedicate resources to expanding test sites for paraeducators, subsidizing test preparation programs and the cost of exams.