CEA President Kate Dias Credit: Courtesy of CT-N

The Connecticut Education Association surveyed its membership and found three-quarters of them are looking to leave the profession early – many are looking for a different career or to retire. 

“I don’t know how much more of a siren I can wail on the sense of urgency around this issue,” CEA President Kate Dias said Tuesday at a Legislative Office Building press conference.

That 74% of teachers who want to leave is up from 55% of teachers surveyed by the National Education Association in January and 37% of teachers surveyed by CEA last fall.

She said the reason for the desire to leave is “stress and burnout.” The survey found 98% identified stress and burnout as their top issue. Another 96% acknowledged staff shortages in schools and 93% identified lack of respect for teachers and students’ mental health. 

Dias suggested what they have to do is “double down on the important work. The work that happens inside our classrooms.” 

The survey of 6,000 educators found six in 10 say public schools are headed in the wrong direction and 72% are dissatisfied with their working conditions. 

Dias said there are things lawmakers can do to ease the stress, but they don’t have another year to figure it out. 

The survey suggests that increasing educator salaries, limiting excessive paperwork, hiring more teachers, and providing more support would be helpful. 

Dias said failure to act would cripple the economy because without schools children won’t be prepared for the workforce and parents won’t be able to work. 

“Nothing in this state functions, if education doesn’t function,” Dias said. 

Rep.-elect Kevin Brown, D-Vernon, who is a high school civics teacher said he goes in every day and faces class sizes that are bigger than they should be and resources that are fewer than they should be. 

He said he’s thought about leaving the profession “which is sad because we get into it because we care.” 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they need to work in order to improve conditions for public school teachers. 

“Our teachers mold our children from a very young age,” Rep. Kathy Kennedy, R-Milford, said. “And they help our children to develop their potential.” 

She said it’s time to come together in a bipartisan manner and resolve these issues. 

She said 74% is a staggering number and something has to be done to address it.