Lamont, state and local officials in New Britain to highlight efforts to diversify teacher workforce in public schools

Published on Tuesday, 9 November 2021 18:09
Written by Ciara Hooks


NEW BRITAIN – Gov. Ned Lamont, along with state and local officials, highlighted the CT Teacher Residency Program and other efforts to diversify the teacher workforce in public schools throughout Connecticut.

Lamont and the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) said they are committed to increasing the racial, ethnic and linguistic diversity of Connecticut’s teaching workforce.

“I think our schools are great, not because of the new math or STEM or STEAM or whatever those helpful initiatives are, but also because we celebrate our teachers; we love our teachers; we let our teachers teach and we show the respect we need to generate and attract the next generation of teachers,” Lamont said at Northend Elementary School Tuesday.

According to the CT Teacher Residency Program, while Connecticut has come close to its 2021 goal of hiring 1,000 educators of color, there are still 90% of teachers that identify as white while 45% of students are people of color.

“This is not some woke thing, this is just the smart way to make sure that each and every one of our young people get the very best opportunity in life,” Lamont said.

According to those in attendance, research supports that increasing diversity improves the experience for students of all racial backgrounds, decreases drop-out rates for low-income students, decreases discipline action for students of color, increases expectations for all students, increases student achievement and creates a role model effect.

“The data says all children in this country learn better when they’re taught by a diverse teaching population,” State Senator Douglas McCrory said. “So, if we want to be one of the best states in this country of educating our children, we need to follow the data and make sure we diversify our classrooms.”

In 2019, CREC, with CSDE support, launched the CT Teacher Residency Program designed to recruit and retain teachers of color.

“Four years ago, we decided on a different approach to diversifying our teaching staff. While we made progress hiring teachers here and there, we soon realized that we had many talented individuals working in our schools in non-certified roles,” said Marlene Megos, director of CT Teacher Residency Program. “Two years later we were approved in an alternate route to elementary certification dedicated to diversifying teachers by reducing the barriers to certification and committed to training those with Bachelor degrees and underemployed working in our schools.”

The residency model provides hands-on-training with a pathway to a lifelong career and economic stability. Participants who obtain certification have the potential to increase their yearly income by 56% as a first-year teacher. They participate in courses for 18 months (summer and evenings), work for one school year side-by-side with a mentor teacher while receiving pay and benefits, and are eligible for a full-time teaching position in a partner district upon successfully completing the program and certification requirements.

“I remember for me, although all I ever wanted to be was a teacher, I got so much bad information on the frontend, I took so many classes that I didn’t need, and I found myself restarting over and over again,” Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said. “So, to have this completely mapped out is tremendous.”

In 2022-2023 CT-TRP is planning for 4-6 sites in partnership with the RESC Alliance and participating districts. The cost for five sites is approximately $5.5 million with a potential for up to 80 new teachers of color across Connecticut. The cost for district participation in 2021-2022 is $60,000 per resident and includes a partnership fee of $5,000 (includes resident and mentor recruitment, evaluation, training coaching and support) and resident salary and benefits of about $49,000 (hourly equivalent of $28,000 for one year, two $2,000 resident summer stipends, district benefits package and mentor stipend of $6,000).

“We are very happy that this is going on in our state and I think there are 45 new recruits this coming year, so we’d like to see that increase,” State Rep Bobby Sanchez said.

In the Class of 2020, there were 11 residents, 73% Black, 18% Latino and 9% two or more races. In the Class of 2021, there were 14 residents, 84% Black and 14% Latino. In the Class of 2022, there will be 45 residents, 55% Black, 23% Latino, 2% Asian, 2% Native American, 2% white and 16% two or more races.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a teacher,” said Janay White, CT Teacher Residency Program candidate. “Having this opportunity to be a part of the Teacher Residency Program is a step toward accomplishing that dream. This experience has been like no other in providing me the fundamentals needed to begin my career as an elementary school teacher. Every day I learn new tactics that will prepare me for situations I can encounter as a first-year teacher. I’m excited to continue to learn and grow as this program progresses.”

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Tuesday, 9 November 2021 18:09. Updated: Tuesday, 9 November 2021 18:12.