Governor Ned Lamont today held a bill signing ceremony to commemorate the adoption of legislation establishing the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) Alliance District Teacher Loan Subsidy Program, which will provide an interest rate subsidy on CHESLA loans to teachers who commit to teaching in one of Connecticut’s 33 highest need school districts.
The loan subsidy adds to a set of statewide initiatives designed to address persistent shortage areas and support teachers throughout every stage of their career by addressing the difficulties associated with recruiting and retaining teachers in districts that typically experience high turnover.
“Connecticut’s public schools are among the best in the nation, but there’s more that we can do to close achievement gaps by ensuring that all students have access to the best teachers so they can be prepared for the global workforce that awaits them,” Governor Lamont said. “By establishing this student loan subsidy program, we are building upon and accelerating our efforts to cultivate and support the next generation of highly-effective and diverse aspiring educators.”
“The Connecticut State Department of Education has made it a priority to make sure that our districts and schools are able to recruit and hire high-quality educators who are reflective of our increasingly diverse student body,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said. “This bill bolsters the efforts already underway at our agency, and we would like to thank our legislative counterparts for their partnership in this work.”
The legislation is part of a multipronged approach the Lamont administration and Connecticut State Department of Education are taking in alignment with the State Board of Education’s plan to attract, support, and retain great teachers and leaders with an intentional focus on building an educator workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of its students.
A review of the last five years of work in this area indicates the following three focus areas and corresponding strategies have yielded positive results:
- Increasing pathways to certification by providing ongoing support to both traditional and alternate route educator preparation programs;
- Assisting districts with recruiting, hiring, and retaining a diverse educator workforce; and
- Supporting candidates to attract and recruit the next generation of Connecticut educators.
“This legislation is an example of the unique way that CHESLA can impact workforce and community development,” Jeanette W. Weldon, executive director for CHESLA, said. “As the state-affiliated student lender in Connecticut, we can share the benefits of our low-cost funding with state residents in ways that also benefit Connecticut communities and school districts. We look forward to working with the Connecticut State Department of Education on the implementation of this program.”
“The CHESLA Board is excited to see this legislation be signed into law,” Peter Lisi, chairman of the board for CHESLA, said. “We see firsthand the valuable role that CHESLA plays in providing educational opportunities to Connecticut residents and this program is an example of the unique way CHESLA is able to support workforce development and educational advancement throughout Connecticut.”
“Having the very best educators for our most challenging districts is clearly a priority in Connecticut,” Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said. “This legislation will enhance the ability of the alliance districts to attract an excellent and diverse staff so needed in these districts.”
There is a wide range of evidence to support the benefits of a diverse teacher workforce for students of all races/ethnicities, including its positive impact on strengthening schools, reduced dropout rates, improved college admissions, and achievement gains. In May, Governor Lamont announced that, over the last five years, school districts in Connecticut have hired more than 1,900 educators of color, exceeding the goal set by the State Board of Education to increase the number of educators of color from 8.3 percent to 10 percent – approximately 1,000 positions – between 2017 and 2021.
The legislation is Public Act 21-62, An Act Requiring a Study by the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority, Establishing a Working Group to Study Certain Issues Concerning Financing for Post-secondary Education and Establishing the Alliance District Teacher Loan Subsidy Program.