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Conn. Task Force Calls For Higher Teacher Pay

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A citizens' task force has recommended, in a report commissioned by the Connecticut Board of Education, that the state increase salaries and create career ladders to recognize competence as part of an overall effort to attract and keep qualified teachers in the state.

The report of the Distinguished Citizens Task Force on Quality Teaching also recommended that school districts "enact specific policies" to encourage the retention of teachers--summer work, flexible employment and benefit options, reduction of stressful conditions, and the return of retired teachers to the classroom."

The report, which was released last week, is the first of several studies to be completed by special citizens' committees as part of a comprehensive re-evaluation of the state's public-school system. The state board has also established panels to study teacher certification, accreditation standards, and local planning and staff development.

In its report, the task force also recommended that the state provide funds to create or improve professional-development programs; that a statewide business-education collaboration be established to provide increased "dual-employment" opportunities for teachers; that the state board work cooperatively with the Board of Governors of Higher Education and with school districts to attract academically able students to teacher-preparation programs of high quality; and that the state allocate funds for a campaign designed to improve the public image of the teaching profession.

Thelma Adams, spokesman for the state department of education, said the task force's report will be presented to the state board for consideration. She said the board will decide which of the eight recommendations it will pursue.

"It is definitely anticipated that some legislative action will be required," Ms. Adams said. "There's no way any of us, at this time, can predict the extent and scope" of the changes that will be implemented based on the task force's recommendations.

The task force recommended that the state raise both the starting salaries of entry-level teachers and the salaries of experienced teachers and administrators to levels comparable to those of professionals in the private sector with similar experience and training.

"Noncompetitive starting salaries make it almost impossible for school districts in Connecticut to attract a sufficient number of talented teach-ers, especially in mathematics and science," the report asserted. Last year, the starting salary for teachers ranged from $11,000 to 12,980, while entry-level salaries for accountants, engineers, and, computer scientists were $18,540, $23,000, and $22,896, respectively.

Citing a survey by the Connecticut Education Association, the task force's report noted that 400 more teachers "withdrew from the state's teacher-retirement system" in 1981-82 than in 1977-78, representing a 25-percent increase over the previous four years.

The increase in personnel turnover, according to the report, was attributed to dissatisfaction with low salaries.

The development of career ladders, according to the task force's report, is one way school districts can provide additional compensation for excellence in teaching. The report contends that the state board should provide incentives to school districts that decide to implement career-ladder alternatives; identify effective ways to evaluate teachers as they advance on career ladders; and identify criteria for determining which types of career ladders are the most successful.

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