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Educator Certification Shortage Areas for 2016-17

Duane, WallingfordIf you’re working under an endorsement that is considered a shortage area you may be eligible for benefits such as loan forgiveness and mortgage assistance.

Based on a survey done in the fall, the state Department of Education has now released the Certification Shortage Areas for 2016-17. Most of the shortage areas remain the same as they did in 2015-16, however, for the coming year, teaching English to speakers of other languages was not identified as a shortage area, while school psychologist was added to the list.

The designated shortage areas for 2016-17 are as follows: Read more

School Funding Forum Next Week at CCSU

school funding forum flierHow are Connecticut schools funded? Where does the money come from? What would adequate and equitable school funding look like? What is CCJEF vs. Rell? These questions and more will be answered at the School Funding Equity Summit at Central Connecticut State University on February 17.

Panelists will include Michael Frechette of CCSU and Nancy Haynes, the former business manager of Middletown Public Schools. The keynote address will be given by James Finley, president of Finley Governmental Strategies and Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) principal consultant.

The event will take place from 5:30-7:10 p.m. on February 17 at the Vance Academic Building, Room 105, Central Connecticut State University.

To register, email

10 Free Things for Valentine’s Day

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these classroom resources and activities compiled by Phil Nast for NEA.

  1. Valentine’s Day worksheets and coloring pages
    Coloring pages, Valentine-theme math pages, stationery, word searches. (Grades K-3)
  2. Valentine Coloring Pages
    Forty printable coloring pages. (Grades K-3)
  3. Heart Bookmark
    Make a bookmark template with card stock and Valentine bookmarks from decorative paper. (Grades 2-4)
  4. The Story of St. Valentine (PDF icon PDF,  22 KB, 4 pgs.)
    The legend of St. Valentine with reading comprehension questions and a brief essay assignment. (Grades 3-5)
  5. Read more

State Budget Proposal’s Impact on Pensions and Education Funding

Capitol in the rainEducation funding and pensions are two issues of particular importance to teachers in the budget plan Governor Malloy released today at the opening of the 2016 legislative session. The governor’s plan will be debated by members of the General Assembly who will also be proposing budget ideas of their own.

To address a funding shortfall, the governor has proposed 5.75 percent reductions in discretionary agency accounts, including municipal aid, for fiscal year 2017. The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant would be exempt from that 5.75 percent reduction and would be flat funded at the 2016 level.

Districts face rising costs every year so, while flat funding is preferable to a funding cut, it still represents a significant challenge for cities and towns when it comes to providing a quality public education for all students. Other education funding streams would see cuts under the governor’s proposal, including magnet school grants, the Open Choice program, special education grants, and priority school grants.

“By level funding the ECS grant, the governor is putting enormous strain on municipal budgets and homeowners,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The CCJEF v. Rell court case is being heard just about a block from the State Capitol. It is ironic that right around the corner Governor Malloy announced a state budget that takes us ever further away from our goal of reducing the state’s overreliance on the local property tax in order to adequately fund public education.” Read more

New Legislative Session Brings Opportunity for Improving Teaching and Learning

Connecticut State Capitol BuildingState lawmakers will be back in Hartford tomorrow for the start of the 2016 legislative session—and that brings opportunity for teachers to advocate for improvements to education policies that affect their students, their profession, and public education.

Tomorrow’s focus will be on the state budget as the governor gives his state of the state address and releases his budget plan. We will post information about the budget plan and how it affects students, teachers, and public education after it is released.

Over the next three months legislators will consider a range of issues. Teachers’ voices will be important in shaping the discussion and making sure that what’s best for students always stays front and center. Read more

February Deals & Discounts from NEA Member Benefits

NEA Member Benefits offers a wide range of deals and discounts for NEA members. Highlighted offers this month include $20 off tax preparation from H & R Block and 20% off floral arrangements from

NEA Click & Save “Buy-lights” for February 2016

Remember your loved ones this Valentine’s Day! NEA Click & Save, the online discount buying service for NEA members, highlights select retailers and merchants each month. Check out these featured “Buy-lights” for February. Read more

Groundhog Day Resources for the Classroom

Photo by James Marvin Phelps, Creative Commons.

Photo by James Marvin Phelps, Creative Commons.

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil will see or not see his shadow. Explore light and shadow in math, science, and art lessons and have fun with the following collection of groundhog games and activities compiled by Phil Nast for NEA.

Check out a variety of

CEA Scholarships for Future Educators

graduation capsDo you know any high school seniors or college students who are planning to become teachers? The Connecticut Education Foundation, CEA’s charitable organization, has two scholarship funds available to future educators.

Ethnic Minority Scholarship Fund

This fund awards annual scholarships to qualified ethnic minority high school seniors who intend to enter the teaching profession. The application deadline is May 1. For more information and to apply, click here.

DiGiovanni Future Teacher Scholarship Fund

This fund awards scholarships to the children of CEA members and staff. The applicant must be a full-time college or university student who has completed at least three full semesters within the last two years, and who intends to enter the teaching profession. The application deadline each year is May 1. For more information and to apply, click here.

Improve Your Skills: Attend CEA’s New Teacher Conference

If you are an educator with six years or less in the classroom and are looking to improve your skills, plan to attend CEA’s New Teacher Conference at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center on March 19, 2016.

From parent-teacher relationships to the intricacies of the teacher evaluation process and how the new Every Student Succeeds Act will affect you, the conference sessions will explore everything that new teachers need to know.

Attend the conference and walk away with a better understanding of classroom management techniques, the teacher evaluation process, as well as your legal rights and responsibilities in and out of the classroom.

The cost of the conference is $20 and includes lunch. Your local Association may reimburse your cost.

Click here for the brochure.

Click here to register.

Are You Missing Out on These Educator Tax Deductions?

For much too long, Congress engaged in an annual ritual of waiting until the last minute to extend some four dozen tax benefits that have to be renewed virtually every year, including many that NEA members have come to rely on.

In the waning days of 2015, however, Congress surprisingly came together on a compromise tax bill that made many of these deductions and credits permanent, retroactive to the beginning of the 2015 tax year.

The tax extender bill passed in the final days of 2014 covered only the 2014 tax year retroactively. The new legislation, in principle, extends the benefits indefinitely, starting with the 2015 tax year. This includes both the $250 above-the-line deduction for classroom supplies and the tuition and fees deduction—both of special interest to educators.

The $250 deduction is particularly advantageous because it is an above-the-line deduction on Schedule A, which means you don’t have itemize to take it and it reduces your overall adjusted gross income (AGI). The new legislation indexes the amount to inflation and allows professional development expenses to be included in the deduction.

Read more


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