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New Teachers Learn About Participating in Democratic Process

Legislative lessons taught at CEA conference

CEA Government Relations Director Vinnie Loffredo explains to new teachers the importance of getting involved with the legislative process.

“Governor Malloy was supportive of education in Stamford, and teachers supported him in the election. Now we are asking, ‘what happened?’” said Stamford teacher Donna Slifkin. The technology teacher at Hart Magnet School was among three dozen teachers who attended the afternoon session “Year of Education Reform: You and the teaching profession” at the CEA New Teacher Conference Saturday.

CEA Government Relations Director Vinnie Loffredo explained the importance of teachers contacting their legislators and letting their voices be part of the process.

Some new teachers said that with so much going on in the classroom, on top of learning new procedures, grading homework, and lesson planning, it can be challenging to get involved.

“Legislators need to hear from you. They need to hear your stories, your struggles and how proposals being considered will impact your students, your classroom, and your profession,” said Loffredo.

However, some of the teachers said they have taken action, including writing letters.

“I wrote a letter to Governor Malloy after he said teachers just have to ‘show up’ to get tenure,” said Somers High School biology teacher Lora Cavallo. “I was disappointed that I never received a response.”

Other teachers talked about attending back home meetings with legislators. “We met with Senate President Pro Tem Don Williams,” said a Windham teacher, “and he was very cordial and understood our issues.”

Other teachers said they testified before the Education Committee in February and wrote letters to the co-chairs, Sen. Andrea Stillman and Rep. Andrew Fleischmann.

Loffredo explained that the most effective way to communicate with legislators is to have face-to-face meetings. He urged teachers to set up meetings with their legislators. “Your legislators are elected officials. They are responsive to their constituents and want to hear from you,” he said.

Second, he suggested writing letters. “Put what you are feeling down in writing. Legislators want to hear how the bills they are considering will directly affect you.”  He said that calling legislators is also effective.

Many teachers have been sending emails, but Loffreddo said, “Think about all the emails you get, and ignore. Legislators get a lot of emails. We don’t want to tell you not to send emails because, of course, any correspondence is helpful, we just want you to know it might not be as effective as you might think. We urge you to also hold meetings, write letters, and call your legislators.”

Call, write, or email your state senator and state representative using the link and phone numbers below.

www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/CGAFindLeg.asp

Senate Democrats  1-800-842-1420                           Senate Republicans  1-800-842-1421

House Democrats  1-800-842-1902                            House Republicans  1-800-842-1423

The governor, business-backed groups, privately funded organizations, charter school management companies, and others are lobbying legislators to act on their behalf. “We need to be persistent and unwavering in our commitment to ensure education reform gets done right,” said Loffredo.

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