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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.

Every year CEA members identify areas of particular importance to students and teachers on which to focus advocacy efforts. This year, in addition to protecting education funding, CEA leadership, members, and staff will focus on several different issues when meeting with legislators and delivering testimony.

CEA has proposed that the state revise and simplify teacher evaluation guidelines. CEA’s proposal would require 50 percent of any evaluation to be based on teacher performance and practice and 50 percent on student growth and development, emphasizing students’ progress on classroom work. It would prohibit mastery test scores from use in teachers’ evaluations.

At a press conference last month, CEA leaders spoke out on the need to replace SBAC as the state’s mastery test for grades 3 through 8, and they will continue to advocate on this issue. Teachers have been adamant that the time SBAC takes away from teaching and learning is harming students, and that the test is not developmentally appropriate or fair for students—especially for the youngest students, students in special education classes, English language learners, and students from economically disadvantaged school districts.

CEA leaders, members, and staff will continue to work to ensure appropriate funding for the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. CEA will oppose any reduction to the income tax reduction for retired teachers.

CEA leadership is working with legislators to enact strict new student data transparency and security laws in Connecticut that ensure the protection of student data to keep children and their families safe. CEA is advocating for consistent policies regarding the collection and use of student data to address critical security concerns. These include providing notice of any data collection activities and requiring parental consent and information about the type of student data being collected and for what purpose prior to any release of data.

As the legislative session progresses, CEA will closely monitor the activities of the General Assembly. CEA leaders will be ready to advocate on students’ behalf, and mobilize members to do the same, on these issues and others that impact public education.

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