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New Milford Teachers Standing Up for Their Students and Their Colleagues

Teachers are working harder for longer hours during this time of distance learning, but that hasn’t stopped New Milford from asking teachers for concessions.

CEA New Milford Vice President Angela Herdter told Town Council members that teachers are working sometimes up to 12 hours a day and 60 hours a week. “Can one of you name a domestic or international group that was told by its stakeholders to change their method of production, retool all currently proven and practiced methods—to deliver a good, reliable product that produces results close to what they were before the switch over?” she asked. “Anything come to your mind? Well, I have a group—a group called TEACHERS.”

“We won’t give up on the students and teaching them to the best of our ability, no matter what,” CEA New Milford President Kim Patella says. “We have the resilience to stay focused to create positive experiences for our children. We will speak out often when we think the Board is losing sight of the priority of the students.”

In a letter to the superintendent, Patella wrote, “Many of us have spouses or family members who have lost employment and are now at the mercy of an uncertain economy. Our own families have taken a back seat during this difficult time. Teachers have proven that they are essential in this crisis…. This request is not just or fair. Teachers have exhausted every ounce of their strength to address the current crisis.”

More than 300 teachers attended a virtual Town Council meeting on June 2 to speak out passionately in favor of leaving the education budget intact. Many wore #RedforEd t-shirts and displayed signs. Despite their efforts, the Town Council voted to cut one million dollars from the schools budget.

Teachers are already organizing to rally again for a June 16 Board of Education meeting.

“I cannot imagine one person who is expendable in this district,” says Patella. “We all need each other to become part of the whole educational experience for our students. No one is expendable. I think when the world did a 180 during the coronavirus we proved that. Everyone pitched in and made the students our focus.”

She plans to remind the Board on Tuesday that, during this dark time, teachers can be the light that leads the way to a better future for our children.

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