Skip to content

Posts from the ‘CEA Advisor’ Category

Special Edition of the CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

You may have already received your special edition of the CEA Advisor—if not it will be in your mailbox soon. Like all issues, you can also read it online.

With a new school year Connecticut teachers are facing many challenges and opportunities, some familiar and some new. Learn more about

Don’t Miss the Online-Only Summer CEA Advisor

The Summer 2018 edition of the CEA Advisor is now available. This issue is published online only and will not be mailed to your home. Check out these and other stories.

In the Face of Supreme Court Ruling, Teachers Stand Strong

What does the Janus v. AFSCME decision mean for you, and what happens next?

CEA Vows to Continue Fight for Classroom Safety

CEA is on a new task force working on a law to protect teachers and students.

Read more

Read the Latest in the CEA Advisor

The May–June 2018 edition of the CEA Advisor is now online. Watch for it in your mailbox next week. Don’t miss these and other stories.

Legislative Wrap-Up
Connecticut teachers score important victories at the State Capitol. Read more

Look for the CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

The December 2017 – January 2018 edition of the CEA Advisor will be in your mailbox this week. It’s already available to read online. Don’t miss these and other stories.

Connecticut Teachers Honored for Innovation, Excellence

More than 100 teachers took the stage at a ceremony naming the 2018 Teacher of the Year and honoring all the great educators who innovate and inspire.

Read more

CEA Advisor Showcases Student, Teacher Innovation and More

innovation on display, summer

From a 3-D printed boot for a disabled Mystic Aquarium penguin to environmentally friendly ice melt to a solar house design, students and teachers from across the state showcased innovative ways they are using technology in the classroom to promote teaching and learning.

Read about these technology-driven projects and much more in the summer issue of the CEA Advisor, an online-only edition.

Other articles featured in this issue include

Important Election Information in Your CEA Advisor

The issue of the CEA Advisor arriving at your home this week has important information about this November’s election. You can read the entire Advisor online, here.

See where the candidates for governor stand on the issues in this side-by-side comparison found on page three of the Advisor (click to enlarge).

side-by-side

This message is made independent of any candidate or political party.
Paid for by the Connecticut Education Association, Sheila Cohen, President.

The Challenge of Change

The CEA Advisor will be arriving on your doorstep this week. Check out the issue (in print or online) to learn more about teacher evaluations, legislative victories, money for public education and teacher retirement, the latest on the CEA Sandy Hook Memorial, and much, much more.

coverBelow is CEA President Sheila Cohen, Vice President Jeff Leake, and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg’s column in the May– June CEA Advisor.

Our Perspective – The Challenge of Change

As teachers, we’ve never been required to deal with so much change at once. And, as each initiative comes our way, we can’t help asking ourselves if each is change for change’s sake or meaningful change that will help our students.

When Connecticut’s sweeping reform legislation—Public Act 12-116—was enacted last year, we had high hopes. We also had our work cut out for us as advocates for high-quality public schools. We spent last summer and fall going over the law with a fine-toothed comb, conducting meetings to identify intended and unintended consequences of the legislation, and meeting with top state officials to share our concerns.

CEA was ready when the 2013 legislative session got under way in January. We explained to lawmakers what needed to be fixed in Public Act 12-116. We lobbied early and vigorously to generate critical changes.

Elevating the teaching profession is of paramount importance to us. So, it is with great pride that we report our success in securing a statutory voice for teachers in determining effective teacher evaluation plans. Teacher-informed evaluation plans will guarantee that we are the best teachers we can be. With shared goals, shared ideas, and shared solutions—mutually developed—our schools will be even better.

Additionally, the state now mandates a clear link between evaluation and professional development—an improvement that couldn’t have come too soon.

Join us in celebrating the following changes:

•   Local school districts must now treat professional development and evaluation as one entity with one committee overseeing both, so that priorities and needs related to student outcomes will be fully addressed.

•    The Professional Development and Evaluation Committee must include representatives selected by the local union.

•    The revisions promote a robust dialogue regarding local plans for evaluation and support prior to their adoption and approval.

•    The modifications also make teachers statutory partners in developing evaluation plans and give teachers the professional status they deserve on local committees charged with presenting plans to boards of education.

Nipping a very bad idea in the bud Public Act 12-116 mandated that some teachers would have to take and pass a test for their teaching certificates to remain valid. The notion of having their careers hinge on one test—for obvious reasons—didn’t sit well with many of our colleagues. Thanks to teacher advocacy and common sense, that mandate was deleted from the law books. Read more

Witnessing History; Shaping the Debates of Our Time

Advisor Feb-MarchThe CEA Advisor will be arriving on your doorstep this week. Check out the issue (in print or online) to learn more about teacher evaluations, school funding, efforts to keep schools safe, how to donate to the CEA Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund, and more.

As a preview, below is CEA President Sheila Cohen and Vice President Jeff Leake’s column in the February – March CEA Advisor.

Our Perspective – CEA President Sheila Cohen and Vice President Jeff Leake

We felt a sense of history and pure excitement to be among the hundreds of thousands of people who attended President Barack Obama’s momentous inauguration on January 21.

There were Sousa marches, the ceremonial guns, and the voices of James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce. But what was extra special was seeing President Obama take the oath of office on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. How appropriate that this inauguration coincided with the celebration of the birth of a great man who fought for equality through peaceful and nonviolent civil disobedience. He also exemplified the ideals of our country’s founders—a theme sounded in the president’s address.

In his speech, President Obama sounded the theme of faith in America’s future, urging “fidelity to our founding principles.” He added, “When times change, so must we.” The president called for “new responses to new challenges.” One of those challenges, of course, involves gun and school safety.

It did not surprise us that the president was on message when he said, “Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

In our view, the day was overshadowed by the somber mood we all feel after the horrific Newtown mass shooting. We vigorously applauded the president when he told Americans they have the power to set this country’s course, urging us to fulfill our “obligation to share the debates of our time.”

Working with teachers, state policymakers, and communities across the state, CEA is fulfilling our obligation to share in one of the critical debates of our time—gun and school safety.

New polling is basis for policy direction

We were heartened that our colleagues at the National Education Association (NEA) helped set the tone for this debate by releasing a national poll that showed educators nationwide overwhelmingly support stronger laws to prevent gun violence and keep children safe.

Wanting Connecticut-specific polling data for the Connecticut-specific state legislative debate, our state Association undertook our own poll. It was the first time Connecticut teachers were asked for their opinions about school and gun safety in a comprehensive manner that is representative of educators’ views.

Our CEA survey found that members overwhelmingly support stronger gun safety laws and updating school facilities to deal with modern dangers. In fact, almost all of our members surveyed favor extending criminal and mental health background checks for all gun purchases, and a majority support banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. It also is notable that educators in Connecticut and nationwide outright reject the notion of teachers carrying guns in the classroom.

Our findings are similar to the recommendations that Vice President Biden submitted to President Obama in January. At both the state and national levels, there appear to be clear areas of agreement. We urge legislators in Washington, D.C., and Hartford to listen to their constituents and pass strong laws that will protect and keep America’s children safe from harm.

At the State Capitol, we were front and center when the state legislature’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety started work on January 25. CEA testified before the Task Force’s School Safety Working Group, calling on the state to “do what is necessary to make sure every child in our state’s public schools has a safe and secure learning environment.”

CEA urged the task force to listen to ideas advanced by students, educators, parents, and others in our communities and ensure that localities have the resources necessary, including more school counselors, social workers, and psychologists.

We believe that the task force should ask the full legislature to create School Safety Committees in every school. Districts should be able to choose the safety measures for their schools as they see fit. But the legislature would show leadership by acting swiftly and providing models that schools could review, edit, and adopt.

Dedicated teachers offered helping hand

There was great inspiration to be found in the outpouring of love and support following the Newtown shooting. We received calls from all over the world, including Europe, Mexico, and Australia, and from nearly every education association in the country, offering condolences and support. Everyone wanted to do something to help.

Here in Connecticut, teachers did whatever they could to help their Newtown colleagues. They held vigils; offered counseling and support; held fundraisers; donated to numerous funds; provided lunch to Sandy Hook teachers; participated in the snowflake project, creating paper snowflakes for display in the windows at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School; and so much more.

In Monroe, teachers paired up with Sandy Hook Elementary School faculty to help prepare new classrooms for students at the old Chalk Hill School. At a church service in Waterbury, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel joined Connecticut teachers in paying tribute to the victims.

These acts of kindness are not surprising, since we are a caring group ready to jump in and help in a time of crisis—in our home state and around the country. To that point, some of our colleagues from the Ohio Education Association Crisis Team, whom we contacted, did not hesitate to travel to Connecticut to help. They were a great resource for Newtown at the time of the crisis.

The Ohio team is one of several NEA state affiliates with organized crisis response teams that are part of the NEA Health Information Network Safe Schools Initiative. They are dispatched to help members deal with traumatic events and emergencies. The team is expected back in Newtown in the next few months to offer support to the teachers in what, as expected, will be a long healing process.

Moving forward

No matter where we encounter a colleague, when the talk turns to Sandy Hook, the attention gets focused on how to help in a meaningful and collective way. Toward this end, the CEA Board of Directors has voted to create the CEA Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund, within the Connecticut Education Foundation.

We’ve set a fundraising goal of $1 million to create a bronze memorial sculpture and a scholarship fund that will later be turned over to the UConn Foundation. Already there has been an outpouring of support and generosity, and we hope you will join it. You can visit www.cea.org/donatewithteachers to participate.

In the weeks ahead, your political action will also be needed to shape the debate on guns and school safety. As we mentioned at the beginning of this column, we hope you all feel our obligation to share the debates of our time. There is no greater challenge than ensuring that our schools are safe havens and that a mass fatality never again occurs in our state. There is a powerful North Star guiding our work, and we hope, yours. It is the timely paraphrase of a quote from President Obama: Our first task as a society is to keep our children safe.

Column: The New Pinkertons

CEA Advisor April 2011CEA Executive Director John Yrchik has a great column in the April CEA Advisor. You should be receiving your Advisor in the mail any day now if you haven’t already. You can also always read the CEA Advisor online.  John’s column is reprinted below.

The New Pinkertons

Clashes between striking workers and Pinkerton guards in the 19th century formed a sad and bloody chapter in American history. Hired by some of the country’s wealthiest citizens in America’s Gilded Age, members of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency infiltrated unions, protected strikebreakers, and worked to keep union supporters out of plants and mines.

The new Pinkertons don’t use clubs. They use legislation. Their objective is the same, however—to destroy or to otherwise cripple unions. Unless you’ve been living in a desert hut, you know that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and a Republican-dominated legislature took away bargaining rights that public employees have had for more than 50 years.

In neighboring Ohio, Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that dealt a mortal blow to public employee collective bargaining rights. While teachers and others will still be able to negotiate wages and certain working conditions, they will not be able to negotiate health benefits or sick time. Future wage increases will not be based on seniority, but merit. The bill also bans automatic payroll deduction for political expenditures and eliminates agency fee collections.

Butch Otter, Governor of Idaho, signed into law two bills that would restrict collective bargaining rights for teachers, eliminate continuing contracts for new teachers, and implement a pay-for-performance plan. The new laws are part of what State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna calls his “Students Come First” agenda. Not to be cheeky, but students didn’t ask to restrict teachers’ collective bargaining rights or get rid of tenure. Let’s be clear about what this really is—some adults beating the hell out of other adults in the name of students.

A bill in Tennessee would ban collective bargaining altogether. It was introduced less than a year after the Tennessee Education Association collaborated with the state and other education stakeholders to secure Race to the Top funding.

The national picture is truly bleak. NEA affiliates in Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, and Alabama are facing serious threats in the areas of professional rights, employee rights, and union rights. Conservative politicians are seeking to drain union coffers even as they make frontal assaults on the institution of public employee unionism and seek the diminution of the stature of teachers.

It’s helpful to remember that the climate in Connecticut would be very different today if the 2010 election had gone 5,000 votes the other way. And, although we’ve been somewhat insulated to date, we have not been altogether immune from the wave of national hostility toward teachers and other public employees. A barrage of negative advertising about Connecticut schools and a private think tank’s calls for an end to seniority as a factor in layoffs possess an eerie resonance with events in the rest of the country.

More than ever before, the eddies of events in Wisconsin, Idaho, and other states are finding their way to our state. These forces embolden those hostile to the things for which we stand. The environment will continue to grow more challenging for us. The future will require more active intervention in the challenges of public education, discernment about what constitutes good policy, grassroots involvement in the political process, and, above all, unity. In the last several years, we have begun to respond to these external threats. Much work remains to be done.

There Must Be Consequences for Assault – Tell the Judiciary Committee to Support SB 1163

CEA members (left to right) Carmella Lorusso, June Kozloski, and Ann Carone wait to tell the Judiciary Committee about their experiences with teacher assault.

A high school student slammed the classroom door on Ann Carone’s arm. The Bridgeport teacher suffered tendon and muscle sprains that required physical therapy and caused her pain for several months. The student responsible did not spend any time in detention or suspension.

“It is my biggest fear that this student has been sent a message that it is alright to injure teachers and others in authority because no corrective action will be taken,” Carone told the State Legislature’s Judiciary Committee.

She testified at a public hearing on Senate Bill 1163 – An Act Concerning the Assault of a School Employee – along with four other CEA members: Diane Baughn, Cathy Delehanty, June Kozloski and Carmella Lorusso.  Legislators at the hearing received copies of the February-March CEA Advisor which featured Baughn’s story as well as those of Kozloski and teacher Peter Zezima.

CEA staff member Robyn Kaplan-Cho asked legislators to “Please support Senate Bill 1163 and allow the judicial system to respond to the seriousness of an assault on a school employee.”

Assaults on the rise

Lorusso is the Grievance Chair for the Bridgeport Education Association.  She told the Judiciary Committee, “As I communicate with teachers throughout the district, I hear an increasingly alarming number of stories from teachers who have been assaulted by their students.”

Perhaps you or a colleague are one of the growing number of educators who have been assaulted by a student.

Tell the Judiciary Committee to support SB 1163

Email members of the Judiciary Committee who represent your town and tell them to support Senate Bill 1163. Click here to find a list of Judiciary Committee members, their email addresses and suggested points to use in your email. If you have a personal story regarding this issue, please share it with your legislators.