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Posts from the ‘CEA Advisor’ Category

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.

February-March CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

The February-March CEA Advisor arrived at members’ homes this week.  If you prefer to read an electronic copy, click here.

This issue features stories about potential cuts for CommPACT schools, Race to the Top, a Farmington teacher’s new book, SRBI, and much more.

Ballots for electing delegates to the NEA Representative Assembly are also included on the last page of this issue – so make sure to vote and mail in your ballot.

Thousands of CEA Members Sign Petitions Opposing Health Care Excise Tax

These petitions are among the hundreds delivered to members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation – signed by more than 10,000 teachers – on December 22 that urge lawmakers to oppose a proposed excise tax on health care benefits.

CEA delivered hundreds of petitions signed by more than 10,000 teachers to members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation today.  The petitions urge lawmakers to oppose a proposed excise tax on health care benefits.

The U.S. Senate’s version of proposed health care reform legislation includes an excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, such as the plans that cover  teachers and their family members.

The petition drive involved local Association presidents, building representatives, local political coordinators, and CEA UniServ staff throughout the state. The drive — which collected the signatures in just three days — was organized to inform Connecticut’s representatives in Washington that while CEA and its members strongly support health care reform, they adamantly oppose the excise tax on health care benefits.

CEA President Phil Apruzzese says CEA and its local Associations could have collected even more signatures if there had been a longer time period to circulate the petitions.

“Given the short time frame and the large number of teachers who signed these petitions, this sends a strong message to our representatives about why we object to the excise tax and the serious impact it will have on teachers,” says Apruzzese.

“If the excise tax remains in the final bill that is approved and signed into law, it will place an unacceptable burden on our members – with approximately 40 percent being affected in the very first year.”

The petition called taxing health care benefits  “bad public policy” that would force employers to cut back health care benefits to avoid the tax or pass the new tax onto employees.

The petition noted that there are other options to pay for health care reform. For example, the proposed health care reform bill passed by the U.S. House funds health care reform by making large employers pay toward their workers’ coverage and adds a modest surtax on the wealthiest Americans.

“We are urging our representatives to ensure that the funding mechanism for this much needed health care reform is not in the form of an excise tax,” says CEA Executive Director John Yrchik.

For more information on the consequences of an excise tax on health care benefits, read the column by John Yrchik and Phil Apruzzese on page two of the December/January CEA Advisor.

Connecticut’s 2010 Teacher of the Year Featured in the Advisor

Kristi Luetjen, a kindergarten teacher at Whiting Lane Elementary in West Hartford, is Connecticut’s 2010 Teacher of the Year.  She is featured in the December-January CEA Advisor, which will soon be arriving at your home.

The video below was filmed October 14, immediately after Luetjen was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year.  She speaks about being named Teacher of the Year, her work with special education students, and how she has brought yoga into the classroom.

Astronaut-Teacher Contributes to BlogCEA

Sept-Oct 2009 CEA Advisor

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Rachael Manzer was featured on the cover of the September-October CEA Advisor.  She is one of seven teachers nation-wide selected as the first astronaut-teachers to participate in the nonprofit Teachers in Space program.

Manzer, a science teacher in Suffield, will be contributing a few posts to BlogCEA.  Use this opportunity to leave a comment and ask her a question about her experience and how she’s  incorporating it into her teaching.

Below Manzer answers the question, When did you find out you were selected for the Teachers in Space program?

I found out I was selected toward the end of May 2009.  I was at school between classes checking my email when I saw I had an email from Ed Wright, Program Director, concerning Teachers in Space.

Having just gone through a series of interviews, I quickly opened the email.  That is when I saw I was selected as an Astronaut Candidate.

I was so excited that I was jumping up and down exclaiming “I MADE IT! I MADE IT!”  until I realized my colleagues were looking at me strangely.

As I continued to read the email, it stated that I would have to keep the news quiet until it was announced at the press conference on July 20, 2009.  I did inform my immediate family and the school administrators.

This was the hardest secret I have had to keep.

June-July CEA Advisor

CEA Advisor June-July cover Catch up on CEA news with the June-July CEA Advisor.  The Advisor is online and in your mailbox.

May CEA Advisor at Your House and Online

CEA Advisor May 2009 The CEA Advisor for May is out!

April CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

Advisor April 2009 CoverThe April CEA Advisor has arrived at your home or will soon.  You can also read the April issue or past issues online.