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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

This Wednesday, Hear From Reps. Jahana Hayes and Joe Courtney on School Reopening

Join us for a discussion this Wednesday, August 12, from 4-5 p.m., with Representatives Jahana Hayes and Joe Courtney and CEA leadership regarding educational issues at the federal level.

Topics will include:

  • Status of the HEROES Act
  • Education Funding
  • Reopening Schools
  • Pushing back against education “reform”
  • Betsy DeVos

Register today.

Giveaway: NEA and CEA do not use dues dollars to contribute to a candidate or a political party—this support comes from voluntarily contributions by members to the NEA Fund.

Now through September 15 at noon, any CEA member who makes a contribution to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education will be entered into a giveaway for a virtual happy hour with CEA President Jeff Leake, CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, and other special guests.

The virtual gathering will be scheduled for the last week of September, schedules permitting.

Washington Weighs In: Senator Chris Murphy on School Reopening

More than 70 CEA members who are local leaders in their associations joined a virtual meeting with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy this week to hear congressional plans and challenges when it comes to school reopening.

A member of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the son of a Connecticut ESL teacher, and the parent of two children who attend public schools, Murphy expressed his appreciation for CEA raising school reopening issues with teachers, students, and parents.

“We have one of the most impressive delegations of representatives and senators here in Connecticut,” said CEA President Jeff Leake, “and we appreciate your fighting for public education and taking the time to update us.”

“None of us wants to put students in schools that are not safe,” Murphy acknowledged. At the federal level, he explained, he and likeminded lawmakers are working to secure funding for safeguards that ensure schools are safer from a public health standpoint as well as better-equipped learning environments. Read more

How to Request an Absentee Ballot to Vote in the August 11 Primaries

i-voted-sticker-lot-1550340The election this November 3 will be as important as any before it for students and teachers. Elections for federal and state positions will have wide-reaching impacts on everything from keeping our schools safe during the pandemic, to education funding, to involving educators in the decision making processes.

For the first time ever in Connecticut, due to COVID-19, voters can choose to vote by mail via an absentee ballot or in person in the upcoming Democratic and Republican primaries which are being held Tuesday, August 11.

If you are an active, registered voter with a major party affiliation, (Democrat or Republican), you should have received an absentee ballot application in the mail last week from the Secretary of the State’s office.

If you want to vote by mail using an absentee ballot and haven’t sent in your application already, here is what you need to do today: Read more

Hayes and Murphy Address Education Concerns During Tele-Town Hall

Despite the social distancing restrictions now in place due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to communicate with your elected officials, at the local, state, and federal levels. During a tele-town hall yesterday with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and constituents, Senator Chris Murphy reinforced this message saying, “Everything that Jahana and I do we do on orders from you.” He encouraged Connecticut residents to email, call, or write their senators and representatives, as well as take part in virtual meetings.  

Constituents asked questions on a number of issues related to the current health crisis, and several questions involved public education. Read more

Help Connecticut’s Working Families

CEA is joining with our fellow members of the labor movement in calling on the governor and legislators to protect the health and safety of all working people, including workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We must do everything we can to reduce the heavy toll this public health emergency is inflicting on the livelihoods of our colleagues and neighbors who are facing layoffs, furloughs, reduced hours, and shutdowns.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has suspended utility disconnections for nonpayment and Governor Lamont has suspended certain requirements for furloughed workers so they can more easily obtain unemployment benefits—critical steps in making sure working people facing serious health and financial risks receive the assistance they need.

Now it’s time we urge the governor and legislature to do even more to help workers feeling the adverse economic impacts of the coronavirus.

This crisis has exposed the shortcomings of our worker protection and health care systems. We need to make sure working people do not bear the brunt of the impact.

Steps the state of Connecticut should take include: Read more

Tell Congress to Take Further Action to Give Families Much-Needed Relief

A bill President Trump signed into law yesterday is an important step in the right direction to provide relief during this difficult time, but the education community wants Congress to go further to provide families with immediate financial support and regulatory relief.

The bill signed yesterday makes it easier for students who typically receive school meals to get access to food and extends sick leave and family leave protections to government employees, including public school teachers.

The National Education Association is calling on members of Congress and the Trump administration to implement immediate financial support measures first, along with regulatory relief that students desperately need from the Department of Education. Among the top measures that NEA is advocating: Read more

NEA Recommends Former Vice President Joe Biden for President

Educators have engaged in record numbers in the 2020 presidential campaign and have made it clear they are ready to take this activism and organizing all the way to November.

After yesterday’s primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, Vice President Joe Biden has 1,180 delegates to Senator Bernie Sanders’ 885.

After much debate and careful consideration, NEA recently decided to endorse Biden in the Democratic primary based on his record of support for public education. Read more

Connecticut Teachers Testify in Support of Minority Teacher Recruitment Bill

Connecticut teachers are sharing their stories with legislators in the hopes of diversifying teaching in Connecticut, where more than 40% of the student population are children of color, while educators of color comprise only about eight person of the teaching force.

From right, teachers Marquis Johnson, Windsor; Sheena Graham, Bridgeport; and Faith Sweeney, Westport; were among those who testified in support of a bill to help diversify Connecticut’s teaching force. Bloomfield teacher Elka Spencer (at left), testified in support of strengthening a social-emotional learning bill.

Teachers testified in favor of Senate Bill 390, An Act Concerning Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention, which would assist more minority teachers in obtaining teacher certification; develop a plan promote careers in the teaching profession to students in high school; and to establish a task force to study educator retention and sustainability. Read more

CEA Members, Staff Urge Passage of Legislation to Improve Air Quality in Schools

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Testifying before the legislature’s Public Health Committee, CEA legal counsel Melanie Kolek talks about the explosion of illnesses and workers’ compensation cases linked to sick schools.

Classrooms were over 100 degrees. Crayons were melted, tables warped, magnets curled and fell off the boards, candies melted, floors buckled. Medical concerns when the temperature of the room was unbearable consisted of dizzy spells, headaches, blackouts, concentration issues, and difficulty breathing. Extreme temperatures caused mold to grow throughout the building, including in the HVAC systems. Teachers discovered mold behind ceiling tiles, around pipes, behind the wallpaper, on baseboards, on student shared materials, and around windows. We began to notice that many of us, including students, were having medical concerns that affected our ability to function. We are concerned that the exposure to these elements will have lifelong effects on our overall health. 

Testimony from CEA’s members and legal team before the legislature’s Public Health Committee earlier this week has painted an alarming picture of classroom environments throughout the state. Dirty air vents, water intrusion, rodent droppings, and black mold have given rise to respiratory ailments, rashes, and debilitating illnesses among students and teachers.

Sharing personal accounts of the conditions in their own classrooms, teachers have been urging lawmakers this legislative session to pass House Bill 5431, An Act Concerning Indoor Air Quality in Schools. If enacted into law, it would improve environmental conditions in classrooms across the state and set minimum and maximum classroom temperatures. Read more

Teachers to Legislators: ‘Our Students Are Screaming Out for Help’

More than 50 Connecticut teachers, together with CEA leaders and staff, provided compelling testimony Monday in support of strengthening a bill that would integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) into teachers’ professional development.

In a public hearing that stretched into the evening, dozens of teachers submitted written and oral testimony before the legislature’s Education Committee concerning House Bill 5378, An Act Concerning the Integration of Social-Emotional Learning in Programs of Professional Development for Educators in Connecticut.

Many teachers turned out to testify on the importance of strengthening a bill about social-emotional learning, including Stacey Paley, Windsor; Carrie Cassady, Torrington; Kristen Record, Stratford; Lisa Thomas, Windsor; Kristen Lecco, Granby; Natalie Ferreri, Granby; and Lynne DeVito, Windsor.

While educators support a bill that provides for SEL PD, they believe HB 5378 does not go far enough to address the severity of the social-emotional crisis in their classrooms. They asked legislators to include additional provisions that would lead to meaningful change.

“The limited provisions of HB 5378 may be well intentioned, but they are woefully inadequate,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams, noting that most teachers and administrators are aware of SEL needs and priorities, and that simply requiring that SEL be incorporated in a school’s goals and professional development has already been achieved at many schools.

“The real challenge is to provide real resources to address the needs of students,” said Williams. “New, empty mandates are no substitute for the staff and dollars that many schools lack to appropriately address social-emotional learning and trauma-informed instruction. There is a deficit of school social workers, counselors, and psychologists. There are few dollars to provide the sustained, quality services that are necessary for student mental health and well-being. There is not enough infrastructure for the necessary outreach to families and inclusion of families in solutions for students.” Read more