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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

Be Ready to Take Action

The school year is almost over, but the need for teacher activism is not. While the legislative session ended last week, lawmakers have yet to agree on a new state budget, necessitating a special session this summer.

We need to be prepared to fight any proposals that attack teachers, disregard the needs of our students, or ignore the resources our public schools require.

In the coming weeks, legislators will negotiate budget plans behind closed doors, leaving no opportunity for public input. That means we won’t have a lot of time to react and take action. Read more

Continued Teacher Advocacy a Must

Teachers have been speaking out forcefully against plans to shift the cost of teacher pensions onto cities and towns and raise property taxes, saying such plans would unfairly burden local taxpayers and lead to cuts in education and other essential services.

Yesterday it seemed that lawmakers on a key legislative committee were poised to respond to their constituents’ concerns and pass a budget that would maintain the state’s responsibility to fund retirement costs. At the last minute, budget talks fell apart however, and the Appropriations Committee did not approve a budget. Read more

An Open Letter to State Legislators

“Increasing property taxes for residents is not the comprehensive solution Connecticut needs to balance the state budget. We need a budget that works for all of us,” a coalition of ten organizations, which includes CEA, has written legislators.

Proposals to balance the state budget by shifting costs to cities and towns don’t sit well with Connecticut voters. The coalition of education organizations and groups representing cities and towns is urging legislators to reject these proposals.

Join us. Contact your legislators.

Tell your legislators to oppose any plans that will shift the cost of teacher retirement contributions from the state to cities and towns. A cost shift will lead to higher local property taxes and cuts to much-needed services in our communities.

Read the coalition’s open letter to legislators.

Raise Property Taxes? Coalition, Voters Say ‘No’

Speaking out at a town hall press conference in West Hartford, a statewide coalition of eight diverse associations, including CEA, called on legislators to avoid shifting the state’s financial obligations onto cities and towns.

Read more

Tell Your Legislators: Don’t Pass the Buck on Our Pensions

Legislators have begun to seriously consider numerous proposals, including the governor’s, to burden local cities and towns with the state obligation to fund teacher pensions.

Municipalities only have one way to raise revenue, so this cost shift would force towns to either raise local property taxes and/or cut local public education funding—leading to larger class sizes, loss of teaching positions, and fewer vital resources for students. Read more

Supreme Court Strikes Down Gorsuch Ruling on Special Education Funding: Decision Could Impact CCJEF Appeal

Last week, in the midst of a hearing on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices on that very court issued a unanimous decision that rejected one of Judge Gorsuch’s rulings against students with disabilities, and repudiated his reasoning in the case.

The decision came in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 and resolved a conflict among lower courts as to the level of educational benefits a school must provide to students with disabilities covered by the IDEA. Written by Chief Judge Roberts, the decision resoundingly rejected the “merely . . . more than de minimis” Gorsuch standard, holding that a school must offer those students an individualized education program (IEP) that is “reasonably calculated” to enable a student “to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” Read more

Educators Share Concerns With Legislators on Special Ed Proposals

Fairfield teacher and local president Bob Smoler testified before the legislature Thursday on a special education proposal.

Every year legislators on the Education Committee deliberate over many bills that could have a big impact on children, parents, and educators. This legislative session, special education is receiving particular attention.

Among the many bills the Education Committee heard testimony on today were one proposing a new way of funding special education in Connecticut and one that provides very prescriptive rules for parent observation, including allowing a minimum of 16 hours per parent in a school year.

Fairfield Education Association President and math teacher Bob Smoler took the time away from his busy teaching schedule to come up to Hartford to speak out on that second bill. Read more

CEA Asks Legislators to Demand Accountability, Transparency for Charter Management Organizations

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told the Legislature’s Education Committee that charter management organizations must be subject to transparency and accountability.

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg testified before the Education Committee today in favor of a bill that expands accountability and transparency for charter management organizations (CMOs) that run some of Connecticut’s publicly funded schools.

“Every dollar for public education is precious, and we need this legislation to ensure that every dollar spent by charter management organizations is spent on supporting students in those classrooms,” Waxenberg said. Read more

CEA to Legislature’s Education Committee: Create a System That Delivers Equity and Adequacy

Mark Waxenberg testified before the Education Committee today.

Mark Waxenberg testified before the Legislature’s Education Committee today.

Calling Connecticut’s system for funding public education “irretrievably broken,” CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg unveiled a bold new plan to ensure that all Connecticut school districts and students are winners.

Testifying before the legislature’s Education Committee today, he said the governor’s education budget proposal—which starts with a final dollar amount and then figures out how much to distribute to each district based on that limitation—“does it backwards and clearly should be rejected.” Waxenberg asked legislators to reform the state’s education finance system in a way that ensures adequate and equitable education opportunities for students in all districts across the state. Read more

When Was the Last Time You Talked to Your Legislators?

Meeting with State Senator Toni Boucher (3rd from right) were local Association leaders Ronna Van Veghel, New Canaan; Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan; Jeanne Deming, Ridgefield; Al Anderson, Bethel; Cynthia Rohr, Redding; John Horrigan, Westport; Andrew Nicsaji, Wilton.

Meeting with State Senator Toni Boucher (3rd from right) were local Association leaders Ronna Van Veghel, New Canaan; Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan; Jeanne Deming, Ridgefield; Al Robinson, Bethel; Cynthia Rohr, Redding; John Horrigan, Westport; and Andrew Nicsaji, Wilton.

Do your state senator and state representative know who you are? Thanks to a meeting over coffee on a recent Saturday, Senator Toni Boucher now knows the names and faces of leaders of each of the local CEA affiliates in the towns that she represents.

And Boucher knows that those seven local presidents and vice presidents represent over 3,000 teachers who vote and are strong advocates for their students and their profession.

Read more