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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

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

Share with Legislators Why We Need a Comprehensive Approach to Address Student Trauma

The Education Committee has an important hearing scheduled for Monday, and we need you to share your stories!

Monday’s public hearing will include testimony on legislation related to social and emotional learning in our schools in the form of HB 5378.

While the Education Committee’s proposal contains important pieces, it is not enough. What is truly necessary is a comprehensive approach to address student trauma and promote social emotional learning.

CLICK HERE to submit testimony on this important initiative. Read more

CEA, Others Support Bill Protecting Teachers’ Rights to Stand Together

In a public hearing before Connecticut’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, CEA President Jeff Leake and others voiced their support of House Bill 5270, which protects the rights of teachers and others to join or remain in their union. Among other things, it prevents employers from deterring or discouraging employees from being members of their union or from learning about their union during new employee orientation.

Testifying before the Labor Committee are Rep. Anne Hughes and Attorney Dan Livingston. In a show of support behind them (L-R) are AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Jody Barr, CEUI President Carl Chisem, SEIU 1119 President Rob Baril, CEA President Jeff Leake, and AFT CT President Jan Hochadel.

“The bill we support is important because it ensures that the relationship between unions and their members is collaborative, communicative, and inclusive,” said Leake. “It pushes back against policies that undermine this relationship, and it fights back against individuals with unimaginable wealth who actively spend it to expand their wealth at the expense of the remaining 99% of workers just trying to get by.” Read more

Governor Pledges Support for Students, Families, and Teachers in New Budget, Legislative Session

During his State of the State address today Governor Ned Lamont made a series of pledges aimed at increasing support for Connecticut’s students, families, and teachers and continuing to build on the strides the state has made over the last year.

“Our budget provided predictability to those counting on it most,” he said, adding, “I have heard from school principals, city and town leaders, small businesses and families, all saying, ‘Finally, we can now plan for our future.’” The budget, he noted, made Connecticut’s largest-ever investment in K-12 education, reducing some of the burden on cities and towns and providing teachers with more of the resources they need. Read more