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Posts from the ‘Politics’ Category

CEA on Radio: Legislators Must Act to End Assaults by Students

CEA’s Robyn Kaplan-Cho and Manchester Education Association President Kate Dias appeared on Mornings With Ray Dunaway today to talk about classroom safety and disruptive student behavior.

As surprising as it may sound, students biting, kicking, throwing furniture, and hurting other students and teachers has become common in schools across Connecticut, CEA Program Development Specialist Robyn Kaplan-Cho told WTIC’s Ray Dunaway during an appearance on his radio show this morning.

“Teachers are basically expected to take care of every possible societal ill while also making sure these kids are learning. And the schools are not equipped for it, there aren’t the resources for it, and the level of administrative and parental support in many cases is not what it needs to be,” said Kaplan-Cho. Read more

Teachers Urge Legislators to Roll Back Unfair Teacher Payroll Tax

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams urged legislators to pass a bill that would roll back the unfair increase in the teacher payroll tax.

The increased pension contribution for teachers that legislators passed last year without so much as a public hearing is causing financial hardship for CEA members. The payroll tax increase, combined with increases in healthcare costs, furlough days, and little or no wage increases mean that many Connecticut teachers are taking home less pay this year than they did last year.

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams today told the legislature’s Finance Committee that “teachers were singled out for the largest per capita tax increase—an average of about $700 per teacher. The dollars collected by the state were not used to offset the state’s unfunded liability in the teacher retirement fund, but rather were used to reduce the state’s contribution to the fund.” Read more

Teachers Share With Legislators Heartfelt Stories of Being Assaulted

CEA UniServ Reps Sue Fulleton and Mike Casey, Norwich teacher Heidi Kapszukiewicz, and Manchester school social worker Charity Korb were some of the CEA members and staff who testified on student assault at a legislative hearing last night.

Although it was after ten o’clock last night by the time the legislature’s Education Committee heard public testimony on a bill to help ensure classroom safety and address student assaults, CEA members and staff made sure they were present to testify so that legislators could hear their stories.

“I am here today to tell you that there is a crisis in many schools across Connecticut related to student and teacher safety. And although it might seem incredulous, the majority of the most serious safety issues are occurring in elementary classrooms, including in pre-kindergarten,” CEA Program Development Specialist Robyn Kaplan-Cho told legislators.

With increasing frequency, teachers are reporting being assaulted by students in their classrooms. From being kicked, bitten, and knocked down to having chairs and books thrown at them, teachers are dealing with a sharp rise in aggressive student behavior that impacts not only educators, but also students. Read more

CEO-Led Commission Raises Taxes, Takes Aim at Worker Freedoms, Teacher Pensions

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams (at left), Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier, and AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano talk to reporters about the commission’s report.

Raising the state sales and gas taxes, eliminating the estate and gift taxes, selectively raising business taxes, eliminating collective bargaining for state workers, and reforming the Teachers’ Retirement System are just a few of the recommendations released today by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth.

The 14-member commission, made up mostly of wealthy CEOs and business leaders—nine of whom have strong ties to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association—proposed 10 key recommendations, the majority of which hurt the state’s middle class.

“There is much to unpack in the commission’s report, but raising taxes that disproportionately harm the middle class while providing tax cuts for the wealthy is not a formula that makes sense,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. Read more

CEA, Union Leaders, Legislators Fight for Freedoms and Rights of the Middle Class

CEA President Sheila Cohen joined labor leaders from across the state and legislators at a rally today in Hartford as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus vs. AFSCME.

“Stand up. Rise up. Lift up. No justice, no peace.”

That was the rallying cry of more than 350 union workers on the steps of the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford today. CEA leaders were joined by labor leaders from across the state and legislators in speaking out to protect the rights and freedom of workers to negotiate together and fight for decent and equitable pay, affordable health care, quality schools, and vibrant communities.

Workers held simultaneous rallies in three other cities across Connecticut—New Haven, Stamford, and Storrs—as oral arguments were heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus vs. AFSCME case which threatens to take away worker’s collective rights and freedoms of the middle class. Read more

What Does Connecticut’s New General Assembly Session Mean for Teacher Pensions, School Funding?

Connecticut State CapitolThough his opening address to the 2018 General Assembly today emphasized Connecticut’s tradition of fairness and the state’s future generations, the governor’s new budget proposal delivers mixed news for Connecticut students, teachers, and schools.

On the plus side, the governor’s plan includes a proposal to restructure state payments to the teacher retirement fund in a way that promotes the long-term solvency and stability of the fund.

“We support this initiative,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen, “but the plan must go further.” CEA is calling on the state to repeal the recent 1% increase in the teacher payroll tax, which increased the state’s pension obligation debt by $20 million.  Read more

Tomorrow: Legislative Session 2018

Tomorrow begins the 2018 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. It’s likely to be a busy session with many issues for legislators to tackle over these next three months.

Students, parents, teachers, and communities across the state are currently dealing with the destructive consequences of last year’s education cuts—fewer resources for children, layoffs of teachers and other educators, increases in class sizes, program and enrichment cuts, and disruption in our classrooms and communities in the middle of the school year.

Some of CEA’s priorities this session include restoring local public school funding, repealing the 1 percent teacher tax, protecting teacher pensions, safeguarding students and teachers from aggressive behavior, and advocating for teacher rights. Read more

Underfunding by Legislature Leads to Changes to Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance

A change to the retired teachers’ health insurance program that was adopted by the State Teachers’ Retirement Board (TRB) this month will impact retired teachers and spouses who are on—or will soon be on—the TRB’s Medicare supplement (65 and older) plan.

The new base plan will actually have a lower premium ($134 per person, per month) and it will be a Medicare Advantage plan through Anthem. The TRB will continue to offer the current Stirling plan, but it will be a buy-up, at $259 per person, per month, for the full package that includes drugs, dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Read more

Teachers, Parents Calling for Transparency Shut Out of Stratford Board of Education Meeting

Teachers, parents, and community members were shut out of a Stratford Board of Education meeting Monday after the board refused to change venues to a room big enough to accommodate all who wanted to participate.

Public officials are elected to represent the interests of local residents, but members of the Stratford Board of Education abdicated their responsibility to town residents Monday by shutting them out of a public meeting.

Though the board had received notice days in advance that the number of teachers, parents, and community members expected to attend the first meeting of the board, which was elected in November, would exceed the room’s capacity, the board refused to change the venue.

Some teachers, parents, and community members were consequently shut out from participating in their town’s democratic process at a crucial time for Stratford’s schools and students. Read more