The 2019 Connecticut legislative session ended at midnight last night, and, thanks to your advocacy, we were successful at achieving some of our top priorities.
Watch CEA Executive Director Don Williams’ summary of what we accomplished this session.
Safeguarding Teacher Pensions
The General Assembly has passed a fair, responsible state budget that ensures the long-term security of teacher pensions. Read more
The bilingual Talented and Gifted (TAG) program at Cesar Batalla School in Bridgeport aims to engage students, give them leadership skills, and expose them to the world outside their classrooms. TAG teacher Ana Batista’s seventh and eighth graders got all that and more on a recent trip to the State Capitol where they had the opportunity to be recognized on the House floor, meet state representatives from Bridgeport, and have their photo taken with Governor Ned Lamont and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.
Bridgeport students from Cesar Batalla’s bilingual Talented and Gifted program and their teacher Ana Batista (at right) had the chance to meet U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and Governor Ned Lamont during a recent trip to the Capitol.
The Greater Bridgeport Latino Network organized the trip for the students on Bridgeport Day at the Capitol, which began with State Rep Christopher Rosario showing them around the building and explaining the work of the legislature. The students were then ushered onto the floor of the House, where they saw Bridgeport’s newest State Rep. Antonio Felipe, a former Cesar Batalla student himself, sworn in. Read more
“Connecticut just got a raise,” state Senator Julie Kushner told the crowd assembled this morning to watch Governor Ned Lamont sign into law a bill that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Kushner, a retired union organizer, said that she has bargained contracts for five workers and 5,000 workers; however, “Never before did I have the experience of earning a raise for 332,000 people.”
At the Parkville Care Center in Hartford this morning, advocates, workers, business leaders, lawmakers, and labor leaders (including CEA President Jeff Leake at far left) gathered for the signing of minimum wage legislation.
Rep. Robyn Porter who, along with Kushner, spearheaded this year’s effort to pass the measure, said the struggle to pass this bill was a personal one for her.
“I have been that single mom working three jobs to take care of my kids,” she said. Referencing her defense of the bill during a marathon 14-hour debate on the floor of the House, Porter said, “I was going to stand for as long as it took, because I understood the difference this will make in people’s lives.” Read more
Legislators are still considering a proposal to shift the cost of teacher retirement onto cities and towns—and they need to hear from you. If this plan passes there will be less money for our schools, higher property taxes (especially in middle-income towns and Alliance districts), and districts with more experienced teachers will be penalized.
Surrounded by hundreds of East Hartford High School students, Governor Lamont today announced that Dalio Philanthropies has committed $100 million to strengthening public education and promoting greater economic opportunity in Connecticut that will, over five years, be matched by $100 million from the state and $100 million from other philanthropists and business leaders.
Governor Lamont addressed the hundreds of high school students and many visitors assembled at East Hartford High School this morning to hear his announcement.
“If you believe in the future of Connecticut, you invest in the future of Connecticut, and we invest in each and every one of you,” Governor Lamont told the high school students. “You’ve got an amazing building, you’ve got a great principal, you’ve got some of the greatest teachers in the world right here at East Hartford High. Let’s give a hand for the teachers. They work their hearts out every day.”
“I’ve been lucky in my life to be able to live the American Dream,” said Ray Dalio, who came from a middle-class background to found of one of the world’s largest hedge funds. “And what it means most fundamentally is equal opportunity, and most fundamentally equal opportunity in education. When you think, what is the best investment you can make, it has to be in the children’s education and the teachers.”
The partnership between the state and Dalio Philanthropies aims to benefit residents of Connecticut’s under-resourced communities, with a specific focus on communities where there is both a high poverty rate and a high concentration of youth (14-24) who are showing signs of disengagement or disconnection from high school. It will work with local stakeholders to ensure that community voice and input shape programming design and help advance positive outcomes as quickly and sustainably as possible. Read more
Teachers have a lot to say on issues from their pensions to classroom safety this legislative session, which is why local associations around Connecticut are meeting with their legislators and making their voices heard.
Hamden Education Association members including President Diane Marinaro, standing at right, had a number of questions for Rep. Mike D’Agostino, Rep. Josh Elliott, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, and Senator George Logan.
“Politicians make decisions that affect our students and our profession,” says Hamden Education Association Vice President David Abate. “Sitting back and waiting isn’t a solution. I don’t like politics, but for legislators to know what’s going on in our schools they have to hear from teachers.” Read more
U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes today returned to the school in Waterbury where she taught for fifteen years to highlight legislation she has introduced to keep guns out of classrooms. Joined by students, teachers, parents, and other members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation in front of Kennedy High School, Hayes said she scheduled the event after school, at a school, because, “For far too long, these conversations have been happening without the input of those most directly affected.”
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes stood outside John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury today with students, teachers, parents, and community members to highlight legislation she has introduced to keep guns out of classrooms.
Hayes recently sponsored a resolution in the House aimed at blocking the use of federal education grants to arm teachers. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy sponsored similar legislation in the Senate. Recommendations by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ School Safety Commission have left the door open for districts to use federal funds to arm teachers, and the Connecticut lawmakers want to ensure taxpayer dollars will never be used for this purpose.
“Teachers should not have to worry about securing a firearm in a school, or being trained to use a firearm in a high-pressure situation,” says Hayes. Read more
CEA sends condolences to the family, friends, and constituents of State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago, who passed away last night. Santiago was a leader in the state’s Latino community. He brought people together around important causes and was a champion of community schools. We will miss his advocacy for and commitment to the people of Bridgeport.