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Stand Up for Human Rights This Saturday at the State Capitol

36414722_1078060318998592_187624701432954880_nTo mark the beginning of a year-long campaign to celebrate and commit Connecticut to Human Rights advocacy, the CT Human Rights Partnership is having a #StandUp4HumanRightsCT kickoff rally in Hartford this Saturday, September 8th.

The campaign aligns with the United Nations campaign of the same title and commemorates the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

From 1-3 p.m. at the State Capitol, speakers from across Connecticut will share perspectives on how human rights are being advanced in our communities and outline the work still to be done. There will be music and spoken-word performances, as well as information on how to continue the work in your own local community.

Find lists of speakers and cosponsors as well as more information here.

September 4 Is National #RedforEd Day—Please Join Us

While we remember the history of the labor movement this weekend and the sacrifices of generations of union members who went before us, this Labor Day weekend we also stand with our colleagues in Arizona and around the country whose plight shows so clearly why unions are still so vital today.

In places like Arizona, where unions have been weakened, teachers’ voices have been silenced, salaries and benefits have plummeted, working conditions have eroded, class sizes are higher, and outcomes for students are often lower. Many students in Arizona are not receiving the high-quality education they deserve because Arizona’s public schools are severely underfunded. Read more

Haddam-Killingworth Teachers Start the Year with a Splash

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A team of middle school teachers takes the trophy for the pool race at Haddam-Killingworth’s convocation. For more photos from the day’s events, visit CEA’s Flickr page.

Forget the crowded auditorium and the motivational speeches. At Haddam-Killingworth schools, convocation is about dunk tanks, pool races, DJs, and human games of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

“All that fun and energy, that’s who we are as people, and it’s what makes us successful as teachers,” says Haddam-Killingworth Education Association President Donna DiGregorio, who came to convocation in a blue tutu. Together with her colleagues, also decked out in tulle, DiGregorio helped organize a team-building activity—Hungry Hungry Teacher—in which educators, administrators, and staff competed in a wheelbarrow-style race to collect as many plastic balls as possible in small, round laundry baskets. Read more

Guilford Education Association Serves Up a Day of Fun and Fellowship

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Guilford teachers Kristie Whitcomb, Kevin Buno, Regina Sullivan (who is the local president), and Peter Cuticelli dish up a warm welcome for their colleagues at a pizza lunch provided by the Guilford Education Association.

Following their convocation this morning, Guilford teachers were treated to a pizza lunch, courtesy of the Guilford Education Association.

“We want to celebrate our teachers—about 320 GEA members—and welcome 18 new educators into our district,” said GEA President Regina Sullivan, a physical education teacher at Guilford High School, where the back-to-school celebration was held. “It’s important to start the year off with plenty of positive energy and let our teachers know how much we appreciate them.” Read more

CEA Summer Conference, Day Two: The Deep Dive

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Trumbull Education Association President John Mastroianni and Tolland teacher Tiffany Reynolds exchange ideas at CEA’s Summer Conference.

Energy levels remain high on day two of CEA’s Summer Conference, where hundreds of teachers have reconvened in Cromwell for intensive training, networking, and the sharing of ideas, concerns, and best practices.

“This is my second time attending,” says Tolland teacher Tiffany Reynolds. “The first time was last year, as an emerging leader. Since then, I’ve worked on two grievances, and I’m here to learn how to do that more effectively so that I can be the best advocate for my colleagues.” Read more

New CEA President Kicks Off Summer Conference

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CEA President Jeff Leake welcomes more than 300 teachers to this year’s Summer Conference.

Newly elected CEA President Jeff Leake welcomed more than 300 Connecticut teachers to CEA’s annual Summer Conference in Cromwell, featuring workshops for educators at every stage of their career looking to strengthen their profession and their collective voice.

Showing archived photos and footage of the 1978 Bridgeport Teachers Strike, including recollections of those who were jailed for speaking up for their rights, Leake thanked teachers for “understanding the importance of standing together as a union and working hard to make sure that every teacher and student has the resources they need to be successful.”

Once again, he added, “We face those whose intent is also to break this union. We must confront them and defeat their decades-long campaign to destroy public education, collective bargaining, and even the middle class. We must stand strong against the millionaires and billionaires who see education as a giant pool for profit. We must not let our voices be diminished. Read more

Teachers Cheer Yard Goats and New CEA President

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CEA President Jeff Leake throws out the first pitch at the Yard Goats’ CEA Teacher Appreciation Day game yesterday.

CEA President Jeff Leake kicked off Teacher Appreciation Day at the Yard Goats baseball game last night by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Hundreds of teachers and their families, wearing CEA buttons that say “Teachers Love Kids,” were on hand to watch Leake take to the mound at the second of three CEA member appreciation days this baseball season.

Many were happy to see Leake, wearing his Red for Ed shirt, on the field representing educators not just in Connecticut, but across the country.

“Teachers are a vital part of our community, and it is greatly appreciated when we are recognized for all the good work we do,” said Granby teacher Christina Fleming who attended the game with her family and friends. Read more

Legislators Fail Students and Teachers on Classroom Safety, Supports for At-Risk Students

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Legislators failed to protect students and teachers—and lost the best chance Connecticut has had to increase classroom safety for all students and reduce discriminatory discipline for students of color and special education students—when they failed today to override Governor Malloy’s veto of the classroom safety bill.

“It is truly disheartening that legislators and the governor denied protections for the safety of students and teachers, and proactive supports to help students who cause physical injury to others,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The only way to end the school-to-prison pipeline is to take actions that hold administrators accountable for ensuring that students receive the resources they need. We are disappointed that legislators, who passed this bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, failed to override the governor’s veto and enact this bill into law.”

Read more

Path Academy Charter School Given One Week to Address Serious Problems—Or Lose Charter

The deeply troubled Path Academy has been given a week to propose a solution to the multitude of problems plaguing the charter school and its operators, according to yesterday’s decision by the State Board of Education.

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Path Academy charter school in Windham faces revocation of its charter unless it can solve problems including chronic student absenteeism and the misuse of millions of public dollars.

The State Board of Education says Path Academy overbilled state taxpayers by nearly $2 million, opened two satellite campuses without approval, and 100 percent of its students are classified as chronically absent.

Path Academy gained access to public education dollars because of its mission to help students with challenging life circumstances. Unfortunately, the school failed both its students and the state.

“This was a breach of public trust and a failure to meet the most basic fiduciary duties that all public schools have: to spend education dollars on their intended purposes and to the benefit of students,” said CEA’s Orlando Rodriguez, testifying at yesterday’s hearing. “This board cannot overlook the egregious lack of accountability at Path Academy by both its administrative staff and board of governance. As for the students at Path Academy, every effort should be made to provide them resources to graduate on time.” Read more

Governor’s Veto Denies Support for Classroom Safety and Resources for Students in Need

iStock-Hartford-Capitol-Summer thinWith the swipe of his pen, Governor Malloy vetoed the best chance Connecticut has had to end the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce discriminatory discipline for students of color and special education students.

Public Act 18-89, which passed the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support, would have helped ensure a safe classroom environment for all students and educators. It would have required that students who cause physical injury to others receive appropriate counseling and services rather than being ignored or disciplined in a discriminatory way, which occurs too often at present.

CEA is urging legislators, who overwhelmingly supported and passed the bill, to override the governor’s veto. Without an override, Governor Malloy’s veto ensures that more youth will wind up in the criminal justice system rather than having their problems and needs addressed in a proactive manner. Read more