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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.”

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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

CEA Criticizes Practices at Corporate-Run Charter Including Apparent Fraud and Overbilling Taxpayers $1.6 Million

The Connecticut Education Association supports the State Department of Education’s revocation proceedings for Path Academy Charter School in Windham and its charter management organization (CMO), Our Piece of the Pie. The Department has uncovered shocking practices that include defrauding the state of nearly $1.6 million, billing the state for 128 phantom students, operating unauthorized schools, and tolerating excessive absenteeism.

“The state cannot allow these shocking practices to continue. Our children and their education—as well as state dollars—require protection from fraud and fiscal abuse,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “It is unacceptable when charter schools are not held to the same standards as traditional public schools, or are given free reign over public dollars with no public oversight.” Read more

Teachers Elect New Leaders

In contested races, 428 teacher delegates elected a new president, Jeff Leake, and vice president, Tom Nicholas, to lead the Connecticut Education Association for the next three years. The election took place on May 19 at the 170th CEA Representative Assembly (CEA RA). The president and vice president’s three-year terms begin July 15.

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Current CEA Vice President Jeff Leake and Treasurer Tom Nicholas were voted CEA President and Vice President at the CEA RA today.

In addition, in uncontested races, delegates elected directors to represent them on the NEA Board of Directors. Vernon teacher David Jedidian was elected NEA director, and Tara Flaherty, a teacher at Shepaug Valley School in Washington, was elected NEA director alternate. Their three-year terms begin September 1.

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Unity, Solidarity Key Messages at CEA RA

Nearly 420 teachers gathered at Mohegan Sun Convention Center tonight to begin setting policy and electing new leaders at the 170th Connecticut Education Association Representative Assembly (CEA RA). The CEA RA is the Association’s highest policymaking body.

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CEA President Sheila Cohen convened the 170th CEA Representative Assembly.

 

On day one of the two-day assembly, CEA Executive Director Donald Williams remembered the teacher and nine students who lost their lives in the latest school shooting, at Santa Fe High School in Texas, earlier that morning. Williams also noted the 22 separate school shootings that have occurred so far this year in the United States, and urged, “We cannot normalize this in our country.” Read more

Legislators Pass Bill to Improve Classroom Safety

CEA UniServ Reps Sue Fulleton and Mike Casey and Norwich teacher Heidi Kapszukiewicz, were some of the CEA members and staff who testified on classroom safety before the legislature this year.

In an important step toward ensuring the safety of Connecticut students and teachers, the State House and Senate have both passed SB 453. It protects students and teachers in the classroom, and ensures that students who need assistance get the help they need. It also helps decrease the number of those who later wind up in the criminal justice system by providing assistance now, in a pro-active manner. This is a better result for everyone.

The bill requires all public school districts to ensure daily classroom safety, which is defined as

“…a classroom environment in which students and school employees are not physically injured by other students, school employees or parents, or exposed to such physical injury to others.”

CEA members have been contacting lawmakers all session long, urging them to pass this important bill, and lawmakers clearly heard and responded to their concerns. Read more

Students and Parents Show Teachers Their Thanks

CREC Montessori Magnet student Matteo Dolzadelli helps prepare the teacher appreciation breakfast.

Teachers deserve our appreciation each and every day, and today students and parents are making a special effort to extend their thanks to teachers on National Teacher Day.

At CREC Montessori Magnet School in Hartford, the thanks took the form of a breakfast and juice bar that parents organized as a small token of their appreciation.

Parent Jimena Dolzadelli has been organizing the annual event for nearly a decade, and each year more food offerings are added. In addition to muffins, cookies, quiche, and fruit, this year’s spread included freshly squeezed orange juice, watermelon lemonade, and a vegan detox smoothie. Read more