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CEA Seeks Input from Teachers of Color to Increase Diversity in the Profession

DSC_2558Nearly 40 educators met and mingled at the first-ever Hartford Regional Ethnic Minority Teacher Social hosted by CEA on Monday. The event was an opportunity for teachers of color to network, discuss ways of diversifying a predominantly white teaching force in Connecticut, and explore avenues for becoming more involved at all levels of the union—from their local and state associations to NEA.

“This was a great event,” said CREC teacher Anjanee Wright. “I got to meet other educators I wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to meet because we work in different districts. It was a good opportunity to talk to each other.” Read more

New Program Seeks to Recruit, Retain Minority Teachers

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CREC Education Association President Lisa Cordova testifies before the State Board of Education about a new program to recruit, prepare, and train ethnic minority teachers. 

CEA is developing and supporting a number of initiatives—from public policy to practice—to ensure that Connecticut’s teaching force better reflects the diversity of its student population.

Lisa Cordova, president of the CREC Education Association, testified this morning before members of the State Board of Education about one such initiative—created by CREC—that is aimed at recruiting, preparing, and retaining greater numbers of ethnic minority teachers.

“We hope you share our enthusiasm for our program and grant us the opportunity to begin in June,” she told the Board.

The CREC Teacher Residency Program would place highly qualified minority teaching candidates with active class practitioners—exemplary CREC teachers who would mentor and guide them in sound instructional practices.

“This residency program was developed and would be taught by CREC classroom teachers, who understand what a candidate needs to create an effective learning environment,” Cordova said. “We are proud of the collaborative spirit that created this comprehensive program, which addresses the continuing need to have teachers of color instructing CREC students,” she added, noting that the program’s development was a joint effort of CREC teachers and district administrators, with support from CEA.

Look for details about this and similar initiatives in the next CEA Advisor.

Retired Teachers Lobby Legislators to Support Teacher Pensions and More

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Members of the CEA-Retired Legislative Advisory Council prepare to meet with their elected officials at Retired Teachers Lobby Day.

In an overwhelming turnout for Retired Teachers Lobby Day, hundreds of former Connecticut educators gathered at the Legislative Office Building this morning to meet with their elected officials about issues critical to public education and the teaching profession. Among the biggest of these are funding teacher pensions and avoiding a proposed cost shift.

 

“We must avoid any shift of the state’s responsibility to fund teacher pensions onto cities and towns,” said CEA-Retired member and legislative co-chair Karen O’Connell—a move she cautions could impact education budgets, and in turn, students and teachers. The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee is expected to vote on the issue by the end of the week.

O’Connell and legislative co-chair Myles Cohen said that Retired Teachers Lobby Day—a joint effort of CEA-Retired, the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut (ARTC), and AFT Connecticut—brings longtime educators and legislators face to face to discuss issues ranging from adequate funding of teachers’ retirement and healthcare benefits to the resources necessary to support public education. Read more

Exploring How Teachers Can Combat the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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Connecticut Teacher of the Year Sheena Graham listens in on a discussion about teachers’ roles in addressing the racial imbalance in our juvenile and criminal justice system. Seated with Graham are CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas and Bridgeport Education Association Vice President Ana Batista.

Despite the tremendous progress Connecticut has made in reducing the number of incarcerated youth over the past 10 years, a troubling trend continues: Black and brown children continue to come in contact with the juvenile and criminal justice system in disproportionate numbers compared to their white peers. Studies have confirmed that bias is one factor—meaning that white children are less likely to be referred to the juvenile or criminal justice system than their nonwhite peers, even for the same behaviors.

To address this continued racial imbalance, CEA’s Ethnic Minority Affairs Commission (EMAC) hosted a film screening of CPTV’s Color of Justice Revisited, followed by a discussion—led by experts in their fields—about how educators can help end the school-to-prison pipeline. More than 60 educators attended the event at Testo’s Ristorante in Bridgeport on April 25. Read more

Trumbull Teachers Send Message: Fund Our Schools

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Trumbull Education Association (TEA) President John Mastrianni (far left) is joined by colleagues throughout his district concerned about the impact of proposed budget cuts. TEA members attended a Town Council Finance Subcommittee meeting to send a message to fund their schools.

Teachers turned out in force at a Town Council Finance Subcommittee hearing in Trumbull to discuss proposed cuts to the district’s education budget—cuts that threaten to eliminate almost 20 teaching positions. Superintendent Gary Cialfi and other administrators presented details on the staffing cuts and other reductions that were announced earlier that day.

“We are deeply troubled by the town’s decision to slash the Board of Education’s budget by $2.3 million,” said Trumbull Education Association (TEA) President John Mastrianni. “Seven nontenured teachers have already been notified that they will not be renewed for budget reasons, and the elimination of positions will cause tenured teachers throughout the district to be displaced. We are asking the committee and the Town Council to pledge to restore these critical funds and take any action possible to prevent these cuts before the budget is adopted.” Read more

CEA to Stop & Shop Workers: Teachers Stand with You

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CEA staff and leaders join striking Stop & Shop workers in Elmwood in a show of solidarity and support. 

As the Stop & Shop strike continues with no deal reached on protecting employee wages, health benefits, and pensions, CEA staff, leaders, and members are joining picket lines across the state to show that teachers stand in solidarity with striking workers.

Yesterday nearly a dozen CEA leaders and staff walked with picketers outside the Stop & Shop supermarket in West Hartford’s Elmwood section, holding signs that read “Teachers Stand With You.” They thanked customers for honoring the picket line and supporting their community supermarket employees in their bargaining efforts.

“We are here with Stop & Shop employees until they get a fair wage and a fair contract,” said CEA President Jeff Leake, who has joined strikers at various locations.

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Teachers Urge Legislators to Support Community Schools, Minority Teacher Recruitment

Community schools, minority teacher recruitment and retention, the opportunity gap, and school literacy were just some of the issues members of the legislature’s Education Committee heard public input on today.

CEA members, leaders, and staff testified on a number of bills, ensuring teachers’ perspective was heard.

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CEA Raises Concerns about School Regionalization, Teacher Pensions, ECS Changes, and More

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CEA’s Jeff Leake, Kate Field, Orlando Rodriguez, and Ray Rossomando prepare to testify on a number of proposals with major implications for teachers, students, and school communities.

Teachers’ livelihoods and retirement security as well as educational outcomes for students are top priorities for the state’s largest teachers union. That’s why CEA staff and leaders came out to testify before the legislature’s Education Committee about various cost-cutting proposals that threaten those very priorities.

“We are fully aware of the need to right Connecticut’s financial ship,” CEA President Jeff Leake told the committee, “but that cannot be done by expecting local governments to fund the necessary payments into the Teachers’ Retirement System.” Cities and towns, he reminded lawmakers, are still struggling financially, and shifting the state’s responsibility for funding teacher retirement onto municipalities “is not the answer.” He proposed instead that the Connecticut Lottery be placed into the pension fund as a way of smoothing out payments into the TRS and reducing the state’s unfunded liability. Read more

Encouraging the Love of Reading With CEF’s 2nd Annual Reading Bus Tour

Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 6.07.56 PMThe second annual Read Across America Reading Bus Tour will be heading off across Eastern Connecticut on February 25 for a week full of visits to elementary schools. Over 1,000 fourth graders will get to board the bus for read alouds and hands-on activities, and will receive book bags, school supplies, and free books.

CEA Vice President and Connecticut Education Foundation (CEF) President Tom Nicholas joined iHeart Radio’s Renee DeNino recently to talk about the bus tour and the importance of reading in children’s lives. Listen to the interview here. Read more

Windsor Choral Teacher Cheers on Former Student, Finalist on The Voice

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Choral teacher Tracee White (left) is delighted to welcome NBC’s The Voice finalist Kymberli Joye back to Windsor High School, where she was White’s student all four years. Joye serves as an inspiration for White’s current students, who watch each episode as a class and are rooting for their hometown celebrity.

A teacher’s good work often shines in her students, and for Windsor High School choral director Tracee White, the product of her hard work now shines on television.

White is the former teacher of rising star Kymberli Joye, a current finalist on NBC’s television reality competition The Voice. Joye’s vocal talents have landed her a spot in the top 10 on the program, which airs Mondays and Tuesdays.

White, who taught Joye for four years and learned that her protégé was auditioning for the show earlier this year, has been following her former student’s successes, even incorporating her progress into lessons for her choir classes.

“I make it educational,” White says, adding that she shows each performance to her classes. “They write reflections and critiques on the vocal performances. They look forward to that every week.”

An added bonus was when her star student was able to visit Windsor High School recently to share her experiences on The Voice—a huge morale-booster for current students.

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