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Posts tagged ‘legislators’

More County Forums Next Week: Come and Talk to Your Legislators

North Haven teacher and local president Tom Marak talked to his legislators recently in Hamden.

With a proposed state budget that would divide Connecticut’s school districts into winners and losers and saddle towns with one-third of the cost of their teachers’ pensions, it’s vital that legislators hear loud and clear from CEA members.

It’s especially important to speak to your legislators now as some are considering a dangerous plan that would divert funding from local neighborhood schools

Make sure your legislators know where you stand. Forums for teachers who live or work in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, and New London Counties are scheduled for next week.

Email the contact for your county (see below) to attend a forum near you.

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When Was the Last Time You Talked to Your Legislators?

Meeting with State Senator Toni Boucher (3rd from right) were local Association leaders Ronna Van Veghel, New Canaan; Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan; Jeanne Deming, Ridgefield; Al Anderson, Bethel; Cynthia Rohr, Redding; John Horrigan, Westport; Andrew Nicsaji, Wilton.

Meeting with State Senator Toni Boucher (3rd from right) were local Association leaders Ronna Van Veghel, New Canaan; Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan; Jeanne Deming, Ridgefield; Al Robinson, Bethel; Cynthia Rohr, Redding; John Horrigan, Westport; and Andrew Nicsaji, Wilton.

Do your state senator and state representative know who you are? Thanks to a meeting over coffee on a recent Saturday, Senator Toni Boucher now knows the names and faces of leaders of each of the local CEA affiliates in the towns that she represents.

And Boucher knows that those seven local presidents and vice presidents represent over 3,000 teachers who vote and are strong advocates for their students and their profession.

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Be Ready to Act to Support Public Education: Join Your Colleagues

Kathryn Noonan, a first year teacher in Stonington, said she thinks it's especially important for new teachers to get involved.

Kathryn Noonan, a first year teacher in Stonington, said she thinks it’s especially important for new teachers to get involved.

The unprecedented number of calls and emails U.S. senators have received in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for secretary of education make it clear that teachers understand the outsized role that policy and politics can play in their classrooms.

It’s not just national lawmakers and decisions at the federal level that influence what happens in our schools, however. Often state-level decisions can shape Connecticut schools to a greater degree than federal policies do.

That’s why grassroots organizing and activism here in Connecticut by those who know public education best—teachers—is so critical for ensuring high-quality public education for all Connecticut students. Read more

Teachers Share Input on Teacher Evaluation, Common Core & More

Teachers are making their voices heard—talking to legislators and offering input on implementation of new federal education law. CEA County Forums around the state offer teachers an opportunity to meet CEA-endorsed candidates for elected office and share important information about what is going on in their classrooms.

Watch what teachers and legislators are saying about the forums and why you should attend. Then click here to register for an upcoming forum.

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Teachers on Why You Need to Attend a CEA County Forum

It’s your opportunity to help improve education policy in Connecticut: Don’t miss out.

Litchfield teachers were the first to take part in a CEA County Forum this fall, and they had a lot to say about how the Every Students Succeeds Act should be implemented in Connecticut. Teachers’ input is invaluable in determining how the new law will impact our students and our profession.

Watch why Litchfield County teachers say you should attend a forum in your county. Register to attend a forum today.

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What Teachers are Telling Their Legislators

Senate President Don Williams and Rep. Mae Flexer talk with teachers last night at a Regional Teacher Meeting in Dayville.

Senate President Don Williams and Rep. Mae Flexer were two of the legislators who talked with teachers last night at a CEA Regional Teacher Meeting in Dayville.

“They call Windham County the quiet corner, but you wouldn’t know it by the turnout tonight,” CEA Secretary Pat Jordan told the more than 100 teachers crowded into a room at the Gold Eagle in Dayville last night. Jordan welcomed the educators and five members of the Connecticut General Assembly to the first in a series of CEA Regional Teacher Meetings, where educators shared their frustrations and suggestions for improvement when it comes to implementing the new teacher evaluation system and Common Core.

“This evaluation system was set up to try to get rid of bad teachers, but it ends up punishing everyone,” Karen Abbey, a teacher at Parish Hill High School in Region 11, said. She said that the current climate created by the evaluation system has many teachers so discouraged that they are looking at other career options. Read more

Bring Your Classroom to the People Who Make the Laws

From left, retired teacher Gene Schultz, Senator Andrea Stillman, Senator Don Williams, and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie.

From left, retired teacher Gene Schultz, Senator Andrea Stillman, Senator Don Williams, and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie.

In an ideal world, state lawmakers would be able to visit your classroom to see firsthand the pace of change and the impact of school reform initiatives. But it’s not a perfect world. So, if you want lawmakers to understand the challenges you face and your students confront, then you have to bring your classroom to them.

Lawmakers adopt legislation that can have a big impact in the classroom. In order to have a say in policy decisions, teachers need to maintain connections with legislators and create opportunities for conversations.

That’s exactly what many CEA members are doing this legislative session. And it’s what you can do if you decide to stand up and speak out for your profession.

CEA members across the state are out talking to their legislators and making sure their voices are heard on important issues that affect the teaching profession. Last week, a teacher and a retired teacher met up with Education Committee Chair Senator Andrea Stillman, Senate President Don Williams, and other lawmakers at a meeting of the East Lyme Democratic Town Party.

The committee gave Senator Stillman an award for her dedication and hard work, especially in the area of public education. CEA Retired Advisory Council Member Gene Schultz and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie attended to thank Senator Stillman for her efforts and to talk with other legislators.

Wyllie says that when you meet with your legislators, “It puts a face on CEA and teachers. It makes education issues personal.” Legislators have to deal with lots of different issues, not just education, Wyllie says — which is why teacher input is so important.

Hearing personal stories from their own constituents makes a big difference to legislators. You don’t need to know all the details of proposed legislation to talk to your legislator, you just need to talk about how the legislation will affect you.

At the East Lyme event, Schultz took the opportunity to talk to legislators about the need to protect funding for the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund.

Schultz told legislators that the state made a commitment a long time ago to fund a portion of retired teachers’ health insurance. “I go back 57 years being connected to the teaching profession,” he said. “The state made a deal where we retired teachers pay one-third, active teachers pay one-third, and the state pays one-third.”

“There are teachers who retired a long time ago, before the Education Enhancement Act,” he said. “They receive a very small pension. This proposal would hurt them badly.”

Schultz is frequently in contact with his legislators and says that during last year’s legislative session he talked with them weekly. However, he knows that some teachers are hesitant to meet with their legislators.

“I understand because I’d probably feel the same way if I were to meet the president of the United States,” he said. But he reminds teachers, “Your legislators are regular people. They live in your town, their children go to the same schools as yours. It’s like talking to your next door neighbor.”

And if a legislator asks you a question you don’t have an answer to, Schultz says to tell them, “I will find out and get back to you as soon as I can.”

If you are interested in organizing a meeting with legislators for teachers in your local, contact your CEA Local Political Coordinator, UniServ Representative, or CEA Political Action Specialist Conor Casey.

Protecting the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund is an important issue that CEA members need to be in touch with their legislators about right now. Click here to find out more.