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Posts tagged ‘legislature’

Teachers to Legislators: ‘Our Students Are Screaming Out for Help’

More than 50 Connecticut teachers, together with CEA leaders and staff, provided compelling testimony Monday in support of strengthening a bill that would integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) into teachers’ professional development.

In a public hearing that stretched into the evening, dozens of teachers submitted written and oral testimony before the legislature’s Education Committee concerning House Bill 5378, An Act Concerning the Integration of Social-Emotional Learning in Programs of Professional Development for Educators in Connecticut.

Many teachers turned out to testify on the importance of strengthening a bill about social-emotional learning, including Stacey Paley, Windsor; Carrie Cassady, Torrington; Kristen Record, Stratford; Lisa Thomas, Windsor; Kristen Lecco, Granby; Natalie Ferreri, Granby; and Lynne DeVito, Windsor.

While educators support a bill that provides for SEL PD, they believe HB 5378 does not go far enough to address the severity of the social-emotional crisis in their classrooms. They asked legislators to include additional provisions that would lead to meaningful change.

“The limited provisions of HB 5378 may be well intentioned, but they are woefully inadequate,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams, noting that most teachers and administrators are aware of SEL needs and priorities, and that simply requiring that SEL be incorporated in a school’s goals and professional development has already been achieved at many schools.

“The real challenge is to provide real resources to address the needs of students,” said Williams. “New, empty mandates are no substitute for the staff and dollars that many schools lack to appropriately address social-emotional learning and trauma-informed instruction. There is a deficit of school social workers, counselors, and psychologists. There are few dollars to provide the sustained, quality services that are necessary for student mental health and well-being. There is not enough infrastructure for the necessary outreach to families and inclusion of families in solutions for students.” Read more

Contact Your Legislators! Urge Them to Pass a Bill to Keep Classrooms Safe

Thanks to hundreds of CEA members who shared their stories about aggressive student behaviors, the legislature’s Education Committee voted Senate Bill 453 out of Committee—meaning the full legislature could have the opportunity to vote on this bill. The bill would help ensure classroom safety and address student assaults.

Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass this bill.

Make sure your elected officials understand the importance of protecting students and teachers from aggressive student behaviors. This bill would help keep teachers safe while requiring that students with behavioral issues receive the support and resources they need.

Contact your legislators today, and tell them to pass SB 453 to ensure schools are safe places to work and learn.

Teachers Urge Legislators to Roll Back Unfair Teacher Payroll Tax

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams urged legislators to pass a bill that would roll back the unfair increase in the teacher payroll tax.

The increased pension contribution for teachers that legislators passed last year without so much as a public hearing is causing financial hardship for CEA members. The payroll tax increase, combined with increases in healthcare costs, furlough days, and little or no wage increases mean that many Connecticut teachers are taking home less pay this year than they did last year.

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams today told the legislature’s Finance Committee that “teachers were singled out for the largest per capita tax increase—an average of about $700 per teacher. The dollars collected by the state were not used to offset the state’s unfunded liability in the teacher retirement fund, but rather were used to reduce the state’s contribution to the fund.” Read more

Teachers Share With Legislators Heartfelt Stories of Being Assaulted

CEA UniServ Reps Sue Fulleton and Mike Casey, and Norwich teacher Heidi Kapszukiewicz were some of the CEA members and staff who testified on student assault at a legislative hearing last night.

Although it was after ten o’clock last night by the time the legislature’s Education Committee heard public testimony on a bill to help ensure classroom safety and address student assaults, CEA members and staff made sure they were present to testify so that legislators could hear their stories.

“I am here today to tell you that there is a crisis in many schools across Connecticut related to student and teacher safety. And although it might seem incredulous, the majority of the most serious safety issues are occurring in elementary classrooms, including in pre-kindergarten,” CEA Program Development Specialist Robyn Kaplan-Cho told legislators.

With increasing frequency, teachers are reporting being assaulted by students in their classrooms. From being kicked, bitten, and knocked down to having chairs and books thrown at them, teachers are dealing with a sharp rise in aggressive student behavior that impacts not only educators, but also students. Read more

Our Students Can’t Wait: Teachers Send Letter to Legislators Urging Restoration of ECS Funds

CEA President Sheila Cohen and AFT-Connecticut President Jan Hochadel today sent a letter to legislators urging them to convene a special session to restore ECS funding. Severe cuts in education funding are devastating the state’s public schools and shortchanging students’ education.

Governor Malloy recently cut an additional $58 million in ECS funding, and more cuts are planned in the new year. As Connecticut’s cities and towns struggle to make up these costs, many are planning to cut school resources, eliminate educational programs, and lay off teachers.

Read the letter below. Read more

Teachers Call on Legislators to Address Education Funding in Special Session

Connecticut teachers are urging legislators to take up the critical issue of education funding when they convene for a special session later this month to focus on the draconian cuts devastating the state’s public schools and shortchanging students’ education.

“While we appreciate legislators standing up for our senior citizens, our youngest and most vulnerable citizens are also facing peril with continued school funding cuts that must be addressed,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The time for action is now. Our children can’t wait until next February. Legislators must take up the issue in special session.” Read more

Warning: Uncertainty Ahead

Concession talks between state employee unions and the Malloy administration are coming down to the wire. State Capitol observers are increasingly anxious about the consequences of a breakdown. As the Hartford Courant opined today: If Governor Malloy fails to extract union concessions, then “he will also have to stop shielding schools, towns and cities from cuts and will have to slash programs that provide safety nets to poor, vulnerable citizens.” What do you think of the choices on the table for top state officials?

Governor Malloy signed the FY12/FY13 Biennium Budget Bill yesterday after it was approved by the House of Representatives and Senate. The new budget provides $570 million in state education aid to local schools over the next year two years to fill the gap created by the loss of federal stimulus funds. That’s good news for students and teachers.

But there’s no escaping the fact that the new state budget — just enacted — is actually roughly $1 billion in the red. It’s because it was passed with Governor Malloy expecting to get that amount of savings in concessions from state employees in negotiations underway. If those concession talks break down, then Governor Malloy promises to be back at the legislature with an “alternative budget.”

Here’s what Governor Malloy told citizens as he signed his first budget: “Now it’s up to my Administration to reach an agreement with our fellow state employees and to present it to the legislature for ratification. I remain hopeful that we’ll get there. If we don’t, I remain committed to presenting an alternative budget to the General Assembly in the next couple of weeks.”  Stay tuned to find out what an alternative budget would mean for our public schools.

Healthcare Partnership Bill Fails Veto Override

The Connecticut House and Senate met today for a special veto override session.  Seven of the bills Governor Rell had vetoed were  overridden, but while the healthcare partnership bill received enough votes for an override in the House, the Senate’s 23-12 vote was one short.

This override failure is disappointing  as the bill, An Act Establishing the Healthcare Partnership, would have taken a monumental step forward in reducing the skyrocketing costs of municipal health insurance – one of the most serious fiscal challenges facing towns and cities. The legislature’s bipartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis confirmed that the bill would have saved taxpayers money.

Both chambers did override Governor Rell’s veto of the SustiNet bill, which creates a volunteer board of directors, four committees, and three task forces that will set up a flexible framework for an affordable state healthcare system.

Urge Your Legislators to Override Governor’s Healthcare Veto

Yesterday Governor Rell vetoed HB 6582, An Act Establishing the Healthcare Partnership, which would enable teachers and others to voluntarily join the state employees’ health insurance pool.  Legislators have the opportunity to override the Governor’s veto – they will be meeting for an override session on July 20.

This bill is very important to Connecticut because it takes a monumental step forward in reducing the skyrocketing costs of municipal health insurance – one of the most serious fiscal challenges facing towns and cities. The legislature’s bipartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis has confirmed that HB 6582 will save taxpayers money.