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America’s Schools Would Get Billions in Relief from HEROES Act; House Set to Vote Today

On the eve of a critical vote that could provide $100 billion in direct funding to America’s schools, the National Education Association hosted a tele-town hall urging teachers and other education supporters to ask Congress to pass the HEROES Act.

A $3 trillion COVID relief package proposed by Congressional Democrats, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act would stabilize education funding so that cities and towns—already reeling from the current health and economic crisis—would not have to cut their school budgets.

More than 12,000 teachers and education supporters participated in Thursday’s call, which featured guest speakers Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.

Rise together

NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia introduced NEA’s We Rise Together campaign and issued a national call to action, warning that that as tax revenues vaporize in cities and towns, we could face a 35% reduction in educator jobs from pre-K through higher education, with areas such as music, art, sports, and foreign language first on the chopping block.

As budgets are lost to the global health crisis, she said, “We are at risk of not having an entire village of educators serving students when we return to school.” She added, “There’s something we can do about that. Rise together and act.” Noting that a bill to support businesses passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, Eskelsen Garcia said, “The HEROES Act should too. Schools are the foundation of their communities, where students are safe and have a fair shot at making their dreams come true. Go to to see how you can stand up for students.”

NEA Vice President Becky Pringle echoed Eskelsen Garcia’s call to action, saying, “We need hundreds of thousands of emails to rain down on our members of Congress. So get everyone who likes or loves you or intends to keep living with you to rise together with us. Our students are depending on you to do what’s right. Let’s bridge the gap we know is coming.”

Pringle urged teachers to text the word ACTION to 84693 in order to get alerts about important legislation affecting education and instant action steps to take.

Voices for teachers

Calling Kamala Harris a powerful champion of public education and our students, Eskelsen Garcia asked the California senator to address town hall participants in last night’s call.

“Thank you for paving the path for our future,” said Harris, who has proposed an average increase of $13,500 in salaries for teachers, pointing out that they earn 11% less than similarly educated professionals.

Characterizing COVID-19 as both a health crisis and an education crisis, she pointed out that 55 million students are currently at home.

“Our educators are participating in educating not only their students in this remote environment but often their own children as well, carrying a heavy burden,” Harris said. “Your job is difficult enough, and

now you have a pandemic that has exposed deep, pre-existing inequities in our education system. We need immediate funding to expand access to broadband at home, to support EL students and students with disabilities, and to ensure that in the fall, schools have PPE for a safe working and learning environment and the funding and flexibility to develop modified school calendars.”

Harris said passing the $3 trillion HEROES Act is critical to ensuring that schools are properly staffed with teachers and support staff when they reopen.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, a former Connecticut teacher who became the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, called the HEROES Act a “bold, aggressive plan to infuse much-needed funds into our education system so that municipalities don’t have to consider cutting teachers or services when they plan their budgets.”

She told town hall participants, “Everyone talks about how much they love teachers and says they’re our heroes, but legislators need to show it, not just say it. They need to support direct funding for education, which the HEROES Act will provide, prioritizing our schools to be sure they’re not left behind. Reach out to legislators and show your unity,” she urged.

Hayes expressed deep concerns about high numbers of students experiencing trauma during the pandemic and then returning to schools “that are stretched and underresourced.”

She said, “You cannot support students without supporting teachers. We need to come out with that rallying cry.” She added, “Kids will need the arts, humanities, and academic enrichment more than ever when they return to school, and the HEROES Act acknowledges that and provides the funding.”

The House is expected to vote on the HEROES Act today. Go to or text ACTION to 84693 to push for passage of this critical bill, and ask likeminded friends and family members throughout the country to do the same.

NEA Recommends Former Vice President Joe Biden for President

Educators have engaged in record numbers in the 2020 presidential campaign and have made it clear they are ready to take this activism and organizing all the way to November.

After yesterday’s primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, Vice President Joe Biden has 1,180 delegates to Senator Bernie Sanders’ 885.

After much debate and careful consideration, NEA recently decided to endorse Biden in the Democratic primary based on his record of support for public education. Read more

Enter NEA’s Strong Public Schools Poster Contest

nea-poster-contestEvery election season, the National Education Association creates public education-themed T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and posters to wave at rallies and hang in classrooms. The power of NEA comes from its members—teachers’ voices, their ideas, and their creativity—so for the 2020 presidential election, NEA is looking to you to provide your best design ideas that capture the need to vote for pro-public education candidates.

Enter contest Read more

Two Connecticut Teachers Receive Prestigious Awards for Teaching Excellence

New London teacher Elizabeth Sked is the recipient of the CEA John McCormack Award for Teaching Excellence.

Two educators from New London and Danbury were recognized before nearly 400 of their Connecticut colleagues for receiving two prestigious awards honoring educator excellence. CEA President Jeff Leake made the announcement at the CEA Representative Assembly last weekend.

New London teacher Elizabeth Sked was named the recipient of the CEA John McCormack Award for Teaching Excellence, which puts her in the running for a national award recognizing the year’s most outstanding educators.

Danbury teacher Luanelly Iglesias was recognized as the winner of NEA’s 2019 Human and Civil Rights George I. Sanchez Memorial Award honoring teachers who significantly advance equal opportunities for Hispanics. Read more

At Early Leadership Institute, Teachers Hone Leadership, Professional Skills

More than 40 early-career educators from Bridgeport, Manchester, Stamford, and Waterbury gathered for a kickoff meeting of the Early Leadership Institute (ELI), a program of the National Education Association, CEA, and the Center for Great Public Schools.

More than 40 teachers from four districts convened in Norwalk with CEA staff and leaders to begin forging a path to educational leadership. See more photos.

Teacher fellows were joined by CEA staff, including UniServ representatives, as well as their local association presidents—all there to work on developing stronger public schools and greater teacher leadership capacity within those schools. Read more

NEA, CEA Members and Leaders Support Jahana Hayes

With less than four weeks left until Election Day, dozens of CEA members, staff, and leaders—joined by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle—came out to Danbury this weekend in a show of support for 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, who is running for office in Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District.

Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes, a former Waterbury teacher, is championed by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle and CEA President Jeff Leake.

“Everything is at stake,” Hayes told the crowd, referring to mounting threats to public education and teachers’ rights to bargain for fair wages and working conditions. “I represent a lot of people—the voices of a lot of people—who are saying, ‘No, we will not accept this. No, this is not O.K. This has to change, and we will not be forgotten.’ And there’s so much responsibility in that.”

Pringle, a middle school science teacher with 31 years of classroom experience, captured the current education struggle with the words of W.E.B. Dubois, who said, “The freedom to learn has been bought by bitter sacrifice. So whatever you might think about the curtailment of other civil rights, you must fight to the last ditch to keep open the right to learn.” Read more

New Poll: Parents Want an End to High-Stakes Testing

There has been a lot of research recently, clearly conveying what teachers have been saying about the effects of high-stakes testing on children—about the problems associated with our country’s focus on testing, not teaching. test pencil

Now a new poll shows that parents want to end high-stakes testing across the country. The 2014 PDK/Gallup Annual Survey on the Public’s Attitude Toward Public Schools, released on today, finds that an overwhelming majority of parents (68 percent) do not believe that standardized tests help teachers know what to teach.

The parents agree with educators that we need to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests.

The study also finds that more parents oppose using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Opposition to this policy has grown from 47 percent in 2012 to 61 percent this year.

Other key findings in the poll:
• 32 percent say lack of financial support is the No. 1 challenge facing public schools. Concerns about standards and discipline problems each received 9 percent.
• 50 percent of Americans give the schools in their communities either an A or B, with parents awarding local schools even higher marks.

The new poll echoes concerns and efforts by teachers across the county, calling for an end to anti-toxic testing measures. The National Education Association is putting the strength of its 3 million members to call for governmental oversight of the powerful testing industry and an end to the overuse of standardized testing across the country. Read: NEA launches campaign to end toxic-testing.
Read NEA Today story– Poll: Parents Want an End to the Testing Obsession

Gun Violence Prevention, School Safety Measures Key to Keeping Kids Safe

A New York Times/CBS News poll released today finds that nine out of ten Americans, including gun owners, support universal background checks for gun buyers. Strengthening background checks is one of the proposals aimed at preventing gun violence that President Barack Obama unveiled yesterday.

President Obama’s plan includes gun violence prevention measures as well as proposals to improve school safety and increase access to mental health services.

A new NEA member poll shows the majority of educators are in line with the presidential recommendations. According to the poll, 64 percent of members support stronger gun violence prevention laws, and 90 percent support strengthening background check regulations.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “President Obama’s proposals are an important step toward improving school safety. We need action not only to prevent gun violence, but also to improve the climate of our schools and expand mental health services. Educators and families need to be able to identify potential problems and intervene before it’s too late.”

“We continue to grieve for the Newtown community,” she continued. “As a state and a nation we need to make important changes so that we never again face a tragedy like this. Every child deserves a safe and secure learning environment.”

President Obama’s plan is based on the work of a gun violence task force led by Vice President Joe Biden.

In a letter to Vice President Biden, the National Education Association (NEA) outlined its proposal that, while including sensible gun safety recommendations, focuses on truly preventive measures. These include greater access to mental health services, plus the infrastructure, training and programs that will ensure safe learning environments for the nation’s children.

What do you think should be done to improve school safety?

NEA Delegates Vote to Endorse President Obama

Delegates at the 2011 NEA RA.

Many Connecticut teachers are grateful to President Barack Obama for keeping class sizes from ballooning and preserving their jobs in recent years through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  They’re not alone, as evidenced today in Chicago as NEA teacher leaders from across the country voted to get behind President Obama in his bid for re-election in 2012.

NEA’s Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly (RA) is being held in Chicago.  On July 4, it’s where teacher delegates voted on a recommendation from NEA’s Political Action Committee to support President Obama. “President Barack Obama shares our vision for a stronger America,” said Dennis Van Roekel, president of NEA.  “He has never wavered from talking about the importance of education or his dedication to a vibrant middle class.” Watch an excerpt of Van Roekel’s speech here.

Read the latest headlines from the NEA RA here, or follow the RA on Facebook. On Twitter use the hashtag #neara11.

On July 3, Vice President Joe Biden met with the 9,000 teachers at the RA in Chicago.   He lambasted what he called an increasingly union-hostile “new” Republican party, raising  the specter of high-profile labor fights picked by Republican governors with public workers unions across the country.

  “There is an organized effort to place blame for budget shortfalls on educators and other public workers. It is one of the biggest scams in modern American history,” Biden said. 
Listen to more of his speech below.

CEA Members Ready to Begin Work in Chicago

Delegates at the 2010 NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly.

Connecticut teachers have arrived in Chicago and are ready to get down to business at the NEA Representative Assembly (RA).  The NEA RA is the world’s largest democratic deliberative assembly.  It is the primary legislative and policymaking body of the NEA and consists of some 9,000 delegates.

Members of every state affiliate elect the delegates who represent them at the RA, and the democratic nature of NEA is highly valued by those delegates.

Kim Patella, President of the New Milford Education Association, is a delegate to the RA for the second time this year.  She says, “I decided to attend this year because I am tired of people with little, if any, experience in the classroom having an undue influence on our profession.  They have little understanding of teaching.” Kim indicates that teachers need to stand together and use their collective knowledge and experience to positively influence education.

Kim joins 133 other CEA members who make up this year’s Connecticut delegation.  Every year new delegates mix with those who have attended several times. Delegates regularly say the chance to meet and talk with new people, from Connecticut and around the nation, is one of their favorite parts of the RA.

Mike Breen is one of  Connecticut’s new delegates this year.  A Vernon Education Association member, he says he is looking forward to the opportunity to “find out what is happening in other states and nationally.” Mike used to live in Chicago and is pleased that the location of this year’s RA allows him to visit with friends from his days in Illinois.

Days at the RA are long.  As Stonington Education Association Vice President Michael Freeman said about last year’s RA, “Our meetings last from 6 in the morning until 5 or 6 at night, and I found myself in bed by 9 or 10 so I had the energy to do it all again the next day.”

Delegates who can get by on little sleep try to spend some time seeing their host city after business is over for the day.  Some CEA members arrived in time to head to Wrigley field and see the Cubs play the Giants this afternoon.

Much work happens before the official beginning of the Representative Assembly on Saturday.  The National Council of Urban Education Associations Meeting, the NEA Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women, NEA Student Leadership Conference, and the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting all take place over the last days of June.

At this year’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting, the CEA Retired website received the first place award for best website.  Congratulations CEA Retired!