Teachers are often stretched thin between planning, teaching, grading, and assisting with extracurriculars. That’s certainly the case for Stamford teacher Kate Tobin, who teaches a full load of English classes, has co-organized lip-dub music videos to enhance school spirit at Westhill High, and coordinates the Westhill Alumni Network. Despite her many commitments, Tobin makes it a priority to help her colleagues by serving as a building rep, Stamford Education Association secretary, SEA newsletter editor, and as a member of the Negotiations and Grievance Committees.
“Having a teachers union is really important,” she says. “If we didn’t have our union, teachers would be a lot more abused and new expectations and responsibilities would be foisted on us without our input or any additional compensation.”
Tobin adds, “I don’t find the time, I make the time.” Read more
When Amy Broad, a building rep at Bridgeport’s Winthrop School, talks about union membership with teachers at her school, she puts it in a historical context. Without the sacrifice of the Bridgeport Education Association (BEA) members who went on strike in 1978, many of whom went to jail, teachers would not have the wages, benefits, and working conditions they enjoy today.
“A lot of people who are teaching now aren’t aware of what the strikers actually did,” the kindergarten teacher says. “We have the advantage of having prep periods, and pay, and collective bargaining, and all of that, and some teachers today don’t know where that came from. They don’t realize what was going on back before 1978, and that those things had to be fought for.”
The Bridgeport Strike was a defining moment for teachers in Connecticut, and its lessons about the importance of teachers sticking together still hold true today. Read more