CEA: The Advocate for Teachers and Public Education
The Connecticut Education Association (CEA) was formed in 1848 when 80 teachers met in Meriden. Their objective: organize teachers for the improvement of the profession and local public schools.
Today, CEA is headquartered in Hartford and is Connecticut's largest teachers' union. CEA members include K-12 teachers in Connecticut public schools as well as retired teachers and college students preparing to become teachers.
Since its founding more than 160 years ago, CEA has been a grassroots organization that is a strong and effective champion for teachers and public schools. CEA lobbies for pro-education legislation at the state and federal levels, advances and protects the rights of teachers at the bargaining table, and works with state policymakers to continue to elevate the teaching profession and promote public education.
CEA has initiated or been the primary sponsor of state legislation to improve the teaching profession and public education since its beginning. It is the key reason that CEA - the state's largest public employee organization - located its headquarters just steps away from the State Capitol.
CEA is a state affiliate of the National Education Association which is headquartered in Washington, D.C. CEA has more than 160 local affiliates and is governed by an approximately 35-member board of directors, elected by members. The board meets regularly throughout the year to set goals, approve policy, and implement specific measures adopted by CEA's highest-policy making body, the Representative Assembly (RA).
The RA meets annually each May. Nearly 600 elected delegates from CEA's local affiliates meet during the two-day meeting to conduct the business of the Association. This includes approving a budget, adopting resolutions, voting on new business items, and making any amendments to the CEA constitution and bylaws.
CEA's four executive offices, president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer, are also elected at RA. Elected to three-year terms, they can serve a maximum of two terms. The president and vice president are full-time officers.
CEA's staff is headed by an executive director who oversees staff in Hartford and in six CEA's regional offices. CEA has a staff of 25 UniServ representatives who work from these regional offices to provide a multitude of services and programs directly to members.
Generations of dedicated CEA members have made teachers a powerful — and impressive — force in the legislative process. CEA's legislative successes include some of the following achievements:
- Campaigned for and sponsored a bill that ultimately led to the creation of the State Teachers' Retirement System in 1917.
- Lobbied for legislation to require boards of education to provide written notices for teacher contract non-renewals and adoption of an equal pay law for teachers.
- Made Connecticut one of the first states in the nation to require boards of education to collectively bargain with teachers.
- Protected the rights of all teachers against unfair termination with enactment of a fair dismissal law.
- Provided finality, fairness, and stability to contract negotiations while preventing any school days from being lost to teacher strikes with passage of a binding arbitration law.
- Strengthened the teacher retirement law by initiating a change to provide teachers with a contractual right to their pension benefits.
- Championed a bill to implement indoor air quality programs in public schools to protect the health of teachers and students.
- In the 21st century, there has been no letup in CEA's advocacy efforts as it works to support and strengthen public education while responding to the needs of members. For example, CEA continues to press legislators for increased state aid for local schools and to fund the teacher pension fund adequately while lobbying against proposals that would drain money from public schools or weaken the rights of teachers.
CEA's commitment to teachers and public schools has been the unwavering and predominant force behind the Association ever since those 80 teachers gathered in Meriden in 1848.