CEA Advisor: December 2017 - January 2018

2 CEA ADVISOR DECEMBER 17 - JANUARY 18 LEADING OUR PERSPECTIVE Sheila Cohen CEA President Donald E. Williams Jr. CEA Executive Director The holiday break is right around the corner, and while it is an opportunity to unwind, it is also a time for reflection: to look back at all we have accomplished this year, and to look ahead to 2018. First, a special thanks to YOU—dedicated CEA members for making a real difference. Your determination, courage, and advocacy in fighting devastating state budget proposals and joining a coalition of teachers, parents, students, and municipalities seeking an injunction to protect school funding were amazing. Your emails, letters, one-on-one meetings, and phone calls resonated with legislators. They heard our voice, realized the impact education cuts would have in our classrooms, and supported the needs of our students and our schools. You helped restore critical ECS funding to our schools, blocked massive teacher layoffs that threatened to jeopardize our students’ futures, and defeated other harmful proposals that would have hurt our public schools, including the plan to shift the cost of teacher retirement onto our cities and towns. You also prompted legislators to reduce a proposed increase in teachers’ contributions to their retirement fund from two percent to one percent, with the money now going into the teacher retirement fund and being available to teachers when they retire. While we fought for no increase, we acknowledge that legislators listened to teachers and cut the increase in half (story on page 5). After this arduous session, we wish we could sit back and relax, but we cannot. The new legislative session is just a few months away, and we must be ready to let legislators know where we stand on any proposals that would impact our students and our classrooms. New Year’s resolutions Soon, the ball will drop and welcome us to 2018. The new year will bring a host of new challenges and opportunities that we must be ready to meet both head-on and together as one strong union. This year, there are specific education-related New Year’s resolutions that we are asking every CEA member to make, because achieving them is how we ensure that all students have the opportunities they deserve and that we, as professionals, receive the respect, support, and resources we deserve. Here are the top 5 resolutions we must commit to in 2018. 1) Hold our elected leaders to their promises to put students, teachers, and public education before politics. In the past year, we have seen attacks on everything from our pensions to our jobs to education funding. While we defeated many of the plans that would have devastated public education, we know that 2018 will bring more of the same challenges, and we must be ready to face them head-on. Great public schools are a basic right of every student, and we must ensure that our children and their futures are a priority for every policymaker, as are their teachers, whose lives are dedicated to providing quality education. To meet this goal, we need to find better ways to cut through the clutter and reach legislators. It is critical that we continue building relationships with legislators and educate them to ensure that they know where we stand on important education matters. 2) Advocate for our students and our profession. One of the greatest things about CEA, our union, our profession, and all of us, is the opportunity we have to use our combined power— our stronger together, 43,000 strong—to create positive change. CEA members have a long tradition of effective activism at the local, state, and national levels. Whether it is rallying crowds, coming to Hartford for face time with legislators, or connecting with them through mail, phone calls, emails or social media, CEA member-activists make the case for issues that matter to students, teachers, and public schools. We have always spoken up and spoken out in force when our principles compelled us to, and we must continue to do so. We are our students’ champions. We must never forget that. 3) Organize to engage all members and strengthen our union. It is critically important that we connect and engage our colleagues to strengthen our voice. The national forces that want to weaken unions and threaten our profession and our right to collectively bargain for good wages, benefits, and resources require our vigilance and engagement. In state after state, we have seen workers’ rights eroded in recent years with so-called right-to-work laws. Anti- labor interests in all 50 states, including Connecticut, released a manifesto outlining their plans to “defund and defang unions.” They say they will not rest until they have dealt us a “mortal blow.” They did not win with Friedrichs , but they are determined to win with the Janus case (story on page 4). We must be ready to fight back. Those of us who understand the benefits of union membership must engage with others who may not be so sure being a member is worth the price. Teachers must understand and appreciate the value of being in a union and what it will mean if our collective voice is weakened. We all need to be part of an ongoing conversation that underscores the benefits we derive from our membership—the ability to bargain for good pay and benefits, classroom support, professional development, member discounts, and the collective power to effect change. We have more power when we stand together than we do when we stand apart. The best mechanism we have for standing together is through our union. When our union is strong, and we are able to advocate for our students and ourselves, we can accomplish great things. 4) Elect pro-public education candidates. Education is highly political— from our curriculum to our pensions, and everything in between. We need legislators who will stand with us and work for us, not against us. We need to elect pro-public education legislators who will put students and public education ahead of partisan politics and who will renew their commitment to our schools so that all students have the support, resources, and teachers to help them learn and succeed. The outcome of the 2018 elections will determine whether we build on our progress and move forward with continued support for our schools or go backward under the growing attacks on teachers and our public education system. We have the opportunity to make that difference. CEA is all of us, and all of us need to be pulling in the same direction. On Election Day, November 6, 2018, get out and vote for the candidates who respect you and who support your beliefs, your students, and your profession. Together, we have the power to change the composition of local school boards, city councils, and the state legislature and to elect lawmakers who value public education and appreciate the important work we do. Your vote matters. Make it count. 5) Be a leader. We must do all that we can to ensure that every child has an equitable education. We have a responsibility, as educators, to lead and participate in all aspects of our noble profession. We are respected members of our communities. People listen to us, especially on matters related to public education. We need to be at the forefront and take on the issues we believe in. These are the resolutions we are asking you to commit to in 2018 and beyond. However painful 2017 was, the new year offers a fresh start. We cannot be complacent, nor can we take anything for granted in 2018. The challenges we will inevitably face may bend us, but they will never break us. As we enter the new year, we must increase our advocacy and support for policies that benefit our schools and our students. We must fight for the future of our union. We must stand strong and stand together. November 17, 2017 Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers in 2018