CEA Advisor: December 2018 - January 2019

2 CEA ADVISOR DECEMBER 2018–JANUARY 2019 LEADING CEA ADVISOR STAFF Nancy Andrews • Communications Director Lesia Winiarskyj • Managing Editor Sandra Cassineri • Graphic Designer Laurel Killough • New Media Coordinator Jeff Leake, CEA President Donald E. Williams Jr. CEA Executive Director Tom Nicholas, CEA Vice President “Don’t tell me I don’t know anyone. I am union. I have brothers and sisters in every part of this state. We are important, and we have a voice.” With that message, Waterbury’s own Jahana Hayes defied naysayers and used her teacher voice to spur her campaign and get elected to the U.S. Congress in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. The 2016 National Teacher of the Year, who speaks openly of her own struggles—growing up in poverty and becoming a teenage mother—credits her teachers with being the driving force that helped her move forward, finish school, and become an educator herself. It was her teachers who lifted her up then, and her teaching colleagues, as well as her students, who helped buoy her to victory on November 6. (See story, page 5.) Thousands of pro-education candidates seeking office for the first-time—many of them educators, like Hayes—were inspired to run for office by the #RedforEd movement, which started from massive teacher walkouts, protests, and strikes across the country. The movement changed the conversation by raising public awareness of the issues facing educators. Education-friendly candidates made support for students and public education part of their platform. By engaging educators, students, and parents, they garnered support in the election process and swept into office at the local, state, and federal levels. We were gratified and inspired by the parents, teachers, and community members who rolled up their sleeves to enhance community outreach efforts, foster relationship-building, and promote meaningful involvement. We received support from Washington, as NEA Vice President Becky Pringle joined us in Danbury going door-to-door encouraging teachers to vote for their colleague Jahana Hayes and other education champions in their district. We are thankful for all our members’ activities during this election season—especially our retired teachers, who after a lifetime of service and dedication, are still in the trenches fighting along with their active colleagues to advance the profession. Active and retired teachers stepped up their advocacy by texting, phone banking, tweeting, posting, canvassing door to door, and finding other ways to support candidates who care about students and teachers. (See stories on pages 4 and 17.) This was one of the greatest opportunities for us, as public school educators, to change our fates—and we succeeded. In key districts where races were close, teachers’ activism and votes were critical in electing dozens of CEA honor roll candidates who support public education, including Ned Lamont for governor. Thanks in part to the new CEA Legislator Report Card, teachers educated themselves about the candidates who pledged to protect public education, the teaching profession, and educators’ ability to retire with dignity—as well as those who planned to strip teachers and students of their rights. Teachers were instrumental in electing more allies to the state legislature—leaders whose vision for the future is aligned with educators’ goals, and who will advocate for students and stand up for CEA members. (See story, page 4.) Two weeks after the election, CEA leaders, members, and staff were already working with other education stakeholders on the governor-elect’s transition policy committees, offering input on the state’s future (see story, page 5). We look forward to our continued collaboration with the new policymakers to ensure that Connecticut’s public education system is a top priority and that all students and schools have the support and resources they deserve. But even with key victories and many education-friendly candidates in office, we know that we will still face challenges in the future. Through its report card, CEA will continue to track legislators’ voting records and co-sponsorship of bills that either advance or hinder our education priorities. This important tool will hold legislators accountable when it comes to issues critical to teachers; it will help us distinguish between friends and foes when we go to the polls in future elections. Educators aren’t backing down As we turn our attention from the election to the 2019 legislative session, we must keep education on the front burner by harnessing the energy from the #RedforEd movement, continuing to advocate for what our students and schools need most, and meeting our challenges head-on. We must seize the opportunity that lies ahead to create change that we all deserve. Teachers on CEA’s Legislative Commission have been meeting to identify key issues that could be raised in the upcoming session. Educators’ concerns being addressed include ECS funding, the unfunded liability of the teacher pension system, ensuring a safe learning environment in our schools, and preventing aggressive classroom behavior. On January 9, 2019, candidates will take the oath of office, infusing our state legislative ranks with dozens of education champions. These education- friendly legislators could have a profound impact on Connecticut’s classrooms, but only if we continue the unprecedented level of political activism that got us this far. In the year ahead, we have the opportunity to make changes that elevate the teaching profession by standing together with a unified voice. We must tap into the groundswell of energy and support for public education that has already had an enormous impact. We must continue to organize, advocate, and unite to wield our collective strength and power. That requires us to be actively involved and well organized. We’ve seen what we can do when we get everyone focused on our common goals. Congresswoman-elect Hayes summed it up in her victory speech thanking supporters and reminding them that people said she couldn’t win. “I want to tell you when I started this I knew I couldn’t do it alone,” she said. “You know who I am. You know what I stand for. You know what I believe in, but the votes show that you also believe that we are so much better together.” We know that we are stronger together and that our strength comes from us, a collective voice that speaks loudly and clearly for students, teachers, and public schools. We must get everyone involved, because standing strong together, we have the power to strengthen public education and help our students succeed. We must continue to use our strength. Our success depends upon it. We are ready to take on the future, and together we will do great things. December 7, 2018 Together, We Can Do Great Things CEA GOVERNANCE Jeff Leake • President Tom Nicholas • Vice President Stephanie Wanzer • Secretary Kevin Egan • Treasurer John Horrigan • NEA Director David Jedidian • NEA Director The CEA Advisor is mailed to all CEA members. Annual subscription price is $5.72 (included in membership dues and available only as part of membership). Institutional subscription price: $25.00. Advertising in the CEA Advisor is screened, but the publishing of any advertisement does not imply CEA endorsement of the product, service, or views expressed. CEA Advisor UPS 0129-220 (ISSN 0007-8050) is published in August, October/November, December/ January, February/March, April, May/June, and summer (online) by the Connecticut Education Association, Capitol Place, Suite 500, 21 Oak Street, Hartford, CT 06106-8001, 860-525-5641. Periodicals postage paid at Hartford, Connecticut. Postmaster: Send address changes to CEA Advisor , Connecticut Education Association, Capitol Place, Suite 500, 21 Oak Street, Hartford, CT 06106-8001. Production date: 12-12-2018 December 2018–January 2019 Volume 61, Number 3 Published by Connecticut Education Association 1-800-842-4316 • 860-525-5641 cea.org CEA Advisor Leading: Our Perspective We must get everyone involved, because standing strong together, we have the power to strengthen public education and help our students succeed.