CEA Advisor: February-March 2019

2 CEA ADVISOR FEBRUARY–MARCH 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 Does this quote represent what you envisioned as you began your journey as an educator? Our conversations with members indicate that, indeed, this is what brought most of us to our profession— why we get up every morning and engage with our students and other educators. It is also why our colleagues in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Los Angeles, Denver, and now Oakland have been energized, demonstrating not only for themselves and their economic well-being but for their students. After years of underfunding, after years of declining support, they walked out of their classrooms and said, Enough! We must stand with them, not for just a moment but as part of a movement that declares we have had enough and will not stop until we have the resources our students need. Teacher priorities We cannot do our work without the resources our students and communities require. We also know that great discrepancies exist in the ability of our towns and cities to provide those resources. That is why we ask that all CEA members work together with our staff during this legislative session to achieve legislation critical to public education. (See stories on pages 4-7.) Based on your feedback, our top legislative priorities include: 1. Protecting local public school funding 2. Securing the teacher pension fund 3. Ensuring safe working and learning environments for teachers and students by addressing and preventing violent classroom behavior and addressing issues of mold and extreme temperatures that make classrooms unconducive to teaching and learning 4. Protecting teachers’ rights to negotiate salaries, health insurance, working conditions, and other benefits 5. Promoting strategies for recruitment and retention of minority teachers 6. Protecting teachers who have had unsubstantiated DCF claims made against them We were pleased to see so many of you respond to our first Action Alert of the year and submit written testimony regarding disrupted teaching and learning in your classrooms. Hundreds of you have emailed your stories and have participated in district meetings with your lawmakers—actions that have a major impact (see story on page 7). We were also pleased to see teachers in Hartford on February 19, testifying before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus on school climate, classroom safety, the shortage of ethnic minority teachers, and school funding. Teachers, including Sean Mosley from Waterbury, Faith Sweeney from Westport, Kristen Record from Stratford, Tiffany Ladson-Lang from Bridgeport, and Chinma Uche from CREC Windsor, stayed late into the evening to share their personal stories with lawmakers. (See story on page 6.) These actions are impactful, and we encourage every teacher to get involved and take a stand for your students, your profession, and your future. A lack of resources affects educators and students at every level and in every way. It can be seen in a general lack of needed supports for students, the reduction or elimination of vital services, staff cuts, work intensification, and increased health insurance costs. In more and more communities it also means school buildings that are not healthy learning or working environments. Protecting pensions While we work on ensuring adequate resources and supports within our schools, we must also guarantee that after decades spent working for “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” Marian Wright Edelman 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: 2-22-2019 February–March 2019 Volume 61, Number 4 Published by Connecticut Education Association 1-800-842-4316 • 860-525-5641 cea.org CEA Advisor Leading: Our Perspective students and communities, our teachers are able to enjoy a comfortable retirement. CEA has been discussing the issue with the governor’s administration and the state treasurer, and we are pleased that the governor’s budget plan adopts the funding changes to the teacher pension plan that we have long advocated for. Smoothing out future payments and lowering the investment earning assumption will help make up for decades of failure on the part of the state to adequately invest in the fund, and it will begin to restore stability to educators’ pensions. However, CEA strongly opposes any teacher retirement plan that shifts the state’s cost of the teacher retirement fund onto our cities and towns. In his budget address, Governor Lamont set forth a blueprint for the state and welcomed input and honest conversations. We intend to have those conversations and share our solutions to the pension problem— solutions that do not require a cost shift onto our cities and towns. (See story on page 5.) As we move forward, it will be imperative for you to join in our efforts to fix the funding for the teacher pension fund. Together, we can ensure that good legislation passes and bad legislation fails. We will also be calling on you to help pressure the U.S. Congress to eliminate the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, items that must become part of Representative Larson’s Social Security 2100 Act. Teacher diversity We must also find ways to ensure that our teaching profession more accurately reflects the diversity of our state’s population, while maintaining high standards for teacher licensure and certification. Research shows us how a diversified teaching force is a positive influence not only on our minority student population but all students. We are proud that Vice President Tom Nicholas has secured an NEA grant to help more of our locals encourage students of all ethnicities to pursue the goal of becoming educators in our state. The grant will financially support our work to identify and help prepare our best students to enter the most noble of professions. (See story on facing page.) Leading the way We have much work to do, not only in the next few months but over the next few years. And we will need to ensure that our members are prepared to be leaders in their profession and their union. In order to guide them in those leadership roles, our local affiliates, CEA, and NEA will be working together, emphasizing specialized leadership development opportunities in order to prepare our members to lead relevant, thriving associations and become world- class leaders in their profession, mobilizing, building power, and driving a pro-public education agenda. (See story on pages 8-9.) Talk to any one of us about how to begin or continue your leadership journey. Fighting for the future of public education As we have witnessed from the Red for Ed movement, when entire education communities engage on an issue that impacts their local public schools, change happens. It’s about creating awareness, support, and action. Action comes when we unite for a common interest or purpose and stand stronger together. But we are only as strong as the action we are each willing to take. We must increase our political strength by continuing to develop relationships with our legislators—meeting with them and educating them on our issues. We must keep the needs of our students front and center and continue to advocate to make the world a better place for tomorrow. February 21, 2019