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Students and Teachers Biggest Losers in Budget Crisis: Legislators Urged to Pass a Budget That Invests in Education
August 15, 2017
Cutting school programs, laying off teachers and administrators, diminishing resources, and increasing class
sizes. These are just some of the actions school districts across Connecticut have already taken to prepare for
the start of the school year without a state budget.
Today, outside Maloney High School in Meriden, CEA, AFT, teachers, parents, students, and a coalition of
superintendents, boards of education, and school business officials held a news conference. They detailed how
students are being hurt by the budget impasse and the chaos it is creating as schools prepare for a new year
with tremendous uncertainty and without critical funding.
Kindergarten teacher and Groton Education Association President Beth Horler said her district has already
had to close an elementary school and cut 22 teaching positions. (Click image for larger version)
Groton kindergarten teacher and local Association President Beth Horler said her district has already cut its
school budget by $3 million, closed an elementary school, cut 22 teaching positions and four administrators, and
reorganized the para support for the neediest students.
In Bridgeport, local Association President Gary Peluchette said ten literacy coaches have already been
eliminated, as well as an alternative education program for at-risk students.
Horler said additional funding cuts would be beyond devastating, not only to Groton, but to the entire state.
"Further cuts in Groton would result in extremely large class sizes, cuts in sports programs, cuts in
afterschool programs, and the elimination of pre-kindergarten."
Horler and Peluchette joined other teachers, education stakeholders, and the What Will Our Children Lose
Coalition calling on legislators to pass a budget that invests in children and education.
"Connecticut's system of funding public education does not work and hurts our children—especially our must
vulnerable students in the state's poorest communities," said Peluchette. "We need an identifiable, stable, and
reliable source of funding the state's constitutional obligation to provide educational opportunities to all of
Connecticut's public school students."
Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette said the state must fund public schools
responsibly and reliably. (Click image for larger version)
Peluchette said the state must create CARES, the Connecticut Achievement and Resource Equity in Schools
Commission, to provide ongoing analysis and recommendations regarding funding public schools.
Middletown teacher Steve McKeever said something must be done because continually trying to balance the budget
on the backs of students, teachers, and school districts is never a good idea.
"Districts can't absorb millions of dollars in cuts and would be forced to lay off teachers, and that would have
a negative impact on students. We are not talking about other children. We are talking about every single child
in our state," said McKeever.
"We need to move forward on a good budget for our children," said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the
Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. Rabinowitz conducted a survey of 30 school districts
and found that 67 positions have already been eliminated and 372 have been placed on hold.
"It's not about a job, it's about our students and families," said Meriden Public Schools Superintendent Mark
Benigni. "We are concerned that we may have to collapse classes, cut teachers, and move students around during
the middle of the year. This should not be happening."
"It's time for Connecticut to understand that schools are the most important thing we can invest in, and that's
what we need the legislature to move forward on and do," said Chris Wilson, the chairman of the Bristol Board of
The stakeholders told legislators that it is time to come together, fix this problem, and create a budget that
invests in public education.
"Schools can't rely on what's been happening, they need certainty, stability, and a basis on which to plan for
now and the future. The later the budget is, the more our schools will suffer. We need to have a budget," said
Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Executive Director Bob Rader.
Michelle Harrold, a Tolland parent of three school-aged children and Board of Education member urged legislators
to work together.
"Please pass the budget. Get in a room and talk to each other and figure this out."
Teachers are a selfless group who choose their profession because of a love for children and teaching, not for any expectation of accolades or honors. And that makes those times teachers are recognized and have a chance to be in the spotlight all the more special.
Once again, the Connecticut Education Foundation's Board of Directors invites you to support the Children's Fund by joining Association members and CEA staff at the 25th Annual Hands Across the Green Golf Tournament on Monday, July 15.
Teachers have a lot to say on issues from their pensions to classroom safety this legislative session, which is why local associations around Connecticut are meeting with their legislators and making their voices heard.
Speaking to hundreds of students at Harding High School in Bridgeport today, Governor Ned Lamont encouraged his audience to pursue a career in teaching and be role models for the next generation of students.
Wearing #RedForEd T-shirts, several hundred Waterbury teachers showed their strength as a union, their dedication to their profession, and their value to the community they serve when they packed a March 7 Waterbury Board of Education meeting.
Community schools, minority teacher recruitment and retention, the opportunity gap, and school literacy were just some of the issues members of the legislature's Education Committee heard public input.
"Our students would only benefit from having more opportunities to learn about the culture, struggles, and contributions of African-Americans and Latinos throughout history," Waterbury teacher Sean Mosley told the legislature's Education Committee
"Teachers become teachers because we want to help kids," says Danbury building rep Lori Woodruff. "It's the same with our union—we are here to help each other. As teachers, when we're involved with the union we can do more to help one another."
Connecticut Education Foundation's (CEF) second annual Read Across America Reading Bus Tour kicked off on February 25, featuring a customized blue bus decorated with well-known Dr. Seuss characters and outfitted with bookshelves, benches, carpeting, and hundreds of new books.
At a public hearing of the legislature's Education Committee today, classroom teachers—along with CEA leaders and staff—gave powerful testimony urging lawmakers to address the crisis of violent student behavior in rural, urban, and suburban schools throughout the state.
Teachers, CEA leaders, and staff testified before the Connecticut General Assembly's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus on issues critical to teachers this legislative session. These issues included school climate, classroom safety, the persistent shortage of ethnic minority educators, and funding for public schools.
CEA supports sensible ways of assisting the state in its efforts to make up for decades of underfunding teachers' retirement, including the governor and treasurer's plan to smooth out the state's payments to the fund over a longer period of time and lower the investment earning assumption to a more realistic rate.
"We reject the idea of cutting our way to prosperity. That has never worked," said Connecticut AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano. His remarks came at a press conference yesterday where members of the labor community, including CEA, called on the state to adopt a pro-growth, investment budget.
Project Oceanology and New England Science and Sailing are partnering to offer "Sound Education: Working with NGSS and STEM in Long Island Sound". This is a FREE two-day PD event from April 5 - April 6 for teachers in grades 4-12, with overnight accommodations provided in Project Oceanology's waterfront hostel.
Legislation passed late in 2015 made many "tax extenders" semi-permanent, but there are still a few esoteric items that keep everyone on tenterhooks when, as once again this year, Congress fails to pass the tax bill by the end of the year.
Marks the inauguration of a new governor and the beginning of the 2019 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. It's likely to be a busy session with many issues for legislators to tackle over these next five months.