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Education and Student Leaders to Lawmakers: Help Us Take Back Our Schools
CEA President Sheila Cohen today joined East Hartford students, the CT Association of Boards of Education,
and the CT Association of Public School Superintendents to demand action on school safety.
February 22, 2018
CEA joined with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the Connecticut Association of
Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) in a press conference at East Hartford High School this morning demanding
meaningful legislative action on school safety, including stricter gun laws and greater investment in mental
health and counseling services.
The press conference comes one week after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed the
lives of 17 students, teachers, and coaches. Frustrated by the lack of progress on school safety, the three
groups called on politicians to follow Connecticut's lead in the wake of Newtown, when it passed historic gun
and school safety laws.
"When the unimaginable happened here in Connecticut, and 26 students and educators were gunned down at Sandy
Hook Elementary School, we were shocked," said CEA President Sheila Cohen. "We were devastated. We never
imagined it would happen here. And we said enough."
Mass shootings, however, continue to take young lives across the country with increasing frequency, Cohen noted,
calling on Congress to follow Connecticut's lead and "protect every student, in every school, in every city and
town in America."
Connecticut's model legislation
CEA Executive Director Donald Williams said Congress should follow Connecticut's lead and pass measures to
increase school safety.
"Connecticut's successful bipartisan effort in 2013, which included sensible and strong gun regulation,
resources for mental health, and improvements for school security, unfortunately failed to take hold in
Washington, D.C.," said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams Jr.
"Our students are saying enough," said Cohen. "Grieving and fearful parents are saying enough. Teachers, who
should never be known for being 'killed in the line of duty,' are saying enough. And now, we are calling on our
leaders in Washington to stand with us and say enough. It is time to honor the victims of these senseless
shootings by creating safe schools, by passing commonsense gun laws, and by providing funding for school
resources and mental health services."
Cohen and Williams announced several initiatives to keep the dialog going. On Wednesday, March 14, CEA is urging
teachers and students to participate in early-morning school walk-ins as a show of solidarity and support for
the changes needed to make every school safe. Many teachers will also be joining the student-organized national
march in Washington, D.C., as well as a similar rally in Hartford, both on March 24.
CEA's Walk-ins for Safe Schools will also be used to promote activism through voter registration drives. Parents
who are not registered to vote to will receive assistance, as will students who reach voting age by Election Day
"Their voices will be heard, and together, we will make a difference," Williams said.
CABE Executive Director Robert Rader expressed pride in students across the country who are "stepping forward on
their own to do what adults so far have failed to do." Rader, together with CABE Deputy Director and General
Counsel Patrice McCarthy, noted that the lack of safety at schools negatively impacts learning and reiterated
that Connecticut's adoption of stronger laws is a model for other states and the federal government.
"We must do more," said McCarthy.
"The idea that Americans can send their children to school every day and not be totally confident that they will
come home again is unconscionable," said CAPSS Executive Director Frances Rabinowitz. "The fact that our
teachers and school staff must worry about their safety is ludicrous. While we mourn the lives lost and the
potential of so many young people not realized, we must take action to ensure that no other community
experiences such horror."
Also expressing concern were East Hartford High School student leaders, who talked to the press about their own
hopes and fears in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
"There needs to be a change," said EHHS senior Hannah Rivera. "This should not have happened and should never
happen again. We need stronger gun control so that other communities can feel as safe as I do going to school
East Hartford High School senior Pedro De Jesus spoke with reporters this morning.
Fellow twelfth-grader Pedro DeJesus said he is proud of Parkland students who have been vocal and active in
response to their tragedy. "If we voice our opinions, if we help people stay woke, we can keep our schools
When asked whether teachers should be trained and armed with guns—a controversial proposal that has drawn
strong criticism—East Hartford students resoundingly disapproved. Bringing more guns into schools, they
said, would not make them feel safer.
"Bringing guns to schools does not protect our students and educators from gun violence," Cohen agreed. "We ask
our teachers to do so much. Asking them to be police officers and carry guns is a sad commentary on the
inability of legislators to do their jobs and pass gun safety legislation. Educators must focus on teaching our
students, and Congress needs to take action to keep our schools safe."
Although it was after ten o'clock last night by the time the legislature' Education Committee heard public testimony on a bill to help ensure classroom safety and address student assaults, CEA members and staff made sure they were present to testify so that legislators could hear their stories.
Its a busy day at the legislatures Education Committee, with senate and house members hearing from the public on bills that cover a range of topics from remedial reading instruction to virtual learning to Education Savings Accounts.
The Oklahoma Education Association announced on Tuesday night that schools would shut down across the state if the state legislature does not pass a $10,000 pay raise for teachers and increased funding for schools by April 23.
Thank you to all of you who sent messages of support to our West Virginia colleagues. They have stood in solidarity and made their voices heard to demand recognition of their professionalism and dignity.
In one of the city's largest public forums—with a crowd of over 200—more than 60
Shelton teachers shared their concerns and ideas regarding school safety with colleagues, administrators,
and community members.
Raising the state sales and gas taxes, eliminating the estate and gift taxes, selectively raising
business taxes, eliminating collective bargaining for state workers, and reforming the Teachers' Retirement
System are just a few of the recommendations released today by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and
CEA leaders were joined by labor leaders from across the state and legislators in speaking out to protect the rights and freedom of workers to negotiate together and fight for decent and equitable pay, affordable health care, quality schools, and vibrant communities.
February 26 marked the kick off of the Connecticut Education Foundation's 2018 Read Across America
Reading Bus Tour, featuring a 38-foot bus decorated with characters from popular Dr. Seuss books and
outfitted with bookshelves, benches, carpeting, and 3,000 donated books.
CEA joined with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) in a press conference at East Hartford High School demanding meaningful legislative action on school safety.
The State Board of Education today listened to teachers' concerns about fairness in education funding and responded by rejecting increases in enrollment for three charter schools that would have cost the state $627,000.
Though his opening address to the 2018 General Assembly emphasized Connecticut's tradition of fairness and the state's future generations, the governor's new budget proposal delivers mixed news for Connecticut students, teachers, and schools.
While Governor Malloy's message in his address to the General Assembly emphasized Connecticut's tradition of
fairness and concern for future generations, his budget proposal is anything but fair for Connecticut's students
and public schools.
Kim Sweeney is the winner of a nine-day NEA Adventures prize package summer vacation to Costa Rica. The trip—the grand prize in CEA Member Benefits' first-ever "Explore & Score" eight-week sweepstakes—includes meals, hotel accommodations, and tours of a cloud forest, hot springs, and volcano.
A change to the retired teachers' health insurance program that was adopted by the State Teachers' Retirement Board (TRB) this month will impact retired teachers and spouses who are on—or will soon be on&mdsah;the TRB's Medicare supplement (65 and older) plan.
Public officials are elected to represent the interests of local residents, but members of the Stratford Board of Education abdicated their responsibility to town residents by shutting them out of a public meeting.
State Supreme Court ruling in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell delivered a mixed verdict—bad for school funding, while rejecting the lower court's attempt to create burdensome schemes for testing, teacher evaluation, and education policy.