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Congressional candidate Jahana Hayes, a former Waterbury teacher, is championed by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle and CEA President Jeff Leake.
October 15, 2018
With less than four weeks left until Election Day, dozens of CEA members, staff, and leaders—joined by NEA Vice President Becky Pringle—came out to Danbury this weekend in a show of support for 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, who is running for office in Connecticut's Fifth Congressional District.
"Everything is at stake," Hayes told the crowd, referring to mounting threats to public education and teachers' rights to bargain for fair wages and working conditions. "I represent a lot of people—the voices of a lot of people—who are saying, 'No, we will not accept this. No, this is not O.K. This has to change, and we will not be forgotten.' And there's so much responsibility in that."
Pringle, a middle school science teacher with 31 years of classroom experience, captured the current education struggle with the words of W.E.B. Dubois, who said, "The freedom to learn has been bought by bitter sacrifice. So whatever you might think about the curtailment of other civil rights, you must fight to the last ditch to keep open the right to learn."
'I am union'
When she first considered running for office, joining scores of other teachers-turned-legislative-contenders around the country, Hayes said some people tried to throw water on her plans by pointing out that she lacked political connections and didn't know a lot of people.
Smiling, she told the educators gathered in Danbury on Saturday morning, "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. When I brought us to D.C. as Teacher of the Year, all the teachers stood with me. Every teacher in this state owned it. And once again, we're standing together and fighting for what we've already litigated. I just want you all to know that I could never do this by myself."
She added that as a history teacher, the past struggles of the teachers union "are not lost on me," and noted, "I know how we got a 40-hour week and paid time off and family and medical leave. I know how we got here, so this idea that someone woke up and decided to be 'nice' to us—no. We raised our collective voices. We used the power of the vote. We reminded people how strong we are when we get together."
Commenting on the current challenges facing teachers unions, she said, "I just think we have to do that one more time. We will not be deterred. We are immovable, we are unstoppable, and we are fierce."
Education is political
CEA members and staff gather in Danbury at a meet-and-greet for Jahana Hayes. Following the event, teachers went canvassing, going door-to-door to encourage colleagues in their communities to vote for pro-public-education candidates on November 6.
Hayes was joined at Danbury's meet-and-greet by other pro-education candidates running for state office.
"These are the people who are going to stand up for working families," said Pringle. "These are the people who understand that unions make us all stronger. These are the people who will fight for us every single day, and you are the people who are going to go out and get those votes. Remind them of Plato's words: 'If you think you are too good or too smart to be involved in politics, then you will be ruled by those who are neither good nor smart.' Every decision in our classrooms, in our worksites, in our lives is a political decision, and so we must stand up, and we must vote. Our children are depending on us to be worthy of them. Thank you, Connecticut, for leading the way."
There are those, including current U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who argue that spending more on public education doesn't lead to better outcomes. School finance expert and Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker begs to differ, and he has research to back his position up.
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.