Message from CEA President Sheila Cohen

Sent on Behalf of CEA President Sheila Cohen

Thank you for what you do each and every day. You do indeed make a difference in the lives of your students

American Education Week

This month we celebrate American Education Week, a recognition of all that is outstanding about public education in America and in Connecticut.  American Education Week honors excellent teaching and learning. Each day our students come to us with a wealth of experiences and an enthusiasm for learning.

This week, as parents visit our classrooms, I know they will observe highly dedicated, caring teachers who make meaningful connections between the wealth of experience their students bring, their enthusiasm for exploring new information and ideas, and the lessons taking place in the classroom.

In Connecticut, every week should be Education Week; we always have cause for celebration. Our state is home to great public schools. Students, parents, staff, and community members work together and share responsibility for the success of our students. We all celebrate and take pride in their accomplishments – because their success is our success.

I once heard a teacher say, “Teaching is not what I do.  It is who I am.”  This statement has had a profound effect on me and I believe it speaks directly to all of us. Teaching is not what we do, it is who we are. We will never be “just teachers”.

We are professionals who understand the art of teaching. We are changers of lives. We are influential role models and sources of inspiration to our students. We are trusted guides, leading our students into uncharted territories to explore. We are the vessels of knowledge who care about the wholeness of every student in our care. We are the experts who should be instrumental in determining the art of teaching. And we touch the hearts as well as the minds of the future generation of Americans.

Be proud today and always – because we are the teachers.

Message From CEA About CT Budget

CEA’s fight for a fair budget that invests in public education has ended in the legislature with a bipartisan agreement that does not substantially cut ECS funding or shift the cost of teacher retirement onto cities and towns. Under this budget, education funding for the state’s poorest districts would not be cut, and the remaining 139 school districts would lose five percent of funding. Next year, some of the funding is restored under an updated distribution formula. Click here to see how your district fares under this budget.

While we do not agree with everything in the budget, we do appreciate the effort of legislators to protect education funding for our students and schools and to solve the budget impasse. This agreement restores much-needed funding to our school districts, preventing teacher layoffs as well as cuts to programs and resources that would have led to larger class sizes and fewer opportunities for our students.

Thank you to the many thousands of you who contacted your legislators. Many of you received responses from your legislators telling you that CEA was misleading you. Armed with the facts, you fought back and set the record straight. You urged them to invest in public education—and together our voices were heard.

We are dismayed, however, that after receiving tens of thousands of emails and calls from teachers, legislators still voted to increase the payroll tax on teachers. While we appreciate the fact that legislators reduced the two-percent increase in the teacher tax down to one percent, this increase does not strengthen the teacher retirement fund—it simply allows the state to reduce its share and pocket the $38 million in new tax dollars paid by teachers. This is wrong because teachers have reliably contributed their fair share every year.

These 117 days without a budget have been extremely tough and anxious for all of us, but especially for our students, our schools, and our teachers—who were targeted with a variety of cuts to close the state budget shortfall. We all recognize the challenges facing the state and the tough decisions that must be made, and going forward we encourage legislators to not shortchange students, their futures, and the future of our state.

Thank you for your advocacy. We made a difference, and we will continue to be stronger together.

New Teacher Conference request for presenters

Sent on Behalf of CEA President Sheila Cohen and the Membership Training and Conference Committee

LP’s: This email is being sent to all members

Thank you for what you do each and every day!

Greetings, CEA Members,

Are you a strong presenter? Would you like to help support our new teachers? Would you like the opportunity to expand and develop your teacher leadership skills and capacity? The CEA Membership Training and Conference Committee is looking to expand the sessions available to our members attending the New Teachers Conference. While anyone can attend, the New Teacher Conference is targeted at teachers in their first six years of experience.

We are looking for CEA members willing to present a one and one half hour session twice during the conference, which is March 24, 2018 at the Heritage Hotel and Conference Center in Southbury from 8:30 to 1:00. The CEA will provide presenters dinner and overnight accommodations at the Heritage on March 23. A continental breakfast and lunch during the conference is provided for all attendees. Sessions are presented in three conference strands: Pedagogy (instructional techniques and strategies, designing units, projects, lessons, and activities, etc.); Behavior and Classroom Management (setting up rules, routines, and procedures; rewards and consequences; finding the right amount of discipline for your classroom, etc.); and Managing Your Professional Life (professional relationships, paperwork,, licensure, legal issues, etc.).

If you are interested in making a proposal, please use this link:

https://cea-mtcc.typeform.com/to/K1AV40

Proposals will be accepted until Friday, November 3. Successful applicants will be notified in early December. If you have any questions, please contact Joe Zawawi at joez@cea.org.

From CEA: Teacher Tax Update

A MESSAGE FROM CEA PRESIDENT SHEILA COHEN:
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THE TEACHER TAX

Thank you for your advocacy and activism in fighting back against the teacher tax and the cost shift proposals. The Republican budget that passed the legislature contained a teacher tax, but no cost shift. However, the governor has said he will veto that plan, and that would mean legislators once again will be considering both issues to try to solve the budget deficit. We must stand strong and ready to fight back against both the cost shift and the teacher tax because they hurt students, teachers, and public education.

Because of your continued outreach and strong objections to the teacher tax, there is a lot of misinformation being shared by some legislators.

I want to be perfectly clear: THIS IS A TAX ON TEACHERS.

Here are the facts:

  • The Republican budget increases the payroll tax on teachers from 6 percent to 8 percent.
  • This will cost every teacher about $1,500 per year.
  • Unlike other pension contributions, the budget counts this additional 2% as tax revenue.
  • This increase will generate almost $100 million to reduce the state’s deficit instead of reducing the unfunded liability for teacher retirement.
  • None of this tax increase will go toward the state’s unfunded teacher pension liability—it will instead reduce the state’s contribution to teacher retirement.

Unlike other pension contributions, this additional 2% increase counts as tax revenue—PERIOD!

GET THE FACTS ABOUT THE TEACHER TAX

Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues, friends, and family members and to post it on your social media networks.

Our voices are being heard and we will continue to speak out against all attempts to balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers. We will fight against any new proposals that include a teacher tax or a cost shift that moves the state’s share of teacher retirement costs onto cities and towns.

We must keep up our advocacy until we have a fair budget that works for all of us and invests in public education.

Thank you for your continued activism and support.

From CEA: Action Alert: Teacher Tax

Tell Governor Malloy to veto the Republican budget that passed the legislature.
It imposes an unprecedented tax on teachers of approximately $1,500 per teacher—every year—that will NOT go into the teacher retirement fund to support teacher retirement. This is an unfair tax that goes into the state’s general fund, and must not become law.
Click here to contact Governor Malloy.
Urge him to
1)    Veto the Republican budget
2)    Pass a fair budget, without a $1,500 tax on teachers and without a cost shift
3)    Invest in public education and the future of our children and our state
Tell the governor not to balance the state budget on the backs of students and teachers.

State Budget Information From CEA

 

Throughout the state budget process, CEA members have been strong advocates. In just the last three days, more than 4,000 emails were sent by CEA members to their representatives and state senators. Here’s what happened at the Capitol yesterday:

Democrats were expected to pass their budget.
In the State Senate three Democrats—Paul Doyle, Gayle Slossberg, and Joan Hartley—all voted for the Republican budget. As a result, the Republican budget proposal passed by a vote of 21 to 15.
In the House, six Democrats voted with the Republicans to adopt the Republican budget as the amended budget—Pat Boyd, John Hampton, Lonnie Reed, Kim Rose, Danny Rovero, and Cristin McCarthy Vahey (McCarthy Vahey, later switched and voted against it). It passed 77 to 73. The governor has said that he will veto the budget.

A bi-partisan budget–different than the one passed yesterday–could be a good solution for Connecticut, but only if it does not attack public education, students, teachers, and essential collective bargaining rights that protect employees.

What does the Republican budget do as to collective bargaining and education?
It imposes a 2% increase in teacher contributions to the retirement fund, which would cost the average teacher $1,500 per year.
It does not impose a cost shift of teacher retirement responsibilities onto towns.
It ends collective bargaining for state employee pensions, imposes changes in their pensions after 2027 (when the current labor agreement expires), and starts counting those savings in the proposed biennial budget. For example, the budget banks $270 million in savings in the next two years based on savings that are projected to occur after 2027. And that assumes that ending collective bargaining as to state employee pensions withstands a legal challenge.
Allows towns to override arbitration decisions with a 2/3rds vote of the local legislative bodies (i.e., two out of three selectman, six out of nine city councilors).
Eliminates the Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) for municipal education support.
Allows towns to reopen collective bargaining agreements if education aid is reduced by 10% or more.
Requires that 15% of a town’s budget reserve shall not be considered toward a town’s ability to pay.
Allows schools and towns to use volunteers of adults or children for town services regardless of collective bargaining agreements.
Contains numerous provisions that transfer power from the board of education to the board of finance or mayor/board of selectmen. For example, the town (not the board of education) must authorize leases of school equipment, computers, portable classrooms, etc.; the town must approve hiring new school positions not specifically enumerated in the budget, etc.
ECS: The Republican budget restores most of Governor Malloy’s proposed ECS cuts, but cuts some large districts. Bridgeport loses $4 million, East Hartford loses $4 million, New Haven loses $3 million, and West Hartford loses $1 million.
The Republican budget also eliminates the Clean Elections Program, imposes additional labor savings while also incorporating the $1.5 billion state employee concession package negotiated by Governor Malloy, adopts the Hospital Tax expansion proposed by Malloy (where the state receives more federal reimbursement), and proposes major cuts in higher education.
These are just some of many details that stretch over 700 pages.
 
Again, the governor says he will veto the Republican budget, which will send the process back to the beginning, with increased leverage for Republican leadership.
We will send out additional updates as we learn more.

 

From CEA: Contact Your Legislators

Legislators are expected to vote on a budget this Thursday or Friday. School budgets across the state are at risk.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS

Take action immediately to tell legislators:

1. Do not cut ECS dollars that are critical to our schools and students.

2. Do not shift state responsibility for teacher retirement to the towns, which will result in increases in property taxes, cuts to school budgets, or both.

3. Do not increase teacher contributions to the retirement system.

4. Do not undermine collective bargaining rights.

Tell legislators to pass a budget that:

a) Protects local school budgets.

b) Maintains critical services for families and communities.

c) Provides for a reliable revenue stream to support critical services.

This is our last chance to have our voices heard before the budget vote.

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS

Call your senators now! 1-855-764-1010

National Education Association

Senate Republican leaders are pushing for a vote as early as TODAY on their secret healthcare bill, and we don’t even know yet which version of the bill they’ll be voting on. But it comes down to this:

Whichever bill they choose – whether it’s the one that kicks 22 million people off their insurance, or 32 million people – every option they’ve put forth will be disastrous for our members, students, families, and communities. They may even be voting to end Medicaid as we know it, or end affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions, all while giving huge tax breaks to insurance companies and drug makers.

We need you to call your senators – and to keep calling. Demand they vote NO on any attempt to pass one of these dangerous healthcare bills.

Call 1-855-764-1010 right now.Then click here to tell us how the call went.

Your calls and emails are making a difference, and senators that are key swing votes have said they’re feeling the pressure. Please keep it up! 

Educators for Health Care

Not out of the woods yet on health care

  Don’t let the Senate take away health insurance from 32 million people. 
Please call 1-855-764-1010 now.

I am so grateful to the thousands of you who called your senators telling them to reject the terrible Trumpcare plan that would take health insurance away from millions of people while giving billions of dollars in tax cuts to health insurers and drug makers.

Your calls are working, but we can’t take our foot off the gas!

Right now, Republican leaders are devising a new plan to make things even worse: stripping health insurance away from 32 million people and repealing much of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) without producing a replacement plan. It’s terrifying and irresponsible.

Will you call now? Dial 1-855-764-1010 to be connected with your senators. Then let us know how it went.

You don’t need any special talking points to shut this down: Just tell your senator to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Please call 1-855-764-1010 to be connected to your senators. Then report back here. 

Thank you for making this critical call. 
– Lily
Lily Eskelsen García
President
National Education Association