News Briefs



LEADING CEA leaders speak up for teachers, speak out against threats to school safety and academic integrity, and celebrate union victories that include a boost to the teacher pension fund. ADVOCATING CEA’s Stronger Than Ever campaign celebrates a safe return to in-person learning and the commitment teachers bring to their students, their profession, and public education. STRENGTHENING CEA’s push for securing teacher pensions pays off with a nearly $1 billion boost to the State Teachers’ Retirement Fund. New and returning teachers across the state receive a warm welcome and support for the year ahead from CEA leaders. Connecticut educators share how they teach a generation born in its wake. PROTECTING CEA’S 2021 Back-to-School Survey shows indoor air quality is a major— and largely unaddressed—concern in schools. Read how CEA continues to advocate for immediate investments that will improve conditions in school buildings not only in the midst of a pandemic but for the long term. CEA has compiled FAQs about vaccination mandates, masking in schools, COVID testing, and more to ensure teachers are informed and protected. Teachers have increasingly come under attack for doing their jobs—adhering to their school’s curriculum and COVID safety protocols, and promoting equity, honesty, and respect. Small but vocal groups are disrupting school board meetings and threatening to take over decisions about how and what you teach. Read how CEA members are upholding honesty in education in the classroom—and why they need your vote on November 2. EXEMPLIFYING Watching students succeed is every teacher’s reward. Often, teachers are also rewarded in ways that honor their courage, creativity, and determination. Meet some exemplary educators who have been recognized by their community and their peers. CARING See how your colleagues have been taking care of themselves and others, and how you can too. CEA-RETIRED When Lisa Thomas retired in June, she swore she’d never pack another lunchbox for work again. Fast-forward to the fall—and the substitute teacher crisis hitting districts throughout the state—and the 37-year veteran teacher found herself back in kindergarten…and loving it. REPRESENTING Inspired by the work of your union? Why not play a bigger part in it by serving on CEA’s board of directors or as an NEA state delegate? Get your nominations in by December 1. From Ashford to Westbrook, teachers throughout the state gathered on the green for the Connecticut Education Foundation’s annual golf tournament to benefit schoolchildren in need. REMEMBERING On the 20th anniversary of 9/11,

Planning for retirement? It’s never too early to start, and CEA’s free workshops give you all the tools you need. (Workshops are kept small to ensure any questions you have are answered on the spot.) Love to shop but hate to overspend? CEA saves you money on everything from groceries to prepared meals, automobiles to vacation getaways. Get these and other member benefits at your fingertips with your CEA membership card. Your member ID number, found on your card as well as on the mailing label of your CEA Advisor , is unique to you and unlocks all of these resources and more at cea.org . Be sure to keep your card in your wallet, as it’s also your passport to CEA Ask the Commissioner What are the most pressing things you want to know about the school year ahead? Connecticut has a new education commissioner, and she’s eager to hear from you. Join a live webinar on Monday, October 25, from 5 to 6 p.m. as Charlene Russell-Tucker and members of her staff answer teachers’ questions about what to expect in their classrooms in the pandemic and post-pandemic eras. Hosted by CEA President Kate Dias and AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel, the webinar is open to members only, and registration is limited. Register for the webinar and submit your questions in the registration form at cea.org/ event/askthecommissioner_102521 . At its September 10 meeting, CEA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to appoint Stamford Spanish and ESL teacher Mary Enright to a three- year term on the Connecticut Advisory Council for Teacher Professional Standards (CACTPS). The 17-member group advises the State Board of Education, the governor, and lawmakers on issues related to teacher preparation, recruitment, certification, professional development, and evaluation. CEA is responsible for appointing four of the group’s members, who include CACTPS Chair Lynn Rice Scozzafava (Litchfield), Christopher Stone (Wallingford), and Sandra Mangan (Torrington). CEA-Retired members Ann Grosjean and Bob Brown also serve on the council, and CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey is the CEA liaison. “During the pandemic, especially, we have seen



Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker (center), shown here with CEA President Kate Dias and Executive Director Donald Williams, will answer teachers’ questions in a live webinar on October 25.


Stamford Teacher Appointed to Advisory Council for Professional Standards

the importance of teachers’ voices in shaping the narrative and creating good policy, and it is imperative that our state’s decision- makers hear directly from educators currently teaching in our classrooms,” says Enright, a 23-year veteran teacher. “Our union is only as strong as our members, and as part of a leadership team, I’m committed to



Mary Enright is the newest CEA member of CACTPS.

staying active and informed. Advocating for our profession is one of the ways we advocate for our students.” Enright’s term begins in October 2021.


Your Ticket to Members-Only Training, Events, Resources, Discounts Looking to ace your teacher evaluation? CEA will walk you through it.

discounts at numerous retailers and venues. Can’t find your member ID? Create a personal profile at mynea360.org/s/join-now . Once your profile is complete, you can retrieve your member ID anytime.



CEA Speaks Out Against Latest Harmful TikTok Challenge September saw multiple incidents of vandalism in schools around Connecticut attributed to a challenge circulating on TikTok. October’s new, potentially violent challenge is “Slap a Teacher,” and a list of future challenges that are harmful to students and teachers and disruptive to schools is circulating online.

conversation with students and parents.” She adds, “This is not the problem we want to be addressing—we want to be focusing on educating students, and on their needs and well- being.” The education community urges administrators to establish strong discipline policies for any students who participate in the challenges, taking into account the nature of the behavior. Watch TV interviews with Kate Dias on the subject at cea.org/education-community- outraged-over-latest-harmful-tiktok-challenge .



Taking a strong stance against the social media platform, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong told TikTok, “I want action, and I want to know from the CEO himself what they are going to do to stop this.” He added, “I’m going to hold you responsible and accountable, because I have a lot of tools in the toolbox to make that happen.” “We want to end this before it begins,” CEA President Kate Dias told Channel 3 in a recent interview. “None of us wants to get into a contentious relationship with students and parents. Let’s get in front of this. Let’s come together and talk to students about the disruption it creates to our community and the amount of trust it erodes when we have to start to look over our shoulders. A lot of this is about prevention and having a




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