With only a week left of the legislative session, Jason Ghidini is headed for the State Capitol after school tomorrow to talk to his state senator and representative.
As Connecticut’s General Assembly considers whether or not to pass laws that support educators and students—laws that would improve air quality in schools, end dual instruction, and help retain teachers in a profession marked by shortages—the Southington Education Association president and Kennedy Middle School teacher wants to ensure lawmakers hear directly from those who are in the classroom every day.
He’ll be wearing #RedForEd, and he hopes colleagues from every part of the state join him.
[Pictured above, Greenwich Education Association President Lillian Perone joined CEA President Kate Dias at the Capitol today to talk to legislators.]
Tell it like it is
“I lived through dual instruction for two years and saw firsthand how ineffective it was for all learners,” Ghidini recalls. “It simply checked off a box and did absolutely nothing to benefit my students or help them grow as creative and independent thinkers.”
Yet some administrators want to maintain the option of having a single teacher manage both in-person and remote students simultaneously. Unless legislators hear from Ghidini and others about how that impacts teachers and shortchanges students on both sides of the screen, they may feel dual instruction has its advantages—or is simply a non-issue.
“What I hope to accomplish is ensuring the voices of the experts in the field of education are heard in the creation of policy,” Ghidini says.
Another key policy CEA members are advocating for is a pension credit acknowledging the pandemic-related challenges teachers have faced and making that count toward their retirement. At a time when teachers are leaving the profession earlier than expected, this credit could encourage them to stay where they are needed.
“I never worked as hard as I did since the start of the pandemic,” says Avon Education Association President Jon Moss, who plans to join Ghidini in talking to legislators in person at tomorrow’s Red for Ed Day of Action.
“When schools went remote in March of 2020, there were no ‘veterans.’ There were no ‘experts.’ None of us had ever done this particular job before, and we found ourselves needing to reinvent the field of education at the same time we were working to educate our students in unprecedented times. The stakes were astronomically high, as was the pressure.”
Moss adds, “That pressure has continued as teachers face the challenge of catching kids up while also meeting their social-emotional needs, dealing with a constant flow of quarantined students leaving class and returning, and countless other new challenges. Many of us risked our physical well-being, and most of us sacrificed our emotional well-being to put students’ needs above our own. Our elected officials need to recognize the selfless work of educators during the pandemic and grant us additional years of retirement credit.”
What’s your story?
For many educators participating in CEA’s Red for Ed Day of Action tomorrow, a hot topic will be improving air quality in buildings with outdated HVAC systems at a time when outdoor temperatures are on the rise and COVID cases are climbing.
“We are urging every teacher who can make it out here tomorrow to come, sit down with their hometown senator and representative, and share their story,” says CEA President Kate Dias. “Legislators tell us all the time how big a difference it makes when they hear straight from their constituents. If we can put real-life stories behind these legislative proposals, and real, live faces to names, we can win.”
Register here to meet your lawmakers. CEA staff will help you every step of the way. In-person meetings are quick, effective, and easier than you think!