The legislature may have refused to override the governor’s veto of a crucial school safety bill earlier this summer, but it’s not an issue teachers will walk away from. CEA leaders and staff have been hard at work this month seeking input from the State Department of Education and other stakeholders to create a revised bill that could pass the General Assembly and be signed into law.
Today a task force consisting of CEA and 13 other advocacy organizations, State Department of Education staff, and members of the General Assembly met in person for the first time for discussions about the bill. The group seeks to provide protections for the safety of students and teachers and proactive supports to help students who cause physical injury to others.
“I appreciate CEA drafting such a thoroughly thoughtful proposal,” said Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell. “The effort they made to get us to where we need to be is really admirable.”
CEA Executive Director Donald Williams thanked the Department of Education for convening the task force and bringing stakeholders together.
“Our teachers are very concerned about this issue. It’s perhaps the issue we hear most about across the state,” Williams said. “We need to decide how to best identify children’s needs and best provide interventions and supports so that we have a consistent, statewide protocol for how to handle these events.”
“We need to be thinking about the classroom teacher,” said Senator Toni Boucher. “I’ve spoken with many teachers over the decades and there is a change in our schools that has led many teachers to leave.”
Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Executive Director Fran Rabinowitz, who recently served as Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools, noted that two of her teachers resigned in recent years due to unsafe classroom environments. “I personally lost two K-2nd grade teachers who were phenomenally good teachers because of physical altercations in the classroom,” she said.
“We need to make sure students and teachers feel and are adequately protected,” said Rep. Gail Lavielle. She added that heartfelt testimony by teachers at legislative hearings this spring had left her convinced of the need to act. “I saw some people who were genuinely scared and had been genuinely injured.”
Stay tuned to BlogCEA for more updates on the work of the task force.