“It was disappointing that teachers were not allowed to participate or attend a summit on education today—go figure,” said Westport librarian, Association president, and NEA Director John Horrigan.
Horrigan was one of nearly 40 CEA members and staff, and more than 100 teachers from around New England, who rallied in Londonderry, New Hampshire, where Republican presidential candidates were participating in an education summit.
“Republican presidential candidates need to seek teacher input, not turn us away,” said New Hampshire teacher Penny Culliton, who was refused entry to the GOP Education Summit (watch video), despite having a ticket to the event and driving an hour and a half to get there.
“I was shocked and disappointed,” she said. “It’s an education summit, and, as a teacher, I wanted to hear what the candidates have to say about education. It’s where I needed to be.”
Greenwich teacher and Association president Carol Sutton said she was dismayed that the candidates, who were invited to come outside and speak to the teachers, chose not to do so, and that the teachers were restricted from getting close to the building.
“It says a lot about the Republicans’ approach to dialogues regarding education,” she said.
CEA Vice President Jeff Leake said the rally got the message out that teachers need to be part of the process and their voices must be heard to get education reform done right.
“CEA members showed their support for children and the teaching profession by attending the rally,” he said. “We sent a clear message today that teachers support strong public schools that give opportunity to all students.”
Leake thanked all the CEA members and staff for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend this important event.
“There’s nothing more important than our investment in educational opportunities for every student. Public education is the greatest resource for all American families,” he said.
East Hartford kindergarten teacher Lisa Ouellette attended the rally to show her support for students and the teaching profession.
“I am passionate about my students and it’s important for educators to support each other and stand up for our students. Together we make a strong statement: We care about all children.”
CEA-Retired member Karen O’Connell joined her CEA colleagues for the two-hour bus trip because she is concerned about the direction of public education.
“We want a voice. We want to be respected,” O’Connell said. “The future leaders of the country are in the hands of teachers everyday. We need to allow teachers to teach to the whole child, not to a test.”
CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown was pleased that retirees participated in the rally.
“Events like this, no matter if they are big or small, are inspiring. It’s what unions are all about—standing together.”
Brown continued, “Great public schools are important and it doesn’t matter where you live. That’s the promise of America.”