While many of their former colleagues were busy in the classroom today, retired teachers did their part to improve education in Connecticut by talking with their elected representatives at the State Capitol. More than 80 retired teachers — members of CEA-Retired, AFT Connecticut, and the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut — sought out their legislators to discuss issues important to students and teachers.
CEA-Retired member and former East Hartford teacher Karen O’Connell met with her state representative, Jeffrey Currey, and talked with him about several issues including the problems with SBAC testing. “I told him the tests are developmentally inappropriate and urged him to amend bill 1095 to ensure less testing and more learning,” O’Connell said. She told Currey that progress monitoring tests offer a better picture of children’s progress than the SBAC tests do.
O’Connell said Currey had many questions about SBAC and expressed concerns about the instructional time that is lost during the two weeks of testing.
Myles Cohen, a CEA-Retired member who taught in Stratford, also talked about the problems with SBAC testing with his state senator, Carlo Leone. “He took the time to look up the bills I mentioned while we talked,” Cohen said. “He said he would speak to the chairs of the appropriate committees about teachers’ concerns.”
Retirees made a point of thanking their legislators for last year taking action to exempt 10 percent of teachers’ pension income from the income tax in 2015.
Many legislators spoke to the retired educators as they met for lunch following their visits to representatives’ offices. Representative Tim Ackert told the retirees he supported the tax exemption on pension income. “Let’s help keep some of that money in your bank accounts,” he said.
In speaking with their legislators, retirees also highlighted the need to adequately support the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. The fund provides a subsidy to retired teachers that covers a portion of their health insurance costs.
The state is supposed to contribute 33 percent of the cost; however both the governor’s and Appropriations Committee’s proposed budgets provide only approximately 15 percent of the cost. Read more on the issue here.
State Representative Tony Hwang told the teachers, “We’ve heard you loud and clear: 33 percent.”
CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown said, “Even for retired and active teachers who can’t make it to Hartford, it’s important to talk to your legislators back home. Email them or pick up the phone. It doesn’t take more than a minute to email your legislators, and the results of a quick email can be profound.”