With the 174th CEA Representative Assembly in the books, more than 300 delegates passed a new CEA budget, new business items, and amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws, elected new officers, and reflected on the achievements of the past year and the collective strength of the union that made those achievements possible.
‘We are changemakers’
In her opening remarks, CEA President Kate Dias recalled the tremendous influence that CEA—with the strength of its members and their willingness to show up and share their stories—has had on students’ learning environment and teachers’ working conditions.
“Together, we have really made a difference and brought about real change, including an end to dual teaching, more mental health supports for our students, $150 million in funding for school indoor air quality for next year alone, a guaranteed, uninterrupted 30-minute lunch period, and so much more.” A video showcasing CEA’s statewide blackout for safe schools in January, recent #RedforEd Day of Action, months-long What You Don’t See social media campaign, as well as various grassroots organizing and media coverage underscored Dias’s message that teachers are changemakers.
“We will continue to fight, and we will succeed,” she said, “because when we work together, when we raise the profile of our profession and demand better, we win. There are no wallflowers in this room or in this battle.”
Among the issues Dias said CEA will continue to advocate for are a teacher pandemic pension credit and changes to the kindergarten start age and teacher reading survey, improved teacher evaluation, and professional development that’s relevant and meaningful.
“As we leave here today and head toward the end of another school year—maybe it is your first, maybe it is your last, or perhaps somewhere in between—let’s promise to stay in touch, support each other, and continue to fight for what is right,” she said.
Budget, new business items
Delegates adopted a new $22,842,244 budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with a $3.98 dues increase—the first in three years.
Delegates also adopted three new business items unanimously:
- CEA will actively pursue a legislative agenda that addresses play-based curriculum and teacher autonomy in curricular decisions.
- The association will establish a Teacher Support and Mental Health Care Task Force that identifies critical support structures for educators and budgetary needs to provide those supports.
- CEA will also actively pursue a legislative agenda that addresses teacher recruitment and retention in our public schools, including financial incentives, statute revision, teachers’ retirement evaluation and suggested changes/pandemic credit, issues surrounding Social Security and the windfall provision, review of certification processes and requirements, review and revisions/repeal of professional development mandates, and review of the teacher evaluation system.
In addition, two motions were adopted exploring a potential increase in representation of CEA-Retired members on the CEA Board of Directors, Constitution Revision Committee, and Finance Committee.
Elections were held for three CEA leadership positions.
CEA Secretary Stephanie Wanzer was elected to the position of CEA Treasurer. She was challenged by Suffield Education Association President Mark Janick.
Tara Flaherty was elected CEA secretary. She was challenged by East Hampton teacher and CEA board member Joe Holloway.
Running unopposed, Cheshire teacher Tanya Kores was declared elected to the position of NEA Director Alternate.
Before the close of the RA, Bridgeport educator and first-time CEA RA delegate Kristen Clark described in an emotional address to fellow delegates how difficult the last few years have been for everyone in the teaching profession—and how proud she was to see the bold and positive direction her association is taking to address those challenges.
“I will leave here feeling hope for our students and teachers,” Clark said. “You all have made a difference in my life.”