Connecticut needs to be a place where all residents can thrive, which is why teachers, students, parents, community members, religious leaders, and labor organizations are holding a rally this Thursday in Danbury and giving testimony before the legislature’s Finance Committee today.
Individuals are coming together in support of a fair state budget that works for all residents. The budget Governor Lamont has proposed freezes education funding levels and drastically cuts state aid, replacing it with federal funds.
Join us at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury on
Thursday, March 18 at 5:30 p.m. (due to inclement weather, the rally has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 24 at 4:30 p.m.) to call for a state budget that invests in schools, families, and communities and gives everyone the opportunity to succeed. (View flier.)
“We know that Connecticut has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country; only New York and the District of Columbia outrank us,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “We need a revenue system that provides the resources and funding so that ALL of our students can succeed and become productive citizens in a state with a well-educated workforce.”
CREC teacher and local president Lisa Cardova told the Finance Committee that teaching kindergarten remotely this year has given her a unique glimpse into her students’ homes to see how the pandemic has affected her students’ families.
“This year has highlighted the glaring inequities between students. Some of my students have adequate space, materials and support, which has led to a successful year of learning,” Cordova said. Other children have struggled without the parental support necessary to make virtual kindergarten a success, she said, explaining that some parents need to work two or three jobs just to put food on the table and pay bills. “They desperately WANT to have the luxury of time so they can support our littlest learners. No parent should be put in this position. They are working so hard to survive, they are exhausted! Everyone deserves the right to the tools for success.”
“Living in Connecticut, which is the wealthiest state, and living in the U.S., which is the wealthiest country in the world, it is unconscionable to me that we do not take care of our own citizens,” said CEA Vice President Tom Nicholas.
Carrie Cassady, a Torrington teacher and local president, told legislators that teachers have witnessed how the past year has been incredibly difficult for communities around Connecticut.
“The State of Connecticut has the responsibility to meet the needs of all of its residents,” she said. “Governor Lamont’s budget does not meet the needs of my students, or most students throughout Connecticut. We need more social workers and counselors to help students process the last year of their lives. We need more teachers so we can have smaller class sizes.”
Darien Education Association President and fifth grade teacher Joslyn DeLancey said that Darien students and teachers benefit from a school district that is well funded, but that many Connecticut schools face very different circumstances. “We need to have a state where everybody is getting a fair and equitable education that is strong. If we ignore these costs now, that just brings problems later on,” she said.
“This past year has exposed and laid bare the extreme disparities in the communities of Connecticut. COVID has shown us the consequences of years of systemic racism and inequities and it is time for bold action,” Manchester Education Association President Kate Dias said. The math teacher added, “Connecticut is a very wealthy state, rich with resources and opportunities, we need to look at how those resources are distributed and who is benefitting.”
CEA-Retired member Bob Brown, chair and founder of the CEA Poverty Task Force, told legislators, “If we spend the money now to reduce poverty and its many impacts, we will gain back literally millions of dollars in tax revenue and productivity in the long run. And morally, we will not have to ignore the embarrassing truth that our fellow human beings are struggling daily just to survive in this, the richest country on earth.”
Brown continued, “Our suggestion is to tax the wealthiest, more fortunate citizens in our state, those who can afford to pay, those who enjoy comfortable lifestyles, and those who would benefit down the road from reducing poverty with lower taxes and a more productive workforce. Lifting people out of poverty does not take away from anyone; it adds to the quality of life for everyone.”