“Today is a very special day—not only because we’re here together in an air conditioned space instead of in a hot and humid classroom,” CEA President Jeff Leake told members of CEA-Retired, who had gathered for their annual fall conference on an especially hot and stifling September 6. “Today is a particularly special day for us to commemorate because, 40 years ago on the first day of school, only 36 of Bridgeport’s 1,247 teachers showed up for work.”
Leake continued, “Let us remember today what those striking Bridgeport teachers did for this union and teachers across the state. They stood strong, supported by our members from across the state. They were stronger together, and they did not give up.”
Wearing his Red for Ed t-shirt in support of teachers across the country, Leake told retired teachers, “When I talk to teachers today, I ask them, ‘What will our colleagues be saying about us 40 years from now? Will they say we defended public education from those who wanted to destroy it? Will they say we triumphed over the assault on collective bargaining? Will they be able to say we did not give up?'”
Retired Southington teacher Bob Brown, chair of CEA’s Political Action Committee, reminded his fellow CEA-Retired members just how much the outcome of the election this November will matter for schools and public education.
“This is by far the most important election for public school teachers in Connecticut in our lifetime,” Brown said. “The new governor and legislature will debate and determine the future of public education, collective bargaining, and our pensions. Many states have gone after teacher pensions in recent years, and Connecticut could be next.”
“Find out what the people running in your state districts stand for. Get involved in campaigns,” said CEA-Retired President Gloria Brown.
“Please vote and encourage everyone you know to vote,” said Bob Brown.
Bob Brown added that the CEA Government Relations department has worked hard to compile report cards on candidates running for office this November and will be releasing those soon.
“There is no perfect candidate,” he said. “These are real people with better and worse records. Make sure you know where they stand and how they’ve voted.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García recorded a special video message for CEA-Retired members that Gloria Brown played for her colleagues.
“You know better than anyone that it’s going to take more than outrage to win the elections this fall,” Eskelsen García told retirees. “We’ve got to show up and hold our elected leaders accountable. We’ve got to show up with our voice and our vote.”
“It’s going to take all of us,” said Leake. “Active members, retired members, and student members working together to put lawmakers in office who support students and teachers.”
Eskelsen García continued, “Keep fighting, stand up, and stay united. As we tackle the challenges before us, let’s not lose sight of who we are or where we come from.”