Governor Malloy’s budget proposal is anything but fair for Connecticut’s students and public schools, and legislators must reverse draconian cuts and stop underfunding public education, jeopardizing students’ futures. That was the message from teachers who held a news conference at the Legislative Office Building this afternoon before testifying at a public hearing before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
“Our students and teachers are dealing with the destructive consequences of budget cuts, including fewer resources, the elimination of programs, teacher layoffs, and increases in class size,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “Legislators must restore public school funding so that all students have the critical resources, tools, and support they need to achieve.”
The Governor’s budget cuts an additional $67 million in education funding from the bipartisan budget that was enacted last fall. Enfield, Wallingford, Tolland, Wolcott, South Windsor, Southington, West Hartford, and Plainfield each lose more than $1 million. More than 30 towns would get no state funding.
“These cuts are on top of last year’s cuts, which decimated our school budget.” said Tim Zeuschner, a social studies teacher at South Windsor High School. “The governor”s 2019 budget cuts ECS funding to South Windsor by $1.3 million, or 10.3%, on top of last year’s $1.7 million cut. Adding to years of underfunding, my district will be extremely challenged to meet all of the needs of all of our students with these devastating cuts.”
“We are already doing more with less, and our schools can’t absorb more cuts. We must find long-term solutions to solve the state’s chronic underfunding problem and develop a new, fair funding plan that ensures that all students have the critical resources, tools, and support they need to achieve,” said Ethan Spinelli, RHAM Middle School teacher, in Hebron.
“The bi-partisan budget did not include these additional cuts, and we urge legislators to restore ECS funding and not to diminish the quality of education in our schools and undermine local budgets for many towns across the state,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams, “We need a new way to distribute state education funds to ensure fairness so that students in every community have the resources needed to succeed.”
The budget cuts also decimated Connecticut’s Teacher Education And Mentoring (TEAM) program, one of the most highly regarded new teacher induction and support programs in the country. Teachers called for the reinstatement of funds for this critical program that provides support and assistance to new classroom teachers.
“I have been in districts that did and did not provide mentoring programs and found that the districts that supported me as new teacher were the ones where I was the most successful,” said Shay Lewis, Museum Academy fifth-grade teacher, in Bloomfield. “When teachers are not professionally supported, nurtured, and given the opportunity to grow, the chance of sustaining teaching is low. As schools work to do a better job attracting and retaining a teaching force that reflects the diversity of the students we serve, TEAM is a key part of achieving this goal. We need to restore funding to this critical program that helps keep teachers in the profession.”
“Connecticut must stop underfunding and endangering our students’ futures. We must develop a new ECS plan that provides a fair, reliable, sustainable, and equitable funding source for all students, regardless of where they live. A new funding plan will ensure our local public school students have the critical resources, tools, and support they need to achieve,” concluded Cohen.
The Connecticut Education Association is Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union, representing active and retired educators across the state.