In 1917 the United States entered World War I, Ella Fitzgerald and John F. Kennedy were born, and 10 suffragists were arrested as they picketed the White House advocating for women’s right to vote. Much has changed over the last 100 years, however, as the Southington Education Association (SEA) celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, members discovered that some things, such as the importance of a strong union, stay the same.
SEA President Dan Hart says the notes from the very first meeting of the SEA, then known as the Southington Grade Teachers’ Club, show that the reason 42 teachers (all women) first gathered together was to advocate for better text books, professional development, and increased pay.
“These are some of the same issues that we fight for today when it comes to ensuring our students have the best learning environment,” Hart says.
Those 100 years of strong advocacy on behalf of the town’s students earned the SEA a special recognition from the Southington Town Council, which proclaimed last week Southington Education Association Week.
“The proclamation from the town council sends a strong message to teachers that this community appreciates our efforts,” Hart says. “We were very heartened by the words and sentiments expressed in the proclamation.”
Though Hart greatly appreciated the proclamation, he wasn’t surprised that the town council chose to publicly show their support for the 570 members of the SEA.
“Over the years, we have gone out of our way to build relationships with both district administration and elected officials,” Hart says. “We attend government meetings but also have a political process where we interview and endorse local candidates.”
Hart says that being involved in town politics shows elected officials that teachers want to partner with them and worth together to have the best school system possible.
“Teachers livelihoods are directly related to politics at both the local and state level,” Hart says. “Teachers need to be involved in politics because the money we make and the benefits we have are all tied to the decisions of elected officials.”
Here’s to another 100 years of a strong and vibrant Southington Education Association!