As well as being CEA’s highest policy-making body, the CEA Representative Assembly (RA) is also usually a chance for teachers from across the state to meet up and converse with their fellow CEA members. This year’s RA was decidedly different.
Hundreds of CEA members, delegates to the 172nd CEA RA, logged in Friday night from computers in homes around the state.
“We have a constitutional responsibility to hold an RA in May,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “Circumstances forced us to do it virtually.”
“This year has been unlike any other,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams. “All of us have been put to the test in ways we could not have imagined.”
Keynote speaker and NEA Vice President Becky Pringle told members, “Thank you for your energy and activism; for stepping up to lead in this challenging time. It is amazing how you’ve stepped up right away—having food drives, car parades, calling students, and checking in on families.”
She continued, “We, the members of the NEA, are the voice of education professionals. Our work is fundamental to this nation, and we accept the profound trust that has been placed in us.”
“We must see the aftermath of the pandemic for what it will be—not a return to normal, but a critical crossroads,” Williams said. “Either a failure to seize the moment or an opportunity to change for the better.”
“The health and safety protocols for our students and our educators must be paramount as we think about returning to our classrooms,” Leake said. “As local leaders in your districts, you must act now by reaching out to your superintendent and your school board to develop the necessary protocols for reopening schools in the fall.”
“There is not a single student or teacher who said—during this learn-at-home time—’What I really miss about school is all the standardized tests, and the impersonal benchmarks that we call educational progress,'” Williams said.
He said that what both students and teachers really miss is the in-person engagement, collaboration, and communication that takes place among and between students and teachers.
“That is the essence of education. When we get back to the classroom, we’ll need more of THAT, not more isolated screen time, not replacing teachers with mechanized tests and instruction,” Williams said. “You are all still very busy with weeks left in the school year. But as we go forward, let’s think of this as an opportunity to reshape Connecticut public education into a more thoughtful, personal, and inspirational experience for all students and teachers.”
Candidates Elected, New Business and Budget
CEA members ran unopposed for four positions. Shepaug Valley School teacher Tara Flaherty will serve as NEA Director for a 3-year term, Darien teacher Katy Gale will serve as NEA Director for a 1-year term, Westport teacher Faith Sweeney will serve as NEA Director Alternate, and Stamford teacher Sandra Peterkin will serve as Ethnic Minority Director.
Delegates adopted a new CEA budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, with a four dollar dues increase, and passed four constitutional amendments as well as eight amendments to the CEA by-laws.
They also adopted two new business items—one that will continue the work of CEA’s Child Poverty Ad-Hoc Task Force and a second that creates an ad-hoc committee to explore the addition of education support professionals as members.