As representatives of teachers, parents, superintendents, administrators, and education staff, we salute the medical personnel and first responders who work hard to keep us safe. We also thank the postal service, supermarket workers, janitors and those who sanitize and clean public spaces, and all others who are called upon to help meet our needs in this health crisis.
Educators also stand at the center of this new challenge. Teachers and staff, working with school board members and municipal leaders, provide critical community outreach to families and children, including lessons, meals, and services. Teachers have worked hard to preserve the fabric of daily life for students and families, and schools continue to contribute to the local and state economies.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Connecticut educators have worked to quickly construct an unprecedented distance learning system. Their efforts have made the best of a difficult situation, and provided the best possible continuing education for Connecticut’s children.
We are ready to meet the challenges ahead — sustaining distance learning, protecting the health of students and educators, and being ready when it is safe to return to our schools and classrooms. That transition will be critical — this crisis has underscored dramatic inequities, and resources will be necessary, now more than ever, to intervene with students who will surely require additional emotional and academic support.
At a time when our country needs skilled workers with a solid educational foundation, we cannot allow the pandemic to worsen achievement for students in the greatest need, and undermine the progress of Connecticut’s education system. Continuing to invest in education is critical not only to the future of Connecticut’s students, but also to the economic health of our state’s families and communities.
It is imperative for Connecticut to provide the resources needed for education in these challenging times. The state can support this effort by:
- Ensuring that Education Cost Sharing (ECS) dollars flow to towns as promised in the second year of the biennial budget, directed to municipal Boards of Education to be used for their intended educational purposes.
- Protecting educator and support staff jobs. Layoffs of educators, which will severely hurt students, education, and local and state economies, should not be considered as the solution to budget issues. Educators and support staff make the greatest difference in our students’ lives, and federal and state dollars should be provided to ensure that no layoffs occur.
- Requiring that federal stimulus dollars for education supplement and do not supplant ECS dollars. The additional federal funding is intended to close the educational gaps caused by the coronavirus. That includes meeting the challenge of delivering equity and fairness for all students, and providing student re-acclimation and remediation once back in the classroom.
In the great recession that began in 2009, some school districts cut staff, eliminated programs, and canceled commitments and contracts for local business. This widened the gap in equitable opportunities for students, and harmed the state economy by reducing consumer demand, business investment, and jobs.
Cuts in essential services such as education deepen economic hard times, damage local property values, and dramatically slow the state’s recovery. That’s why we all stand together supporting this statement and our public schools—Connecticut Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-CT, Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Connecticut Association of Schools, Connecticut Federation of School Administrators, and the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association.
When we protect our investment in education and students, we protect the integrity of our schools, and the future of our state and every town.
Fran Rabinowitz, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents
Jeff Leake, President of the Connecticut Education Association
Glenn Lungarini, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Schools
Jan Hochadel, President of the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut
Jennifer Falotico, President of the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association
Gary Maynard and Paul Stringer, Co-Presidents of the Connecticut Federation of School Administrators