AFT Connecticut July/August 2013 "State of the Union"

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State of theUnion

July/August 2013

Legislature Alters Reading Test for Teachers


ast year the state legislature passed a law that would require, beginning July 1, 2014, and each following school year, all local and regional boards of education to require their K-3 teachers to take a practice version of the reading instruction examination approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. After months of work with legislators, AFT Connecticut was able to change the parameters of that law. Educators will now be required to take a survey on reading instruction based on the reading instruction exam. The survey must protect the anonymity of the teacher, except the results will be used in developing the professional development plans for the individual teacher and for the teacher’s school. The professional development will be done at no cost to the teacher. The results of the survey will be aggregated at the grade, school, and district level and used in the provision of professional development in scientifically-based reading research and instruction. The survey results are exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.

Community Schools Among Legislative Wins


he House of Represent at ives passed Community Schools Bill SB 1002 by a vote of 103-34. The Senate had previously passed the bill by a vote of 26-8. The legislation now goes on to Governor Malloy for his signature. "The Community Schools component is one of the keys to improving education that our union has been advocating for years," said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. "This important legislation greatly enhances the education reform bill passed last year." AFT Connecticut pushed strongly for this Community Schools component last year. Our union continued to meet with legislators prior to the legislative session about the issue. Community school buildings remain open beyond regular school hours to provide access to tutoring, homework assistance and enrichment activities, as well as medical, dental and mental health services. Families and other community residents also may benefit from legal advice, immigration assistance, employment counseling, housing help and English-language or GED instruction, depending on needs. Support Circuit Court Finds Rowland Guilty of 1st Amendment Violation


Early in the legislative session AFTCT Pres. Melodie Peters joined Gov. Malloy in calling for increased funding for education. provided by community schools can greatly alleviate many family stresses that interfere with student learning. Among the benefits derived from successful community school programs have been higher student test scores, bet ter st udent at tenda nce, hig her graduation rates and improved levels of meaningful parent involvement. "Community Schools would give Connecticut students the best opportunity for success by closing the achievement gap and building communities," Continued on Page 3

Vernon Paras, Parents Mobilize to Restore Education Funding


Newtown President Honored as Unionist of the Year


SEBAC Hails Court Decision on Rowland Layoffs


fter nearly a decade, the Second Circuit Court's opinion invalidating John Rowland's layoff of nearly 3,000 state employees is a tremendous victory for the free speech rights of all Americans. The court held that when a governor punishes people because of the group to whom they belong – whether it's a union or a political party, or a religion – he or she violates our Constitution's most cherished provisions. The case is now being remanded to the district court to craft appropriate equitable relief, and to consider the case for damages against the former governor. The Second Circuit Court’s opinion shows that Rowland’s treatment of public service workers as the enemy is costly and destructive – to the workers and the vital public services they provide, and to every taxpayer. Instead, it is mutual respect – for the law, for public service workers, and most importantly the public

we all serve – which will move us forward towards a better future. Our country and state simply function better when top officials work with and for working families, instead of against them. "It feels great to be vindicated by the appellate court," said Denise Bouffard, a Support Enforcement Officer and plaintiff in the case who was illegally fired from the state in 2003. "I stepped forward because as a single parent I wanted to show my daughter that when you believe in something you have to stand up for what is right." Denise is a member of Judicial Professional Employees Local 4200B. “When John Rowland laid off nearly 3000 state workers it was a mean, vindictive act that was perpetuated by Jodi Rell, after Rowland went to prison,” said Marcelle Pichanick Groves, one of the named plaintiffs in the case. “Rell had many opportunities to make this right

and thus mitigate the damages for our state's tax payers. Instead she chose to waste millions of taxpayer dollars fighting this lawsuit. I thank the court for upholding the rights of workers.” Groves worked as a Management Analyst 2 for the Department of Environmental Protection when Rowland laid off 3,000 state employees including her. She now works for the State Department of Education as an Associate Account Examiner and is a member of A&R Local 4200. Ultimately t he Court’s decision is a welcome reminder to the John Rowlands of Connecticut, the Scott Walkers of Wisconsin and the Koch brothers of everywhere that in America it’s not just the powerful, the rich and the big corporations that have free speech rights. Ordinary Americans, whether they work for the government, private industry or their corner drug store, have rights, too.

Congratulations to John Altieri, Leo Canty, Betty Gadson and Phyllis Kornfeld on their retirement. Melodie Peters President STATE OF THE UNION is published on an irregular basis up to six times a year by AFT Connecticut, 35 Marshall Road, Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Phone: 860/257-9782 Third class postage paid at Hartford, CT

Postmaster: Send address changes to: AFT CONNECTICUT 35 Marshall Road Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Members: To change your address or subscription, call 860/257-9782.

STATE OF THE UNION is mailed to all AFT Connecticut members as a benefit of membership. Subscription fees are included in dues, $20 per year for non-members. Although advertisements are screened as carefully as possible, acceptance of an advertisement does not imply AFT Connecticut endorsement of the product or service. © AFT CONNECTICUT, AFT, AFL-CIO 2009

Stephen McKeever First Vice President Jean Morningstar Second Vice President Ed Leavy Secretary/Treasurer Eric Bailey Communications Director

Community Schools said Peters. While good teaching is crucial to student learning, there are factors in every child’s life that are beyond the teacher’s control and may deeply affect the child’s ability to perform well in school. In fact, decades of research have shown that out-of-school factors account for up to two-thirds of student achievement results. Sadly, t here a re more i mpedi ments to learning in the lives of poor children than there are in the lives of children f rom more adva ntaged circumstances. In order to fully close the achievement gap, we must address all factors that impede learning. T he most ef fect ive solut ion is to provide services right in the school building. Schools and districts should coordinate existing state and local services and offerings from nonprofit providers to provide services where students and families can readily access them. "We want to thank the leadership of the legislature and the Education Committee for their support for this bill," said Peters. Paraprofessional Advisory Council Bill Passes Legislature The House and Senate unanimously passed legislation recalibrating the membership of the Paraprofessional Advisory Council so that paraprofessionals would have a majority of representation, making certain that their voices are heard, not diluted. The Paraprofessional Advisory Committee was created in 2007 to identify and provide more appropriate, effective and meaningful professional development to Connecticut’s 13,400+ instructional paraprofessionals. It gave a much-needed voice to paraprofessionals in their quest to be respected and heard. Over time, the State Department of Education has added agency staff, consultants, teachers, principals and other non-paraprofessionals to the Paraprofessional Advisory Com-

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mittee. Today, only 20% of the Paraprofessional Advisory Committee’s membership consists of paraprofessionals. Once again, the voices of pa raprofessiona ls have been silenced. The bill goes on to Governor Malloy for his signature. Additional Legislative Victories SB 1070 School Nurse Advisor y Council – Creates an advisory council of school nurses and other key stakeholders to make recommendations to the Commissioners of Education and Public Health on professional development, staffing and other issues impacting school nurses. SB 1096 Transparency for the State Education Resource Center (SERC) – Requires SERC to comply with clean contracting laws, report sources and uses of private funding and provide comprehensive information to the General Assembly for future consideration about the governance of SERC. SB 1097 Education Reform – Replaces mandatory testing for K-3 teachers on literacy instruction with a survey to determine literacy professional development needs and clarifies that survey results will not impact summative teacher evaluations. Allows school districts to apply for a waiver to delay implementation of new teacher evaluation requirements. HB 6599 Sandy Hook Workers’ Assistance Fund – Established the Sandy Hook Workers’ Assistance Fund to be funded by private entities to provide workers’ compensationlike benefits to teachers and other workers suffering from mental and emotional trauma resulting from the Sandy Hook School shooting. Grants waivers to Newtown board of education for the minimum 180-day school calendar and CMT testing at Sandy Hook School. HB 5423 Revisions Higher Edu-

cation Statutes – Makes various governance changes to the Higher Education Board of Regents. Grants immunit y from civ il liabilit y to any person who donates tangible property to a regional communitytechnical college. Requires candidates in teaching preparation programs to complete training in the awareness and identification of the unique learning style of gifted and talented children and the provision of services to these children as part of student individualized education programs. HB 5533 MERS – Killed legislation that would have raised municipal employee contribution rates to the pension fund. HB 6292 Teacher Preparation – Requires teacher preparation programs to include training on how children lea r n a nd develop socia l ly a nd emotionally, including instruction on assessments, interventions and referrals for children who appear to have social or emotional problems. HB 6384 English Language Learners – Defines “English language learners” and requires boards of education to submit plans to the State Department of Education for reducing special education misidentified English language learners. HB 6492 State Employee Confidentiality – Expands existing whistleblower protections by exempting from disclosure the portion of any audit or report prepared by the Auditors of Public Accounts the identity of an employee who provides information regarding alleged fraud or weaknesses in the control structure of an agency that may lead to fraud. HB 6567 DRS Employees – Reflects agreement language between A&R and DRS that allows the limited disclosure of tax return information in state personnel proceedings. For a complete listing of the 2013 legislative victories go to our website



“Every race I have ever won, I won because of union backing.” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman

It takes a

Union to... “It takes a union to remind us that we accomplish more together than apart.” Erin Benham Pres. Meriden Teachers “It takes a union to stop Connecticut from becoming a right to work state.” Jan Hochadel Pres. SVFT


“The real power of production in our society is the union.” Shellye Davis Co-Pres. Hartford Paras “I understand first hand the importance of having a union.” Gov. Dannel Malloy

“When I first started I was a lone voice for paraprofessionals. Now our union has more than 100,000 paras.” Phyllis Kornfeld

“I thank you for your leadership by example and actions.” Sen. Dick Blumenthal

“It takes a union to leave a legacy behind.” Harry Rodriguez Pres. L&M Healthcare Workers STATE OF THE UNION


AFT Connecticut Members Mobilize Workers in Topeka


everal AFT Connecticut members participated in an AFT Public Employees Mobilizing Training in Topeka, Kansas May 4 – 11. Participants were given training on the science of union organizing, running worksite meetings, and house calling in order to build union power and density in KOSE and the City of Topeka Employees Union. “It was amazing going to a ‘right-to-work’ state like Kansas and speaking with workers,” said Jan Hochadel, president of SVFT Local 4200A. “The lack of collective bargaining rights makes you really appreciate what we have here in Connecticut.” Members went through a variety of training that they would put into practice as they knocked on doors over four days. They would talk with people about what they are going through at work and get feedback from members about the union. Legislation was a major issue as well. “We would discuss the 21 bills that impacted these workers,” said Hochadel. “By signing a card and paying their dues, these workers were ensuring that someone would be there to fight for or against legislation that impacts them.” Currently many of the workers represented by the union have not signed union cards and do not pay dues. Kansas passed a law that says once you sign a card you

From left: Kathy Daly, Christine Alvarado Judd, Jan Hochadel and Chuck Morrell only stay a dues paying member for 180 days. As a result, the union often has as many people halting their dues as they do members signing cards. “Without dues coming in the union would eventually go bankrupt and then these workers would have no representation,” said Hochadel.

Vernon Paraprofessionals Mobilize for Education Budget


ut the money back. That was the message coming from educators and parents to the Vernon Town Council and Board of Education. Two budget referendums had already been voted down. “We all recognized that the education of our students was going to be hurt by these budget cuts,” said Dorothy ‘Dot’ Tedeschi, president of the Vernon Federation of

Vernon Paras President Dot Tedeschi speaks with the media about the importance of restoring funding for education.


Paraprofessionals. “We have been mobilizing our members and the public to call on the Town Council to restore education funding in their budget proposal.” Educators and parents rallied before the Town Council meeting on May 30. That night the Town Council voted to put $1 million back into the education budget. “We were very happy the Town Council restored the funding,” said Tedeschi. “Every dollar in the education budget has a tremendous impact on our students. Our members provide the critical one-on-one education that helps our special needs and struggling students succeed. Paraprofessionals are a key component in education.” Vernon paras and AFT Connecticut worked to mobilize members in Vernon for the third referendum vote. On June 4, the third referendum passed. “This was a huge victory for our local,” said Tedeschi. “It highlights the importance of being politically active. Everything from town budgets to municipal elections has a direct impact on our work and our lives.” “This is just another fine example of the difference our union can make,” said Melodie Peters, president of AFT Connecticut. “When we come together and stand up for what is right it can have a huge impact.”

Newtown Teachers President Unionist of the Year


his year we are honored to have Tom Kuroski as our Unionist of the Year. Tom is the president of the Newtown Federation of Teachers. Since the unfortunate tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, Tom’s role as Local President has changed drastically. He has emerged from teacher and JV Softball Coach, to a lobbyist, advocate, and a friend to the Newtown Community. He has spent countless hours with the Sandy Hook staff listening to their needs and trying to address them as quickly and completely as possible. He was very outspoken when it came to the emotional needs of his members. He has gone to Hartford and Washington, DC advocating for the needs of every member of NFT. He has worked side-byside with AFT Connecticut President, Melodie Peters, to get additional days added to their February vacation and a waiver of the state 180 day attendance requirement. He also worked with Melodie and with AFT National President, Randi Weingarten, to support state and national initiatives regarding work place safety. He has sacrificed his personal time to attend every administrative meeting, even if he wasn’t invited, to ensure his members were taken care of.

New Study Follows the Money from Wages to Corporate Profits


he money that hasn’t been going into workers’ paychecks while wages have stagnated for decades has been found. It’s been diverted to corporate profits and, according to a new study, that money was rerouted because of a decline in union membership—not the technology and computerization that’s boosted productivity and eliminated jobs. Study author Tali Kristal, a sociologist at the University of Haifa in Israel, says: “It’s a zero sum game: whatever is not going to workers goes to corporations. Union decline not only increased wage gaps among workers, but also enabled capitalists to grab a larger slice of the national income pie at the expense of all workers, including the highly skilled.” The study was published last week in the American Sociological Review and contradicts the theory that computerization is the main factor for soaring corporate profits and flat wages. Brandon Rees, of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, told The Huffington Post: The decline in union members is directly related to the stagnation of wages for working people. Economic growth has been going somewhere and it’s been going to the top 1 percent.

Newtown Teachers President Tom Kuroski, AFTCT First Vice Pres. Stephen McKeever and AFTCT Pres. Melodie Peters Even in the hardest of times, Tom has stepped up as a leader and continues to fight for the needs of not only his fellow union members, but for all teachers nationwide. We couldn’t be more proud to have him as part of the AFT Family.

Convention Delegates Elect New Officers


elegates at the annual convention for AFT Connecticut voted to elect the new slate of officers for leadership of our union from 2013-2015. President Melodie Peters First Vice President Steve McKeever Second Vice President Jean Morningstar Secretary/Treasurer Ed Leavy Vice President for TNA members – Patti Fusco Vice President for MERA members – Shellye Davis Vice President for NLRB members – Joanne Chapin Vice President for SEBA – Jan Hochadel

At-large Vice Presidents: Erin Benham Dennis Bogusky Ron Chivinski David Cicarella David Hayes Keith Inrig Andrea Johnson Laila Mandour Patricia Mitchell

Chuck Morrell Joella Mudry Karen Prendergast Randall Prose Harry Rodriquez James Romano Kathleen Sanner Martha Shoemaker Susan Truglio



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The Success of Collaboration Melodie Peters, AFT Connecticut President


ur union has touted the successes that collaborative labor management relationships can bring about. At this year’s AFT Connecticut convention I presented the President’s Award to Erin Benham, president of the Meriden Federation of Teachers and Mark Benigni, superintendent of Meriden Schools. Their partnership embodies exactly what our President’s Award represents. By working together, Erin and Mark have led their district forward in innovative ways that are improving education for their students. At Casimir Pulaski School these leaders brought in funding from AFT and the Ford Foundation to make an extended school day a reality. Many people had questions about how this extended school day would work and Erin and Mark worked together to find the answers. The success at the Pulaski School is leading towards the district holding extended day at another elementary school in the future. “We don’t always see eye-to-eye,” says Mark. “But we keep talking and working together.”

“Communication is the key,” says Erin. “We talk things out and work together to find the best solutions for our students.” The teamwork and collaboration that these two leaders have built is a shining example to both the public and private sector of what can be achieved when labor and management work together.

Meriden Superintendent Mark Benigni, AFTCT Pres. Melodie Peters, Meriden Fed. of Teachers Pres. Erin Benham

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