Photo of Senator Needleman.

State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman Holds District-Wide Forum With Teachers in Essex

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State Senator Norm Needleman talks to assembled teachers Wednesday at a district-wide teacher forum held in Essex Town Hall.

ESSEX, CT – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) on Wednesday hosted a teacher’s forum at Essex Town Hall with more than a dozen teachers, all constituents of the 33rd District, to discuss pressing concerns and ways he can work with them to improve education in Connecticut. Over the course of about 90 minutes, Sen. Needleman listened to teachers describe their most significant needs and agreed to work with them to achieve better results state-wide.

Talking points during Wednesday’s forum included potential strategies that the legislature could apply to more secure teacher retirement plans and improving safety in classrooms through a proposed bill that would provide additional protections for teachers and students in the classroom, helping students while ensuring proper resources are in place for teachers to utilize.

Sen. Needleman and the assembled teachers also touched upon legislation introduced this year that recommended mandated school regionalization. Sen. Needleman has worked with Governor Lamont and legislators to instead focus on finding ways to encourage cooperation between towns and school districts, providing a better route forward for collaboration.

Amid conversations, Sen. Needleman advocated for legislators and teachers to work together and find flexible solutions, as well as for both parties to search for long-term solutions instead of short-term ones. He added that with his experience working as First Selectman of Essex, which leads to him working with leaders of five local boards of education due to combined school districts, he understands education negotiations and can bring that experience to any future discussions.

“It’s always a great opportunity to sit and talk with teachers about their concerns and about the challenges that they face as they seek to educate our students,” said Sen. Needleman. “To me, teaching is one of the most important professions because we entrust the future of our kids and our grandkids in the hands of people who will be with them eight hours a day for 13 years or more. We need to make sure we listen to them and their concerns and make sure that, as legislators, we enact laws that meet their needs and meet the needs of our kids, and at the same time give them flexibility and empower them enough to be able to make decisions to do things correctly.”

“Teachers really appreciated the opportunity to have Sen. Needleman come out and listen to their concerns,” said Gloria Dimon, representative for the Connecticut Education Association. “Teachers are especially concerned about their pensions, and Sen. Needleman seems like he has a lot of good ideas on that issue. We look forward to working with him more in the future.”

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