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A Message From the President

Let's get Washington on our side

Barbara Matteson


Here’s a high-stakes test question: What do Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and Social Security have in common?

There are at least two right answers. They’re all federal programs. And the future course of all of them will be heavily affected by the voting on November 7.

So will many other federal programs that touch the lives of seniors, such as the main Medicare program.

Congress can keep Medicare Part D operating under its existing, bizarre formulas—which serve drug companies better than seniors—or change the law and put seniors first. (See page 18 for a new attempt to explain Part D.)

They can keep the one-size-fits-all formulas of No Child Left Behind—which have spawned a nationwide revolt from red state Utah to blue Connecticut —or they can respect educators and let them tailor instruction and assessment to the needs of the child.

They can make the minor adjustments needed to keep Social Security healthy, or they can privatize it—a historic shift that would likely have big spillover effects on other pension plans. So there’s a lot at stake as we elect a new Congress.

And there’s a lot we retired educators can do about it. We can vote, of course, and seniors do vote more than any other group. But we can also influence the votes of others. Opinion polls consistently find that educators, especially retired educators, are among the most trusted professionals in America.

By now, your state and local Associations have probably completed their candidate research. Committees of our colleagues have met with candidates, examined their records, and made recommendations. Find out whom they picked and why. (If you’ve got a computer, visit their Web sites.) And ask how you can get involved in a campaign.

Our current government in Washington may not show much respect for public educators, but your neighbors do want to hear what you think.

Be sure and tell them!


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