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President's Message: Educators' Issues are the Nation's Issues

Over the course of our first 25 years, NEA-Retired has shown how we can come together around issues that affect public education.

Those who don’t know much about the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision
(GPO/WEP), our fight to repeal those laws might seem unconnected to supporting public schools. But how could these
poorly constructed laws that take a bite out of the retirement benefits of public employees like educators not have a negative
effect on our profession? They do.

Just ask the retirees featured in this issue’s cover story. My heart broke a little when I read what one of our NEARetired
peers told both of her kids: “Don’t go into teaching.” But how could she say otherwise after seeing her Social Security benefits gutted as a direct result of dedicating her own life to teaching? And this after suffering the untimely loss of her husband.

Dozens of NEA-Retired members came forward with equally wrenching GPO/WEP stories, but
there is only so much space in a printed magazine. NEA has set up an online discussion board where we are all invited to share our stories or join in the conversation (www.nea.org/socialinsecurity). It is up to us to help others understand the issue and what can
be done about it. Talk to your colleagues who are still teaching and make sure they look into their own retirement
situations. Let them know that they can help NEA make it clear to our elected leaders why these laws are unfair.

Even as Congress is hashing out strategies for such monumental topics as health care reform and the war in Afghanistan, it is our right, our privilege, and our duty to make sure that public education issues never fall off their radar. Because a thriving profession is what will make possible a great school for every student.
—BARBARA MATTESON
matteson@dakotacom.net

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5-Jan-10


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