Let's Roll Up Our Sleeves!
NEA-Retired prepares for the fight to protect public education and Social Security.
Leaders and delegates were focused and determined at this year’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in New Orleans, June 27-29.
NEA-Retired President Barbara Matteson opened the meeting by enthusiastically citing the program’s many accomplishments:
- NEA-Retired is still NEA’s fastest growing constituency
- A new official state affiliate was established in Mississippi
- Much needed community service and new teacher mentoring projects are taking off with the help of the NEA-Retired grant program.
“NEA-Retired is more a partner with NEA than ever before, and many state Retired groups are developing a more cooperative relationship with their state active associations,” said Matteson. “This is all good news. Much more is accomplished when we work together.”
That collaborative spirit will be essential, she said, as NEA and NEA-Retired prepare to fight the many challenges to public education and the rights of public employees. “Right now we have a lot of issues facing us and NEA needs our help,” Matteson said.
Though NEA hoped that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) would be a far easier task with the new administration, that isn’t proving to be true. Just look at the Blueprint for Reform.
“We have a lot of experience working with kids and we know what needs to be done to have success in the classroom,” said Matteson. “[The Blueprint] contains a lot of good things,” she noted, but doesn’t do anything to establish a system that uses more than test scores to measure student learning; reduces class size; and fosters equitable and sustainable funding for all public schools.
Matteson urged members to go regularly to NEA.org and their state association Web sites and to read This Active Life magazine to find out how they can help keep public officials on the right track when it comes to education.
Pension Offsets and Social Security
Pension battles in the states, the need to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision, and new threats to Social Security are other key issues that affect educators and public employees.
Matteson explained that President Obama has appointed a Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that is charged with improving the nation’s fiscal position.
“Social Security is on the chopping block,” she said. “There is a lot of talk about massive changes and cuts to the program and privatizing is on the table. This commission will come up with recommendations in December, conveniently, after the November elections.”
It will take powerful protests from concerned citizens joined together through organizations like NEA and NEA-Retired to stop the commission from ravaging Social Security to reduce the federal deficit, said Matteson. Find out more about the commission's work and urge them to protect Social Security.
NEA will also rely on its dedicated members to fight for public education and senior citizens in the high-stakes elections in November: 37 states will be electing a governor, every seat in the U.S. House of representatives is up for grabs, 35 states will elect a U.S. Senator, and dozens of ballot measures will be decided in more than 25 states.
“We have our work cut out for us,” commented Matteson, “but this is where we shine. . . . So let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy.”
Distinguished Service Award
Amid the calls to action, NEA-Retired members honored one of their own—Sue Wiele from Davenport, Iowa—with the NEA-Retired Distinguished Service Award. Wiele began teaching in 1948, and to this day she volunteers in the classroom every week.
In fact, she’s so active with NEA-Retired and NEA’s Read Across America, various service clubs, her church, and taking care of friends and neighbors that she’s earned the nickname “the Energizer bunny.”
Wiele started out teaching 1st and 2nd graders, and soon transitioned into special education. “We worked hard to give everyone an opportunity to go as far as they could,” she said. She finds the treatment of special education students under NCLB particularly unreasonable: “You can’t put all kids in one little box; every child is different.”
She’s been a Retired member for 20 years, and urges all educators to stay active in NEA after they retire. “If we’re going to preserve public education, we must stay politically involved, help the schools in our districts, and be active in an intergenerational way in the community.”
This year’s Jack Kinnaman Scholarship was awarded to Raya-Jean Zaczyk of New Hampshire. The Kinnaman Fund, named for the late Vice President of NEA-Retired, awards need-based scholarships to support students who want to become educators.
Newsletter and Website Competition Winners
Recognizing the importance of communicating with members, NEA-Retired honors the states and local associations with exceptional newsletters and websites through its annual competition. Here are this year's winners:
ESTABLISHED STATE RETIRED NEWSLETTER
First place: Panorama (North Carolina Retired School Personnel/NCAE)
Editor: John Hoffman
Runner up: The AERA Voice! (Alabama Education Retirees Association)
Editor: Keron S. Forte
LOCAL RETIRED NEWSLETTER
First place: York/Adams PSEA-Retired Newsbriefs (York/Adams Pennsylvania State Education Association-Retired)
Editor: Dennis B. Sterner
Runner up: Montco Newsline (Montgomery County Pennsylvania State Education Association-Retired)
Editor: Eleanor Boehner
STATE ACTIVE NEWSLETTER/MAGAZINE COVERING RETIRED ISSUES
First place: MTA Today (Massachusetts Teachers Association)
Editor: James Sacks
Runner up: PSEA Voice (Pennsylvania State Education Association)
Editor: Barbara Brady
LARGEST NUMERICAL MEMBERSHIP INCREASE
First place: Alabama Education Retirees Association, Inc.
Runner up: Kentucky Education Association-Retired
LARGEST PERCENTAGE MEMBERSHIP INCREASE
First place: Kentucky Education Association-Retired
Runner up: Iowa State Education Association-Retired
Candidates campaigned, delegates voted, and the following positions were filled:
Tom Curran was re-elected.
NEA-Retired Advisory Council*:
John Jensen was re-elected to a second term
Jean Dobashi was elected to her first term
*Effective September 1, 2010, the Council will be known as the NEA-Retired Executive Council.
Board of Directors:
Alternate for Board of Directors:
2012 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting
- 2012 Annual Meeting Details
- Conference Registration (coming April 15)
GRANTS, AWARDS, AND FORMS
- Jack Kinnaman Scholarship
- Distinguished Service Awards
- Newsletter Awards
- NEA-Retired Web Site Awards
- Directory Contact Change Form
Penalties for Public Service
See for yourself how unfair laws threaten the retirement security of educators. Women are disproportionately impacted. Tell Congress to support the Social Security Fairness Act and repeal laws that discourage qualified educators from the profession.