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A Message from the NEA-Retired President

What I Did Last Summer

Right now, thousands of kids across the country are no doubt taking this time-honored essay topic and making it their own. Here’s my version:

This summer I starred in an ad! And the reason that’s so important to me is because the video spot was in support of a wonderful candidate in my home state of Arizona. Gabrielle Giffords is a champion for math and science education who fights for resources schools need to prepare kids for the global economy—so I was happy to lend my voice to the Educators for Giffords promo (

I got out the vote—Penny Kotterman for Superintendent of Public Instruction! I made calls, wrote postcards, and spoke to members of my community about why she deserves their votes. She understands that improving our public schools and investing in quality education are essential to securing the future of our state and our nation. I’m happy to report that she won her primary by a large margin.

I also read a fair amount about new threats to Social Security, Medicare, and pensions. There were days it was difficult to get myself to read yet another article with yet another uninformed remark about how Social Security will saddle our children and grandchildren with debt, when it is in fact separate from the budget and therefore cannot add a penny to the national debt. I was pleased to see NEA take a stand in support of Social Security (see page 19 for more on that).

What I really did this summer was get reinvigorated. It may sound funny, but standing under the sun on a hot day in August to shoot a promo or trudging on tired feet to talk to neighbors about a candidate reminds you of all the reasons why you still care, and realize that you’re still working for the profession by bringing a vital perspective to the political process. 

—Barbara Matteson

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