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A 'Reform' That Isn't

I love serving as a leader of NEA-Retired because I get to work with people all over who share the values of public education.

We NEA members disagree about many things, but by and large, we believe in working for the common good. The institution we built and served has as its foundation the idea that we need to take care of all people, not just the smart or the rich. America is lucky to have public education, and lucky to have us.

You care about the “we,” not just the “me.” Unfortunately, many in Washington do not believe in public programs that exist to serve everyone. The latest attack is moving through Congress right now under the false name of “pension reform.”

The word “reform” means change for the better. This is change for the worse. This bill would weaken traditional defined benefit pension plans and lead to their conversion to defined contribution. With a defined benefit retirement plan, you know what you’ll get when you retire.

The benefit is defined and it is guaranteed for life. In defined contribution, you know how much is going into your fund, but how much you’ll get out depends on your luck in the stock market. The people pushing these plans are not doing it just out of ideology. Their purpose is to spend less on retirees.

 The legislation I mentioned earlier deals with private sector pension plans, but if successful, the same politicians will go after our public plans. There is already activity afoot all across the country to get rid of our public defined benefit plans.

 We all need to get involved on this. Here's the latest information and easy ways to contact your members of Congress. In politics, age is powerful because people of our generation vote a lot more than younger people. Politicians worry more about you than about some fresh-faced new teacher straight out of college. Let’s do our part. —

Barbara Matteson