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Message from NEA-Retired President

Where We Are, Where We’ll Be 

As another school year draws to a close, so does my second term as president of NEA-Retired. I’m honored to have worked with so many talented people, all joined together by NEA’s vision of great public schools for every student. I thank you all for your support, friendship, and hard work.

I am distressed to think about the realities of the epoch we’re in now—a time when educator bashing is rampant and elected leaders blame state budget crises on their public employees. I know I’m only one of many NEA-Retired members who is taking this personally. Educators of our generation fought hard for rights that we’re now seeing swept away. This is not where I thought we’d be.

I’m proud that NEA and its state affiliates spoke out swiftly and loudly against the damaging legislation and budgets rammed through state legislatures this session. We know we must stand up in protest, even when too few seem willing to do so.  

NEA-Retired has achieved much in recent years, including record membership growth, the expansion of the NEA Intergenerational Mentoring Program, and the institution of the NEA—Retired Grants Program to help state organizations organize and thrive. We also celebrated our milestone 25th anniversary in 2008. It’s important to remember these moments, even if this is not where we thought we’d be.

We can’t change the times we’re in—at least not overnight. But everything we do to support public schools is a step in the right direction, whether it’s volunteering in a classroom, urging a lawmaker to make smart education decisions, or mentoring a new teacher through those first tough years.

This is not where I thought we’d be, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we can repeal harmful laws if we bring our collective voice to bear. We’ve done it before—we’ve walked for miles in protest. We’ve taken the time to make calls, send emails, and put pen to paper. That’s where our educators and students need us to be.

And I know that’s where we’ll be.

Barbara Matteson

Published in:

Published In

3-May-11

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