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Message from NEA-Retired President

That’s What I’m Talking About!

I’m honored to begin my service as president of NEA-Retired. Our group, the fastest growing part of NEA’s membership, has exceeded 300,000 members. Though there are surely many differences among us—in our backgrounds and our beliefs—we share a dedication to defending public education, one of the pillars of our great democracy.

I lost sleep after seeing the rights of educators and other public workers trampled in states across the country. There have been times when, like many of our fellow citizens, I’ve felt hopeless watching ignorant lawmakers act as if education budgets and workers’ rights amount to little more than bargaining chips in their political games. They seem unaware that our country’s most precious resources are found in schools across the country—the students who will one day be in charge, and the educators working to help them succeed.

Much of the world used to look on with awe at America’s dedication to educating all of its citizens. It’s hard to see that same level of commitment now, as jobs are hacked from public schools even as achievement gaps remain stubbornly wide.

But most of the time, I don’t feel hopeless, I feel determined. After all, these are elected officials we’re talking about! We’re not helpless to change things.

Instead, we should all ask ourselves: How well did I use my vote in the last election? Am I pleased with the results? Now ask the people around you the same questions (and if they respond that they didn’t vote at all, offer to help them get registered and locate their voting station). These kinds of conversations shouldn’t be taboo—people need to be reminded that not every candidate understands how to help public education and the middle class thrive.

Working together, our power is great and our voice is strong. Now is the time to organize and advocate for educators and students, to prepare for the political battles that lie ahead.

Tom Curran

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1-Sep-11