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Message from the NEA Retired President

Leaving Nothing to Chance

Recently, I was privileged to be one of more than 270 NEA-Retired members gathered in Las Vegas, not to try our luck at the tables, but to improve our skills in political action and member recruitment and mobilization at the NEA-Retired Leadership Development and Organizing Conference.

Those gathered, veterans of America’s public schools, are tired of the high-stakes political games they see being played all around them—Wall Street players gambling away working people’s retirement security, extremist governors placing middle-class families at risk by taking away workers’ rights, and lawmakers making massive education spending cuts.

That’s what inspired the new format of this year’s NEA-Retired Leadership conference—to improve our odds of making a difference for American public education and its practitioners.

All of the sessions aimed to help our activists with member organizing and taking the lead on key political issues. We want to establish our already active Retired members as some of NEA’s “super activists.”

Attendees could choose tracks such as Political Action, Retirement Security Issues, or Organizing and Membership Recruitment, or they could build their own itinerary of sessions useful to their state and local chapters’ work.

Attendees reported the conference inspiring, although some things they learned were downright “scary”—like the prevalence of voter suppression tactics that extremist politicians are using to try to influence the outcome of the 2012 elections.

But the experience also reaffirmed what most of us have long known: That NEA-Retired members use our time to lobby, demonstrate, and collaborate for public education.

We will continue to spread our message about mobilizing retirees for public education at next month’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., June 27 – 29, 2012. For more information, please go to the NEA Retired web site.

 --Tom Curran

 

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May, 2012