NEA Retired Annual Meeting Report
Nation’s Capital Hosts NEA Retirees
Speakers stress the importance of the November election and the impact that retired educators can have on the outcome.
By Emma Chadband and Cindy Long
It’s estimated that almost 90 percent of NEA members leave the association when they retire, but delegates to this year’s NEA-Retired Annual Meeting are determined to bring that number down by bringing their numbers up.
“Retire from your position, not your profession,” said NEA-Retired President Tom Curran in his address to the 2012 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting held in June in Washington, D.C.
Curran told those assembled that NEA had weathered a political storm last year—budget cuts, threats to bargaining rights, and layoffs—and that the upcoming year won’t be any easier, which is why NEA-Retired members need to organize, advocate, and recruit to support public education and its practitioners. The message was well received; the crowd at the NEA-Retired conference seemed fired up and ready for the fight ahead.
“Work hard in the upcoming elections. Our future depends on you,” Curran said. “We can’t outspend [other groups], but we can out-work them.”
Curran thanked a few states for their hard work in protecting unions, including Ohio, for restoring collective bargaining rights, and Michigan, which is collecting signatures for a referendum to put collective bargaining in the state constitution.
Curran also talked about the recent controversies in Wisconsin. The governor’s recall race was such a spectacle, and Gov. Scott Walker had to outspend his challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by such a wide margin to claim victory, that politicians will probably think twice about attacking union rights again, he said.
The NEA-Retired president’s message was clear: Get involved, because this is going to be a busy year for the NEA. He thanked everyone who has written letters to the editors of their local newspapers, made phone calls for pro-union legislators, and encouraged people to stay involved in political races.
NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, in his address to NEA-Retired delegates, emphasized the importance of the upcoming presidential election.
“We want the world to know that our members understand the importance of this election to educators, to labor, and to social justice,” he said. “And I believe the choice for us and for America is very clear.”
It took just two years, Van Roekel said, for conservative legislators and their corporate backers to attack or dismantle payroll deduction, agency fees, and collective bargaining. It would take even less time for a conservative-controlled federal government to enact a national right-to-work law.
“We’ve got to accept that we have a new reality, and choose a path forward,” Van Roekel said. “We can’t just defend ourselves, we have to go on the offense, and be clear about our goal—which is great public schools. With a defense and an offense, we’ll be stronger than ever before.”
NEA-Retired/Jack Kinnaman Scholarship Recipients
This year’s NEA-Retired Jack Kinnaman Scholarship recipients were Christal Lepak of Erie, Pennsylvania, who attends Penn State University, Erie— and Natalie Passarelli of Columbus, Ohio, who attends Ohio State University.
Each of the selected students will receive a $2,000 Scholarship from NEA-Retired. The Kinnaman Scholarship, named for the late vice-president of NEA-Retired, awards need-based scholarships to NEA Student members who are studying to become educators.
Distinguished Service Award
When Jim Sproul became Kentucky Education Association’s (KEA) president in 1976, he was faced with an immediate issue that threatened to split the membership. He moved KEA headquarters from Louisville to Frankfort, to gain political clout. It turned out to be the right decision.
A lifelong Republican, Sproul uses his political clout to support “good-education” candidates regardless of their party. During the recent gubernatorial race, he modified a statewide voter engagement program to reach every education employee in his county. With his organizing efforts, Steve Beshear, Kentucky’s goalie governor, carried Knox County—which is overwhelmingly Republican.
Sproul was a teacher in Knox County for 29 years, and a longtime supervisor of student teachers. He was a choral music teacher, principal, activist, and association leader. He was NEA-Retired president for six years and a member of the Advisory Council for five years. He’s now working to promote the repeal of GPO-WEP.
For his dedication to public education, Jim Sproul was honored with the 2012 NEA Distinguished Service Award.
“When we were having financial issues, Jim’s leadership allowed KEA and KEA-Retired to hammer out an agreement that would place KEA on more sound financial footing while also providing retired membership for everyone in the association upon their retirement,” wrote Sharron Oxendine, KEA president, in her recommendation. “Now more than six years later, KEA-Retired membership has more than doubled. I can think of no one who should receive this award more than Jim Sproul.”
NEA-Retired Leaders Elected
NEA-Retired Executive Council
NEA-Retired Secretary/ Treasurer
NEA-Retired Member of the NEA Board of Directors
NEA-Retired Alternate to the Board of Directors
NEA-Retired Members of the Resolutions Committee
(In order of position)
Roberta “Bobbie” Margo
NEA-Retired Newsletter Awards
Established State Retired Newsletter
First Place: Massachusetts Teachers Association-Retired
Editor: Joanne Fitzgerald
Runner Up: Oklahoma Retired Educators Association
OREA News Bulletin
Editor: Norman Cooper
Established Local Retired Newsletter
First Place: Portland Association of Teachers-Retired
Editor: Ray Johnson
Runner Up: Southwestern Region PSEA-Retired
Editor: Dorothy Ryan
NEA-Retired Spotlight Award
First Place: Massachusetts Teachers Association
Editor: James Sacks
Runner Up: Nebraska State Education Association
The NSEA Voice
Editor: Al Koontz
NEA-Retired Website Awards
Best State Retired Website
First Place: Connecticut Education Association-Retired
Webmasters: Jon-Paul Roden and David Canales
Runner Up: North Carolina Retired School Personnel
Webmaster: Sandra Cox
Largest Numerical Membership Increase
First Place: Pennsylvania State Education Association-Retired
Runner Up: Kentucky Education Association Retired
Largest Percentage Membership Increase
First Place: Tennessee State Teachers Association Retired
Runner Up: Oklahoma Retired Educators Association