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Fight Like Hell

Delegates at NEA-Retired Annual Meeting plan for the future, vow to oppose harmful Trump-DeVos agenda

Representing 317,000 retired public school educators nationwide, delegates to the 2017 NEA-Retired Annual Meeting traveled to Boston in June for the organization’s Annual Meeting. For two days, members made decisions and set policies that will steer the organization through next summer. 

The gathering precedes the annual, four-day NEA Representative Assembly (RA), which draws thousands of educators from across the nation, and represents the top decision-making body for the 3 million-member NEA.

Outgoing President Tom Curran, whose second, consecutive three-year term will conclude in August, introduced NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who from the outset of her remarks, did not mince words. “I’m going to talk about some very tough things,” she told the event’s 450 attendees, referring to the onslaught of attacks working families have faced from the Trump administration—including a budget that cuts $10.6 billion in federal election initiatives overall; eliminates 22 education programs; cuts $1.2 billion from after-school programs; shears special education funding by $133 million; and makes other harmful reductions.

But Eskelsen García also sounded a hopeful note. “We are going to leave here knowing how we will fight this, how we will organize,
how we will lead. ... And we need you more in the role you’re playing now—as our elder statesmen, as our legacy. God bless you for not going away, for the strength you continue to show,” Eskelsen García said.

New Leadership for NEA-Retired

On Day Two, Sarah Borgman, a member of the NEA-Retired Executive Council, and past president of the Indiana State Teachers Association-Retired, was elected to serve as the next NEA-Retired president. At the conclusion of that day’s meeting, Borgman thanked delegates for their support. “My heart is full for all of you in this room, and for our members across this nation. I promise that I will give you my best and that I will listen and together we will write a new chapter in the history of NEA-Retired,” she said.

Roberta Margo of Minnesota was elected by delegates to fill the executive council seat left open by Borgman’s election.

The Highest Honor

On the second day of the annual meeting, delegates named Arizona Education Association-Retired member Barbara Matteson the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Service Award. The recognition, presented annually since 2000, is the organization’s highest honor.

“Barbara works tirelessly on behalf of public education,” says Julie Horwin, president of Arizona Education Association-Retired, and a member of the NEA-Retired Executive Council. “From public school funding and making sure every child has a quality public school education, to protection of Medicare, pensions, and Social Security, she has never hesitated to make a difference. It’s a pleasure to see her hard work recognized in this meaningful way.”

Matteson joined NEA-Retired in 1989, and is past president of Arizona Education Association-Retired. “It’s a great honor for me to join this illustrious group,” she told Annual Meeting attendees. For more about Matteson, see “Six Over 60.”

Building Bright Futures

With an eye toward the future, delegates named Paige Wright, a student at the University of South Dakota; Amethyst Stegbauer, a student at the University of Minnesota; and Megan Mellring, a student at Kansas State University—all members of the NEA Student Program—as the 2017 recipients of the Jack Kinnaman Memorial Scholarship. Each recipient will receive $2,500 toward the cost of her education.

NEA-Retired members also made preparations for future Kinnaman award winners. By the end of the RA they had contributed a record $9,930 to the Kinnaman Fund. They had also collected $34,250 in contributions to NEA’s PAC, the NEA Fund for Children and Education, and accumulated an additional $15,000 in PAC contributions through an annual quilt raffle. 

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