Q: You served on the NEA-Retired Executive Council. How will your role change as president?
A: Obviously, the buck stops here! As a member of the council, I offered input, but now I lead the entire membership category – a privilege and a great responsibility. I am a goal-oriented person, and as my Indiana colleagues on the ISTA-Retired Council and the ISTA Board often heard me say, “It is the responsibility of leaders to lead!” Trite, but so true. I believe there is a marked difference between leaders and office holders. I have the opportunity now to truly make a difference and lead.
Q: What initiative or programs do you plan to implement during your first term as NEA-Retired president?
A: I have already set several goals. The first is better communication with members, the Executive Council, our state presidents and the NEA staff. I intend to initiate a monthly newsletter with state presidents.
I have set specific goals for myself. I will also ask each chair of our eight committees to set a goal and each council member to do the same. I don’t intend to do, “business as usual.”
Q: What do you see as the most pressing issues for retired educators – nationally and in Indiana?
A: In a word – pensions. In Indiana, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) has been dead for nine years. This is a real burden for our members. How does one live on a salary that was behind to start with and then remains stale for so long? It is entirely unrealistic!
The same is true across the nation. Pensions are being decimated, robbed and changed – not for the better! It is also imperative that we protect Social Security and in many states to do away with the Government Pension Offset/Wage Earning Protection (GPO/WEP). These affect our retired members in non-Social Security states unfairly, often our retirees receive as much as two-thirds less. Fortunately, in Indiana we have both a pension and Social Security, but for those affected by the GPO/WEP law, it is grossly unfair!
The third issue across the nation is to protect our health care and avoid price gouging of prescription drugs, Medicare and other forms of health care, specifically insurance coverage and rates.
Q: This position is a high-profile position within NEA. Do you see your new role raising the profile of ISTA or ISTA-Retired on the national stage?
A: Both ISTA and ISTA-Retired are already well known to the leadership, that remains true today. However, I am sure that I will use ISTA and ISTA-Retired as examples. I am very proud of ISTA, and my ISTA-Retired work along with my colleagues and current leaders. As spokesperson for NEA-Retired, I can have bragging rights!
Q: As a retired educator, why do you feel it important to remain connected to the Association and play such a large role?
A: Why not? The Association has been my bulwark ever since I entered the profession in the fall of 1957. It took me awhile to get involved in various positions, but from the very start it was the Association for me.
I’ve seen a lot of growth, some losses of course, but never did I doubt the work we could do together and how if I chose, I could make a difference, too. That is the one true reason I sought this position. I trust my efforts now will help us remain the advocates we’ve always been and that we all take up the challenge I issued in my campaign: Speaking Up, Speaking Out, and Speaking For NEA-Retired and Public Education.