NEA-R Annual Meeting

The NEA -Retired Annual Meeting was held in Denver, June 28 and 29.  Your elected representatives to attend were Ulysses Floyd, Patti Lochner, Charles Moskowitz and Marilyn Warner. During the meeting, speakers addressed issues that affect retirees, active educators, students and all Americans. 


Lily Eskelson Garcia, who was elected NEA President during the Representative Assembly, spoke about social security saying, “I got into education so I could be a millionaire by the time I was 30! (laugh)  Social Security was not to build wealth, but to have a roof over our heads and food on our tables….NEA is also working on immigration reform because it affects so many of our members.  We cannot have more retirees drawing pensions than workers in order to keep social security healthy.  If we have these immigrants in the work pipeline, it will help us all out.  According to Mark Krikorian, Executive Director for the Center for Immigration Reform, ‘Immigration reform will improve the long-term financial standing of social security by adding younger workers to the workforce.’” Lily continued her remarks by saying that good things happen when people have security; NEA aspires for this with all of its members.


Becky Pringle, who was elected NEA Vice-President during the RA, reported on the NEA membership saying that we have lost members but this has not deterred NEA from continuing to move forward in its mission.  Each group (actives, students and retirees) has common priorities:  communication, education focus, advocacy and outreach, membership organization and strong affiliates.  Becky focused on the contribution of retired members to the success of NEA.  Retirees are the one group that has not lost members with a growth of over 6,000 this year.  She specifically mentioned our Florida M.O.R.E. (Mobilize, Organize, Recruit and Engage) Program and said that it is helping NEA-led initiatives.


The keynote speaker for the meeting was John Stocks, Executive Director of NEA.  John said that “Retirees have worked and changed the course of history for those who came after.  The battles today are different ones and the gains we secured are at risk today.  No one has ever handed us anything.  Anything we got, we fought for.”  John also mentioned the Florida M.O.R.E. program.  In fact, we were the only state affiliate mentioned in his speech.  He explained the program and talked about the hard work of our locals.  John concluded his speech saying, “We ask our members to join us as we take back our profession.  We want to define what good teaching looks like.  We want to define how we work to meet the needs of all children.  No one knows better than educators what children need to succeed in school.  It is up to all of us to live up to the legacy we have made.”


The president of NEA-R, Tom Curran, announced that NEA-Retired is now celebrating its 31st anniversary.  He also reminded us that “It’s not going to be easy but November offers us the opportunity to reverse the horrors of the 2010 elections. We must educate people so they understand the value of public schools.”


Dennis Van Roekel, outgoing president of NEA, emphasized the changes throughout the history of NEA in staffing, bargaining and political actions.  “The transformation we are going through now began years ago.  We are at a point where we are ready and we must be ready.  We have to build one of the most formidable forces we have ever had.  We are in the biggest battle for equity that we have ever done.  We need to end toxic testing.  We have to put something else on the table to change what happens to kids.  We need high standards for all students, readiness programs, and a quality workforce. We have a responsibility about our professional practice.  We need to create a system that provides excellence, equity, and makes the lives of professionals what it ought to be.”


Reinforced in all of the speeches was the importance of retirees not only for what we have done but also for the contributions we will continue to make in the future.


Thank you for allowing us to represent you at the NEA-Retired Annual Meeting.  It was interesting, energetic and informative.  Hopefully this report has shared with you some of what we heard and learned.  We came home ready to work and fight – we hope you will join us!

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