Today, August 17, I received the new Summer 2015 issue of neaTODAY: for NEA-Retired Members with the following cover article:
NO PLANS TO RETIRE! ~ 87-year-old school counselor’s high-touch, personal approach boosts student success.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA Board continue to take funding, in spite of openly promising otherwise, from Bill Gates and other billionaire funders of Common Core State Standards. They accept that money for an NEA Foundation. Therefore they approve of CCSS which comes with attached high stakes tests. The high stakes tests are used as hire-fire decision makers for teacher evaluations. Value Added Modeling (VAM and the other alphabet soup mix of unproven teacher evaluation models) allows teachers to be fired without just cause before they become too old, too ill or too expensive by reaching retirement age. The cover story lauding a person who has no plans to retire sends a “happy” message that is redolent of Gomer Pyle as a US Marine. However, Gomer was a mere television amusement which was never meant to be even close to reality. The NEA article is meant to be what it states.
I intend no personal slight or insult to the lauded counselor, Lillian Orlich, who is certainly a fine person and a fine counselor.
Where are VAM points for a “school counselor’s high-touch, personal approach boosts student success.” Are we really meant to believe that a “high-touch, personal approach” boosts student success? Where is this on any teacher evaluation list?
In my little county of Brevard, Florida over 350 career teachers have left teaching. The same in happening across America which is facing an accredited teacher shortage.
I am a loyal NEA member and have been for over four decades. I served NEA in Illinois on our local faculty association board for years prior to my retirement. I attended this year’s NEA-RA in Orlando not as an elected delegate but to chauffeur a friend and delegate one day, to have dinner and supportive conversations with Illinois delegates another day, and to attend a BAT event on a third day. I shook hands and talked with the Illinois Education Association President. Even though I need not defend my loyalty, I want to make it very clear that this is NOT an anti-union harangue.
My pension in Illinois has been and is under attack by legislative and gubernatorial thieves who have intentionally underfunded (pillaged) teacher pension funds for decades. This is happening in state after state across the country. The earned compensation (pensions) of active teachers has become a scapegoating scandal as it remains a form of actual wage theft. The theft of income for retirees hangs over our heads as a daily threat of betrayal, abandonment and poverty.
“No plans to retire.” Pay union dues. Pay pension costs. Always remain healthy and active. Never retire. Then, die.
NEA and AFT should be fighting to safeguard pensions for active and retired teachers.
NEA and AFT should be fighting to end CCSS, high stakes tests, and teacher evaluations based on them.
My personal message to our present union leaders, as a loyal believer in teacher unions, is this: How dare you send this message to us!
If it was unintentional, those who wrote and approved this are incompetent. If this was intentional, they are betrayers of union members. Fire them.
Most important of all, send everyone who received this insult an apology. It’s the humane thing to do for those of us who chose or were forced into retirement by circumstance or health.