From the President: “What has happened and what can happen.”
To All Cape May County Education Association Members,
As this school year comes to a close, it is an opportunity to reflect on our profession and on our issues. Those of us who have been in this profession for more than seven years remember when our issues were much different. Previously, we had concerns such as; how will we ever get 100 hours of PD in five (5) years or is this new administrator going to help this place or ruin my life. Now, in addition to those constants, we deal with student testing requirements, SGO, mSGP scores, new evaluations, new laws, attacks on our profession, and the other issues the ones that have hit us personally every month, right in the paycheck. The paycheck attack has affected every one of us regardless of our position, our location in the state or our number of years of service. So for a minute we should look at how this happened and then at what are we can do about it.
The increase in our share of pension contribution, the non-negotiated payment share of health benefits and the 2% restriction on raising the local district budgets are at the heart of why we are bringing home less money, why we have lost positions in schools and why we are becoming more disgruntled every year. So, who or what do we look to as the cause of these changes? Certainly the Governor for the last six years is at the head of the line in reasons for our demise. However, who else has to bear some responsibility? That would be us. Our state membership simply failed to vote in not just the first election of this Governor but once again for the second term. Of those who did vote some gave their vote to him once or even twice. Not voting or voting for people who are against your best interests is the same as giving them permission to do as they please with our time, our money, our profession and our future.
In the last two years we have made strides to take back our power. One example was last November. Our County, as part of Legislative District 1 put two pro-education candidates in the State House. That was achieved with the assistance of NJEA, our membership efforts and our votes. Now that we see it can happen, we need to continue. In addition to the Federal elections in November, there will be a question for approval that will require the State to make quarterly payments to our pension. If that passes, it will dramatically help and secure our current pension for the future. When we entered this profession, we knew we would not be financially wealthy, but the deal was we would have our pension and health benefits. You may not be looking at retirement now, but you need to realize that we are at a point where taking actions to support our pension and benefits is not an option, it is essential.
If you log onto http://votenjpension.org/ it contains information on our pension issues. There is a section to become a Pension Activist, an opportunity to register to Vote and a third section with History of our Pension Crisis.
In confession I will say that I don’t always agree with every NJEA policy or action. Any organization with over 195,000 opinionated members and one that addresses so many various issues will not meet everyone’s approval all the time. However, our NJEA administration and our membership work every day to protect us and to lead us in the right direction on every issue. I appreciate that every year some of us are able to retire with a decent pension and with health benefits as promised. That simply would not be happening without the efforts of the NJEA administration and our membership.
For the future I implore you, as a member to:
– Become aware of the actions and events effecting your career, your salary and your future
– Follow issues and actions on NJEA’s website www.njea.org
– Register to vote
– Vote for candidates that have pledged support to our issues
This is the least that every member should do to protect your own future!
As I enter the retirement phase of life, I wish all of you continued success with your careers and with your own retirement opportunity sometime in the future. I thank you for the honor to serve as the president of Cape May County Education Association.