Education is our best investment

By JAMIE LARSON, President
Milam County Retired Teachers

Budget cuts, shortfalls and deficits. These words have become too-familiar from our state government. The bottom line is our legislators and our governor have not handled the tax dollars we gave them very well and we are all going to face cuts.

Texas government employs thousands of people and provides services that affect every Texan. Greatest concern all Texans must have, however, is the children of Texas, the future of Texas. Our children will become scientists, engineers, politicians, teachers, musicians, and businessmen and women. Our state must never turn its back on its investment in our children and the people that mold their hearts and minds… their teachers.

For too long our society has slowly but surely given less respect to the people who hold the key for making change in our country…teachers. There is a correlation in our society’s erosion of social morals, social skills, our educational standing in the world and the respect we give teachers. In some cultures teachers are regarded as “Nation builders” and are given the same respect as religious leaders.

Instead of cutting funding to our schools, laying off teachers, cutting salaries and eliminating teacher pensions, we should be investing in teachers and schools. Our communities are the reflection of the character of our schools. It is where we always come back for our reunions. It is in public schools that we decide what we want to become and create our ambitions and memories. We can make the State of Texas better, our communities stronger and schools more productive by taking a stand for our teachers.

Give the teachers the tools and respect they need and deserve. Support full funding of our schools. Will tutorials, science labs, field trips, technology, fine arts, reading programs and advanced placement be cut too? We cannot accept teacher layoffs and larger class sizes as a way to fix our government’s inadequate handling of your tax dollars.

Retired teachers need your help as well. Retirees have not had a cost of living adjustment to their pension plan in 11 years. For many years Texas teacher salaries have ranked 35th in the nation. Their pension is based on a formula that includes their best five years’ salaries. We all know the cost of fuel, goods and services and taxes has risen dramatically in the last few years. Now, because of the adjustment in withholding tax tables retirees and teachers are losing anywhere from $35 to $50 a month.

Something is not right in Texas when retired teachers are standing in line at food banks. One of the proposals floating around Austin is to abolish the pension plan altogether.

The pension plan is one of the only perks to teaching which helps to recruit good teachers. Teachers don’t get paid for the summers they are off. Many times teachers have to find part time work to subsidize their salaries. They will pay into Social Security but won’t see full benefits when they retire. Texas teachers are not allowed to receive full Social Security benefits.

It is all about our children, teachers, schools, retired teachers, and the future. Isn’t investing in education best for Texas? Write your legislators and Governor Perry. They work for you and represent you. They need to hear from you.

• The Honorable Senator Steve Ogden, PO Box 12068, Austin TX 78711 Steve.ogden@senate.

• Governor Rick Perry, Room 200, State Capitol, Austin TX 78701, 512-463-2000, Citizens Opinion Hotline, 1- 800- 252- 9600

• State Rep. Dr. Charles Schwertner, E2.304, Capitol Building, Austin TX 78768-2910, charles.

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2011-02-24 digital edition

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