Monday, July 17, 2006

Retired Teachers Shortchanged

(For a look at senior issues and especially those related to retired educators check out Dr. Ed Vineyard's work with the Oklahoma Retired Presidents' Council and on his blog at Dr. Vineyard also is a blogger for the Enid News and Eagle at The following excerpts are from an article written by Vineyard and Dr. Joe Struckle and published in the Daily Oklahoman. Dr. Vineyard contacted me recently so I wanted to start a discussion thread here at OK Blue Notes just for him!)

By Edwin E. Vineyard and Joe J. Struckle

The politics of greed was the winner in retirement legislation this year. Active administrators and the highest-paid school personnel reaped a windfall in future benefits from the recently adjourned Legislature, while all current retirees got the shaft.

Current administrators will see a jump in their average salary base to $60,000 this year, $80,000 the following year, and then unlimited. Their personal benefits will increase by tens of thousands as a result, creating millions in new liability for the retirement system.
All current education retirees will receive a miserly 2 percent increase from stipend levels set two years earlier. And a new law (Senate Bill 1894) prohibits any change for another two years. This is grossly unfair and insulting!

The benefit grab by the high-paid actives is at the expense of an additional payroll assessment against schools, subsidized by the state, from 7.05 percent to 8 percent in two years. The windfall for this special group took the money needed to shore up the solvency of the Teacher Retirement System, and to enable it to give decent cost of living adjustments to all retirees.
The leadership and members of both political parties ought to feel the shame of bowing to such naked greed. The Oklahoma Education Association should be ashamed for supporting excess benefits for one special sector at the expense of the system that serves all educators. Leadership and members of both parties ought to be ashamed for showing their elderly teacher retirees such disrespect. Greedy administrators may know no shame.

A 1 percent increase for each of the last two years (and nothing for two more years) is insulting to teacher retirees. (This translates to one-half of a percent per year for four years.) Retirees, and others interested in fairness, should remember all those who perpetrated this travesty.
It is duly noted, of course, that school and vo-tech administrators donate to campaign funds and host fund-raisers for candidates, while retirees have little to offer other than their votes. This give-away program has been touted among administrators endlessly this past year. Teachers report being called into meetings in their schools to push it.

And what about the older, lower-paid retirees? They expected fairness and got the shaft. Let us hope they become angry and militant. Some of these older retirees are cutting their medications just to get by. They're tired of being told there is no money for COLAs. This unholy mixture of politics and greed has a stench to it.

Vineyard is executive secretary, and Struckle is chairman, of the Oklahoma Retired Presidents' Council, which has had an ongoing project to promote fairness and equity in benefits while moving the system toward solvency.

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