Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Time to turn up the heat on the Legislature

Local presidents across Minnesota received a note from Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher earlier tonight requesting urgent action before the end of this legislative session.

There are many, many legislators who self-identify as education-friendly. In screenings and meetings they listen to our priorities.

However, we need them to actually act on our priorities.

School funding increase. There is not a building or program in St. Paul Public Schools that does not intimately understand our desperate funding situation. We have all sat through enough extremely painful conversations, site counsel meetings, or budget surveys in the last 8 years, and especially 8 weeks, to know that we are sick and tired of hoping students don't get sick 3 days a week because we can only afford a nurse 2 days a week. Hoping students don't want to check out books or teachers don't need support with information literacy instruction because we can't afford a licensed librarian. Hoping our students can afford their own extracurricular activities because we can neither pay for the licensed physical education teacher nor the after school programs for our students.

We need a school funding increase. Call your legislator and tell them we need a school funding increase. Tell them how many teachers and EAs you cut from your building, too. Tell them how those professionals served your students.

Go to www.educationminnesota.org and click under "Take Action."

Statewide health insurance pool for school employees. Speaking of being sick and tired, I am at email 400 and counting on your response to my health insurance and wellness questions. We must do something to contain the rising cost of our health insurance. It is clear to me that you want access to high quality health insurance. It is also abundantly clear that the cost of that health care is crippling your already modest budgets. Many of you opened up to share that you are no longer one health disaster away from big financial trouble, you are already there. Large pools of people buying health insurance together spreads the risk. It helps contain the cost of health care. That's why huge Fortune 500 companies like 3M and General Mills and Wells Fargo do it.

We need the statewide health insurance pool for school employees. Call your legislator and tell them. Tell them how much your health insurance costs, too. Tell them that we want our health insurance pool to have the buying power that their health insurance pool has.

Go to www.educationminnesota.org and click under "Take Action."

Rule of 90. In 1989 the state legislature took away the Rule of 90 for anyone hired after 1989. (In the interest of full disclosure, this includes me.) Now that means that those of us hired after 1989 must work about 7 years longer to get the retirement benefit of someone who can retire under the Rule of 90. For example, my dad retired at age 59 under the Rule of 90. I will work until I am at least 66 for the same retirement benefit. This needs to be fixed. I am happy to talk to anyone who does not understand that active members like me take this issue very, very seriously, and it is not just because my 8th graders already thought I was old when I started teaching at 23 so who knows what they will think of me at 66.

We need the Rule of 90. Call your legislator and tell them that we all need the Rule of 90 and there is no time like the present to fix it.

Go to www.educationminnesota.org and click under "Take Action."

When you are finished, cap it off with a quick call to the Governor telling him that these bills are on their way to him and that you would be very grateful if he would sign them. Then drop me a line telling me how easy it was.

Go to www.educationminnesota.org and click under "Take Action."

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