In the latest issue of the WLSU (West Lake Shore Unit) and IRTA publication Direct Line we’ve all been asked to become politically active during the fall campaign. IRTA has named this program “Adopt a Candidate.” What we are being asked to do is volunteer 2-3 hours a week to a candidate of our choice. The purpose of this program is to make retired teachers more visible and to make candidates aware of our concerns and goals.

It is imperative that we all become active for at least five reasons:

1) to protect our pensions and to make sure that the Illinois government begins to pay the billions it owes our pension system.

2) to continue our health insurance program.

3) to maintain our annual cost of living increases as they are currently being calculated.

4) to avoid the possibility of an Illinois Constitutional Convention. In such a convention we could only lose benefits.

5) to avoid the possibility of paying an Illinois Income Tax on our pensions.

Some of us who live in Oak Park and River Forest have voluntered to work in State Senator Don Harmon’s campaign. He has been supportive of teachers, and we would like to keep it that way. We are also going to have a coffee for Senator Harmon (probably in October). If Harmon is your senator, contact me in mid-September, and I’ll give you more details. Why don’t you hold a coffee for your state senator or representative? Hosting a coffee is easy. You volunteer your home; purchase some bakery goods, fruit, cheese and crackers; serve coffee and tea; invite teacher friends and neighbors; and ask them to bring their checkbooks. They can voice their concerns and ask for his/her support in the areas listed above. Get active!

A few months ago I attended a coffee in River Forest. Attending were three real estate developers, some real estate salespeople, and some other business people. … I was the only teacher present.

Question: What do these business people know that educators don’t know?

Answer: Money and active support buys friends in high places; apathy results in inadequately funded pensions, poor health insurance programs, and changes in how teachers’ cost-of-living increases are calculated (if not eliminated).

Get smart; get active.

Al Popowits
River Forest

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