Retired educators want fair treatment

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, October 1, 2019

VALLEY — Alabama Education Retirees Association (AERA) Director Jill Jackson told a gathering of retired Chambers County educators on Friday that educators aren’t well liked by legislators these days, but despite this, she’s proud to fight for fair treatment on their behalf.

Jackson spoke to the Chambers County Education Retirees Association (CCERA) at the Cotton Duck Friday afternoon. An overflow crowd was present.

Jackson said a legislator from south Alabama told her this year retired teachers “are always asking for stuff while never giving anything back.”

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The statement, she said, was patently false.

“The state-level AERA did just over $9 million in public service last year,” she said. “This is what we are giving back to the state.”

As a representative of retired teachers’ interests, Jackson said she felt disrespected on behalf of educators when a planned $800 check for retired teachers was cut back to $400.

“They spent every penny they could on roads, bridges and prisons but left us high and dry,” she said. “It’s not right to pay for prisons, roads and bridges but not for education.”

Jackson said there’s much discussion about a state lottery. If the state legislature passes a lottery bill next year, the issue would likely go to a vote of the people.

“If the lottery leaves no piece of the pie for education, we should vote against it,” Jackson said. “All we are asking for is a piece of the pie. If the legislature pushes a lottery bill through, education should have some of it.”

Jackson said every member matters.

She said that showing up in large numbers matters.

“I want you to have a COLA (cost of living adjustment). If they raise your expenses with a new gas tax, I think you should have some help for it,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of big checkbooks in Montgomery, but we don’t have one. We do have people power. We have strength in numbers and need to make use of it.”

CCERA President Wanda Huguley thanked local members for their participation in community service.

“Our check was for more than $4,000,” she said. “I want to thank you for your participation. Keep filling out the participation forms. We have to turn in our total hours in February.”

Commissioner Debra Riley encouraged everyone present to take part in the 2020 Census.

“It’s a top priority for our state this year,” she said. “Every person in this room is worth $1,600 for our state. That much money is left on the table for every person not counted. To be counted, you can return the card you will receive in the mail next March or you can do it on a computer. The main thing is to count every person we can. We could lose a congressional seat if we don’t have a count that’s over 70 percent, and we don’t need for that to happen.”