Saturday, February 16, 2019

Kim Frencken: Barely above poverty

Why are teachers constantly forced into battle with politicians, millionaires, businessmen, and other members of the non-teaching world to protect their retirement?

Teacher retirement is funded by teachers for teachers. It is considered to be part of our benefit package (the amount that schools contribute). We accept lower wages, longer hours, poor health insurance (if any at all), among other things in order to have a retirement that will keep us from living in poverty after retirement. 

In short, most teachers are living at the poverty level now, in hopes that one day their retirement will be enough for their living expenses.

At every turn there seems to be someone ready to change teacher retirement programs. Teachers in Missouri seem to be constantly fighting to keep their retirement. Apparently, politicians have not heard the old saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." Currently HB864 is threatening Missouri teachers. MSTA is actively fighting against this legislation because of the harm that it will do to the teacher's retirement system. For more information about the involvement of MSTA read this article about HB864. 

This bill is being sponsored by Republican Representative Jerod Taylor, District 139. I don't know Rep. Taylor personally, but I do know that he isn't a teacher. He may be a nice guy, but he knows zero about life in the classroom. 

So, why is he trying to change the retirement system? I have no idea. I've searched who his campaign contributors are, but found nothing there that might offer a reason why he would sponsor an education bill. 

The other bills he is sponsoring range from feral hogs to poaching animals to concealed carry to nonfoods sold at the capital. In short, they jump from one topic to another. I failed to find any other connections to each other let alone a connection to education.

Should there be a connection to education? That's how politics works, you say. That may be true. Maybe politicians don't need to have an understanding of a subject to sponsor legislation. But maybe they should. Maybe they should function more like the rest of us. We specialize. We learn about our topic or subject matter. We become experts.

This puts me right back to square one. Why are politicians always sticking their nose in someone else's business? I haven't been to a teacher meeting where teachers discussed changing the retirement programs of politicians, but maybe I should look into it. 

Maybe I should be more vocal about term limits and changing the retirement program of politicians. Maybe they should have a cut in pay and be on the same healthcare plan as the rest of us. 

I'm frustrated and angry. This affects my future and my livelihood. I'm tired of defending my right to the retirement that I've earned. Retirement isn't a government program or a handout. It isn't an entitlement. It is something that I've worked hard to earn. 

That's right Mr. Taylor, I earned it. And I'm tired of politicians, like you, telling me what is best for me. After all, it is weren't for teachers we wouldn't have politicians. In fact, we wouldn't have any profession. So, what I'm trying to say is, I have a brain and I know how to use it. I don't need you telling me what is best for my future. I need you to take care of your business and I'll take care of mine.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog Chocolate For the Teacher.)


Anonymous said...

Well said, Ms. Frencken.

Anonymous said...

As she says, no one can even fathom what a teacher, a good teacher that cares, goes through day in and day out with todays children. Parents threaten, curse at teachers, children whose parents are on drugs or drunk, inadequate food or clothing with little or no support by those parents to see that their education is continued at home. It is sad at the lack of support by these legislators for the only real stable force in the childrens lives.