Fall 2020 Volume 23, Issue 1
A Publication of VEA-Retired
Inside this Issue: Retirees Give and Give 2 Distinguished Service
About the State
VEA Board of Directors 4
By Dennis J. Pfennig
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of darkness…it was the winter of despair.” How much of Charles Dickens’ depiction of the 1780-90s could be said about the political, economic, and social conditions in America today? Yet, Dickens also wrote, “it was the age of wisdom…the season of light…the spring of hope.” These past months, the leaders of both the VEA and NEA have exemplified wisdom. Since life as we knew it has been paused…temporarily…our elected leaders have successfully transitioned the in-person NEA convention, NEA-Retired annual meeting, and VEA Board of Directors meetings to the virtual realm via Zoom or other electronic means. Elected delegates to these meetings were able to be at home and follow their leaders, who were also in their homes, thus moving our Associations forward, current and flourishing. The VEA, NEA-Retired, and NEA each conducted elections via mail-in balloting to select new officers and approve budgets. NEA-Retired mailed about 329 ballots -twice. We had a run-off election! NEA also mailed its ballots -- about 8,000 of them -twice. Another run-off election! Certain national political leaders would have the wind knocked out of their sails if they studied the efficient ways in which Association ballots were mailed, returned, and counted without a hitch! Of course, others do not demonstrate wisdom. Political leaders who put children back in crowded schools and expect teachers to risk their lives returning to the classroom or face penalties exemplify foolishness.
Share your stories! If you or your local retired chapter would like to have an article in the next issue of Connections, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15, 2021.
So, the world as we knew it is in limbo; it may never go back to what it was; but your elected leaders are ensuring that the NEA family is continuing, on solid ground, and thriving. Is it the best of times? Certainly not. The winter of despair? No. This is our time, as individuals and as an Association. As we solved the problems of generations of schoolchildren, as we successfully battled inept administrations and hostile lawmakers, we will survive, we will go on, we see light, and we remain hopeful.
VEA-Retired Membership As of September 30, 2020, VEA-Retired had 4,679 members. That is 175 fewer members than the same time last year.
Connections 116 South Third Street Richmond, VA 23219 (800) 552-9554 2020-21 VEA-Retired Council Dennis Pfennig President email@example.com Lola McDowell Vice President firstname.lastname@example.org Malia Huddle Secretary-Treasurer email@example.com Denise Davis Retired Member at Large, VEA Board firstname.lastname@example.org Eddie Fifer Immediate Past President email@example.com Congressional District Reps: Holly Jackson-Conrad, 1st firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirley George, 2nd email@example.com Sid Neighbours, 3rd firstname.lastname@example.org Vashti Mallory, 4th email@example.com Connie Coates, 5th firstname.lastname@example.org Cheryl Perry, 6th email@example.com Meg Gruber, 7th firstname.lastname@example.org Kathy Davis, 8th email@example.com Ralph Booher, 9th firstname.lastname@example.org Marlene Parker, 10th email@example.com Bruce Smith, 11th firstname.lastname@example.org
Retirees Give and Give
Page 2 of 4
By Meg Gruber
A special thank you to all VEA-Retired members who have donated to the VEA Fund for Children and Public Education. We know we can count on you to understand the importance of donating. While our current times are challenging and unprecedented, you never wavered. You raised $11,992 for our virtual state convention; this was 25% of the total raised! This will help to elect the legislators we need at the state level who will work to ensure that our public schools are fully funded and equitable. In addition, this November we also have important elections on the federal level. Senator Mark Warner and great congresspersons are recommended. You, other members, and family can go to veafund.org to donate, see who we have recommended, and engage. Together we have done, and will continue to do, mighty things. Additional thanks to those whoâ€™ve donated to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. You did it again! In 2018-19, 119 VEA-Retired members gave $19,187. Then in 2019-20, 124 members gave $27,575!!! That's an increase of $8,388. For those of you who love math, that's an average donation of $161.24 in 2018-19, and $222.38 in 2019-20. Thank you for all your continued support!! Sarah Borgman, President of NEA-Retired, also chimed in on PAC donations. Recently she wrote all retired state presidents the following: Was our use of state PAC Captains successful? YES! We raised about $100,000 over last year. Let's do it again. Elections are not over --- they never are so we need to continue to do what we do best...WORK at not only raising PAC money but also putting our feet to the ground and working. THANKS to all of you for these AND for continued efforts! She ended her email with a quote from Helen Keller: Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
VEA-Retired Distinguished Service Award Many VEA-Retired members remain active in the Association and continue their dedication to public education by mentoring new teachers, lobbying lawmakers, and serving on national, state, and local committees. VEA-Retired is asking for your help in identifying these outstanding retirees for our 2021 Distinguished Service Award. This award was recently renamed in honor of its first recipient, Martha Wood of Charlottesville, and will be presented at the 2021 VEA Delegate Assembly. The Martha Wood Distinguished Service Award recognizes retired members who make significant contributions in promoting public education and the interests of retired teachers and education support professionals, along with the development and enhancement of activities and programs of the Association. If you know of a deserving nominee, please send their name and address, along with a brief description of their contributions, to us at email@example.com. Nomination forms are also available on the VEA website. Nominations are due by December 18th.
Page 3 of 4 About the State
Connections Elizabeth River Retired Educators
Over the summer, ERRE collaborated with local retired chapters from across the state on a membership project. A joint letter, signed by leaders from 13 local retired chapters, was sent to the VEA president asking his support in gaining access to contact information of recent retirees in order to extend invitations to join VEA-Retired. A response was received in which Dr. Fedderman proposed development of a system through which current members can opt into sharing their contact information with VEA-Retired Council members. Details to follow. LaNette Desler.
Fairfax Education Association – Retired When FEA-Retired completed its wonderfully successful Lobby Day in January, we had little idea that just a few short weeks later, the legislative successes we had advocated for and helped bring to life would be interrupted by the coronavirus. By March 13, our schools were closed, sending our active FEA colleagues into digital land and everyone into a lockdown that still impacts our daily lives heavily. We kept in touch with the central office via phone calls and emails about retiree benefits, and we sent out our first completely digital FEA-R Newsletter, which was well received. In our spring elections, we were pleased to re-elect Mimi Dash and Tricia Heininge to positions on the Board and have Adrienne White join us as a newly-elected member. Cheryl Binkley was re-elected president and we are thrilled to have Michael Hairston as the newly-elected vice president. FEA-R hosted a well-attended virtual annual luncheon with VEA President-Elect James Fedderman as a guest, and with Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn as the featured guest and speaker. It was a festive day despite missing the usual delicious catering. Speaker Filler-Corn recounted the many historic successes and positive changes we had in education policy during this legislative session, including repealing the ban on public sector collective bargaining, which FEA-R had a special interest in and focus on during the session. We also lobbied heavily for the restoration of a three-person panel for grievances, and won on that front. What was particularly encouraging was hearing Speaker Filler-Corn say that when the legislature resumes, they are still with us; that the funding and equity for high-needs schools that had been tabled will still be a priority. FEA-R recently passed the 500 mark in membership and will be working to make sure new FEA retirees know we are here for them to continue in their professional association. Solidarity, and may you be safe and well. Cheryl Binkley.
Loudoun Education Association – Retired LEA-R continues its ever-efficient support of LEA. For example, in early July its president posted a call for all LEA members and their families to attend a Monday afternoon car rally supporting a plan for school reopening based on SAFETY. LEA-R members participated along with over 500 LCPS staff and parents in a parade/protest calling for school authorities to recognize the safety of students and educational staff when resuming in-person instruction. The School Board changed their planned hybrid opening to distance learning and will plan a graduated in-person reopening later. LEA is a powerful voice! Claire Scholz. If you have email access and didn’t receive this newsletter via email, please consider updating your email address in one of two ways: 1. Complete the contact update form at: https://vea.link/vear-update 2. Email your information to: firstname.lastname@example.org We appreciate your help! We also understand that many members do not have computer or email access. If you do not have computer/email access, please call 804-775-8328 and leave a message letting us know, and we will continue to send your newsletters via US mail.
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VEA Board of Directors While VEA Board of Directors in-person meetings stopped in March 2020, the Board has continued to operate via electronic communication. The following is a summary of decisions and other highlights since March. Due to COVID-19, canceled the 2020 Delegate Assembly scheduled for Hampton and instituted in its place procedures to elect leadership and adopt an operating budget via US mail. Voted to hold the 2024 VEA Delegate Assembly in Hampton. This way the Association will not lose the $18,000 deposit for the canceled 2020 event. Learned the Association had 12.44 months of operating reserves as of May 31, 2020. The NEA recommendation is to have 12 months in operating reserves. Appropriated a $250,000 grant to membership categories to go to Uniserv to help with COVID-19 incurred expenses. Learned that two NEA organizers are helping VEA put together strategy and structure in preparation for collective bargaining for public school employees. Voted to award the VEA Executive Director a five-percent compensation increase based on her satisfactory performance appraisal. Ratified a contract between VEA and VPSA. Elected its 2020-2021 Executive Committee and four members of the now-current Legislative Committee. Approved the 2020-2021 Legislative Objectives and Legislative Agenda.