Message from Jim Testerman

Post date: Nov 29, 2010 12:22:26 PM

Give thanks, make thanks...

This time of year, we take the time to note the many things for which we should be thankful. For all the things that we know we can do better. America still stands as one of the most remarkable examples of the balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility the world has ever known. It’s difficult to be encouraged by the results of the recent elections, but we can take heart that, regardless of where any American falls on the political spectrum, the countless transitions of power occur peacefully and with the opportunity to make changes on a regular basis.

It's that last part - the ability to make change - that I've been thinking about recently. I am - and I hope the vast majority of you are - thankful that we were able to secure responsible pension reform that guarantees defined benefit pensions for current and future PSEA members, responsibly addresses the pension spike, and ensures that the 2.5 percent multiplier is still available as an option for future school employees. That's something concrete; that’s something that we made happen. It's good to be thankful for the unexpected things that come our way, but I'd submit that we should be even more thankful for the things that we made happen, for the things that our actions created. As we move forward, let us all focus on making more things happen for which we can be thankful.

Help members understand the new pension law

Governor Rendell signed Act 120, the pension bill formerly referred to as House Bill 2497, on November 23. Now that the bill has become law, your members may have questions on how the legislation affects them, or how it will affect new employees. To help, PSEA has added two fact sheets to

One describes Act 120's impact on current members, and the other outlines changes for new members hired on or after July 1, 2011.

Send this information to your members, using PSEA's local e-mail utility, or use it to help answer any questions your members ask about the new pension law. PSEA will also include a link to the fact sheets in next week's issue of Connected, PSEA's all-member e-newsletter. The pension section of the PSEA website also includes a place for members to submit questions on pension issues.

Make it green

PSEA and NEA are continually looking for ways to not only reduce costs, but to reduce our carbon footprint and be more ecologically responsible. To that end, in early December, we will send messages to all members with a personal e-mail address on file announcing the opening of the NEA RA election. The e-mail will provide instructions on how to vote, including the option of instantly voting online, clicking a link to have a paper ballot sent, or clicking a link to vote online later. Those who do not respond (and did not indicate they do not want the paper ballot) will be sent a paper ballot. Encourage your members to keep an eye out for the NEA RA election e-mail and help decide who will represent PSEA in Chicago this summer. PA delegates will join a group of 10,000 educators to discuss the future of our national Association. Please cast your ballot and encourage your members to do the same, to have a voice in conversations about the future of NCLB, Waiting for Superman, and other issues affecting all of us.

Thanking and recognizing those who helped make what we have

Calls are once again going out for entries for the Jennifer A. Dubois "Fabric of Unionism" Contest for PSEA members and their students. Artwork depicting the development of the labor movement, its historical importance, and its necessity in the future must be submitted and postmarked to PSEA prior to March 25, 2011, to be eligible for $1,000, $500, and $250 prizes in the student and member categories. Entries will be showcased in PSEA offices. Please promote the contest to your students and members by visiting

The Big Picture

If your local is being challenged to revisit some of your working conditions and compensation systems under the guise of education reform, visit our PSEA website to take a good look at the great things happening in public education in Pennsylvania. As PSEA members, we constantly advocate for smaller class sizes, the most qualified classroom educators, and the importance of employees being a partner in decision making. The result? Some of the most high-performing schools in the nation! Engage in these discussions with the resources to advocate for education reform that is supported by research. Learn more at Yes, change is coming but it is up to you and your members to articulate what your students need to reach their full potential.

Dates to note:

November 25-26: Thanksgiving Break

November 29: Substitute Educators' Day

December 1: Hanukkah Begins

December 1-2: PSEA Board of Directors (Pittsburgh)

December 3-4: PSEA House of Delegates (Pittsburgh)

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day

December 10-11: NEA Board of Directors

December 21: First Day of Winter

December 23 – January 2: PSEA Offices Closed

December is also:

Human Rights Month

A note on being thankful...

"The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you."

- John E. Southard