Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Opinion

January 28, 2013

Same song, second verse

Here we are into another year, and I don’t have to tell you that I am not ready for it. You can surely see that I am just as scattered as ever and maybe even more so. My habit is to hold onto the past and have to be dragged into the new year with countless exclamations. If I didn’t get a job done during 2012, why should I think I will be more successful in 2013? Nevertheless, I continue to fall back on one of my old practices, that of taking things one day at a time.

I always feel more content if I keep reminding myself that “this is the day that the Lord has made.” Then I have courage to insist that “I will rejoice and be glad in it.” True, I do miss the “good ole days.” By that, I mean it was once good to listen to the news in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. But now if I’m not tuned in to the news all day, I have a nagging feeling that I am missing something important. By “important,” I mean “did someone try to blow up something or someone important?” Or maybe, “Did a calamity take place on the other side of the world but the U.S. is somehow involved or ought to be helping the wounded and homeless?” The older I get, the more responsible I feel for the situation, whatever it is. And then, on top of that, I ask, “What should I do about it?”

The truth of the matter is that as a retired public school teacher, I don’t have that many resources, especially since we retired teachers haven’t had a cost of living raise in about a dozen years now. Please don’t tell me to stop harping on this situation. I happen to know that we retired school employees do a great deal of volunteering which saves the community and the state. We have book drives, and we participate in the religious and civic activities of the community and state.

At our meetings of Navarro County Retired Teachers Association, we have programs which keep us up to date on the needs of the community and provide us with opportunities to participate more fully in the betterment of our social and educational activities. It is becoming more and more difficult to keep up these practices, since our buying power has been hit hard by the economic downtown. People who have been retired since 2001 have lost at least 30 percent of their purchasing power. Now consider the fact that this adjusted consumer price does not factor in the cost increase in food and energy. The Texas Legislature decides these matters. It has to pass any additional benefits, whether it is a permanent raise or a supplemental payment.

Thinking back I remember that I taught 32 years and retired in 1992. But I can’t remember a single day in which I went to work thinking about how much money I would make that day. In fact, I often forgot to pick up my paycheck, and the principal would put it in the vault and wait to see how long it would take me to remember to pick it up. In fact, one Christmas the principal appeared at my house and said, “I thought you might need this” and handed me my check which, as usual, I had not remembered to pick up.

The truth of the matter was that my thoughts were taken up with what I could do to enlighten my students. I had really good teachers when I went to school in Corsicana. So when I came across a problem with a student or a class, I often thought to myself, “What would Miss Julia Kiber or Miss Annabelle Kiber do?” Something would always occur to me. Let me tell you that it would often be surprising and enjoyable for both the students and the teacher. I’m glad I had dedicated teachers to inspire me.

No, I did not go in to the teaching profession to make a million dollars. But I believe that I had the right to expect a cost of living raise during my retirement, since social security retirees get one.

The public schools of Texas have always been one of our greatest assets. During my teaching career, I had students from other states come into my class, and they were usually surprised at what was expected by our curriculum, especially in the Advanced Placement and Honors classes. It does not seem right to discourage beginning teachers by holding back raises for retirees. I paid into the system 32 years because I had faith in the Public School System of Texas. Was I wrong?

            —————

Gelene Simpson is a Daily Sun columnist. Her column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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