Thursday, April 19, 2012

Marie Fetters' speech to STRS board April 19, 2012

Public Speaks Session…April 19, 2012 STRS Board Meeting
Executive Director Michael Nehf and the STRS Board:
My name is Marie Fetters. I retired in 2004 after teaching English at Miami Trace High School for 30 years. Soon after I retired, I attended a Fayette County Retired Teachers' Association meeting where Herman Fisher was a guest speaker, informing the group about CORE, Concerned Ohio Retired Educators. Following that meeting, Herm - and his wife Ruby - convinced me to get involved by going to CORE meetings, as well as the STRS Board meetings. Attending both these meetings over the years has certainly given me a more informed voice.
As I got more involved with CORE and gained even more knowledge at the monthly STRS Board meetings, I grew more and more concerned about our health care and pension systems…not just for me, but for the many teachers who'd retired long before I did. I felt - and still feel - that it was incumbent upon me to gather information and speak for those who couldn't at this point in their lives.
Mr. Nehf has been thoughtful enough to meet with CORE officers over the past months, and most recently, last week with President Dave Parshall and me. Mr. Nehf's comments and explanations have been helpful in making sense of things that sometimes defy logic to me.
Right now all of us are aware of the ominous circumstances that the pension systems are in. There's no silver bullet and no solution that can completely satisfy all concerned parties. Many scenarios have been put forward, much discussion, but little movement.
After hearing Ann Hanning's comments at a recent ORTA conference and talking with Mr. Nehf last week, it appears to me that Scenario 8 is the best solution. It certainly is not perfect, but considering other possibilities, it's the best choice we have.
When I was younger - and had fewer life-lessons under my belt - I'm sure I would have fussed more and argued extensively, but as I've gotten older I'm listening more, railing a little less, and trying to find common ground when I'm in a rough spot. Scenario 8 is by no means a panacea, but I believe it's a giant step in the right direction.
There's still much work to be done and no doubt many more contentious meetings ahead, but think of the numbers of teachers - both active and retired - that you are working for and whose interest you have at heart. Even though it might seem thankless at times, but many of us do appreciate your concern, effort and time.  Thanks for giving me a couple of minutes to voice my opinion.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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