Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Teachers are asking the state to keep its promise

I am the driver education instructor at Middlebury Union High School. My job is to keep kids alive. A large part of my role is to serve as an extra set of eyes and ears as they learn to drive. When they come into my classroom — and into the DE car — they must have total faith that I will be there for them. It’s a promise I make so that they can travel into the future with less distraction, anxiety or fear.
You know the construction zone worker along the highway holding the Stop sign? They have an important job, too. They are there to keep their coworkers safe. Safe from being hit by a wayward vehicle and safe to do their job without distraction, anxiety or fear.
That’s the role the state of Vermont plays for teachers and state workers. They provide protection and security so that we may do our jobs to our best ability, without having to worry about what may come.
When the state backs out of its role as protector of teacher and state employee retirements, it’s akin to that Stop sign worker walking off the job mid-shift.
Would you want to work in such an environment? Looking over your shoulder every moment? Worried about what could happen to you? Unable to focus on the primary task at hand?
Throughout the pandemic, teachers have been told how important our work is and how much education matters. Every day, we make a positive impact on our community. When our retirement safety net is dismantled, it devalues us and distracts us from our purpose: teaching tomorrow’s adults.
Teachers and state workers aren’t asking for more than our share. We’re asking for the state to keep its promise and be there when we retire. We’re asking the state not to drop the Stop sign and walk off the worksite. Don’t expose teachers and state workers to the uncertainty, anxiety and fear that will come as a result of the proposed changes by the Vermont House.
I ask you to reach out to your legislator in person, via phone call or virtually, and let them know that you stand with teachers and state employees. Let them know you believe these cuts to be wrong and poorly considered. Tell them to stop dismantling our pensions the same way a road support crew stops injury and harm from coming to the people they made a promise to.
George Rooney
Starksboro resident

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