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Article posted: 3/6/2013 2:59 PM

Retired teachers group seeks politically active members

By Tara García Mathewson

Brian Mooberry was knocking on doors to drop off campaign literature at 9 years old. And the political education from his childhood stuck.

Mooberry was an active member of state and national teachers unions for his entire career and he didn't stop for a minute once he retired in 2007, after 33 years with Elgin Area School District U-46.

Now Mooberry and a group of other retired teachers are working to grow membership in the Northern Kane County Retired Educators chapter of the Illinois Education Association's Retired program. The group was chartered about two years ago and is open to retired teachers in the northern Fox Valley, including districts U-46, Central Unit District 301, Community Unit District 300 and Huntley Unit District 158. Mooberry serves as the president.

"Our goal in the organization is to become politically active and do the things that teachers can't do because they're in the classroom," Mooberry said. That includes lobbying in Springfield in April and May when the big decisions on education are routinely made.

Mooberry said teachers used to be able to bus down to Springfield in June and have their voices heard, but no more.

Many retired teacher organizations are more social than political, a major reason Mooberry co-founded the new chapter. The plan is to lobby on behalf of retired teachers during the state pension debate as well as current teachers over broader education issues like classroom size, certification and evaluations.

The pension debate, Mooberry noted, is one in which Illinois teachers have been active for 30 years, when the state started pushing off payments.

Then there's the national issues like immigration reform, school funding and nationwide education standards.

Mooberry said over his three decades teaching in Elgin, the profession got tougher every year, especially as a shift toward quantitative accountability forced educators to teach to tests.

The goal for The Northern Kane County Retired Educators is to have a strong core of retired members up-to-date on new initiatives in education, serve the needs of the retired population and offer their expertise to the next generation of teachers.

"We're the ones who are knowledgeable," Mooberry said. "Plus it keeps us busy and keeps our minds going, instead of sitting back, rusting away."

The Northern Kane County Retired Educators group will meet next at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 at the Hickory Stick Bar and Grill, 875 Sports Way, Elgin. Soon-to-be and already-retired educators -- including teachers, administrators and paraprofessionals -- are welcome to learn about the organization and the IEARetired program as well as teacher pensions.

RSVPs are requested by Sunday, March 10 to Larry Drafall, secretary of the group, at (847) 695-5112 or drafiles@sbcglobal.net. Mooberry can be reached for details at brianmooberry@aol.com or (847) 697-3617.

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