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They keep giving to the community Richard Pena | Sat, Oct 22 2011 12:00 PM

Those members of the working establishment, particularly in the public sector who put in a certain number of years at their task, look toward retirement. And on retirement they look to that professional organization related to their just completed jobs and become members.

We used to whimsically state that we joined those organizations because it would look good on our tombstones. As everyone knows it is much more than that.

I retired from the teaching profession a little more than 30 years ago. I recall almost immediately joining the local division of the California Retired Teachers Association and have been a faithful member ever since. I bring this up because the other day I met with the current co-presidents of the division, Marty Kolb and Carol Owen, at the Bonita Museum and we spoke of many things, mostly education past and present.

Both these ladies are local products. By that I mean they put in their teaching time in the South Bay, Kolb in National City and Owen in Chula Vista. The concept of co-presidents is a recent one. Last year the division thought that it would take the strain off the president if he or she had half the tasks to perform. The two ladies worked out a schedule at the beginning of their terms that is suitable to both. This includes presiding over meetings and committees and other parliamentary tasks dictated by the organization's by-laws.

When it comes to numbers the local division is large. There are more than 600 members in the division and they represent teachers from all the local districts as well as many that are out-of-towners. In the San Diego-Imperial County area there are eight such districts that number well into the thousands. This structure is known as Area XI. The director is Barbara Bethel, a former colleague of mine.

In spite of the swelling membership, CRTA is governed mostly by volunteers. Many who are at the upper echelons of the organization view it as almost a full-time job. There are four employees who are full- time who work in Sacramento. They are aided by a few others who are part-time.

In our conversation the other day the two co-presidents and I sort of agreed that there are problems in public education that always seem to be with us. It is, therefore, up to the professionals who are in the midst of the problems to solve them.

There are many who think they have the solution. I, for example, have often thought that there is too much emphasis given to test scores. I strongly believe that test scores should be looked upon as a tool in education, much as one would look at a text book or any part of curriculum. The results of the test should tell the school that they are either doing something right or that there is something wrong that needs fixing. Then they take it from there.

Those in the retirement sector aid the system in other ways. One of these is to safeguard the State Teachers Retirement System. All too often we hear of legislators or others who wish to utilize funds that are in that system. It is the task of those retired to study and promote or oppose state and national legislation that might affect the interests of the retired educator. Most retired educators have devoted more than 30 years to the profession. They deserve a later life free of worry.

The local district has, for some years, been in the scholarship business. By this I mean the unit of retired teachers raises funds within the unit and awards scholarships to graduating men and women from Southwestern College who are continuing their studies in education at a four-year college. The scholarships are rather generous, enough so to aid the student in the rising costs at college.

The South Shores Division meets five times a year at the Clarion Hotel in National City. This is a luncheon meeting. The unit has program chairmen who always have scintillating speakers who bring the membership up to date on various aspects of the profession.

This is an excellent method of learning those things that affect those in the business. The next meeting will be on Nov. 10.

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