For 26 years, I have taught industrial arts technology to high school students in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. This school is a true community, and I love it. My wife is the assistant principal, my children attend the school, and in 2010, I was named Teacher of the Year. Throughout my career, I’ve been so grateful that teaching has allowed me to give back to Louisiana while earning a middle class lifestyle.
But over the past decade, my family’s income has been under assault by wage freezes and benefit cuts. Because my wife also works in education, our family always gets hit twice as hard. Raising three kids on a flat income isn’t a cakewalk, but my wife and I manage to get by.
Until recently, the thought of a dignified retirement has always kept us going through the hard times. But in 2012, Governor Jindal tried to gut the retirement security of state employees by getting rid of traditional pension plans. While this bill focused on state employees, teachers could have been next. Fortunately, the courts ruled his effort unconstitutional – but that doesn’t mean that politicians won’t try again to gut the pensions we have earned throughout our careers.
Losing our pensions would force my wife and I to decide between paying our mortgage, saving for retirement, or funding our daughters’ college account. My wife and I have supported our community through thick and thin, always playing by the rules and working our hardest. Now it is up to our elected officials to hold up their end of the bargain – a modest pension so we can retire with the dignity and respect we deserve.