Sunday, March 21, 2010

Respect for Our Elders

We lost a greatly respected elder earlier this month. Merritt Olson will be remembered for his commitment to education in Alaska by all those who knew him, or knew of him. I can still recall meeting him for the first time. He was on the ASPIB board. He told me it was very important that I pay attention to what was happening in Juneau because it would impact my life in many ways. He was right and I have appreciated his willingness to share his perspective with me over and over again. Those who didn't have the chance to meet him or know who he was, must take time to understand what he meant to public education. Merritt's work to help establish a solid retirement for Alaska's educators was paramount in our ability to retire from public service with dignity. His efforts make it much more clear that we MUST win the battle to return all public employees to a defined benefit retirement. We must make our needs known and do everything we can to convince policymakers of the importance of a solid and reliable retirement to Alaska's future. Not only is it crucial to us, but it honors the work of our elders who pushed so hard to make sure we were taken care of into the future. Merritt will be missed by the entire NEA-Alaska family.

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