The in box. Bob Pinkerton, VP of the IRTA.

Remarks by Bob Pinkerton, Vice President, The Illinois Retired Teachers Association


Trust me when I say it is impossible for me to accurately and completely convey to you the flood of emotion that has been expressed by retired teachers following Mr. Ingram’s comments on teacher pensions. As a board you should be gravely concerned about the sentiments of our membership.  Those of us who gave our lives to a career in education take special pride in our ability to view life through an analytical  lens. We are fortunate to have received training that gives us a fair and objective look at the ways of life — and we are blessed to have chosen teaching as our vocation. Our members are not reactionary.  On the contrary, given the choice between reaction and analysis, our members choose introspection.


So when they speak against injustice, when they protest against unfairness, it is prudent to heed their words.  For their words are measured and are a product of – yes – years of education and educating.

I’ve chosen a few of their words to underscore the anger they have expressed in the wake of Mr. Ingram’s shocking statements about the state of teacher pension funding and possible benefits reduction.  For example, Patricia and Richard Bryan called for Mr. Ingram’s dismissal immediately after reading his words for the first time. I am quoting:


On April 4 we wrote to the trustees, urging them to fire you. Since then, we’ve read additional news stories and several of your letters to newspapers. We’ve also gotten explanations of your behavior from several trustees. We are more convinced than ever that you cannot continue to serve as our director.


They continue:


You have recently announced your intention to educate TRS members about the reality of our pension problems. Many of us have been observing and studying those problems for decades. We voted for the constitution some forty years ago.


It’s obvious, Mr. Ingram, that you were not watching this process.  No one could blame you. We would estimate that you were in grade school out east when our constitution became the law of the state. Your ignorance then was to be expected. Your apparent ignorance now is completely unacceptable for the chief “promise keeper” of the TRS.


I guess it’s safe to say that Patricia and Richard Bryan are expressing the emotion of anger.


Then there’s this from Mary Jane Blustein:


We live in fear of the possibility that our Medicare coverage may be cut, and now that our pensions are being considered for cuts, we wonder what the future will bring as we further age.


Both of us worked very hard and successfully in Illinois classrooms as “excellent” teachers for our entire careers, and were promised our retirement funds when we retired. We are willing to pay Illinois income tax on those pensions, but if our pensions are cut, we have medical as well as age issues in finding and doing a job.


I would categorize the emotion expressed by Ms. Blustein as that of fear.

Eleanor Roberts provided us with these words:

I would hope that the called-for meeting of the Board of Trustees will consider a vote of censure or more severe actions. TRS cannot afford this kind of leadership at this point in the pension debacle.

His seeming complicity with those who wish to ask retired teachers to take the brunt of the state’s lack of integrity in meeting their obligations sickens me.

I think Ms. Roberts is on the same page as those members who think the entire episode has been extremely distasteful. Many of our members have called for Mr. Ingram’s outright dismissal. Others have called for public censure and votes of no-confidence. You see, Mr. Ingram’s statements not only fly in the face of the needs and desires of his constituency. Worse, Mr. Ingram’s words are forever.

There is no way – ever – that Mr. Ingram’s words can be corrected, retracted or sanitized. His words are toothpaste out of the tube, words that are forever chiseled into every news story and political debate ad infinitum.  At the very least, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association believes that Mr. Ingram should be ordered to never again utter a public statement that would cause such irreparable damage to the basic mission of teachers’ retirement.

Therefore, on behalf of all Illinois retired teachers, the IRTA is submitting to you a resolution that admonishes Mr. Ingram to cease commenting publicly on this matter without your express approval. If we owe anything at all to the people who taught our children to read, write, count and be counted as solid citizens, it’s the assurance that they might live their retirement free from fear. As teachers, we kept our promises to our students, their families and the communities we served. Now it’s your turn to keep the promise.

One thought on “The in box. Bob Pinkerton, VP of the IRTA.

  1. These letters express the sentiments of thousands I’m sure………….but where is THE spokesman for us? Is everyone just on their own?

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