California Educator

May / June 2016

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Y O U R O P I N I O N S A N D L E T T E R S A R E W E L C O M E ! There is a 250-word limit, and all letters will be edited. If you send photos or other materials, identifications and permissions are required. Letters must include your name along with your address, daytime telephone number or email address. Email feedback V E RY C A R I N G CO U N S E LO R As a high school counselor for the last 19 years, I am very hands-on with my students with their college applications, because I want them to present their best self. I do college applications workshops and review every application for any errors before they submit. While it might take me more time to review over 120 UC, Cal State, and Com- mon Applications, I have peace of mind knowing everything is correct. A funny story: One year I took a group of at-risk students to Loyola Marymount University to expose them to a college campus. When we entered a large class- room, I explained that it was a lecture hall. A male student approached me and asked if they really yelled at the students in this classroom! Every year during the college application season I share the students' stress as if I am applying to college all over again. When it is time to hear back from the colleges, I tease the students by excitedly asking them, "Did we get in?" I love seeing the students get accepted to a university, and knowing that they are going to spread their wings and fly away from the nest to embark on new adventures. JACQUELINE BORJA San Gabriel Teachers Association H OW G P O/ W E P A F F E C T YO U Last year CalSTRS found that half of active California teachers don't understand how the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) affect their Social Security retire- ment benefits. If you have a spouse who earns Social Security, you would normally expect to get half the amount they get as a monthly spou- sal benefit when you retire, and then get the whole amount if they predecease you. A full-career CalSTRS-earning teacher won't get any of their Social Security spousal or death benefit money ($600 to $2,400 a month) because of the GPO. If you have earned your own SS retirement benefit, the WEP can cut it by $400 a month. How can you help yourself? Get life insurance on your spouse when you are young. Pay off your mortgage. When Social Security Fairness surveyed 600 retired California teachers last year: • 8 percent said that they'd lost money in a legal settlement — oen a divorce — because they hadn't known about the offsets. • 35 percent said they lose so much that if they had known, they would not have worked summers to earn the 40 quar- ters for SS retirement benefits. • Half would have planned differently for retirement, and a quarter would have worked longer. Nearly 40 percent of California teachers over 65 who took the survey are still work- ing part or full time. Inform yourself. SS Fairness has links to the Social Security Administration as well as NEA's comprehensive section on the offsets ( BONNIE CEDIEL CTA/NEA-Retired S E N D I N YO U R B AC K TO S C H O O L S TO R I E S The first day back to school is always rife with surprises and minor gaffes that make you gasp or laugh out loud or both — from unex- pected critters in the classroom, to kids who grew a foot between May and August, to suddenly realizing you're wearing two different shoes. We want to hear your stories — we'll publish a selection in our August Back to School issue. Write to with "Back to School" in the subject line, or @WeAreCTA, #ctabacktoschool. 3 May / June 2016 O N M A Y 1 1 , Doreen McGuire-Grigg, NEA's 2016 ESP of the Year (and CTA's 2015 ESP of the Year), was honored at the White House as a School Support Champion of Change, one of 12 education support professionals nationwide recognized for going above and beyond to meet the needs of students so they can achieve success inside and outside the classroom. Pictured: CTA Vice President Theresa Montaño, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss, Doreen McGuire-Grigg, former NEA/CTA ESP of the Year Janet Eberhardt, and NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

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