I am the daughter of educators who spent their lives dedicated to and in Vermont public schools.
The proposed painful pension cuts for teachers and state employees are unacceptable. My father Gerry Krasnow was a school counselor at Winooski High School, and a state representative, serving on the Education Committee from 1992-1998.
My mother Susan Krasnow has worked at Charlotte Central School, the University of Vermont, Essex High School, and finally at Champlain Valley Union High School. I have seen first-hand the selfless dedication and the sacrifices that my parents and their colleagues made because they believed in their vocation, their calling and their students.
In 2018, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She continued to teach at CVU while undergoing chemotherapy. She loves teaching more than anything, and didn’t want to let her students down, even when she wasn’t feeling well herself.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was no longer safe for my mother to be teaching in a classroom. It was at this point — after 45 years of teaching in Vermont — that my mother decided to retire.
It was not the retirement she had planned. There was no retirement party and she didn’t get to say goodbye to her beloved students or most of her amazing colleagues — COVID only allowed for an online thank you for her dedication. She dedicated her life to teaching and paid into her retirement fund; her retirement should be secure. Vermont’s unfunded pension is the responsibility of the Legislature.
The Legislature cannot let our educators down.
This year, teachers have faced more adversity than ever before. I have heard from many educators, union members and parents how scared they are. They are not vaccinated. They are working more hours than ever. They are worried about their students. This is not the time to take away the promise of their retirement stability.
I am calling on our state legislators and our governor to find alternative revenue sources to fund the retirement plans for teachers and state employees.
I am grateful for the hard work of the legislators, union leaders, and educators who are collaborating and strategizing to address this issue.
Just a year ago, we were lauding our teachers as “heroes” and “essential workers.” It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and fund their pension program.
Emilie Krasnow is a resident of South Burlington.