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A rally to address the needs of public school retirees, current teachers and school districts will be held Wednesday, July 12 at 10 a.m. on the front lawn of the Gregg County Courthouse.

With health insurance costs rising dramatically and with benefits cut for retirees, as well as concerns for the TRS Pension fund which is the sixth healthiest pension plan in the nation and is in danger of being redefined by the legislature, and many other education issues such as school funding, testing, vouchers etc. affecting districts and active teachers, the need for political activism has resulted in rallies including one held last week in Nacogdoches.

The rally goal is to inform the public and let legislators know of the level of educator concern prior to the legislature’s special session beginning July 18.

All public school employees, retirees, their friends and family members are urged to attend the event. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, whose wife is a retired educator, will lead a slate of speakers addressing concerns such as:

* Public schools serve 5.5 million students and Texas ranks 43rd in the nation in teacher salaries.

* Retired teachers have not had a cost of living raise in 16 years.

* The Teacher Retirement System of Texas is the sixth largest public pension fund in the United States serving 1.4 million educators. TRS has more than 375,000 retirees with an average annuity of $2,035 a month while 105,000 retirees (30 percent) receive $1,000 or less per month yet can not draw on social security they have earned in addition to their TRS.

* Currently a 65-year old retiree and spouse’s insurance takes one-third of their pension and those retiring before 65 fall in a gap which is hit harder with insurance costs possibly taking up to half a retiree’s pension.

Public school district issues of concern will also be highlighted.

Chairs will be provided for those who need them.

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