Crystal Mendez, Teacher LAUSD
Brad Rumble, Principal LAUSD
September 7, 2013
Los Angeles Unified School District
Board Members and Superintendent
The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education will proclaim “National Save for Retirement Week,” on October 20th-26th for the seventh year. Many reports show the dire need of Americans to plan. Educators have the luxury of a longer retirement than the general population, but only about 30% of our employees supplement their pension plan. Seventy percent mistakenly believe they can rely on CalSTRS or CalPERS to fund retirement 100% over many years. We must reach these employees.
With these statistics, the objectives of the National Save for Retirement Week become imperative:
Whereas, The objectives of “National Save for Retirement Week”are to:
• Make employees more aware of how critical it is to save now for their financial future.
• Promote the benefits of getting started saving for retirement today.
• Encourage employees to take full advantage of their employer-sponsored plansby increasing their contributions.
The objectives sound wonderful and would mean much more by putting two human faces on how the objectives are met. I am asking the Board and the Superintendent to recognize two of our employees for this otherwise dry and faceless event: Crystal Mendez, 1/2 grade teacher at Apperson Street Elementary and Brad Rumble, principal at Leo Politi Elementary. They have successfully planned for their retirement years and have gone above and beyond the call-of-duty with the proclamation objectives.
Fresh out of college at 22, Crystal Mendez started saving for retirement as soon as she walked into her first classroom. Two years later, she started promoting her story and encouraged colleagues to plan. She is now sharing her story everywhere. Her latest appearance was in the PBS Frontline Special, The Retirement Gamble, broadcast on national television on April 23, 2013. Listen and see (1 minute 30 seconds into the broadcast) how Crystal started with zero assets, learned from mistakes, knew nothing about investing and managed to amass a retirement account more than the national average for Americans twice her age. She is only 32!—not bad for a single young female on a teacher’s salary.
Crystal testified as the featured teacher at the Insurance Subcommittee in Sacramento supporting AB 1949. This bill would have updated the 403b to secure additional lower-cost custodial accounts with mutual fund companies. In 2006 she was the featured teacher on the front page of the Los Angeles Times in Kathy Kristof’s comprehensive retirement series report. At the same time LAUSD launched the new sponsored 457b plan, Crystal spoke to this Board about her insights. And finally at the United Teachers-Los Angeles’ (UTLA–Teachers’ Union) Annual Leadership Conference, she shared her story and encouraged her Chapter Chair colleagues (Stewards) to remind the teachers and staff at their school sites to plan.
Principal Brad Rumble planned for retirement since he began teaching in 1990 at Rosemont Elementary. For years he has also been a staunch supporter of 403b reform to lower costs while encouraging colleagues, teachers and administrators, to save. The Los Angeles Times featured Brad’s investment strategy to use custodial accounts with low-cost mutual funds for Generation Xers. He provided investment workshops at his school site and was a founding member of a self-help educator group, 403b Aware, for LAUSD educators. He served as a panelist for the first-ever educator-led 403b workshop at the UTLA Leadership Conference, August 20, 2000. Brad has an amazing ability and boundless energy to encourage others to start planning and to pay close attention investment costs and to their financial adviser.
The Board and Superintendent have a wonderful opportunity to recognize two of our own who effectively spread the retirement planning message. Let’s bring this Proclamation to a personal and inspirational level to reach LAUSD’s seventy percent, who are not saving and to support the thirty percent who are. Crystal and Brad care because both know it’s the right thing to do. Many LAUSD employees will take notice of their enthusiasm and participate.
Retirement living is a time we can look forward to: launch another rewarding career, spend more time with family, friends or devote full-time to a cause or activity we value. Crystal and Brad want everybody to know retirement planning is a positive and wholesome accomplishment during our working years too. The district can celebrate their extraordinary efforts by this Proclamation.
Steve Schullo, Retired LAUSD Teacher
LAUSD’s Retirement Investment Advisory Committee Meeting (RIAC) members
Warren Fletcher, UTLA President