In Washington, Mirel says he has found both the school board and teachers' union receptive to the idea of using retired teachers as tutors for students having a hard time in school. To ensure the union's support, Mirel says he wants each position filled to be certified by the union as being noncompetitive and nonfillable by any active, salaried teacher.
Despite all the rhetoric of the last 25 years about using leisure time to greater advantage and enhanced pleasure, this country has not made any signigicant breakthroughs in finding ways to keep our older citizens active and productive when they want to be. From an economic perspective, considering the problems we face, we are wasting an enormous resource, especially at a time when rising prices and increased taxes make it even more difficult to cope with those problems.
About 24 million Americans are older than 65. That number will double in the next 50 years. In 1940, for each retired persons, there were nine active workers. There now are six active workers for each retiree, and by the year 2000 there will be only three working for every retired person.
The population of the country is growing older but it is also growing more experience. That's the other side of the coin. Some people who reach age 70, Mirel points out, "really don't want to work. They want to retire. Others are sick. Some need money. Leaving out those, I think you're left with hundreds of thousands of professionals who are ready for this kind of things."