How Teacher Pension Plans Work

Andy Rotherham and I have a new “explainer” deck out today on teacher pensions. Read it here. But “why pensions?” you might ask. Well, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that pensions are affecting your work, whether you want them to or not.
Pensions intersect with issues around teacher recruitment and retention, school funding inequities, charter schools, and a whole lot more. I’ve personally been working on pension issues for 10 years now, and here’s what keeps me going:
  • Pension costs are rising rapidly, and they’re driving out funds that could be going toward teacher salaries, textbooks, pre-k or arts programs, or anything else we might value in education.
  • Despite their overall cost, the plans are not that great for the typical teacher. Depending on the state, the plans really only provide a decent benefit to teachers who remain in one state for their entire career. The rest will leave their years of teaching with no pension at all, or a meager one.
  • The plans are also inequitable. The biggest winners under the current systems are districts with high salaries and low employee turnover–aka the exact group that doesn’t need an extra subsidy from the state. Meanwhile, poor schools with higher employee turnover lose out.

The deck has a lot more, including examples of states that have been able to offer retirement plans that are better for both teachers and taxpayers. Read it here.

–Guest post by Chad Aldeman 

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