Monday, April 25, 2011

An Implicit Goal of Some Legislators Is to Ultimately Destroy the Teachers’ Pension

Teachers were stunned last spring when Senate Bill 1946 passed in less than 12 hours. “It is estimated that [the Teachers’ Retirement System’s new] Tier-Two benefits will be 30 percent less than benefits for Tier-One teachers, if the final average salary and creditable service time for both are equal” (Illinois Education Association, IEA). Moreover, teachers retiring with “10 years of service credits under [the] Tier Two [plan] would actually earn more benefits from Social Security” (IEA). 

Besides other egregious changes to the teachers’ pension, with the creation of a Second-Tier, teachers hired after January 2011 cannot receive their pension benefits until they are 67 years old: by the way, this is the highest retirement age in the nation!
What could be the effects if Senate Bill 105 proposed by Senator Chris Lauzen, et. al. and HB 149 proposed by Representative Tom Cross, and other pension bills are also passed this spring?  Even without discussing the third incongruous part of this fire-breathing Chimera, which also includes a Tier-Three Defined-Contribution option, presumably, many young teachers will not continue to work in Illinois (and elsewhere).     

The “best and brightest” teacher candidates will either not major in education, or these young aspirants will find teaching positions in other places, where the education of children and their teachers are valued.  There will be a teachers' shortage in Illinois (and elsewhere) if these attacks on teachers continue. 

In Illinois, teachers in Tier One will lose an essential financial resource needed for pension sustainability, perhaps the unstated objective for those legislators who want to challenge (the Pension Protection Clause) Article XIII, Section 5, of the Illinois State Constitution. The teaching profession, as we know it, will be in jeopardy in the future.
What other consequences are there for having the worst funded teachers’ pension plan in the country? Students across Illinois will be deprived of receiving an excellent education from the best teachers available, and they will become the unintended victims of this injustice and charade. 

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