Monday, April 25, 2011

An Implicit Goal of Some Illinois Legislators Is to Ultimately Destroy the Teachers’ Pension and the Teaching Profession

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). 

Furthermore, 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: this would be 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 passed in the future? 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 or lose their desire to teach.  

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 legislative charade. Teachers in the Tier One pension plan will also lose an essential financial resource needed for pension sustainability -- perhaps the unstated objective for those legislators who want to challenge the Pension Protection Clause. What's more, the “best and brightest” teacher candidates will not major in education. These young aspirants will find other professions that value their passion and competency. 

There will be a teachers' shortage in Illinois (and elsewhere) if attacks on teachers' pensions and their profession continue. The teaching profession, as we know it, will be in jeopardy in the future.  

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