“Unsettling observations arrived in an email from Illinois TRS Annuitant Trustee Bob Lyons in the last few days. I am not sure if you received it or not – but it was one small spate in a torrential confluence of disturbing educational news for our state and for the nation overall. In Illinois, young and aspiring teachers face not only the mountainous ascent of learning to teach in today’s data-driven assessment environment but also to withstand a losing fiscal future forcing them to pay more into an underfunded system and later be punished after retiring for meeting their Tier II requirements…
“In very short order, we citizens of Illinois will face the issue of whether the state of Illinois meets federal standards in meeting its ‘safe haven’ for federal employer tax benefits after shorting the state employees. In other words, Illinois makes a significantly lesser payment to the state workers’ retirement system than it would need to with Social Security because it meets – or used to – federal thresholds in eventual pension obligations; on the other hand, now Tier II employees pay more and get less than the expected levels. The General Assembly shirked its first duty to fund the pensions, then put it on someone else, and now may be called into question – and they are we.
“According to Lyons, this may be a factor (among others) in a disturbing trend in Illinois among the pool of potential and able educators. ‘Wednesday we learned from our actuaries based on their experience review that they assume that only 37% of our 25 year old teachers will retire from teaching in our state. It would be expected that only a couple percent will die or be disabled before they can retire, so the great majority that will leave will either quit all together, be dismissed, or transfer to another state. About 63% will never see a monthly retirement check.’
“…[W]hile the educational workforces in Illinois and other states face the national/federal legislations which have wrought a combination of under-resourced public schools, a preferential treatment for development of private or charter school alternatives, the loss of job protections, unfair teacher evaluation methods based on testing assessments, an exponential increase in the amount of mandated standardized testing and the loss of professional autonomy – the state of Illinois has added Tier II to make being an educator just that much more punishing a profession…”
For the complete article by John Dillon, click here.