Skip to main content

Teacher Pensions

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

You are here

The vast majority of our nation’s 3.3 million public school teachers participate in a traditional pension plan managed by their state or local government. Unfortunately, the design of those plans leaves too many teachers with inadequate benefits. Over half of today’s new teachers will not stay in a single pension system long enough to qualify for a minimum pension when they retire. Making matters worse, 40 percent of public school teachers lack Social Security coverage.

In contrast to most of the public debate on pensions, which centers on funding issues, our work focuses on analyzing how well current plans serve the teacher workforce. We also encourage policymakers to think strategically about pensions as part of teachers’ overall compensation package, and provide data and analysis to help them do so. Through our affiliated website Teacherpensions.org, we provide high-quality analysis and commentary to help stakeholders understand the teacher pension issue and the trade-offs among various options for reform. Our work makes the issues more accessible and relevant to the general public, more compelling to policymakers, and more understandable for current teachers.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:

 

Publications

June 11, 2019
Max Marchitello
West Virginia’s attempt to reshape its teacher retirement system in the 1990s and early 2000s is often cited as a cautionary tale to block other...
June 4, 2019
Chad Aldeman, Andrew J. Rotherham
Fed up with stagnant salaries, teachers have gone on strike all across the country over the past few years. Meanwhile, education spending is hitting...
March 18, 2019
Chad Aldeman, Marisa Vang
Do current state pension plans ensure a comfortable retirement for most teachers? “Insufficient: How State Pension Plans Leave Teachers With...
August 22, 2018
Max Marchitello
What effect does spending on educator benefits, such as pensions and healthcare, have on district and state K-12 education budgets? In a new report...
March 8, 2018
Max Marchitello, Kirsten Schmitz, Chad Aldeman
Most educators are women, and yet male educators outearn women in terms of annual salaries and retirement benefits. Given that school districts...

Resources

Blog Posts

March 8, 2017
Kirsten Schmitz
From Randi Weingarten to Betsy DeVos, to Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson, some of the biggest names in education policy on both sides of...
January 27, 2017
Chad Aldeman
This post originally appeared on our sister site, TeacherPensions.org. Should public charter schools be allowed to opt out of state-run...
September 16, 2015
Chad Aldeman
In two new briefs out today, I attempt to tackle the notion that a defined benefit “pension” is automatically a good retirement plan for...