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Teacher Pensions

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

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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

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...
October 12, 2017
Chad Aldeman and Paulina S. Diaz Aguirre
Years of irresponsible budgeting practices have left the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) almost $12 billion in debt. Without...
August 23, 2017
Max Marchitello
What effect does teacher pension spending have on school funding equity? In Bellwether's new report, “Illinois’ Teacher Pension Plans Deepen School...

Op-Eds

April 26, 2020
With markets plummeting from COVID-19, the pension problem policymakers have been trying to hide from is about to cause a world of hurt to state and...
April 11, 2020
If the economic downturn due to COVID-19 is anything like the last one in 2008, that means bad news for Nebraska’s teacher pension plan. Bellwether’s...
March 9, 2020
Traditional teacher pension plans really only work well for about one-fifth of teachers. Jay Mathews, columnist at The Washington Post, highlights...

Resources

Blog Posts

April 13, 2020
Chad Aldeman
If COVID-19 causes an economic downturn anything like the last one, that means bad news for Nebraska’s teacher pension plan. In a new piece...
February 26, 2020
Chad Aldeman
Teachers are relatively risk-averse compared to other professionals, but the pension plans covering 90 percent of teachers are taking...
December 13, 2019
Tanya Paperny
Saturday at 9 a.m. EST, eight presidential candidates are expected to participate in “Public Education Forum 2020,” a debate sponsored by...