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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

February 8, 2016
Leslie Kan, Daniel Fuchs, and Chad Aldeman
One out of every four dollars that Illinois taxpayers send to Springfield goes toward pensions. The teacher pension system alone makes up over half...
July 7, 2015
Leslie Kan, Chad Aldeman
In terms of retirement benefits, now is the worst time in at least three decades to become a teacher. After years of expansion, a number of states...
December 18, 2014
Leslie Kan, Chad Aldeman
Retirement savings are often described as a three-legged stool: Social Security, employer retirement plans, and personal savings. For many American...
June 10, 2014
Dan Goldhaber and Cyrus Grout
States and localities across the nation are struggling to adequately fund their public retirement systems. Pervasive underfunding of public pension...
May 16, 2014
Andrew J. Rotherham, Chad Aldeman
Americans are struggling to save for retirement at a time of still-high unemployment rates, rising college costs and stagnant wages. For many workers...

Op-Eds

June 25, 2017
The bill would benefit all existing retirees, all current teachers, and the vast majority of future teachers. And yet unions are opposing it. This is...
January 23, 2017
Do dues-paying teachers realize that their pension funds may be invested with private equity firms that destroy unions as they buy and sell companies...
September 12, 2016
Both teachers and NFL players are among the very few careers that offer a pension for retirement. The problem is that the pension system really isn’t...

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...