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Chad Aldeman

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Chad Aldeman
Senior Associate Partner
Policy and Evaluation

Background: Chad Aldeman is a senior associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, where he has worked on the Policy and Evaluation team since 2012, advising clients and writing on teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, and college and career readiness. He also serves as editor for Previously, Chad was a policy adviser in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education, where he worked on Elementary and Secondary Education Act waivers, teacher preparation, and the Teacher Incentive Fund. Prior to joining the department, Chad was a policy analyst with Education Sector. He has published reports on state higher education accountability systems, the potential of improving high school accountability by incorporating outcomes data, the school choice process in New York City and Boston, teacher pensions, teacher and principal evaluations, teacher salary schedules, and teacher preparation. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, InsideHigherEd, Newsday, and the Des Moines Register. Chad holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s of public policy degree from the College of William and Mary.

Experience at Bellwether: policy research and analysis, long- and short-form writing, strategic advising

Client segments served: state education agencies; product, support, and service organizations; policy organizations; think tanks

Sample clients: Rhode Island Department of Education, ACT, Stand for Children, the Joyce Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Why I do this work: I’ve been passionate about education since reading Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities. I believe that luck—where you’re born or which family you’re born into—has a strong affect on educational opportunities, and I want to make sure schools do everything they can to address those inequities.

Recent Media

Chad Aldeman

Most Americans depend on their Social Security benefits to lead a comfortable and secure retirement. And yet not all workers can count on Social Security.

Due to a historical quirk, many state and local government employees lack the retirement and social safety net offered by Social Security. Public school teachers constitute one of the largest groups of uncovered workers. Nationwide, approximately 1.2 million active teachers (about 40 percent of all public K-12 teachers) are not covered. Those teachers are concentrated in 15 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas) and the District of Columbia, where many or all public school teachers neither pay into nor receive benefits from Social Security.

In theory, Congress has created rules to protect those workers from inadequate retirement savings. However, in a new report, author Chad Aldeman shows that the theory is far from reality. The rules governing retirement plans, like the ones enrolling 90 percent of teachers, leave teachers who stay in the classroom less than 15 or 20 years with inadequate benefits. While the current rule is easy for state policymakers to follow, it ignores many other variables, such as contribution rates and interest, that materially affect the retirement benefits workers eventually receive. Worse, the current provisions offer better protections for the highest-paid, longest-serving workers at the expense of the most vulnerable workers.

This situation is not trivial. In addition to millions of active workers who aren’t covered by Social Security, there are currently about 20 million retirees who performed some government service as non-covered employees. Many of those workers are now facing a lower standard of living in retirement due to the flaws in these seemingly arcane rules.

In "Social Security, Teacher Pensions, and the ‘Qualified’ Retirement Plan Test," Aldeman outlines the history of Social Security benefits in the public sector, describes the current rule and how it is intended to work, and then shows its limitations. As a concrete example, he analyzes the retirement plans covering approximately 1.2 million active public school teachers in the 15 states and the District of Columbia that do not offer universal Social Security coverage for teachers. The report concludes with suggestions about how to protect these workers going forward.

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