Blog: Pension Politics

Recent increases in employer pension contributions have led to a reduction in teacher salary expenditures.
Colorado teachers will see a cut in their take-home pay next year. Again.
New generations are being asked to pay for the promises of the past.
The question is, was it worth it?
In Maryland, teacher pension spending increases inequities between high and low poverty school districts. The problem is only getting worse as the state's pension debt costs continues to grow. In 2018, Maryland spent approximately twice as much per pupil on teacher pension debt than it received in federal Title I funding. The state’s pension spending blunts the effect of federal education spending designed to provide greater support to high-poverty school districts. If Maryland were to improve the financial health of its teacher pension system, students attending high-poverty districts would receive greater per pupil funding overall even if the state didn’t increase the equity of its own school funding system.
A clever rhetorical trick distracts us from questions about whether current teacher pension plans are any good for their members.
In a new report we modeled the wealth accumulation for teachers in West Virginia's pension fund, before and after its reform, as well as the intervening DC plan. We found that all of the plans were poorly constructed from the outset and fail to provide a significant retirement benefit to a majority of West Virginia’s educators
As teachers in Los Angeles prepare to strike, the district is spending a rapidly rise share of its budget on employee benefits, rather than hiring more teachers or paying existing teachers teacher salaries.
Teacher pension plans are regressive, and Democrats are often the ones fighting to preserve systems that deepen financial inequities.
Wisconsin's controversial Act 10 legislation has had little long-term effect on the Wisconsin teacher workforce. One lesson: We should be careful to separate out any given policy's effects on teachers unions from its effects on teachers.