Blog: Pensions and Human Capital

This post digs into worker retention data from Arkansas and notes that there are reasons to doubt how much pension plans affect worker retention rates.
Without looking at all forms of compensation or adjusting for cost of living, average teacher salary rankings don’t tell us all that much.
A new report finds that district spending on benefits has grown at a rate that far outpaces the district's overall spending on K-12. As a result, benefits take an increasingly large bite out of district education budgets.
To what extent do different rates of educational attainment among men and women contribute to the gender-based salary gap? Based on our analysis, the higher rate of educational attainment for women is insufficient to overcome other barriers to higher salaries.
One of the most common teacher salary questions is whether or not teachers get paid over the summer months. So, do they? It depends. Teacher payroll schedules vary district-to-district: some allow workers to spread their 10-month salary over 12 months, while others don’t give any paycheck during the summer months, requiring teachers to budget, or in some cases, get a second job.
In defined benefit plans, such as teacher pensions, wealth grows in uneven and sometimes confusing ways. Here's how to know when to retire to maximize your retirement wealth.
Even with district wide salary schedules, women earn less than their male colleagues. Although there is no single explanation, in this piece I look at the impact of differences across grade levels.
A new study provides evidence that teachers are not particularly sensitive to changes in retirement benefits. If anything, updating teachers’ retirement options could even free up resources to raise base salaries, which may ultimately affect the teacher workforce more than retirement benefits ever can.
A recent Chicago Tonight article highlighted the top pension earners in the Illinois Teachers Retirement System. Only 18 of the top 100 are women, and the majority are white, male administrators.

As a part of its ongoing teacher diversity series, the Brown Center on Education Policy recently published a piece looking at different incentive structures districts use to attract people to the education profession. They found that some incentives are related with an increase in educator diversity. These findings are instructive and districts may want to consider them as a part of their teacher diversity efforts. That said, our research suggests that even once a person of color enters the education profession, she likely will still face significant barriers to advancement and higher salaries.

The Brown Center’s study relied on 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), which provides information on the context of public and private schools across the country. Among the race-neutral financial incentive policies they studied, they found that offering relocation assistance, loan forgiveness, and bonuses for excellence in teaching are associated with increased staff diversity. As such, they recommend districts interested in increasing racial diversity explore these racially-neutral financial incentive structures.

These findings are important in their own right. Nevertheless, diversifying the education workforce does not stop after recruitment. More must be done to address the fact that educators of color must contend with additional barriers once they enter the profession.

In our recent report we explored race-and gender-based salary gaps in Illinois. We found that women earn salaries that are on average $5,500 less than what men earn. As shown in the graph below, we also found significant gender-based pay gaps within races and ethnicities. Hispanic women, for example, earn on average $4,500 less in salaries than Hispanic men.