Blog: State Pension Plans

Most public school teachers are enrolled in a pension plan, but that doesn't mean they'll ever actually receive a pension, or that it will be a good one.
There’s a common misconception that teachers’ retirement plans are gold-plated, extremely generous options. And for a very small pool, they do provide a secure retirement. But that’s not the case for the majority of teachers. To illustrate this, we dug into a sampling of states to see how they measure up, and ran the numbers to see if an alternative plan design might serve more of their workforce.
Teacher pension funds are complicated and can be difficult to understand. In fact, Arizona's teacher pension plan is particularly complicated. This post explains how the system works and explains how it affects teachers' retirement.
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.
Teacher pensions are complicated. Here is how teacher pensions are calculated.
While traditional, back-loaded pension plans fall short of providing adequate retirement benefits to all members, there are better options. And, contrary to a public debate that often pits pensions against 401ks, there are other alternatives that would better balance the needs of employers and employees.
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.
Teacher pensions are more complicated than they appear, and that has implications for teachers.
Given the benefits to both the employee and the employer, states should expand existing portable retirement options offered to other state employees to teachers as well.