Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Heritage Calls For More Transparency in Education Spending

Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive these days, but this post this morning from The Foundry set my teeth on edge.  The post highlights a new paper by Heritage expert Jason Richwine that uncovers the deep, dark secret that states are paying teachers too much in pensions:
That’s right—the real cost of education is far higher than we’ve been told, but it’s not because of extra classroom resources or newer facilities. It’s because of teachers’ pensions.
The beef seems to be, really, that states are "hiding" the true amount of that pension figure.  I understand Heritage wants accuracy in reporting the figures.  They aren't suggesting teachers shouldn't get pensions, but the tone of the piece was unsettling.

I'm all for transparency but I'm sure sick of people beating up on teachers.

When I retire after thirty years in the classroom my retirement take home pay will be well under $3,000 per month.

I realize each state is different in how pension plans are structured, but in my state I contribute to my pension monthly.  I don't pay into Social Security but I pay the same percentage into my pension plan.

What bothers me most, I think, about this Heritage post is the vicious comments about greedy, lazy teachers in the comments.  I know...NEVER read the comments.  I can't help myself.  It's like watching a train wreck.

One comment by someone named Thomas says:
"I'm so tired of you teachers comparing yourselves to people who in their jobs risk their lives.  You risk spilled coffee.  Look at the numbers, as a teacher this should be an easy task for you.  Standard test scores are in a free fall.  Children who are graduating today some of them can't even read.  You teachers have abandoned the kids for your Unions and the income you can get along with golden benefits..."

He goes on, but you get the idea.  Obviously Thomas has never taught school.

The unions are a problem, more so in some states than in others.  But not all teachers are part of the NEA.  Not all teachers are union.  I dropped my NEA membership when I found out that part of my dues were going to support Barack Obama's re-election whether I liked it or not.

The general idea that teachers follow like lemmings into some group-think liberal indoctrination of our children is just ridiculous.

I think if we are so concerned about what states are spending education dollars on, we need to really look at where that money goes.  Too often, nationwide,  it goes to systems top heavy in administrators and bloated central office staff, or to staffing positions that have nothing to do with educating children and are redundant to jobs already in place.

How many billions of dollars are going to implementing this new Common Core curriculum which is already replete with problems?  New training, new textbooks, new testing...there's a whole industry out there related to Common Core now.

If the federal government would get out of the education business we would all be better off.

And quit beating up on teachers, for crying out loud, and don't begrudge teachers their pension.  Trust me, it's not all that much.


Jayhawk said...

Public service workers pay about the same as Social Security into their pension plans, but they get well over twice as much in return. You say you will get "less than $3000 per month," by which I assume you will get $2400 or more per month. The average Social Security check is less than $1200 per month. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

I paid into Social Security for 46 years, and in point of fact I would trade my SS chack for your pension check in a heartbeat. It would almost double my income.

Pat Austin said...

The difference is that Social Security was never meant to serve as a retirement plan. It was never intended to provide the worker a comfortable retirement, but serve instead as a supplement or safety net. Many people on Social Security invested in some sort of other savings plan for those golden years.

In the same way, I'm not planning to live just on my school pension. I'm saving money and if I'm able plan to work after retirement at some part time job to keep active and supplement my income and savings.

George Sewell said...

Money quote: If the federal government would get out of the education business we would all be better off.

George Sewell said...

Money quote: If the federal government would get out of the education business we would all be better off.

That's the issue, not "pensions."

Jayhawk said...

I think it's irrelevant what a retirement fund was "meant to do." The comparison is between the amount paid in, the length of time for which it was paid in, and the return received.

Pay 6% of income for 30 years and receive $2400, or pay 6% of income for 46 years and receive $1200, and the recipient doesn't really care about intentions. One is clearly a better deal than the other, and you were given a choice, while I was not.

And, for the record, I also have additional retirement savings. The issue is that one investment was rewarded far better than the other.