Friday, September 25, 2009

Teachers Pensions

Ed Geppert, Jr. President of the IFT in Westmont in a LTR in the JS today is quoted as saying "The average pension in the Teachers Retirement System is approximately $3400 per month or $40,800 a year. TRS members do not receive Social Security. This modest amount in their retirement is hardly a 'golden' pension. In fact, they pay the majority of the cost, 9.4%, not the taxpayer".

Well, Mr. Geppert, Jr., let's take another view. A teacher friend of mine took retirement at 57 and draws around $5,000 a month or $60,000 a year. Not bad for doing nothing if he wanted. Instead, he took a part-time teaching position that paid him more than half of what he was earning at retirement. So averages are just that; averages. In a subdivision, there is a house selling for $190,000 and a house selling for a million plus so the average is $600,000 plus. Right? No.

I believe the 15 million unemployed people in the U.S., half with no pensions and no job would be happy with $40,000 year pensions. 50% of those still employed, have no pension beyond a 401K. I believe most of them will work till 65 and receive far less than $40,000 a year.

Union bosses work to get all the benefits they can for their employees. That's their job. Weaker boards in the public sector, which, is growing in employment numbers on the federal level, grant increasing benefits. Only private sector bankrupt or near bankrupt companies benefiting from "bailout" largess, and "controlled" by the unions are holding on to substantial benefits. Some have had their benefits reduced and are complaining. Such is life.

I have never understood why people complain how little they make and how little they will receive in benefits. I was not happy with what I was making teaching so I left and started a new career. No problem, I was sought and had three job offers waiting.

After retirement, I visited school classrooms in #150 for about 14 years. 7 out of 10teachers were what I would have deemed competent to teach. Some were outstanding. Part of the other 30% fell in the range of they should not be teaching any classroom. Some were mostly interested in making friends than building a desire in their kids to learn. Why should kids to learn respect authority in school? Many of them do not learn to respect at home. How do you discipline someone who should be respecting you if you are trying only to win their friendship? These teachers should work in social services. A very large number dressed like it was their day off. Teachers who dress down as bad or worse than some of the kids, drag their classroom down. Teachers can't be fired after two years unless the system if prepared for a long and costly court battle as it is the union who represents the teacher, not the kid, parent, school or community. Unions say they do represent the kid. If so why can't a bad teacher be fired? The union stands up for all teachers, good or bad.

I wrote a blog on 1/30/06 on Unions and Community Cooperation in which I quoted an amazing true statistic, only 2-5 teachers out of 90,000 were terminated in the entire state of Illinois in one year. In District #150 in Peoria, 2005 was considered by many to be the year that really put #150 over the financial edge when the "board granted a $43.8 million dollar increase in teachers salaries alone, excluding benefits, which are substantial". JS, 6/19/05. The JS continued that 6 union members, Terry Knapp, Mary Connet, James Lewis, Ken Meischner, Lillie Foreman and Larry Burdette were paid more than $482,000 this past year not to teach in the classroom. The JS also reported that "staff compensation as a percentage of of education funds as jumped from 78 to 91 percent. It would have been higher if not for 257 retirements with a total bonus of $4.4 million".

On 9/24/09, the JS listed salaries not including health and life insurance paid by the district. The article indicated that all administration, including some support staff and professional instruction and development made up $14.2 million in benefits and salaries. I question that figure as being too low.

I assume the salaries and benefits include ex-teachers now serving as consultant, anywhere form $330- 476 per day. One is paid by grant money, almost always taxpayer dollars. On 9/20/09, the JSEB reported that while attendance has declined dramatically, "In fact, staffing has not been reduced over the years commensurate with declines in enrollment".

A coach who only coaches one minor sport and is not a classroom teacher is said to be eligible for pension benefits.

Message is: Don't complain, get a job where you are happy. All teachers have college degrees.



Sharon Crews said...

I retired from District 150 after 43 years of teaching (7 at Roosevelt Jr. High and 36 at Manual)and draw $4,054 per month retirement. I retired at age 66 Also, tenure is after 4 years, not 2, in District 150. The salaries of the union people (Terry, etc.) probably include the money made to them by the union (paid by union dues.)

Merle Widmer said...


Thanks for the info. After working for a major corporation, a division of Sperry-Univac, a big name back the 50 and 60's, 28 years of owning my own business, I retired, (sold my business) with NO pension. I have drawn $0 in pensions the same as 50% of all small non-tax supported businesses in the U.S.

You didn't mention health benefits? Does the tax-payer support part of your health insurance in retirement? If so, what part?

As to Terry, etc., I took that quote out of the JS. Don't recall a rebuttal from Terry. Don't Illinois retired teachers get Social Security payments? My wife taught in a few years in Wisconsin. She does.

Anyway, $50,000 a year is not bad. Enjoy.