Teachers naturally want to have a voice in how their schools are run. Through local collective bargaining agreements, teachers have a say in district salary schedules, the number and type of sick and personal leave, the length and timing of the school day and year, the number of students per classroom, the amount and type of support services offered to students, and the professional development provided for teachers. Teacher contracts can even include things like copy room protocols or the acceptable temperature of school buildings.
Teacher contracts include basically everything, that is, except pensions. School districts and teachers’ unions don’t negotiate on what the retirement benefit should look like or what level of benefit it should offer to various groups of teachers. Nor do they negotiate over how much the district should spend on retirement contributions. Some districts do negotiate over who pays the contribution–the district or individual teachers–but under statewide pension systems, decisions about benefit structures and contribution levels are all made by state legislators, state comptrollers or treasurers, or even unelected pension boards. Teachers have no more say over their pensions than the typical voter does.
The result of this odd dynamic is that districts are forced into spending large and growing shares of their budgets to pay for a benefit that teachers themselves don’t fully value. Perhaps unbeknownst to individual teachers, this is happening across the country. While some teachers or districts may prefer lower expenditures on retirement benefits in exchange for higher base salaries, neither teachers nor local school districts are given that choice. School districts, including most charter schools, have no choice but to pay the rates set by the state legislature, even if they’d prefer to spend precious resources on higher teacher salaries, hiring more teachers, or making other critical investments in school services.
In other words, teachers might prefer a different arrangement than current state pension plans. But they don’t really have a voice in those decisions.
- Chad Aldeman
This first appeared on TeacherPensions.org
Charter schools vary more in their impact on student performance on state tests than traditional public schools; there are more charters with very large positive or very large negative test-score impacts than there are traditional public schools with such extreme outcomes.
Common Core has the potential to shift and drastically improve math instruction in American schools,
Plus what it would really mean to let the market work itself out
If teachers are the most-important in-school factor for student growth, we certainly don’t act like it.
If you want to create real change, you have to change the system of incentives — not just create new institutions that will be governed by the same perverse incentives.
What the city needs is a portfolio manager for its schools.
My admittedly late thoughts on last night’s results.
With a few exceptions, most of the races decided yesterday didn’t hinge on education reform. But the outcome will have big implications for education policy nonetheless.
Behind the Headline: Teachers Unions Spent $60 Million for the Midterms but Still Lost Many Elections
Teachers union-backed candidates lost in many states in Tuesday’s election, including many states where Democrats embraced policies that the unions opposed
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- Achieve, Inc.
- Alliance for Excellent Education
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- American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence
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- Aspen Institute
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Broad Foundation
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- Building Excellent Schools
- Center for American Progress
- Center for Education Reform
- Center for Educational Achievement
- Center on Reinventing Public Education
- Citizens Commission On Civil Rights
- Common Core
- Consortium for Policy Research in Education
- Core Knowledge Foundation
- Data Quality Campaign
- Democrats for Education Reform
- Education Sector
- Education Trust
- Foundation for Excellence in Education
- Friedman Foundation
- Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media
- National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
- National Association of Charter School Authorizers
- National Charter School Research Project
- National Council on Teacher Quality
- National Education Writers Association
- National Governors Association
- National Institute for Excellence in Teaching
- New Leaders for New Schools
- New Schools Venture Fund
- Program on Education Policy and Governance
- Progressive Policy Institute
- Public Impact
- Teach for America
- The New Teacher Project
- Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- United States Department of Education
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