Teachers’ Unions Support Local Collective Bargaining…Except When it Comes to Their Pensions

By 11/18/2014 0 Comments

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

Mixed Results for Arizona’s Charter Schools

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.

A Response to Carol Burris and Rick Hess on Common Core Math in the Elementary Grades

Common Core has the potential to shift and drastically improve math instruction in American schools,

How a Portfolio District Differs from a School District: A Response to Jay Greene

Plus what it would really mean to let the market work itself out

The Teacher Equity Problem Is Real. The Proposed Solutions Are Not.

By 11/14/2014 0 Comments

If teachers are the most-important in-school factor for student growth, we certainly don’t act like it.

How is a Portfolio District Different from a School District?

By 11/14/2014 0 Comments

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’s Next for Detroit’s Troubled Schools?

By 11/13/2014 0 Comments

What the city needs is a portfolio manager for its schools.

Ten Things To Know About The 2014 Elections

By 11/05/2014 0 Comments

My admittedly late thoughts on last night’s results.

Last Night’s Implications for Education Reform

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

By 11/05/2014 0 Comments

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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