Pension woes not teachers’ fault
The letter, “ Teachers to blame for state pension woes ” (June 23) contained several inaccuracies. Unless a person begins teaching at age 20, it is impossible by age 55 to obtain the 35 years required for full retirement. In most districts, older teachers do not make $100,000. A 2008 Kiski Area retiree, I would be earning nowhere near that figure were I still teaching today. In addition, a teacher with just 30 years of service must be at least age 60 to receive a full pension. That pension would be based on 75 percent – not 80 percent – of the average of the top three years, provided the teacher had elected the 7.5 percent deduction from each paycheck for the 2.5 percent multiplier, rather than 6.25 percent for the 2 percent multiplier. Expecting older teachers to retire so that recent graduates can be hired smacks of age discrimination. It also demeans the value of older teachers who can share with younger colleagues and students the insights and wisdom gained through life experiences, not just the pages of a textbook. The current shortfall in pension funding is not the fault of older teachers refusing to retire. Instead, it comes from the almost 10-year period when our state legislature allowed school districts a “pension holiday” because the system was in such good shape, having been funded at over 100 percent from 1997-2002. Despite this, teachers paid their pension obligations in full. Had districts done the same, the Great Recession wouldn’t have taken nearly as great a toll on the Public School Employees Retirement System.