How do you pay teachers more money and make the profession more attractive without raising taxes or reducing services? Josh McGee and Marcus A. Winters of The Manhattan Institute think they’ve figured it out.
In a recently released study, McGee and Winters outline two cost-neutral policy changes they believe would raise salaries for teachers in most school districts. The proposal centres on altering school districts’ approach to retirement benefits.
Currently teachers’ retirement benefits are backloaded. Teachers who don’t stay in the profession, not to mention the same school district for 30 years, end up accruing very little benefits.
Here are McGee & Winters’ proposed changes:
First, … districts should adopt retirement systems where benefits accrue smoothly, year after year, without sudden, arbitrary jumps late in a teacher’s working life. This would allow talented people to teach for part of their career, or teach in more than one district, without harming their retirement security. It would also end an unfair practice that places the majority of teachers on an insecure retirement savings path in order to support more generous pensions for the minority who work a full career in one system.
Second, districts should increase the amount of teacher compensation that is paid directly as salary, and reduce the amount of compensation that is devoted to retirement benefits in order to match the norm for similarly situated workers in the private sector. This reform would substantially increase teacher take-home pay in some school systems, while having only a marginal effect in others.
“These [retirement] plans are explicitly designed to pay higher retirement benefits to long-career employees by reallocating wealth from teachers who exit the system earlier in their careers,” Mcgee and Winters explain in the study.
Only about 28% of teachers remain in the profession for 20 years, according to the Institute for Educational Sciences.
Here’s what retirement benefits look like currently over the course of a teacher’s career:
The Manhattan Institute
This is what compensation would like for teachers if New York adopted the proposals (per cent difference from what they currently get). Teachers would be making as much as 8% more right off the bat, with only a slight dip towards the end of the career:
The Manhattan Institute
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