Visit classroom before forming opinion on pension

Published 4:39 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

Dear Editor,

With all the publicity about teachers and the pension cost, the average taxpayer may have a slanted view of their pay and benefits. I would like to clarify some of the misconceptions.

First, teachers are not the same as those when most adults went to school. There are so many more requirements and restrictions placed on them today, and so many of society’s problems laid at their feet, that they can barely teach. 

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They do not get paid a yearly salary for teaching nine months; they get paid for the days of service and have it divided into equal payments so that they can survive during summer months. They may be required to be at school 6.5 or 7 hours per day, but most stay longer, or take work home with them, including weekends, to grade papers and make lesson plans.  This does not include time like bus duty, bathroom duty, parent-teacher conferences, parking lot duty, etc. Planning time cannot be relied upon, because there is always some last-minute called meeting or training. 

Teachers use what free time they might have evenings and summers taking classes to meet requirements to continue to teach.

The teaching profession requires a bachelor’s degree, as well as a successful score on the state required test to teach, then a master’s degree within a certain amount of time. After all that, a teacher’s starting salary is much lower than that of a professional in the private sector with equivalent education, and his/her pay increases are based upon what the school board can afford after constant budget cuts, not on how successful he/she is in their profession.

Even so, teachers remain in the classroom doing their job, partly because they are promised a secure pension when they retire. Contrary to popular misinformation, the average age of retirement is 59 with more than 30 years of service. Less than 5% of teachers retire before age 50; in fact, 32% of current teachers are eligible to retire today.

Before anyone criticizes teachers, I challenge them to spend one week in the classroom. This includes our governor who is from out of state and whose children go to private schools. Their opinions might change.

Peggy Orberson,

Lincoln Co. Retired Teachers