Monday, May 17, 2010

To Retire or Not to Retire, That is the Question

What will the early retirement deal mean? Will the floodgates open? Will huge numbers of teachers retire?
I'm skeptical.
For one thing, many school districts (if not many around here) have already offered early retirement incentives.
For another thing, time is passing quickly. On May 14th, the state's Office of Retirement Services posted this on its web site:
New retirement legislation (SB 1227) has passed and is expected to be signed by the governor early next week. Public school employees who are eligible to retire or may be eligible to retire will be mailed a personalized letter when the governor signs. (Emphasis added.)
In other words--the bill has not been signed yet, the letters have not been sent out yet, and  a teacher I spoke to today told me that he was having trouble getting on the system to even update his address and contact information.
If the state wants people to retire, they had better have their systems ready to receive them! It sounds like the systems are not ready. 
This, by the way, was a teacher who was already planning on retiring this year. When he heard there might be a retirement incentive, he held off on filing--and I'm sure he wasn't alone.
 On the other hand, I know a lot of teachers who are eligible. But if they were planning on teaching another 3-5 years, they are probably still going to be better off financially by sticking with teaching. 
 Generally, the shorter the time period for filing, the less likely it is that people will take advantage of it. The smaller the incentive, the less likely it is that people will take advantage of it.

In sum: I like early retirement incentives. Someday, I would like to be offered one! But I don't think it's going to deliver the savings that the state is counting on; it has a big downside in terms of the "sticks" (as in, carrots and sticks) that ongoing and new teachers will be stuck with; and I don't expect to see a lot of new teachers hired because there are so many layoffs proposed. [There may be some administrative openings--a lot of administrators, I believe, are eligible.]

In addition, now that teachers who stick around (perhaps because they aren't eligible) are going to be required to put an additional 3% of their income into the retirement health benefits system, how do you think those union negotiations--where Ann Arbor, for instance, wants a 4% wage/benefits rollback--are going to go? That would mean that teachers, essentially, would be losing 7% of their compensation next year. I don't think that will go over too well...

Finally--at best this offers short-term relief. With or without a retirement incentive, the state needs to properly fund the School Aid Fund. Say it now, say it out loud.


  1. May 24th rally at Skyline to tell state to fix the funding for schools--countywide rally, part of plan to have multiple rallies across state with culminating rally in Lansing.

  2. Mr. H, can you post more details please? For instance, who is organizing the rallies? What are the other locations? Who is speaking?

  3. Following is the email sent out yesterday to YPS staff. It is being distributed to other groups, which is how I got it, so it seems like it should be okay to post it here.

    - YpsiAnon

    Dear Ypsilanti School Staff,

    The Washtenaw County School Employees are holding a rally on Monday, May 24th, from 5 until 7, at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor.

    The purpose of this rally is to say "Enough is Enough" to our legislators in Lansing about the lack of school funding in our state. We can no longer sit back and allow them to under fund public school education and put the lives of our students in jeopardy.

    There will be legislators present that will speak to us. Entertainment by our own Jazz Band and an Ann Arbor choir. Food will be available.

    State wide there will be rallies on this date to start the beginning of "Enough is Enough." Mark your calendar for June 24th where we will march to the capital to send the message that we will no longer allow them to under fund public school education.

    We need all Board Members, PTO Members, administrators, support staff and teachers to make this rally a priority to show that the residents and workers of Washtenaw County have had enough!!!

    Feel free to bring friends and children!


    If you have any questions feel free to call me at xxx-xxxx.

    Kelly Powers

    YEA President
    WCEA President
    A Student Advocate
    A Concerned Tax Payer!!!

  4. That's pretty similar to what I received--

    Here's what came to me:

    to demand reliable and sustainable educational funding
    without further legislative gymnastics or punitive coping measures
    will be held at Skyline’s football stadium
    on Monday, May 24th, from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

    All ten Washtenaw County districts are asking that all school employees,
    parents, students, administrators, and Board trustees attend.

    The issue is not unionism; it’s joining hands to fix the state’s school funding mechanisms once and for all…period! In that a very large number are expected to attend, please car pool with your colleagues and encourage others to do so as well… Skyline’s parking lots may not be able to handle the entire crowd and we don’t want anybody turned away at the entrance. It is essential that AAEA members show up for this critical rally! If you’ve had enough over the years, so now have many others. Our community-wide voice will let Lansing know that Enough Is Enough! Please pass the word (especially about the need to share rides!) to your family, neighbors and friends. There will be free food!!!!

  5. I also need some info about the management of these rallies. Can you provide it to us?

  6. I just heard Jack Lessenberry on NPR, speaking about the teacher retirement deal. I had not, till then, caught the part where retired teachers will be prohibited from returning to teaching as contract employees. That is BIG news.

    Here are links to his two recent essays about the situation:

    Wouldn't it be great if the goal really was, "What's best for the education of our children?"?

    - YpsiAnon

  7. That's a good point. The prohibition against returning to the schools as a contractor would have definitely affected Ypsilanti this year if it had been in place (the h.s. principal has been a contract employee, as was the most recent superintendent). It will also likely have a major effect on rural districts, who have few teachers certified to teach certain kinds of advanced classes (physics, for example). But as you point out, the program wasn't designed with teaching outcomes in mind, it was designed to save money (and I'm not actually sure that the contractor piece will save money for schools).