One of the best benefits of being a veteran teacher and one of the best ways to help people commit to a full career to the teaching profession is the pension plan.
Retirement is based on the average of four highest paid years of a teacher’s career. According to the 2021-2022 salary schedule, the most a teacher with a master’s degree and NBPTS certification could make (and be eligible for full pension with the correct number of years of service) is $58,240.
And as of 2021, new teachers are not even going to get retiree health benefits.
Now go back a few years before the Great Recession.
If you went back to the 2008-2009 salary schedule, a teacher with a master’s degree and NBPTS certification could make (and be eligible for full pension with the correct number of years of service) an average of $64,750. And all veteran teachers would have received longevity pay above and beyond what the salary schedule said.
Now imagine if that same schedule was in play for teachers today and adjusted for inflation.
Oh, and now new teachers will not be able to have retiree health benefits.
By current law, the retirement system for public school employees is very good for those who spent a career in North Carolina.
For every paycheck a teacher receives, 6% is automatically put into the pension fund for the state. To that total for every teacher, the state throws in a certain amount. All of those payments over all of those years creates a robust fund which if managed well by the State Treasurer churns out payments to current retirees.
Those receiving a pension have multiple options for how they receive their retirement.
Many people in Raleigh think that this system, which has been in place for decades, is too good for teachers. Remember that in the past, teachers were able to get salary increases based on experience, graduate degree pay, due process rights, and longevity pay. Now those are taken away as well as the ability to have a high “four-year” salary average at the end of a career to base a pension payment on.
And now there is this suggestion from the business lobbying group known as BEST NC in their report on teacher pay. This is from page 47 of that report.
They don’t want the current system. It rewards teachers too much for a job they should already be paid more for doing.
For a state that is sitting on billions in surplus, that wants to lower taxes for wealthy people and corporations, refuses to fund the LEANDRO decision, or even offer free meals to public school students, it is not surprising that there is a push to abolish the robust pension system for veteran teachers.
In fact, this state doesn’t want veteran teachers.
Apparently, they cost too much.