Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New public employees should work to 65

Article - Opinion - California Focus: New public employees should work to 65

Here is an article written by Keith Richman that is advocating all new public employees work till 65. This might be a good idea for most public employees, but I do not believe it is a good idea for public school teachers.

For one thing, I am doubtful that there will be much cost savings in getting educators to work an extra 2 - 10 years till age 65. Assume that a 60 year old educator who wants to retire today has a total compensation package of $90,000, and a new teacher has a total compensation package of say $45,000. The present value of the difference in compensation is about $200,000.......I say let that educator retire.

I work with a lot of educators and on average, by the time they reach 55 they are getting tired. They haven't lost their passion for kids, its just that 30 years of being in the classroom can really wear someone down. Don't get me wrong, just because a teacher has reached the age of 55 doesn't mean they are no longer effective, in fact many of them have more energy than I feel I do at times. It's just that there are some educators who reach these stages and feel that continuing to teach will begin to wear on them physically and mentally, they need a break. They need to retire.

Allowing an educator who has spent his or her life serving the children to retire on a timeline that is reasonable (the current system is reasonable) not only encourages more and better teachers to enter the profession, but it encourages those teachers who feel like they just can't do it anymore to retire with grace. Imagine if we forced a teacher who simply didn't want to teach to continue to teach, just so they wouldn't be impoverished in retirement.....is this best for our educators and our students?

Perhaps I see where Mr. Richman is going with this. A teacher who is forced to teach till age 65 might be more worn down and statistically may not live as long.......thus reducing the pension liability.

I'm all for fiscal responsibility, in fact my stomach churns when I see the deficits being piled up everywhere I look, but when it comes to our teachers in California, we need to take a hard look at so-called "simple solutions", they may not turn out to be so simple.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP, AIF

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The American Spectator

The American Spectator

Provocative article about the now closed Social Security loophole that allowed educators to get spousal benefits by working only one day in a job covered by social security. The cost to the government is in the billions.

This article is referring to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) which affects social security benefits of spouses who work in the public arena and are covered by a public pension, but don't pay into social security. What the article leaves out is how unfair the GPO is to educators. Let me give you an example:

Suppose Sally went to work in the private sector and paid into social security, Sally's husband stayed at home with the kids and raised them, not ever working in a paying job or in a job paying into social security (notice how I didn't say "not working!"). John, who stayed at home, is not eligible for social security benefits on his own, instead the he is eligible based upon Sally's contributions. Sally's contributions INCLUDE a spousal benefit. John will recieve 50% of the amount that Sally receives and upon Sally's death, John's benefits from social security will be the same as what Sally was recieving.

The key in this story is that John is eligible based on his spouse, Sally, even though he never worked. Sally's contributions earned her a spousal benefit for her husband. Now, let's suppose that instead of staying home all those years with the kids, John went to work after the kids were old enough to goto school. John in fact went to work as a teacher. He paid into his state teachers pension fund, but in his state he was not required to pay into social security. When John retires he will NOT be eligible for a social security spousal benefit based on Sally's contributions (technically he might be eligible for something, there is a formula, but that is beyond our discussion).

The only difference between the two situations is that John worked in a public pension system and didn't contribute to Social Security. In both situations John didn't contribute to social security, but in one he recieved a benefit, in the other he didn't. This makes no sense. Either Sally earned a spousal benefit or she didn't - which is it?

The teachers in The American Spectator are made out to be criminals - they are not, they are simply trying to collect on something that should rightfully be theirs. They went through a perfectly legal process to gain these benefits and they shouldn't be punished or have these benefits taken away - they are not criminals like Dennis Koslowski.......to whom they were compared.

My only concern is that its a bit unfair that those 20,000 teachers got to do it, and the hundreds of thousands of others didn't. I agree that it is a major drain on social security, but that is a funding problem. Social Security if fundamentally flawed in its operation and needs to be reformed, but the same can be said for the Governement Pension Offset.

To all you Texas Criminal Teachers (TCT's) out there.......You have at least one supporter! I do ask one thing of you, perhaps think about spending a little bit of that extra money you receive on helping the rest of the teachers get reform for the GPO.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Teachers Sue Metlife


A story about teachers who were allegedly lied to, misled, and are now fighting back. There are more and more stories coming out about teachers who have had enough with being misled by the entities they trust.

Is the NEA next? It seems to me that the NEA is much worse.

I'll follow this lawsuit and keep you up to speed. If I remember correctly there is another union in California that endorses Metlife......


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.

One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental...
You want to know what I make?" (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder.
I make them question.

I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, because we live in the United States of America. Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant... You want to know what I make?

I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?"

"Teachers make every other profession "
Karen E. Clarke