Hello fellow world zobopians! Do you even like being called a zobopian? If you follow this blog, you’re one!
Well anyway, it’s the start of yet another school year for Public Schools…what’s left of them. Public schools are being closed and replaced by charter schools so fast it makes me wonder how long until the death of public institutions in America. Public Housing is pretty much gone and buried…I mean privatized. Remember New Orleans? O.K. I’m getting off target here. I just recently learned the community organizer Jane Addams was the head of a teachers pension fund way back in 1905. You can read about the history of her and the fund below. It’s sad after more than a hundred years America is still having a problem of giving teachers their due.
The president of the pension fund, Jane Addams – yes, the famous community organizer – turned to the Illinois General Assembly for help. A landmark law passed in 1907 required employees and employers to contribute to the fund and set up an elected pension board to oversee investments.
Pension holidays taken by Chicago Public Schools and approved by lawmakers have capsized the system and will cost taxpayers billions of dollars to correct. It’s just the kind of action Addams sought to guard against more than 100 years ago.
We must protect our teachers and the taxpayers from these shortsighted decisions.
The first step: Stop talking about CPS declaring bankruptcy. That’s a diversion from the real issues of education policy and funding. CPS bankruptcy – essentially allowing the state to insulate itself from the problem that it helped create – would be morally reprehensible. There are many parties responsible for this crisis. No one should be allowed to simply walk away.
- Make payments to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund mandatory by law. Pension funds across the country have something in common: Payments are mandated and the funds have strong tools to use if a payment is missed. Pension payments are not optional; they are promised to Chicago’s schoolteachers as part of their contract. We have to stop pitting today’s teachers against yesterday’s teachers. Lawmakers, city and school leaders must recognize that teacher compensation and retirement funding are one in the same.
- Commit to an actuarial-based funding plan that covers annual contributions and unfunded liability. Fully funded pension plans let experts (actuaries) determine the annual contribution needed to keep the plans stable. The Chicago teachers’ fund is in a hole. We must stop digging. The problem was created by pension holidays. It can’t be solved by more pension holidays.
- Make monthly payments to the pension fund, not a once-a-year payment. Pension plans work when today’s benefits are paid by yesterday’s contributions and investment earnings, and today’s contributions are invested to pay for tomorrow’s benefits. Prudent investment practices demand that payments to the fund provide a constant stream of revenue that can be invested throughout the year. Monthly payments would save Chicago taxpayers tens of millions annually.