A former teacher on the impact of pensions on school quality

What does a state policy director have to say about teacher retirement befits that’s worth hearing? When the speaker is Sandi Jacobs, a veteran teacher from the largest school district in the US, it’s time to listen up.

Currently, Sandi serves as vice president and managing director, state policy, at the National Council on Teacher Quality. In this brief video, she addresses the question:

What do pensions have to do with quality schools?

She also comments on whether there’s an agenda to do away with pensions altogether. Sandi says, “I don’t know anybody who’s talking about pension reform that thinks we should do away with pensions. Everyone wants to see the system change so that it better serves teachers…”

See the full interview below.

2 Comments

  • Dave Dillman says:

    Sandi advocates for worker mobility, which is a key features of PERA. Any worker covered under PERA can migrate their pension to any other PERA employer. Of course, we are talking about within the state of Colorado. Here are the hundreds of employers to chose from:
    https://www.copera.org/employers/affiliating-pera/affiliated-employers

    Those who move “across state lines” will have to handle their pension transfers with the receiving state, so I’m not sure why Colorado Pension Project is blaming Colorado Pera for other state’s policies. PERA permits its new members (after one year) to use rollovers from other state pensions to purchase up to five years of time. Or they can chose to leave it with that state and have even more flexibility. This is really a non-issue. Here is the link to policy (page 3):

    https://www.copera.org/sites/default/files/documents/5-52.pdf

    • Colorado Pension Project says:

      Dave, thanks for your comment. We would encourage you to take a look at our PERA Member Profiles, which show how teachers are disadvantaged when moving jobs or out of the state. While the public servants described in the profiles are fictional, the calculations use real data and assumptions to illustrate actual benefits in each scenario. http://coloradopensionproject.com/pera-member-profiles/

      In these member profiles, you’ll see several examples of public servants who are disadvantaged by taking time off to care for their family, moving to the private sector, or moving across state lines. Because PERA pension benefits don’t accrue steadily, the majority of teachers will leave PERA with retirement compensation that is substantially less than the amount their employer contributed on their behalf. This is because pension benefits grow only modestly during the early and middle portions of a person’s career. (You can view this in Figure 3 of the recent report Few Reach the Peaks: http://coloradopensionproject.com/few-reach-the-peaks/). This backloaded distribution of benefits prevents those public employees described from being on a path to a secure retirement.

      Additionally, if you’d like to review the technical information used to create these profiles, we also have comprehensive documentation with that information:
      http://coloradopensionproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/CPP_Persona_Documentation_120414.pdf

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