Goal: An effective public retirement system is part of a total compensation package that helps recruit and retain talented and motivated public employees who are essential to great schools and other public services.

Reality: According to the National Education Association, Colorado offers comparatively low pay for teachers.[1]

The state also suffers from comparatively high teacher turnover.[2][3]

Colorado’s pension structure perpetuates problems like these by diverting funds into pension benefits that a new teacher may never be eligible to receive. The current system provides retirement security to only a small percentage of teachers who remain in the system for their careers.

More than half of all teachers leave the profession after only three years. And when public employees spend less than five years in the system, their PERA retirement account is not credited with any employer-funded retirement benefits if they choose to withdraw their funds. And those teachers who do so walk away from the system with little more than they put into it.

Average Starting Teacher Salary - USA
Average Starting Teacher Salary - Colorado

New-Career Nick

Nick had a huge impact as a teacher but, after eight years in the classroom, he accepted a job in the private sector. While Nick and the school district have been paying into PERA, his retirement benefits will be limited if he never returns to public service. Visit our PERA Member Profiles page to read more about these illustrations.

PERA Profile

Years teaching in Colorado classrooms: 8

Nick’s lifetime benefit under the current structure: $12,651

Nick’s lifetime benefit with a smooth accrual plan: $51,813

Nick earns $39,162 less under the current PERA structure