1) Number of Retiring California
Teachers Dropped 10%. The financial health of the
California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) is
much in the news these days, and that health is intertwined with the
upcoming ballot initiative campaign to raise income and sales taxes in the
state. So it's worth noting that the number of California public school
teachers who retired in 2011 declined for the first time in five years, and
by a hefty 10 percent.
The median retirement age is also
climbing, from 61.2 in 2001 to 61.9 in 2011. California teachers are vested
after five years, and can retire as early as age 55. Those retiring in 2011
had fewer median years of service (25.5) than any previous group of retirees
in the last 10 years.
The good news for CalSTRS and the state
budget is that with fewer years of service, the average 2011 retiree
received less of a payout than the 2010 retiree ($168 per month less). The
bad news is that the good news only postpones the inevitable. CalSTRS
currently pays benefits to some 253,000 retired teachers and surviving
family members. There are more than 603,000 teachers who still work or have
worked in the public schools and will be eligible for pensions when they
In 2001, CalSTRS paid teachers under $4
million billion in benefits. Ten years later, that figure is more than $10.2
million billion. But the effect on CalSTRS is secondary to the effect these numbers
will have on current school district operations. To put it in some
perspective, the average working California public school teacher
earned $64,069 in 2011. The average payout to a teacher who retired in 2011
The political battle, of course, is
whether to mitigate the shortfalls with pension reforms or revenue
increases. Hopefully, though, California is past the point where hoping the
future takes care of itself is our only strategy.
2) Last Week's Intercepts.
Intercepts, covered these topics from May 1-7:
Membership Losses by Category. Total membership numbers don't tell the
Is It Teachers and Their Unions or Unions and Their Teachers? Where they
agree and where they differ.
California Teachers Association Freezes Dues Level. And cuts spending!
in Vegas. Pay raises for everyone... remaining.
Pick on Someone Your Own Size. School bullies.
Quote of the Week.
"The solution is to get more money into the general fund." - California
Teachers Association Dean Vogel. I could tell you what the problem was, but
why bother? If you're the CTA president, this solution works for almost
everything. (May 5