Eduwonk has an excellent list of the top issues in education policy. One of the big debates surrounds teachers' pensions. Rotherham writes,
The sustainability of teacher pensions has emerged as a major fiscal issue for states. A few years ago the warnings about pensions were coming from just a few wonks, now policymakers in most states are paying attention to an overall pension shortfall of more than half a trillion dollars (double that when health care is factored in). At the same time there is growing awareness of how the current pension systems shortchange many teachers – especially mobile ones and career shifters – and contribute to America’s broader retirement security problems. Even absent a headline-grabbing fiscal crisis pensions will make news this year as policymakers try to sort out how to meet the different goals of fiscal sustainability, adequate retirement benefits for workers, and adapting relatively static pension systems to the more dynamic teacher labor market today.
The issue of pensions, not just for teachers, but all public employees, is a big issue here in New Jersey. The state has failed to contribute funds to the pension program, and many fear that the state will never be able to meet its obligations. There's more on the state's screwed up fiscal situation and its debt related to pensions here.
Talk to anyone, even the most left-leaning voter in this state, about this topic, and the conversation quickly gets bitter. Most people love their local teachers and want them properly compensated, but the high property taxes and the behavior of top administrators makes many seeing red.
There is a suplus of top education administrators in this state. Towns, which are unusally tiny compared to the rest of the country, each have their own superintendents who are responsible for two or three schools. Some towns are so small that they don't even have their own schools, but still have a superintendent. Those superintendents receive large salaries. Think $200,000. When they retire, they are entitled to their full salary and then can take on another position where they recieve another 6 figure salary. Local police chief can retire at age 55; some bring in $300,000. They are also able to double dip.
Until the situation improves, we are going to continue to have a Republican governor in this state.
I'm curious what my non-New Jersey readers think about this situation.