In recent years, several studies have argued that teacher pensions are a raw deal for most teachers and should be replaced with account-style plans. In reality, however, most teachers working today are building a secure retirement:
- Claims that most teachers do not benefit from pensions are based on studies that give equal weight to career teachers and to those who leave after a year or two rather than examining a cross section of the teaching workforce.
- Research that is based on a cross section of teachers in California found that at least three-fourths of teachers accumulate 20 years of service or more in their retirement plan and at least half accumulate 30 years or more. These teachers earn a healthy return on contributions and a level of retirement security few participants in account-style plans can count on.
- While attrition is high in the first years, teachers who end up leaving the profession are a small share of the teaching workforce and at a minimum recover their contributions to the pension plan plus interest. They may not leave with substantial accrued benefits, but they are not being deprived of something they would likely have gotten elsewhere. Young workers in general do not accrue much in retirement savings, no matter what their profession.
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