Recently, some newspaper editorial boards in Illinois have criticized the state legislature’s decision earlier this month to repeal a 3 percent threshold on end-of-career salary increases and restore the 6 percent salary threshold for those in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) and the State Universities Retirement System (SURS).
The language creating that very significant threshold was sneaked into last year’s budget implementation bill. This cost shift — which places an additional financial burden on local taxpayers, community colleges, universities and college students — was passed without discussion or debate.
The new language meant that pension costs for raises above 3 percent for employees in TRS or SURS, who are in the final 10 years of their careers, would be paid by the employer and not by the state of Illinois. Keep in mind, teachers do not get Social Security, which is why TRS and SURS are so important to the profession.
This resulted in employers applying this new law to employees throughout their entire career, meaning teachers who earned master’s degrees, who took on coaching duties, directed the school play, wrote curriculum, and did other important work wouldn’t be compensated for it — whether they were in their sixth year of teaching or their 26th year.
Illinois has a teacher shortage which, unabated, could diminish our state’s education system. To identify the issues causing the shortage, we convened focus groups and asked high school seniors and college students who are considering becoming teachers about their career choice.
Here’s what they said: “We have great respect for the teaching profession, but it just doesn’t pay enough.”
Educators are attracted to teaching because it’s a calling. They love the ability to make a positive impact on students’ lives. But they also want to enter a respected profession. One sign of respect for professionals is the payment of fair compensation.
We talked to our lawmakers about this. They understood. We talked to Gov. J.B. Pritzker about this. He understood. They supported us and we’re thankful for that.
Ultimately, attracting and retaining the best teachers for the students in our schools, putting well-trained professionals at the front of a classroom, solving the teacher shortage — all of this benefits our students.
You can’t feed students’ minds by starving the system.
Thank you, lawmakers. Thank you, Governor Pritzker.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for showing Illinois educators this sign of respect. Thank you for repealing the 3 percent.
Kathi Griffin is president of the The Illinois Education Association.
Region: Springfield,Feeds,Opinion,Region: Central,City: Springfield
via Opinion – The State Journal-Register http://bit.ly/2EMjS6J
June 14, 2019 at 09:27AM