Pensions work better for teachers than 401(k)s, expert writes

One of the arguments being made by politicians attacking teacher pensions nationally is that 401(k)s would be better for teachers anyway. Don’t believe it, writes Nari Rhee, director of the Retirement Security Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “Our research shows, by the time most active teachers leave service — in their early 50s or later — they will be far better off with their pensions than they would have been with 401(k)s,” Rhee writes in a Los Angeles Times column.

“We found that 86% of working teachers in California will get higher retirement income from the existing pension than they would from even a best-case-scenario 401(k),” she writes. “In fact, a 401(k) plan would provide 40% less retirement income for the typical California classroom teacher compared with the current pension, which is consistent with rigorous studies in other states, including one commissioned by the Colorado legislature and another conducted in Texas.”

Rhee notes that politicians in several states are attempting to dismantle successful public pension programs in favor of 401(k)s.

Now teachers across the country are facing aggressive political attacks on their pensions. In 2010 Michigan placed new teachers into a hybrid plan consisting of a significantly reduced pension and a mandatory 401(k)-type plan. Last week, the state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, under pressure from right-wing legislators to scrap the pension component, signed a bill that will direct most new teachers into just a 401(k). Pennsylvania also recently passed a hybrid pension bill that pushes new teachers into 401(k)-only plans, and similar efforts are afoot in other states.

As they move to dismantle secure pensions for teachers, GOP politicians are starting to argue that eliminating guaranteed pensions is what’s best for teachers. They base this claim on dubious research, sponsored by anti-pension groups.

Wisconsin can be proud that the Wisconsin Retirement System is one of the best managed and funded systems in the nation. Because retirement security is critical to attracting and keeping highly qualified professionals in our schools, WEAC keeps a close watch and mobilizes members around the state to help keep the WRS strong. Find out more and keep up to date at

Read the entire Nari Rhee column in the Los Angeles Times:

If someone tells you your kid’s teacher would be better off with a 401(k) than a pension, don’t believe it

Two years ago my beloved high school English teacher Mrs. O-W posted on social media, after locking up her classroom for the last time, “It was a happy place. I will miss both it and the kids, but NO MORE ESSAYS!” After 32 years of service in public education, Mrs.