Bill Gates, “Teacher pensions are a free lunch.”

As teachers in Illinois mobilize to stop the teacher pension killing SB512, I’m reminded of Bill Gates’ comments at the Apen Ideas Festival last summer.

Bill Gates, who has devoted much of his time to education since stepping down from full-time work with the company in 2006. Undermining public education, he said, is a system that channels too much money to pensions for retired teachers. He predicts that state and local governments will have to lay off 100,000 active teachers in the next couple of years. “I’m very much against that,” said Mr. Gates who noted that many of the teachers who lose their jobs will be younger, more motivated teachers at the bottom of the seniority system.

Mr. Gates said a big part of the problem is “fraudulent” state budgeting systems, which fail accurately to account for the cost of pension promises. A legislator who “says ‘yes’ doesn’t feel any pain at all,” he said. Thus the “accounting fraud” that lets politicians treat generous teacher pensions as a free lunch rewards them for spending more on retired teachers than on current students.

To the richest guy in the world, the $43,000 a year that the average retired teacher in Illinois receives from TRS, and no social security, is a free lunch.

13 thoughts on “Bill Gates, “Teacher pensions are a free lunch.”

  1. Gates does not say in his comments that teacher pensions are a free lunch. He was talking about the way legislators look at the process of designing pensions without having any way of assuring that the money would be delivered and kept in a pension fund and dedicated to the purpose of funding teacher pensions. Such a process is no favor to the teachers, the students or the public, and leads to the unkept promises with which you are now dealing.

  2. I don’t agree, Danny. Gates says pensions are “generous.” They are not. He says they cost more than what is paid for current students. Not so. The huge bill owed to the Illinois teacher pension fund is due to the failure of the state legislature to keep up with pension obligations over the past 40 years. Each year, manageable pension payments by the state were deferred to pay for other things to avoid the political cost raising taxes. Teachers continued to pay our 10%. In the context of Gates entire statement, he is describing my pension as a “free lunch.”

  3. Why do all of these reformer types believe that newer teachers are more enthusiastic than older teachers? Age discrimination? Some young teachers have a terrible work ethic. Do these people select the youngest most enthusiastic surgeon to perform their loved ones open heart surgery?

  4. This man is chutzpah personified. KEEP your money, stop doing these ridiculous studies on “teacher effectveness,” and stop buying your way into educational policies and union busting. Klomsky- keep him away from me.

  5. GATES, we pay into pensions, what about that don’t you understand? He has no reverence for education or teachers, because he’s a self made man.

  6. We paid into our pension fund and took lower salaries in exchange for the district putting money in. Wisonsin’s fund is solvent at the moment, but our clueless governor wants to raid it to fund his pet projects. Why can’t people understand simple facts?

  7. Stock options and non-confiscatory taxes on billionaires are a free lunch. Microsoft software is priced too high — let’s pass laws requiring lower purchase prices.

  8. Here we go again. If something is wrong in the Country everyone wants to point a finger at schools and education. Johnny can’t read, put legislation on schools and curriculum. The state is financially bankrupt, take money and benefits away from teachers and schools. We as teacher show up everyday and do wonderful things for kids in classrooms all over the State and Nation. We pay into our own retirements and we should not have to carry the cost of a legislature that has waisted money and not funded programs as it was suppose to. Enough is enough. Teachers, Firemen, Police and all kids of other civil service employees need to stand up and say no more. Support what we need to keep us moving forward in the world. There are lots of waisted projects being funded that can be cut. Look at those first, this time.

  9. Since when did Bill Gates become an authority on education. He pretends he wants to improve education, but really he wants to take public money and use it for his own profit. More money on technology and guess who is supplying this technology. Shakespeare didn’t need a computer to become a writer. Our poorest students are failing, because we have venture capitalist looking at cashing in. His high tech school failed? Before he talks about what to do, he should succeed in education himself. This guy is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

  10. Why do we keep putting this guy’s computers in our schools’ computer labs? Teachers all over the nation need to use whatever influence they have in their schools to see to it that when new computers are needed, they be Macs. Macs work better anyways.

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