Note to the Kappan: Illinois state school underfunding undermines equity, not teacher pensions.


The latest issue of the education magazine, The Kappan, addresses education funding inequality.

One article blames teacher pensions.

Why not blame teachers and our pensions for public school underfunding?

Because it is a lie.

The authors , James V. Shuls, Collin Hitt and Robert M. Costrell try to make the case that Illinois’ teacher pensions are responsible for the funding inequality in our state.

Their footnotes suggest they rely heavily on the Illinois Policy Institute and Bellweather Education Partners as sources.

Both outfits are known for the contempt with which they consider our contractual retirement benefits.

Illinois is at the bottom of most lists of states ranked on the the basis of state funding for education. It is also at the bottom of the list of states ranked on the basis of state funding of our teacher pension.

How then is it possible that state pension funding is responsible for inequitable school funding when both are underfunded?

The answer is that it is not.

The central issue for inequality in Illinois school funding is the racism inherent in a school funding system based on local taxes. Poor districts have less money for schools. A recent Illinois school funding bill did little to fundamentally change the lack of fairness and equity in spite of promises that it would.

For seven decades – at least – the Illinois legislature has failed to make adequate payments to the Teacher Retirement System. The teacher pension system is only 40% funded.

Any argument that school districts are being robbed to pay for teacher pensions is crazy when the facts are that the state has failed to fund school districts and teacher pensions.

It is telling that a local Illinois anti-teacher union and pension advisor to former Governor Bruce Rauner gloats about The Kappan article and is “glad to see at least that one journal in the teaching establishment finally recognizing the issue.”

He is right.  It is the only one.

And that is because the argument and the article are full of it.

Shameful coming from The Kappan.

2 thoughts on “Note to the Kappan: Illinois state school underfunding undermines equity, not teacher pensions.

  1. Yeah, & the state union leaders underlyingly (or, perhaps, boldly) had agreed–okaying pension holidays & knucking under to the likes of Jonah Edelman.
    Which is, in part (maybe in large part, but I do think Fred’s blog had SOMETHING to do with it!), why Doug Strand was elected to the TRS Board, despite the endorsements & mailings, robo-calls & e-mails from the IEA.
    As Bernie says, “ENOUGH is ENOUGH!”

    I’m still waiting to see an editorial essay from the unions’ leadership RE: the truth about/support for teachers’ pensions…

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