Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Hiring Retired Teachers: Why It Isn’t Done

You would think that the State of Texas, and the over one thousand school districts that make up its public education system would be looking for the best teachers it could find these days.

You would think.

These days, the number of qualified teachers coming out of colleges and universities statewide is on the decline. Competition from the private sector, which on the whole pays better than a public school teacher brings home, is largely to blame. And while the starting salary for teachers is starting to become competitive with some areas of the private sector, that salary scale does not keep pace with inflation or any other thing. Year to year salary bumps are largely arbitrary and not based on anything other than time served. So after 5 years, just at about the time novice teachers becomes adept in their jobs, there is a tremendous pressure on them to leave the profession for better paying jobs. Within education (administration or counseling) or without.

One way to fill the ever-widening gap between teacher supply and demand would be to tap one very valuable Texas resource: the retired teacher.

Retired teachers are in overabundance in Texas. Many found themselves prematurely retired due to changes in federal laws which practically forced them to leave teaching or lose thousands of dollars in retirement benefits. Many of these teachers have slowly made their way back to the teaching profession in private schools, but this has not helped to mitigate the teacher shortages in public schools.

Why not? Why do retired teachers avoid work in public education? Answer: it’s not them, it is the state. An agency of the State of Texas purposely engineers it so that retired teachers are not welcome in Texas school districts.

Specifically it is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. The system that pays retirement benefits to all retired teachers of Texas. If a public school district wants to hire a retired teacher, it seems, the district must pay to the Teacher Retirement System a surcharge of 12.4% of that teacher’s salary.

And because a teacher’s salary is based on years of teaching experience, the surcharge that results from their being hired is no small matter.

So rather than hiring back experienced veteran teachers in an environment that is becoming infamous for its personnel shortages, districts instead are encouraged to hire inexperienced teachers with no state certifications and very little, if any, classroom experience.

And you have the Teacher Retirement System of Texas to thank for that.

Point to ponder: I wonder when some Texas legislator/alumnus of the Texas education system will use this in a political spin on the value of a school voucher system, where private schools hire veteran teachers because the dastardly, pinch-penny cheap public schools won’t?


Gary said...

I am not sure you can blame this on the retirement system. This is more the fault of the payment system of the schools that has a rate for years of experience and education. Even the inexperienced teachers get that 12.4% retirement system hit, which is fairly low compared to the large corporate world.

Think of the problems it would cause if the school districts did not increase pay for years of experience and level of certification.

Only if schools had financial incentives to get the best teachers that made up for the pay difference experienced qualified teachers deserve will we have a better system.

Anonymous said...

As a retired teacher in Texas, I will tell you it is the TRS that has made it impossible for us to be hired. I was told again today by someone who works with benefits for retired teachers that TRS does not want us becasue we do not pay into TRS any longer.

Rather than have qualified teachers in the classroom, TRS would rather have whoever they can pick up off the street.

I will tell you something even better. I was told this morning that I must pay TRS back nearly $5500 because I taught an extra course for the college this summer. I taught two courses instead of one. This was a rule that I was not famaliar with. The class only paid $1650. Why would I put $5500 on the line if I had known. Such things as this are what is hurting the retirees in this state. We already have 1/3 of our social security taken away because we retired in Texas. What else do these people want?

Anonymous said...

Hello!!! You just paid $3850 to TRS! How can they say that retired teachers don't pay into TRS? Who else did you pay? TRS! I retired and was rehired twice. Each time I paid back to TRS $6600 and $8800. This is more than I would have paid to TRS had I continued teaching and not retired. What are these districts thinking? We did not retire to scam the system. We loved our jobs. We just want to get the money that we have earned.

Anonymous said...

I'm a retired teacher and I have tried several times to get a job and each time I;m turned down. I didn't want to retired but I became ill and with one income at the time this was the best solutions. However, they will let principal and counselor come back.
Also, anyone that retire around 05 is ok.

Anonymous said...

As a retired teacher trying to get back into the system, I am finding the same obstacles. TRS claims that the teacher can negotiate with the school district to withhold from the teacher's salary, the percentage that is due to TRS. I have no problem with that. However, HR Departments screen applicants and those who are retired, do not even get called for an interview. In the past few years I have applied to various school districts for jobs that I know I meet and actually exceed in experience, yet I am still passed over. It's just not fair.