Nearly half the $13,077 Illinois spends per student goes, not to the students, but to pensions

Illinois public schools are under attack; they don't get enough money; they don't get respect. Give them more and more and more money.

From statements like those, you'd think that Attila the Hun is riding into Illinois with the sole mission of slashing education funds down to nothing with the intent of making American children the most ignorant in the world.

Except that:

Nearly have of Illinois money meant for these Chicago students go, instead, to teacher pensions. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 19, 2012)

Nearly have of Illinois money meant for these Chicago students go, instead, to teacher pensions. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 19, 2012)

Illinois spends the most per student of any state in the Midwest.

On average, Illinois schools spend $13,077 per student.

Nearly half of the money the state appropriates for education goes to fund pensions.

But some advocacy groups are demanding the state spend up to $6 billion more per year on education.

Money is not the problem. Demands for more money only serve to distract from the real problems with education funding: the billions of dollars trapped in Illinois’ education bureaucracy due to out-of-control pensionsduplicative school district administrations and executive pay.

$13,077 per student

Illinois already spends the most money per student of any state in the Midwest, the 13th-most per student in the nation, and far more than any other neighboring state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The fact that this comes from the free-market think tank, the Illinois Policy Institute, will automatically make some people think that they're all lies. Although the research hasn't been challenged on its merits.

The statistic that stands out for me is the fact that nearly half the money the state educates for education goes to teacher pensions. It's sometime to keep in mind when we hear that without adequate funding:

the children will lose things like arts education (always the first thing cut), full-day kindergarten, and reasonable class sizes. Some of our schools, which are the anchors of our communities, may be closed. Teachers who work to educate our children will lose their jobs.

In other words, almost half that money is stolen from those things like art education to pay for so mething (i.e. pensions) that provides no direct student benefits. If that's not bad enough, it'll only get worse.

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  • So teachers should not get a pension? Please remember that they do not get social security benefits like the private sector. I would agree that there could be some consolidation/reduction in administrative costs but to single out teachers as the bad guy in your scenario is very simple thinking.

  • What? Did anyone say that teachers should not get a pension? Let me ask you: Are you happy that almost one-half of what the state spends on education doesn't go to benefit the students but pays overly generous benefits to people who are no longer working in the schools?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Pension benefits are typically paid to people who are no longer working.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Obviously. But to ask the question again: Are you happy that overly generous pension benefits are draining away money that could actually be used to help children?

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Are they overly generous? Remember, as ps577 pointed out, teachers in Illinois do not get Social Security and schools do not pay social security taxes. In comparing school retirements with those in the private sector, one should compare school retirements with private ones, adding social security to the latter. Also, teachers and school boards have often opted to increase pension benefits in lieu of salary increases. The pension plans are part of bargained benefits.

  • Not that old chestnut again about how teachers don't get social security. Why should they when (1) they (and their employers) haven't paid into it like just about everyone else and (2) even without social security their doing (way) better than most private sector pension funds.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Calling an assertion an "old chestnut" is not an argument. I would like to see your facts. If you take your retirement, add your social security benefits and compare the total with that of a public school teacher, how much better off is he or she? Admittedly, it is hard from many people to make this comparison, since they have 401(k) plans, rather than pensions, so their retirement depends on how prudent they are as investors.

  • This is from the
    "The average career teacher currently receives an annual pension of $73,350 and will receive a lifetime payout of over $2 million."

    Teachers may retire at 55 years old with 35 years of teaching.

    Also, Chicago teacher are one of the highest paid teachers in the nation. One can make 84,000 a year with a Bachelor's degree and it only gets worse from there. I don't understand why they keep saying they are underpaid. HOW?

    That is insane!!!

  • In reply to why2101:

    Your source citation is vague, but even if accepted it does not address the question. How much will private retired employees receive in retirements income, social security and other benefits compared with teachers? In 2012 AARP issued an estimate of sources of income for Americans over 65.

    Five years ago AARP estimated that retirees in the earning class of teachers would earn an average of $65,567 per year. This is an average, and it does not break the numbers down to such things as college degrees, advanced degrees, regional living expenses or income averages. Your quoted average does not seem out of line, considering these statistics.

    The rich are doing a good job of turning the middle class against one another. Instead of resenting what they are doing, we are induced to fight one another.

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