Teachers who participate in Missouri's Public School Retirement System (PSRS) throughout a lengthy career will end up with fairly generous retirement benefits. And while it's good to know that long service at a demanding job is rewarded, we need to remember that not everyone who embarks on a teaching career will stay at the job for decades. For teachers who leave the profession after 5 or even 15 years, it's worth asking how the benefits they receive match up with the amount they contribute to the system during their time on the job.
Other questions addressed in James Shuls' new essay are related to the formula that the PSRS uses to determine retirement benefits, using the average salary earned over the last 3 years of service in the calculation. What affect does this approach have on teachers whose salary is relatively flat over time compared to those who get big pay increases at the end of their careers? Does the retirement system widen the compensation gap between teachers working in wealthy districts and those working in poorer areas?
The common denominator in all of these questions is fairness: How many (and which) teachers are receiving benefits that are proportional to the amount they contribute to the system over the years? To learn some possible answers, click on the link below to read the essay.