Thanks for Your Contribution!

I was playing golf this summer and my playing partner Jim asked me how I liked retirement.  I told him it was great, and since Jim was about my age I asked him when he was going to retire.  His response was, “I have to keep working so I can pay for your pension.”

I get this a lot – friends who have heard about Illinois’ pension crisis and somehow think it’s my fault.  They don’t want to hear that 10% of my salary was automatically put into the pension system for the past 35 years.  They don’t want to hear that two-thirds of the pension system’s revenues (2013) came from its investments and member contributions, not the state.

So how much did Jim “pay” for my pension last year?  According to TRS (Teacher Retirement System) 32.4% of its revenues in 2013 came from the State of Illinois.  So that means for every $10,000 of my pension, $3,240 came from the state of Illinois.

Now according to the US Census bureau in 2013 there were approximately 9.9 million people in Illinois over the age of 18 (i.e. taxpayers like Jim).  Dividing the $3,240 that came from Illinois by 9.9 million taxpayers, that means each taxpayer contributed $.0003 per $10,000 of my pension.   According to TRS, last year the average pensioner received just under $50,000, or about $1.6 tenths of a penny per Illinois taxpayer.

So next time Jim complains about having to work to pay for my pension, I’m going to toss him a nickel – that should be more than enough to cover his contributions for the next 15 years.  Maybe now he’ll retire.

Jefferson-Nickel-Unc-Obv

 

“Trade Secrets” in North Carolina Charter-School Chain

According to a November 11, 2014 from Truth-Out.org report, “The North Carolina State Board of Education has issued a warning to a charter-school chain for failing to comply with an agency order to disclose the salaries of school administrators. The schools have been put on “financial probationary status,” which could lead to sanctions if their board does not comply within 10 business days.”

Here in Illinois it’s the law for every public school district to publish each administrator’s salary on the their website.  The refusal of this charter-school chain to divulge basic information about the workings of its schools underscores the problem with these organizations.  They take the public’s money but are not accountable for their educational process.  The charter-schools’ board chairman cited that their private company’s “trade secrets” were at risk if asked to divulge too much about the educational process in their schools.  Public schools are transparent organizations and readily share best-practices in the classroom with others.  If a for-profit charter school wanted to share their best practices, I wonder how much they would charge?

How can the taxpayers in North Carolina be assured that their tax dollars are being spent wisely in this charter-school chain?  More importantly, how do they know if the students in those schools are getting a good education if the process and results are “trade secrets”?

If you would like to read the whole article, click the link below:

North Carolina Tells Charter School Chain It Can’t Keep Administrator Salaries Secret.