Stop devaluing educators

Holly Shively and Holly Shively

Our primary education system will soon reach its lowest point.

From earlier this year when Betsy Devos, possibly the most unqualified person in the world was appointed Secretary of Education, to the recent proposal to cut educators retirement funds, this year has been no friend to education.

The State Teachers Retirement System services 490,000 teachers and retirees and had $72.1 billion as of June 30, 2016. Since retired teachers are living longer than expected and payroll growth isn’t keeping pace with assumptions, the STRS is being forced to make big changes, one of which will likely be the cut of benefits for public educators.  While the pension is the second largest in the state, it’s vital to our education system that it stay intact. Public employees don’t participate in Social Security.

This isn’t the first time teachers have been essentially screwed when looking forward to retirement.

In 2015, STRS changed retirement for full benefits to 35 years of service at any age, or 65 years of age and five years of service as of Aug. 1, 2023. Retireing before this makes for a reduction in benefits.

If teachers had 25 years of service in by the day the law was passed, they could be grandfathered into the system, but for those not reaching that criteria, there was no such luck.

My own mother, a special education preschool teacher, was six months short of being grandfathered into the old retirement criteria. Now, my mother (who turns 50 today) will have to crawl around out on the floor with 3 to 5 year old children until she’s 59 years old. That sounds like knee surgery waiting to happen.

Not to mention, teaching is no longer an 8 to 5 job. Teachers don’t get to come home to their families and have a relaxing night anymore. Instead, they’re taxed with paperwork upon paperwork for hours after they get home each night.

If we want qualified teachers helping our children grow into civil adults who contribute to society, we need to respect our teachers. We need to encourage the youth to want to be teachers instead of having them stay away because they continually see current educators getting their pay and benefits cut.

They don’t need paycuts like President Donald Trump has suggested, they don’t need benefit reductions and they surely don’t need Betsy Devos. They need people to realize that they’re job is one of the most important in the country.

Your children and future children’s lives are in their hands.

Reply to Holly at

[email protected]