Why I wouldn’t tell my kid to become a teacher

teacher-309403_1280Right now, in the Michigan legislature, they are working to pass a bill that would gut the defined benefit retirement system for newly hired teachers, replacing it with a 401k system.

And it would cost tax payers $28–$33 billion over the next 30 years ($1.6–$3.8 billion over the next 5 years).They’ve been working on this for more than a decade, but this is a bold step in a direction that would basically finish it off.


Shortly after I hired in to my school district, in 2011, I had to choose how I wanted my retirement to work. I didn’t know anything about anything in regards to my retirement so I did about ten minutes of research and made a selection. I’m currently in the hybrid program, which is a combination of a defined benefit and 401k plan. I also

I’m fine with this. I realize that if I’d hired in ten years earlier that my retirement benefits would be significantly better, but it could be worse. For instance, I have up to 90% of my health insurance premiums covered when I retire, assuming I continue to pay 3% of my pay throughout my career.

However, if I was hired in the fall of 2012, I’d have no health insurance after I retired. Essentially all I could do would be to put money into a 401k that is designated for health insurance premiums after I retire.

Welcome to the real world!

Okay. Fine. I understand that defined benefit retirements aren’t that common. I understand that most people aren’t going to have their health insurance premiums subsidized after they retire.

However, that used to be part of the deal. A career in teaching wasn’t an awful finiancial decision because you knew that, despite dealing with a low salary for a large chunk of your career, you would be covered on the back end.

The health insurance guarantee is gone. Now the legislature is working hard to end what’s left of any defined benefit retirement for new hires.

What’s left?

I understand that you don’t go into public service to get rich. I’m fine with that. But low wages, no retirement, and no retirement health insurance makes this gig a tough sell.

Oh, I almost forgot. My out-of-pocket for health insurance tripled this year.

Tripled.

And there’s no sign of these trends reversing any time soon.

So yes, if an 18 year old kid asked me what I thought about becoming a teacher, I would say to take a long, hard look. It’s not what it once was. The legislature would be wise to pay attention to what this will do to the profession in the years and decades to come.

Finally, the burden is also on them to explain to taxpayers how this is a fiscally responsible decision for our state.

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