Teachers’ Opinions of Missouri’s Public School Retirement System
For years, Show-Me Institute analysts have written about reforming teachers’ pensions. Multiple research projects have demonstrated that poorer districts subsidize pensions in wealthier districts, that pension funds are taking on riskier and riskier investments to chase higher returns, and that pension plans have huge unfunded liabilities.
Given that teachers will be a constituency that would be significantly affected by any changes to pensions in the state, we thought it wise to ask them what they think, both about their current pensions as well as possible alternative arrangements. We worked with both district and charter school leaders to cast a wide net and include as broad a range of viewpoints as we could.
Unfortunately, not long after we put our survey in the field, one of the state’s teachers’ unions instructed its members not to participate in our data collection. It’s unfortunate, but at this stage, not unexpected.
While it significantly curtailed our sample, 53 teachers did choose to respond, and we thought their voices deserved to be heard—even when they disagreed with some of the stances that Show-Me Institute writers have taken in the past. Accordingly, in addition to the complete survey results we have included an appendix with every open response that teachers gave—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We encourage you to give the paper a read. Teachers have complicated and often conflicting views on their pensions as well as alternatives. Understanding those views will improve public pension policy.