In some states, the number of retirement teachers is down and in others, it is up. This thing happens due to the policy of cuting funding as well as political reasons. While retirement incentive programs that encourage senior educators for early retirement, the financial benefits in salary savings disappear within five years for new ones. So, all the solutions are not really effective.


The Department of Education for Hawaii recently announced that it expect to hire half as many teachers to fill vacancies this year compared to normal. The reason for the lack of new teachers is that current teachers are not retiring in the numbers seen in the past.


The state of Michigan offered early retirement incentives this past spring in the hopes of attracting 29,000 teachers into retirement. The tally when the deadline for application passed was about half that number. Clearly, teachers are choosing to stay in the classroom rather than accept early retirement incentives.


The trend of declining retirements among baby boomer teachers is probably traceable to the collapse of their retirement accounts in the last two years. Add to this revenue shortfall for their personal finances, many of these teachers may have second homes whose value has fallen dramatically. Finally, the cost of health care is a much more pressing consideration for the baby boomer at this point in their careers. Putting it all together, teachers are seeing the prospect of retirement as less feasible given their personal fiscal position and uncertainty with the economy. At a recent meeting with a financial advisor the need for good financial planning was made clear. Teachers need to know what income per month they will be receiving upon retirement and what expenses will be occurring into retirement.


At least one state is seeing the opposite occurring. In New Jersey the retirement applications are on a trend to double this year. With Governor Christie squeezing state spending in order to balance the budget, teacher pensions are expected to come under scrutiny. This seems to have convinced more than a few teachers to jump ship before the state can cut their promised retirement pensions.


Whether teacher retirement is increasing or decreasing in a state or region, positions will open up for new teachers entering the field. They will come out of schools of education with fresh ideas and grand visions. They cannot replace the wisdom of a veteran retiring teacher, but we all had to start somewhere, so why not we see what they can do?


Dr. Charles R. Bacon
Professor of Physics and Chemistry
Ferris State University

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