Romney proposes to entrust teacher retirement plans to... the stock market!
Or, yet more proof that the Governor of Massachusetts is a total jerk
Until I started my internship at the Wall Street Journal last week, I didn't know much about the stock market except that it was a really bad place to put your money right now. But after I got the chance to design some stock charts for the paper last week, I realized it was a REALLY REALLY BAD place to put your money right now.
Not that Romney wants to give teachers any say over where their retirement money goes. From today's Boston Globe ("Teachers balk at pension proposal") :
Teachers and union officials yesterday strongly criticized a Romney administration proposal to introduce a 401(k)-style pension plan for state employees, claiming the plan would jeopardize workers' pensions and dissuade talented people from public service.Yeah, like the private sector is doing so damn well right now? I won't even get started on how sick I am of attempts to make the public sector more "efficient" and "successful" by privatizing everything--you know, like those companies who try to run for-profit public schools. Or like the Governor of Massachusetts, who seems to imagine he can just "restructure" and "downsize" anything he wants.
The plan would make Massachusetts one of only a handful of states that require their workers to be in contributory pension plans that could be invested in stocks or bonds, which would be subject to the ups and downs of the markets. ''One of the appeals of these jobs even though salaries are relatively low is the security,'' said Susan Jhirad, 60, an English professor at North Shore Community College in Lynn. ''If you remove that element, why would people go into it at all?''
Romney's proposal, to be announced in detail this spring, would eliminate the current pension system for more than 166,000 state workers and teachers, which is based on salary and years of service, and replace it with a system used widely in the private sector.
Of course, Romney isn't a total idiot. It's not that he doesn't know that entrusting teacher retirement to the stock market is a really bad idea for teachers. He just doesn't care:
Romney administration officials say the plan would encourage private-sector workers to bring their expertise to public service for a few years, instead of requiring them to work in state government for a decade or more before they become eligible.Again, this is bullshit. I'm not sure who came up with the idea that knowing how to run a board meeting is the same thing as knowing how to teach 35 hyperactive first-graders how to read, write and think creatively, but I suspect it was the same guy who decided knowing how to save the Olympics money was the same thing as being the governor of the state of Massachusetts. But this has nothing to do with Romney's proposal anyway. All he cares about is squeezing more money out of an already squeezed educational system:
The proposal would also help alleviate the burden of the state's pension system on the state's finances. The current value of future retirement benefits the state is obligated to pay has risen from $4.8 billion to $12 billion in the last three years, according to the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission.Now, one of the things businessmen like Romney seem to like talking about is "incentives." But after Romney's through, will there really be any incentive to become a teacher? Teaching is a low-paying, exhausting and extraordinarily difficult job that never ends when school lets out (I say this as the child of two Massachusetts public school teachers).
But critics with an eye to the poor performance of the stock market in recent years say the market is no place for the retirement savings of government workers who are not very well paid to begin with. ''Anyone on a 401(k) plan in the last few years probably lost all of their money,'' said Ralph White, president of the Massachusetts Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association.
White said the current pension plan for state workers, which guarantees a certain level of benefits during retirement, is one of the main attractions for people who come to work for the state.
It's also one of the most important jobs there is. Yet Romney seems to expect teachers to teach just for the love of it--with no job security, no guarantee of retirement, and no appreciation. (No one asks doctors to do their job just for the love of it.)
Add that to his plans to jack up tuition at the state colleges that train so many teachers, and the ever-expanding role of the MCAS, and you have to wonder where the next generation of Massachusetts teachers is going to come from...