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#1357944 --- 08/09/12 03:02 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Cuzi Sedso]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS

" Reformers’ financial successes, their careers and their celebrity rest on their ability to convince the public of the failures — real, perceived, and generated — of our nation’s public schools.  Yet in national polls the vast majority of Americans have continually awarded high marks to their own schools, even while giving substantially lower marks to public schools across the board. The poll results represent the disconnect between the judgment  that the public makes based on  day to day experience with their own neighborhood schools, and the perception the reformers and the press have created. "


Principals: Our struggle to be heard on reform
Valerie Strauss
Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012
This was written by Carol Burris and Harry Leonadartos. Burris is the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York.  Leonadartos is the principal of Clarkstown High School North in Rockland County, New York. Carol is the co-author and Harry is an active supporter of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student scores. Over 1,500 New York principals and more than 5,400 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens have signed the letter which can be found here.

 

By Carol Burris and Harry Leonardatos 

Several weeks ago, on Meet the Press, Michelle Rhee unveiled her new ad, designed to hammer away at how bad she believes American schools to be.  The ad likened public schools to an unfit male athlete competing unsuccessfully in a women’s sport.  Many found the ad to be offensive in its stereotypical portrayal of an overweight and effete man. But the true offense was that it took a moment of national pride, the Olympic Games, and used it to give American educators a kick in the pants. 

It is reasonable to wonder why it is so important for Michelle Rhee and other “reformers” to constantly deride and disparage American public schools.  Although we should always seek to improve, why should those efforts be expected to follow from derision?  In truth, while we and others see daunting and unfilled needs in many schools, there has not been a sharp and sudden decline in student performance as is being implied, and in fact scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s educational report card — are higher than ever before. 

The answer is simple. School reform has generated a marketplace, and a profitable one at that.  Michelle Rhee’s standard fee is $50,000 an appearance, plus expenses. In Michigan, Clark Durrant is paid over half a million dollars a year to run five charter schools. Eva Moskowitz, Geoffrey Canada and Deborah Kenney all make between four and five hundred thousand a year running their New York City charter school organizations.

And these are the minor players. The real money is corporate.

[Some of the content in this entry could not be displayed on this device.]

StudentsFirst video

Rupert Murdoch announced that public education is a $500 billion market waiting desperately to be transformed. He is creating the data systems and hiring the people to help him make that profitable transformation happen. All the while, the editorial departments of his newspapers hammer away at New York City’s schools and teachers.

 Reformers’ financial successes, their careers and their celebrity rest on their ability to convince the public of the failures — real, perceived, and generated — of our nation’s public schools.  Yet in national polls the vast majority of Americans have continually awarded high marks to their own schools, even while giving substantially lower marks to public schools across the board. The poll results represent the disconnect between the judgment  that the public makes based on  day to day experience with their own neighborhood schools, and the perception the reformers and the press have created.

 And this is all before the upcoming Parent Trigger advocacy movie, “Won’t Back Down.” There is now so much money and power backing market-driven reforms that it is nearly impossible for alternative views to break through.

 We recently had our personal experience with how difficult it is to be heard. On July 26th, New York Governor Cuomo’s Education Commission held its only meeting in New York City. The purpose of the commission is to travel around the state in order to hear from stakeholders regarding suggestions for New York State school improvements.

Prior to the time and place of the meeting being posted, both of us sent a request to testify on the topic of teacher and principal quality. As high school principals, we are deeply concerned about the direction of the Regents reform agenda, especially in regard to evaluating teachers using test scores. We were joined by an outstanding New York City high school principal and two teachers from South Side High School. Both teachers had submitted requests to speak, one sending that request and her remarks weeks in advance. 

We were not allowed to speak. That was certainly troubling, but even more troubling was the overall staging of the event to ensure that the weight of testimony would support the predetermined, favored policy agenda. The selected panelists on teacher and principal quality were not practicing educators. The first speaker, former CNN reporter Campbell Brown, spoke about sex abuse and arbitrators’ decisions.  Brown has no experience as an educator or public school parent, and she has been inconsistent in disclosing that her husband is on the board of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst.

The other panelists were Jermima Bernard, the New York executive director of Teach for America; Lesley Guggenheim from The New Teacher Project; and Evan Stone, an 18-month sixth grade teacher who described himself as the CEO of Educators 4 Excellence, another group aligned with the favored policy agenda.

So, with the exception of Campbell Brown, they all represented organizations that embraced the governor’s policies, and they all advocated for the following three policies: state imposition of teacher evaluation systems if local negotiations are not successful, elimination of contractually guaranteed pay increases, and the use of test scores in educator evaluations.

 We patiently waited through the testimony because the directions on the website stated that the final 30 minutes would be reserved for those who wished to speak, determined via a sign-in, first-come basis. Because we were among the first five to sign up, we believed we would have time to make brief remarks. We were stunned when the list in the lobby was not used. Instead, additional speakers were hand-picked. The speakers selected to comment on teacher and principal quality were a teacher who told the committee how she looked forward to being evaluated by test scores, and Anna Hall, the new head of StudentsFirst NY. Hall is a former principal from the Bronx, and she argued that teacher tenure should be abolished. 

After one of us (Harry) confronted the governor’s representative, he promised us that we would be allowed to speak at later hearings. We are hopeful that he will keep his word. The rules on the website regarding public comment have changed to now say that the speakers chosen would be the first to email rather than the first to sign in. You’ll excuse us for worrying that this might be one more attempt to control testimony at what is supposed to be an opportunity for the public to speak.

 None of us who came to the Bronx on that sweltering July day believed that we would change the direction of the Governor’s reform agenda by our testimony. We were there to give testimony and witness to the teachers and principals across our state who know that the barrage of negative press and misguided solutions generated by the young “CEOs” of hundreds of Gates-, Broad- and Walton-sponsored reform centers is wrong. We were there to give testimony that by setting teachers up on a bell curve, you are creating the contrived headline — “Half of all New York teachers not effective when judged by test scores,” thus cynically undermining the faith of parents in their public school teachers and principals.

 We hoped to speak for the teachers and principals who know that our students are being over-tested and that this is happening for purposes other than the assessment of their learning. We were there to represent the views of the 1,508 New York principals and the 5,400 teachers, parents, school board members, professors and administrators who have signed on to the principals letter in opposition to using student test scores in teachers evaluation. South Side High School teachers, Katie Burke and Debbie Tanklow were there to say how the evaluation system would undermine their relationship with their students. We also went to present our own ideas on how New York State schools can serve students better.

 Ironically, across town on that same day, venture capitalists were eagerly searching to invest in companies that will sell the products to ‘fix the crisis.’ They were huddled in a private club in Manhattan to scope investment opportunities. As reported by Stephanie Simon of Reuters, the venture capitalists were told to “Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools… If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.”

  These venture capitalists could stay in the club. They had no need to worry about their concerns being heard, and they had no need to attend the Governor’s hearing. They were well represented.

-0-

Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet .
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

Top
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#1357945 --- 08/09/12 03:03 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Cuzi Sedso]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS

" Reformers’ financial successes, their careers and their celebrity rest on their ability to convince the public of the failures — real, perceived, and generated — of our nation’s public schools.  Yet in national polls the vast majority of Americans have continually awarded high marks to their own schools, even while giving substantially lower marks to public schools across the board. The poll results represent the disconnect between the judgment  that the public makes based on  day to day experience with their own neighborhood schools, and the perception the reformers and the press have created. "


Principals: Our struggle to be heard on reform
Valerie Strauss
Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012
This was written by Carol Burris and Harry Leonadartos. Burris is the principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre, New York.  Leonadartos is the principal of Clarkstown High School North in Rockland County, New York. Carol is the co-author and Harry is an active supporter of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student scores. Over 1,500 New York principals and more than 5,400 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens have signed the letter which can be found here.

 

By Carol Burris and Harry Leonardatos 

Several weeks ago, on Meet the Press, Michelle Rhee unveiled her new ad, designed to hammer away at how bad she believes American schools to be.  The ad likened public schools to an unfit male athlete competing unsuccessfully in a women’s sport.  Many found the ad to be offensive in its stereotypical portrayal of an overweight and effete man. But the true offense was that it took a moment of national pride, the Olympic Games, and used it to give American educators a kick in the pants. 

It is reasonable to wonder why it is so important for Michelle Rhee and other “reformers” to constantly deride and disparage American public schools.  Although we should always seek to improve, why should those efforts be expected to follow from derision?  In truth, while we and others see daunting and unfilled needs in many schools, there has not been a sharp and sudden decline in student performance as is being implied, and in fact scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — sometimes referred to as the nation’s educational report card — are higher than ever before. 

The answer is simple. School reform has generated a marketplace, and a profitable one at that.  Michelle Rhee’s standard fee is $50,000 an appearance, plus expenses. In Michigan, Clark Durrant is paid over half a million dollars a year to run five charter schools. Eva Moskowitz, Geoffrey Canada and Deborah Kenney all make between four and five hundred thousand a year running their New York City charter school organizations.

And these are the minor players. The real money is corporate.

[Some of the content in this entry could not be displayed on this device.]

StudentsFirst video

Rupert Murdoch announced that public education is a $500 billion market waiting desperately to be transformed. He is creating the data systems and hiring the people to help him make that profitable transformation happen. All the while, the editorial departments of his newspapers hammer away at New York City’s schools and teachers.

 Reformers’ financial successes, their careers and their celebrity rest on their ability to convince the public of the failures — real, perceived, and generated — of our nation’s public schools.  Yet in national polls the vast majority of Americans have continually awarded high marks to their own schools, even while giving substantially lower marks to public schools across the board. The poll results represent the disconnect between the judgment  that the public makes based on  day to day experience with their own neighborhood schools, and the perception the reformers and the press have created.

 And this is all before the upcoming Parent Trigger advocacy movie, “Won’t Back Down.” There is now so much money and power backing market-driven reforms that it is nearly impossible for alternative views to break through.

 We recently had our personal experience with how difficult it is to be heard. On July 26th, New York Governor Cuomo’s Education Commission held its only meeting in New York City. The purpose of the commission is to travel around the state in order to hear from stakeholders regarding suggestions for New York State school improvements.

Prior to the time and place of the meeting being posted, both of us sent a request to testify on the topic of teacher and principal quality. As high school principals, we are deeply concerned about the direction of the Regents reform agenda, especially in regard to evaluating teachers using test scores. We were joined by an outstanding New York City high school principal and two teachers from South Side High School. Both teachers had submitted requests to speak, one sending that request and her remarks weeks in advance. 

We were not allowed to speak. That was certainly troubling, but even more troubling was the overall staging of the event to ensure that the weight of testimony would support the predetermined, favored policy agenda. The selected panelists on teacher and principal quality were not practicing educators. The first speaker, former CNN reporter Campbell Brown, spoke about sex abuse and arbitrators’ decisions.  Brown has no experience as an educator or public school parent, and she has been inconsistent in disclosing that her husband is on the board of Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst.

The other panelists were Jermima Bernard, the New York executive director of Teach for America; Lesley Guggenheim from The New Teacher Project; and Evan Stone, an 18-month sixth grade teacher who described himself as the CEO of Educators 4 Excellence, another group aligned with the favored policy agenda.

So, with the exception of Campbell Brown, they all represented organizations that embraced the governor’s policies, and they all advocated for the following three policies: state imposition of teacher evaluation systems if local negotiations are not successful, elimination of contractually guaranteed pay increases, and the use of test scores in educator evaluations.

 We patiently waited through the testimony because the directions on the website stated that the final 30 minutes would be reserved for those who wished to speak, determined via a sign-in, first-come basis. Because we were among the first five to sign up, we believed we would have time to make brief remarks. We were stunned when the list in the lobby was not used. Instead, additional speakers were hand-picked. The speakers selected to comment on teacher and principal quality were a teacher who told the committee how she looked forward to being evaluated by test scores, and Anna Hall, the new head of StudentsFirst NY. Hall is a former principal from the Bronx, and she argued that teacher tenure should be abolished. 

After one of us (Harry) confronted the governor’s representative, he promised us that we would be allowed to speak at later hearings. We are hopeful that he will keep his word. The rules on the website regarding public comment have changed to now say that the speakers chosen would be the first to email rather than the first to sign in. You’ll excuse us for worrying that this might be one more attempt to control testimony at what is supposed to be an opportunity for the public to speak.

 None of us who came to the Bronx on that sweltering July day believed that we would change the direction of the Governor’s reform agenda by our testimony. We were there to give testimony and witness to the teachers and principals across our state who know that the barrage of negative press and misguided solutions generated by the young “CEOs” of hundreds of Gates-, Broad- and Walton-sponsored reform centers is wrong. We were there to give testimony that by setting teachers up on a bell curve, you are creating the contrived headline — “Half of all New York teachers not effective when judged by test scores,” thus cynically undermining the faith of parents in their public school teachers and principals.

 We hoped to speak for the teachers and principals who know that our students are being over-tested and that this is happening for purposes other than the assessment of their learning. We were there to represent the views of the 1,508 New York principals and the 5,400 teachers, parents, school board members, professors and administrators who have signed on to the principals letter in opposition to using student test scores in teachers evaluation. South Side High School teachers, Katie Burke and Debbie Tanklow were there to say how the evaluation system would undermine their relationship with their students. We also went to present our own ideas on how New York State schools can serve students better.

 Ironically, across town on that same day, venture capitalists were eagerly searching to invest in companies that will sell the products to ‘fix the crisis.’ They were huddled in a private club in Manhattan to scope investment opportunities. As reported by Stephanie Simon of Reuters, the venture capitalists were told to “Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools… If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.”

  These venture capitalists could stay in the club. They had no need to worry about their concerns being heard, and they had no need to attend the Governor’s hearing. They were well represented.

-0-

Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet .
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

Top
#1357959 --- 08/09/12 04:02 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: twocats]
Teonan Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 5389
Loc: Malmö
ONE Commission meeting - in a city teeming with public schools and it's supporters, resulting in a de facto gag order against critics of privatization.

Sickening.
_________________________
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."
-John Trudell


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#1358005 --- 08/09/12 08:17 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: VM Smith]
Fart in the Wind Offline
Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 429
Loc: beneath the Utica Shale
More like an example of a newspaper putting a spin and capitalizing on a Jews vs. Nazi theme and the gullible public succumbing to a feeding frenzy against teachers and schools. Do yourselves a favor and read a few more accounts of this story and gather more information. Those of you that are over the age of15 should be able to use your critical thinking skills to determine this is nothing more than a story, that at best is about horseplay (a second boy jumping on young Yara's back) and at worst poor supervision by the teacher. Bullying? yea that is part and parcel to a Nazi theme.
How about this spin? - the Yaro family are Arabs and probably are upset that their son had to play a Jew in a historical event that never happened. Excuse me while I pull my feet out of the water.

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#1358009 --- 08/09/12 08:49 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: VM Smith]
Fart in the Wind Offline
Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 429
Loc: beneath the Utica Shale
[quote=VM Smith]Another good example of why it should be privatized. Why should anyone have to pay school taxes to support idiocy like this?:

Is this the solution you are looking for?

[img]http://www.ncs-nj.org/teachers/svain/holocaust/pages/jewish_teacher.htm[/img]


Edited by Fart in the Wind (08/09/12 08:58 PM)

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#1358078 --- 08/10/12 01:00 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Fart in the Wind]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind

$52,270 x 25 (years retirement) = $1,306,750 (99.99999% taxpayer funded)

here are some words for you to look up - investment, interest, collective pool


the teacher gets $1.3 million+ in pension and only has to pay in less than $15,000

must be why the teachers unions are fighting the conversion to a 401k system

need not worry the taxpayers will pay...

if your pension system was self sufficient as you claim then all other employers would offer it

notice how you and twocats can not offer a long list of employers that offer your overly generous pay, pension and benefits

enjoy your two months of taxpayer paid vacation...


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#1358080 --- 08/10/12 01:06 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Cuzi Sedso
twocats isn't special, BZ. Under NY state tax law, pension income is not taxable in NY if it is paid from New York State or local government or the federal government, including Social Security benefits. Those pensions are subject to Federal income tax, however. Non-government pensions are not subject to state income tax on the first $20K of pension.



Originally Posted By: twocats
Originally Posted By: Cuzi Sedso
Just wondering if anyone would outraged if it turned out that Romney was able to avoid paying ANY Federal or state income taxes for a number of years as has been alleged by a former associate at Bain? I still think many hard working taxpayers would find that a sour dish to eat, even if every was "legal."

That's just the American dream.


seems you two are outraged but yet you want the same tax free status...

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#1358082 --- 08/10/12 01:12 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Fart in the Wind]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind
385,031 retirees and beneficiaries

The average pension for educators retiring in 2010 was $52,270


385,031 x $52,270 = $20,125,570,370

that does not include the overly generous healthcare benefits and not having to pay income taxes in their retirement

school taxes would go down by 2/3 if the teachers paid into their own 401k

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#1358107 --- 08/10/12 02:37 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind

$52,270 x 25 (years retirement) = $1,306,750 (99.99999% taxpayer funded)

here are some words for you to look up - investment, interest, collective pool


the teacher gets $1.3 million+ in pension and only has to pay in less than $15,000



so tell us how much the teacher paid into their pension?

Top
#1360837 --- 08/26/12 09:20 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Teonan]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
Send poor performing students back to real public schools-just another tactic used by fail charter schools.

El Paso school official: Subpar students removed
Updated 12:45 p.m., Sunday, August 26, 2012

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EL PASO, Texas (AP) — An administrator at an El Paso high school has admitted he helped weed out students who could have kept the campus from meeting federal accountability standards.

Bowie High School assistant principal Johnnie Vega told the El Paso Times (http://bit.ly/ODl8pI) that he and others, fearing for their jobs, followed directives to prevent some students from enrolling, kick out others and award credits to students who should have failed courses because they didn't show up.

The newspaper's interview, published Sunday, marks the first time an El Paso school district employee has publicly admitted participating in the broad cheating scandal that has tarnished the district.

Vega said he was under pressure to make sure his campus, which had not met federal accountability standards for six straight years, avoided trouble. He said he was told by his principal to identify students who weren't progressing, were getting in trouble or had excessive absences and "locate other options" for them.

"I feel terrible," Vega said. "I have nightmares. I don't want to say that it is post-traumatic stress, but in a way it is."

Former superintendent Lorenzo Garcia pleaded guilty in June to two charges of mail fraud stemming from a scheme in which student test scores were artificially inflated to make it appear as if campuses were meeting state and federal accountability standards. He's due to be sentenced in October.

The Texas Education Agency this month lowered the district's accreditation status to probationary, the final step before accreditation can be revoked.

Vega acknowledged his role after the newspaper interviewed a family who said the administrator didn't allow three brothers to enroll at Bowie because they had too many absences and presented problems.



Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/El-Pa...p#ixzz24gmPDRyw
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

Top
#1362472 --- 09/04/12 01:46 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind

$52,270 x 25 (years retirement) = $1,306,750 (99.99999% taxpayer funded)

here are some words for you to look up - investment, interest, collective pool


the teacher gets $1.3 million+ in pension and only has to pay in less than $15,000



so tell us how much the teacher paid into their pension?

Top
#1362535 --- 09/05/12 01:17 AM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
Fart in the Wind Offline
Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 429
Loc: beneath the Utica Shale
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind

$52,270 x 25 (years retirement) = $1,306,750 (99.99999% taxpayer funded)

here are some words for you to look up - investment, interest, collective pool


the teacher gets $1.3 million+ in pension and only has to pay in less than $15,000



so tell us how much the teacher paid into their pension?



Teller of untruths your pants have combusted.

That which you seek can be found at the NYSTRS website.
______________________________________

Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. Mark Twain

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#1362581 --- 09/05/12 01:12 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: bluezone]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Why teacher pension costs will keep rising
Thursday July 5, 2012 3:21 PM By E.J. McMahon

The closing bell on Wall Street last Friday also marked the end of the fiscal year for many public pension funds across the country, including the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS), which finances pensions promised to 420,000 active and retired professional educators working mainly for school districts outside New York City.

Like its counterparts, NYSTRS is heavily invested in publicly traded domestic corporate stocks, which make up 46 percent of its portfolio. As a result, the value of the pension fund's assets tends to move in the same direction as the S&P 500. The correlation isn’t precise; indeed, on average, the pension fund has outperformed the index. In general, however, a strong stock market equates to strong pension fund returns, and vice versa.

Last fall, NYSTRS was boasting of a “robust" return of 23.2 percent in fiscal 2011, when the S&P 500 gained 28.1 percent. But if the stock market's performance is any indication, fiscal 2012 wasn’t such a great year for the teachers' pension fund. During the 12 months ending June 29, the S&P 500 gained just 3.1 percent, excluding dividends. While the pension fund may have done better than that (it won’t get around to telling us until the fall), it seems unlikely, given the shaky state of global financial markets, that NYSTRS hit its return target of 8 percent in the fiscal year just ended. This is more bad news for the rest of us.

Even after a strong recovery in 2010 and 2011, and excluding a sub-par performance in 2012, the teacher pension fund’s average return on assets has been just 4.4 percent since 2000. This opened an enormous funding gap – which taxpayers have had to close.

Think of it this way: if NYSTRS had hit its 8 percent annual return target since the turn of the century, $100 in fund assets as of June 30, 2000, would have been worth $233 by June 30, 2011. The actual figure was $166. The pension fund’s choppy route to that mediocre return is depicted in the chart below.


Meanwhile, benefit payments have continued increasing at an average rate of 8 percent a year, more than doubling during the same period, according to NYSTRS’ annual financial reports. And this, in a nutshell, is why school districts’ pension costs have risen so much to 11.1 percent in 2012.


Ok, let’s get technical for a minute. A key factor in determining how close any pension plan comes to being fully funded is the discount rate used to calculate liabilities. This is different than the assumed rate of return; rather, the discount rate is just an expression of the cost of future liabilities today. And the higher the assumed discount rate, the less money needs to be set aside now to cover benefits promised for the future. Accounting rules dictate that corporate pension plans discount liabilities using the interest rate on low risk investments such as the yield on AAA-rated corporate bonds. That's typically 4 to 5 percent these days. By contrast, accounting standards for governments allow public pension funds to discount liabilities using the same high rate of return they hope to earn on their investments. That produces a trade-off -- pay less now, but more in the future if the goals are not met.

In a small step toward a more realistic standard, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has lowered the rate-of-return assumption for the giant New York State and Local Retirement System to 7.5 percent, and New York City will soon go down to 7 percent, which is still high enough to have been compared by Mayor Bloomberg to an investment come-on from Bernie Madoff.

Wilshire Consulting, a respected firm that has done a lot of work in this area, projectsa median long-term return of 6.4 percent for state pension funds that are now assuming 8 percent. And some smart people on Wall Street aren’t optimistic about the short term, either. Goldman Sachs, for one, recently turned quite bearish, adjusting its 12-month target for the S&P 500 to 1350 -- 1 percent below Friday's close.

Last fall, the teachers’ pension fund board approved an important (but widely overlooked) update to its actual assumptions, which will affect pension costs going forward. The most important change was no change at all: as recommended by its actuary, the fund decided to stick with 8 percent. The explanation? This paragraph from the actuarial report (which is not posted online, unfortunately) is pretty much the extent of it:

"The key question is whether or not an 8.0% rate of return assumption continues to be a prudent estimate going forward. We believe it does, and do not recommend changing it at this time. It has certainly been a good estimate for the 20 years it has been in place. Logic dictates that just as we did not increase our assumption in the face of fantastic returns in the 1990s, we should not decrease it now after a poorly-returning decade."

In other words, contrary to a disclaimer that should be familiar to every investor, NYSTRS would have us believe that past performance does point to future results.

DiNapoli’s lowering of the the state and local government pension fund rate was based on an actuarial analysisthat, among other things, included 5,000 groupings of simulated returns for the pension fund over the next 30 years. The median return for those simulations was less than 7 percent—i.e., half came in higher, half lower--and there was just a 35 percent chance that the state pension fund would hit its newly reduced 7.5 percent target.

By contrast, the actuarial report for the teachers’ fund didn’t delve much into quantitative analysis of probabilities—or, for that matter, the issue of financial risk. It did significantly alter a few other assumptions affecting pension costs, though. For one thing, it said retired teachers are living longer, which would make pensions more expensive. On the other hand, it said, teachers also have been retiring a few years later, and their rate of salary growth has waned a bit. These trends would tend to bring down pension expenses.

The net result of all these factors—the 8 percent return assumption, longer life spans offset by later retirement, and slightly smaller salary hikes--is that the contribution rate collected from school districts in the fall of 2013 will be 11.5 to 12.5 percent of total teacher salaries, only slightly above the current rate. However, “this should NOT be interpreted to mean that the [employer contribution rate] has reached a plateau,” the teachers’ fund has warned school districts. “We anticipate continued future increases in the [rate] beyond this point.”

How big will those increases be? NYSTRS just won’t say. While the teacher pension fund is comfortable predicting asset returns 40 to 50 years into the future, it refuses to provide employers with useful guidance on where their pension costs might be headed within the next decade. As a result, school districts throughout the state are negotiating three to five-year teachers’ contracts without knowing how much more pensions might cost three to five years down the line.

In a December 2010 report, Josh Barro and I estimated that the contribution rate could more than double, reaching 25 percent by 2016 if the fund hit its return target in the meantime. Adjusting for the very large return in 2011, we still estimate the rate will peak at 17 percent of salaries.

In short, more misery is on the way – even as the relatively few newly hired teachers become vested in what are (for now) less expensive pension tiers created by the state in the last three years, which won’t yield significant savings for a decade. But while school districts complain that pensions are a state-mandated cost over which they have no control, they are not completely helpless – not as group, at any rate. A concerted effort by school boards to hold down salary increases could have a significant impact on long-term pension costs. How significant? Well, NYSTRS’ latest actuarial calculations dropped the assumed average salary increase from 6.51 percent to 5.61 percent a year. All by itself, the report said, this 0.9 percent reduction was enough to cut pension contribution rates by 1.61 percent of salary.

This doesn’t let the teachers’ pension fund off the hook, however. By refusing to recognize the real long-term cost of teacher pensions, and by refusing to issue long-term projections of annual required contributions, the teachers’ retirement system and its board are doing a disservice to taxpayers and retirees alike.

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#1363100 --- 09/09/12 06:02 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Fart in the Wind]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind
Teller of untruths your pants have combusted.


_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1363175 --- 09/10/12 02:04 PM Re: Yeahhh...Let's Privatize It [Re: Fart in the Wind]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 35816
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: Fart in the Wind

$52,270 x 25 (years retirement) = $1,306,750 (99.99999% taxpayer funded)

here are some words for you to look up - investment, interest, collective pool


the teacher gets $1.3 million+ in pension and only has to pay in less than $15,000



so tell us how much the teacher paid into their pension?



Teller of untruths your pants have combusted.



prove otherwise...

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