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Teacher Retirements On The Rise

A teacher explains a math lesson to her class at Indianapolis' George Washington High School in August 2011.

There was a 13 percent increase in teacher retirements in the just-ended fiscal year than the year before. According to the Indiana State Teachers Association, about 3,400 teachers in Indiana retired in the last year.

That’s on top of a 63-percent increase the year before. The huge jump in 2011 is misleading, because 2010‘s retirements were unusually low, as many would-be retirees hung on because of the recession. But retirements in 2011 topped 2009 levels as well.

Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger blames dissatisfaction with Governor Mitch Daniels’ education reforms, especially last year‘s bill overhauling teacher evaluations. That bill requires schools to make student test scores part of the formula for setting teachers‘ rating and pay.

“Teachers have always been evaluated by administrators, and for the most part, if administrators were doing their job, the process worked very well,” he says. “Now it‘s a large percentage based on their students‘ test scores, and while from afar that may sound like a fair way to do that, when you start looking into that, it‘s really not.”

Schnellenberger says teachers do not object to performance evaluations, but says making their ratings depend on test scores is unfair.

The pension fund‘s Jeff Hutson expects retirements to keep rising simply because the baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Hutson says retirements are rising in large part because the baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and will continue to increase for the same reason.

And Hutson says some retirees may have concluded budget cuts in their district made it the right time to step away.

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