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Posted at 5:36 PM ET, 01/20/2011

Pensions for teachers vs. chancellors

By Valerie Strauss

It seems fair to note that after making a public stink about the awfulness of pensions for public school teachers, former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein has himself accepted a $34,000 pension check.

Klein recently penned an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Teacher Pensions Won’t Work,” in which he equates the pension system for New York City’s public teachers to a Ponzi scheme.

But apparently, he doesn’t feel the same way about pensions for former chancellors.

The New York Daily News reported that shortly before that op-ed was published, Klein “walked into the city's teacher pension office to collect his own annual windfall,” which was a pension check for $34,000.

That’s the amount he will collect annually as a pension for serving eight years as schools chancellor. Add that to the big salary he is making as the new executive vice president in the office of the chairman of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

According to Bloomberg News, Klein will receive a base salary of $2 million a year, plus a $1 million signing bonus, and will be eligible for an annual bonus of at least $1.5 million.

I’m sure there’s a good explanation for why teachers’ pensions are a lousy idea but not a chancellor’s pension. I just don’t know what it is.

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 20, 2011; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  Teachers  | Tags:  chancellor klein, joel klein, klein pension, new york city schools, pensions, ponzi schemes, schools chancellor, teachers pensions  
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Next: Rhee moving organization to Sacramento


Keep bringing the sunshine, Valerie! Good job!

Posted by: willoughbyspit | January 20, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Every one of these "reformers" makes huge salaries and benefits while avoiding the classroom like the plague. Most wouldn't come near a schoolchild, except for a photo op. And yet they are unanimous in wanting to strip teachers of their hard-earned but modest salaries and pensions. Now why would this be?

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | January 20, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

And the hits keep on comin'!

This is the kinda crap Oprah needs to have on her show. Not smoke and mirrors BS from people like Rhee.

The old saying is true, "The rich keep getting richer."

Posted by: UrbanDweller | January 20, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, please find out of Michelle Rhee will be collecting a pension from DCPS after only 3.5 years on the job. I believe she was the highest paid city employee making more than even her boss the mayor. Scandalous!

Let us know what you find out.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | January 20, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Just because a pension was the only benefit type available to him doesn't mean he thinks it's a good idea. I am sure he would have taken a 401(k) or 403(b) type plan...

Posted by: staticvars | January 21, 2011 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Valerie you rock! I don't always comment, but you always are showing the way.

Posted by: Mulch5 | January 21, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for that information.

Personally, I think that the public sector and the private sector should offer similar benefits. Pensions are something everyone wants, but at this point mostly only government workers get them because they were unsustainable in the private sector - and are showing themselves mostly unsustainable in the public sector as well.

Similarly, I pay $800 a month for my family's health insurance (2 adults, 2 kids) - that's our portion - $800. Lots of public employees only pay a small fraction of that.

Finally, not using the schools all year round needs to transform into a more intensive full utilization of our facilities year round.

I don't think we would tend to attract as many folks who want summers off or who want pensions - all the wrong reasons to teach. We can't attract the best and the brightest by offering benefit packages to public employees that attract a fair number of folks for those reasons alone to these jobs.

For teachers, I would like to see better pay and benefits commensurate to the private sector. Same for other public jobs. The flip side of that would be a system of summmers off, cheap insurance payments and pensions for all. Since, that isn't going to happen, let's level the playing field.

Posted by: KateMartin | January 22, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

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