Michael Podgursky is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri –
Columbia, where he served as department chair from 1995-2005.
His research focuses on the economics of education. He has written
many articles in the area, with a primary focus on teacher labor markets
and teacher compensation. He serves on the board of editors of
Education Finance and Policy, Peabody Journal of Education,
and advisory boards for various statistical agencies and research institutes,
and is a co-investigator at the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal
Data in Education Research at the Urban Institute and the National Center
for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University, two national research
centers funded by the Institute on Education Sciences of the U.S. Department
In a recent Education Next article we talked about winners and losers in teacher pension systems, and about the huge costs these systems impose on mobile teachers due to the back-loading of benefits. In a letter to the editor written in response to our article, Beth Almeida of the National Institute on Retirement Security takes us to task for describing this phenomenon as “redistribution,” noting that such a practice is illegal. Since we don’t want to get pension and teacher union officials in trouble, we have a modest proposal.
For more than a decade, debate over reform of public pensions has been in a rut. On one side, some reformers have favored scrapping traditional teacher pension plans in favor of the IRA-type plans received by most private-sector professionals. On the other side, teacher unions, retiree groups, and defined-benefit pension plan professionals fight hard to protect existing plans. Each side has legitimate points.