The money’s not for the children, and it’s not for the teachers.
“Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007,” says the Chicago Tribune.
According to the article, one of the two lobbyists is on track for “a pension of about $108,000 a year” from a pension system that’s in the red. Basically, Illinois takes out a loan to cover the pay-outs, and tax-payers cover the interest. Of course everyone who draws a pension has contributed to the system some percent of his salary. The Trib says one of these lobbyists earned $93 for his one-and-only day as a substitute teacher.
In another story, half of Illinois public high school students flunked state exams in reading, math and science this year, setting a new record low.
So education taxes didn’t go to pay teachers, and didn’t help the students learn. Maybe they’re part of an economic stimulus package.
UPDATE 25 October 2011: I just noticed this surprising coincidence. According to the Tribune, one of the two people who took advantage of this retirement opportunity is the political director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, named Steven Preckwinkle. Remembering that somehwhat uncommon last name, I was surprised to see it again today in an unrelated news item. Apparently Toni Preckwinkle is president of the Cook County Board.
UPDATE 5 January 2012: Quinn signs public pension overhaul – “Sweeping reforms are aimed at curbing public pension abuses by union officials revealed by a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.” I wonder where the loophole is now.