Reducing teachers’ retirement benefits would hurt children, schools

To the editor:

This is a response to Jim Smoot’s letter titled “Hilmer’s courage to speak out is ‘for the kids'” from the Oct. 20 edition of the Call.

I believe that people who agree with Mr. Smoot fall into one of two categories: 1) They believe they are overtaxed and their money is given to a school district that does not spend their money wisely; and 2) they do not value education and view teachers in a negative light.

In terms of the first group, I believe Mr. Hilmer is their man. His idea will help save the state money by replacing the teachers’ defined-benefit pension plan with a defined-contribution plan. The first group will not be taxed as much, and they will be happy.

It is the second group that I would like to direct my comments.  I know that many of you may have had difficulty in school or had a bad experience in school. I know that many of you blame bad teachers for what happened to you in school. And I know a lot of you feel that you do not owe the schools anything for the jobs, cars and homes you have now because you worked hard and succeeded despite your bad experience in school.

But I beg of you, do not let your negative experience make you so bitter that you wish to inadvertently hurt the opportunities of our kids in school now by punishing teachers by reducing their retirement benefits.

This only makes the teaching field less attractive to would-be teachers, and, in turn, hurts the kids and the schools. Please pause and think before you make that decision. Thank you.

Michael Nolan