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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida teachers launch battle against pension changes



Florida's governor and lawmakers have made it clear: Teachers and other state employees are most likely about to begin paying into their pension plans.

The Florida Education Association wants to clarify a few things, too, as it battles the initiative. The teachers union has begun passing information praising the pension system as one of the best run in the country. "Before you buy into lawmakers' rhetoric you need to consider the facts," the FEA asserts in a member advocacy alert.

"Retired public school teachers pensions amount to about $325 per week — hardly the windfall that pension opponents are claiming. If you look at education support personnel that weekly benefit falls to about $195 per week. This has to help cover rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation expenses, groceries, medicine and other day-to-day expenses. And retirees pay income taxes on this small benefit. Public school employees haven’t asked for much, aren’t given much and at the end of their careers receive a modest retirement income."

Look for the fight to heat up right alongside the debate over teacher pay, evaluations, contract terms and other matters set forth in Tallahassee to deal with "quality" issues. Looks like the definition of teacher is headed for big changes this year.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 6:09am]


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