The Lowe Down

<< Previous entry: Chan Lowe: China vs. Google

>> Next entry: Chan Lowe: Congressional death threats

Slashing Florida teachers' pensions

teach.gifWhen a professional basketball player wraps up a stellar career, he often walks away with millions. If he has been particularly outstanding, his number is retired and his jersey is hung from the rafters of his home arena. As time passes, his exploits may be recalled, with decreasing frequency, at sports bars.

When a stellar teacher retires, he or she--if lucky--can look forward to the promise of a reasonable pension. His legacy is not a retired number, but a flicker of inspiration carried in the hearts and minds of the students he touched.

When those students grow old and take stock of what they have done with their lives, they may credit that dedicated professional who set them on the path that enabled them to exploit their individual potential to its fullest.

Both the basketball player and the teacher chose their line of work out of love for their profession. There is nothing wrong with rewarding the basketball player for providing us with high-quality--albeit transitory--entertainment. He performed his role with excellence.

There is something wrong, however, with so undervaluing the profession of those to whom we entrust the nurturing of our children's intellects that they must struggle for decent pay and a respectable retirement.

Yes, we are in desperate economic straits, but surely we owe our teachers more than that.

Categories: Economy (197), Florida Issues (258)
submit to reddit
add to delicious


I guess you've missed the trend in the rest of the non-government world: Pensions are a thing of the past. Just like tenure - long gone are the days when you can warm a chair and expect to be rewarded.

If companies like IBM,GE,Microsoft , Intel,etc.can no longer afford pensions how would you expect the taxpayers to continue to fund pensions for teachers , politicians, police , fireman , stae and federal workes ?

A star basketball player is a rare commodity while teachers are a dime a dozen. During this economic downturn there are far more qualified teachers looking for work than job openings.

Governments are going broke. People working in the "private sector" are losing jobs and being underemployed. However, government employees in general make much more money than non-government employees for similar work. In addition they have much better benefits and higher pensions.

The problem is not that we undervalue the teaching profession. The problem is that "we entrust the nurturing of our children's intellects" to government employees who are not accountable for the quality of their work and who are virtually impossible to fire.


Presently pensions only exist in the public sector. The private sector learned long ago that pensions will break the bank. The pay scales of public employees far exceed those of private employers and the benefits are over the top. Its well past time to put the public sector employees back in line with the rest of us who are the ones paying for all the perks.

Thanks Mom, for teaching me to read when I was four. You're the best!

I wonder why the literacy rate in this country is lower now than it was before government education was forced upon us.

It's true that the private sector are losing their pensions. However, our safety, our lives and our future (for the most part) are not in the hands of the private sector. And when was the last time a private sector indivdual risk his or her life for a total stranger. There is a major differnece between giving a pension to someone willing to risk his/her life for you and someone that designs a new video game.

I wish that they had told me when I paid for my master's degree, that it was not important. I wish I had gone into the world of computer science for money instead of teaching special needs children how to read. I guess my work is no longer important. AND, I would like to see the FCAT scores of the legislators’ kids. They probably failed the FCAT and now they blame teachers for their failure as parents. Those kids just aren't important. You don't want my 30 years of experience? Just give me the money I put into the retirement system, I'll be glad to leave.

Until teachers, firemen etc etc can bring in money from commercial endeavors, they will never be paid what they are worth, which is why sports and entertainment persons will always be paid more than they are worth. Maybe if we all stopped endorsing (paying) the "celebrities", the real professions would be justly compensated!

The private sector pays much better than the public sector. However, the FRS is one of the top pension programs in the country and has been managed very well. Firefighters and Police put their lives on the line every day. Teachers are entrusted with our most precious children and do so much with very little. Don't threaten our retirements by trying to steal from FRS as Florida did with the state lottery. FRS is well run and it is a government program! Why wreck it? I'm a UNION firefighter and one day soon I want to be home with my family EVERY night once I retire. They deserve that and I worked for it.

Got news for you bubba, it's called "supply and demand". Communism failed economically mostly because they set artificial prices. A doctor making as much as a janitor, three guesses where that will lead.
Second, some professions have a huge gap between mediocre and stellar and some have it more balanced. For every rock star making millions I can show you a thousand old people playing their band in their parent's garage. For every NBA star I can show you a hundred old farths talking how great they were in high school. Now a mediocre teacher makes just about as much as a stellar teacher. How about we pay the good ones 200K a year, and the mediocre ones 20K? Forgot your kind is against merit pay.
And last, why are we comparing teachers with NBA? Give me a break, let's compare them with construction workers:teachers work in AC, work only about 10 months a year have ten thousand hollydays, yeah they might start at 35K a year, but I know some elementary teachers who make 60-70K a year and a nice pension when they retire. A construction worker most times gets none of those above and I've had workers that after 40 years were making 40K a year. How's that fair?

Why not just cut to the chase and close the public schools? That way parents can choose between home schooling and state funded private schools... Oh, and of course the state funded charter schools that typically fail and close after a three-year run... (enriching themselves and further impoverishing the public schools.) Think of the money we'll save... Just remember: You get what you pay for!

Actually, after reading the comments what you are seeing here is jealousy. When corporations were paying people big bucks AND giving pensionsand stock options along with expense accounts, no one really cared about the teachers whose salaries weren't being raised because, by golly, someday they will get a decent pension. Now, since private sector workers can't them, NO ONE should have them? Isn't that the sentiment? All I know is that during the boom years, when everyone was raking it in hand over fist, the teacher's salaries were stagnant and not rising for cost of living. And all this about not getting rid of teachers...over 50% don't make it to the five year mark because it is a demanding job, mentally, emotionally, and yes, physically depending on the age taught. The ones who can't hack it or realize the "great pension" isn't worth it, leave and make better money working at lots of different jobs in AC daily. It takes up to 25-30 to get to that 60K mark and usually requires lots of extra education. The public wants the best and the brightest teachers and they expect to get it by offering them nothing, not even respect and support. Now I know why my high school teachers begged me not to throw away my intelligence and choose teaching. I am burning my resume as we speak since my years of experience and my Master's degrees mean nothing.

What's the going rate in the real world for somebody with a Master's degree in Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science or Mathematics? Trust me when I tell you that it is a lot more than teachers make.

One billion dollars being given to the state of Florida by the Seminole tribe. Should a portion of this money not be used to encourage our county employees to stay on their jobs and to entice more to join their ranks. I am talking about the Police, Firemen and of course our school teachers. To think our school teachers were offered a one time bonus of $500.00 is insane. Now they want to pay our teachers contingent on the scores of their students. What about the studens who don't want to learn or the studens who can't learn. I never heard of a teacher giving up on any of their studens. I see why so many teachers have left Florida for teaching jobs in other states.


Let's not forget the Democratic School Board in Broward County and their thieving past.

Why not a carton about Stephanie Kraft, Joseph Egglletion, Fitzroy Salesman and Beverly Gallagher...instead of a broad-brush condemnation of Republicans?

Democrats aren't pure and untouchable, like you seem to staunchly believe.

Leave a Reply


You share in the community, so we just ask that you keep things civil. Leave out the personal attacks. Do not use profanity, ethnic or racial slurs, or take shots at anyone's sexual orientation or religion. If you can't be nice, we reserve the right to remove your material and ban users who violate our Terms of Service.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
Connect with me

Search this blog
Get text alerts on your phone

Send me the following alerts:

STORM - Weather Alerts
NEWS - Breaking News Alerts
LOTTO - Lottery Numbers
SPORTS - Breaking Sports News
BIZ - Business news headlines
ENT - Entertainment news headlines
DEALS - Free offers and money saving deals

You can also sign up for by texting any of the above keywords to 23539. Standard messaging and data rates apply.
E-mail newsletters
Get the news that matters to you delivered to your inbox. Breaking news, hurricane alerts, news from your neighborhood, and more. Click here to sign up for our newsletters. It is fast, easy and free!