Setting the record straight on teacher pensions

I would like to respond to Jack Kraus' letter of Dec. 11 re: teacher pensions. Mr. Kraus mentioned that "Illinois teachers are the highest paid teachers in the country with Geneva teachers on the top of the list." According to the USA Today website, Illinois teachers rank 17th in the nation with an average salary of $61,000. According to, a website that ranks school districts in Illinois, Geneva schools rank 37th in the state at $62,000. And according to the same website, Geneva teachers get an A-plus rating and the school district an A rating.

Kraus also mentions that the teachers in Illinois, who make up 1 percent of the population, are responsible for 50 percent of the pension debt. That 1 percent of the population is also responsible for teaching nearly 100 percent of the children in the state.

He also mentioned that the Geneva school district pays 100 percent of each teacher's portion of their retirement contribution. But that is not true. According to Teacher Retirement System sources, all teachers pay their pension contributions. It is only through bookkeeping techniques that allow districts to claim they pay the teacher contributions.

There seems to be a common misconception that the state of Illinois pays for most, if not all, of the teacher's pension. When I was an active teacher, my pension contribution went to pay for the retirement income of those who were already retired. Now that I'm retired, the now active teachers are happy to support me. That is how the system is supposed to work.

In addition, my retirement income is helped by TRS investments. And yes, the state of Illinois also contributes to our retirement, but according to TRS sources the state contribution to my total retirement income is about 34 percent.

Paul McDonough


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