While America’s public schools have steadily been getting worse over the last four decades, causing a mass exodus of middle-class families withdrawing their children from public schools and enrolling them in charters, an even larger crisis looms on the horizons of America’s public school system. Across the country, teachers’ pension systems, strained under demographic bottlenecks that were not originally foreseen when the systems were conceived and reeling from years of fiscal irresponsibility and profligate politicos pandering to their base by squandering pension principal, are facing the prospect of imminent insolvency.
This is most pronounced in states like New Jersey, Illinois and Kentucky. But dozens of other states are not far behind. The truth is that mendacious politicians, who have lavished their constituents like sailors on shore leave, in order to buy votes, combined with unrealistic projections that use completely unsustainable discount rates, have conspired to create a pension tsunami that may prove to inundate the entire American public education system under a tidal wave of unserviceable debt.
When teachers are owed, it’s the schools who pay
In the state of Kentucky alone, the total unfunded liability for the state’s public employees pension funds is estimate to be as high as $85 billion. It is, in a sense, ironic, that one of the first places where budgetary cuts are likely to occur, in order for the state to continue meeting its obligations to retired teachers, will be in the state’s public schools.
In fact, over the last 10 years in the United States, we see ample precedent suggesting that when local and state budgets become severely strained, the school systems under their jurisdiction often take the brunt of the hits. In Detroit, for example, that city’s public school system, despite massive bailouts from both the state and federal government, ranks among the worst in the entire nation. Many years the entire district has tested non-proficient at even the most basic level in math. Yes, that means that not one single student tested at even the most basic, 6th grade level for math proficiency.