Letters to the Editor – Texas Teachers Retreat, Caregivers, Dallas Homeless


Why bother with teacher retirement?

Re: “Texas Can Improve Teachers’ Retirement – Retirement Commitment Will Be Kept, But Change Could Help Educators, Taxpayers”, by Ron Simmons, Monday Opinion.

Simmons presents some provocative figures regarding the Texas teachers’ retirement system. I have just retired after 30 years in teaching and am acutely aware of how the pension fund continues to be a source of concern for all involved.

If his proposal is such a winner for teachers and the state budget, then why not do something similar with all state employees who have a similar pension payout structure? If the numbers are legit, then wouldn’t anyone receiving a pension of some ilk from the state benefit, including those who served in the Legislative Assembly?

Otherwise, my last question would be to paraphrase a line from Vito Corleone, “What have teachers done to deserve this bounty?”

Clifton Tramel, Weatherford

The retirement assumption does not take into account expenses

Simmons, an investment adviser, in this opinion piece advocates a defined contribution pension plan for teachers. Scott Burns has written several articles analyzing the financial mismanagement of the current system. Simmons’ assumptions ignore the fees and management assessments that the teachers’ retirement system allows to be placed on the funds.

The Texas Legislature in 2019 passed HB 2820, which eliminated the requirement for financial companies to register their products with TRS and removed all caps on expenses and fees. As a result of this legislation, Burns in an April 2021 column suggested that due to this lack of control, fees and expenses, teachers should not invest in 403(b) (the 401(k ) for teachers). They would be much better off financially using a Roth.

It appears that the major change in the move to defined contributions is that all teachers’ pension funds would be subject to the fees and expenses of financial firms and investment advisers.

Robert Hamilton, Map

Pie in the sky arithmetic

Simmons proposes to undermine teachers’ pensions with bogus logic and fanciful arithmetic. The only fact he’s touting is that 94% of Fortune 500 companies have already replaced employee pensions with what they euphemistically call “defined contribution pensions.” They are not pensions at all. These are savings plans. Just because a lot of wealthy corporate executives have already robbed their employees doesn’t mean Texans should sit idly by while our teachers have their pensions robbed!

Gene Lantz, Dallas

President, Texas Alliance for Retired Americans

Don’t Forget the Social Security Penalty

Re: “Texas Teachers Need a Better Deal – Our Retirement Benefits for Educators Ranked Among the Worst in the Nation,” July 11 editorial.

Thank you for this editorial revealing the sad state of the Texas teachers’ retirement program. There is another aspect of this program that penalizes our teachers even more. If teachers choose to participate in the state pension plan, it will affect the Social Security benefits they receive from a deceased spouse, with benefits significantly reduced or even eliminated. This is a huge financial blow for our teachers.

On the death of your spouse, the inactive or retired from the private sector can claim all or part of their monthly Social Security payment. In the majority of cases, the payment of spousal benefits (especially if it were a higher income) would far exceed what the teacher receives from the state. But they can’t get it in Texas.

Assuming the majority of teachers are women, they will likely outlive their husbands. This debacle is further compounded by the fact that the remaining ineligible funds, which rightfully belong to the surviving teacher, remain in government coffers.

New teachers entering the profession should be aware of this penalty early on so they can make an informed decision about their choice to teach in Texas.

Steve Barker, McKinney

Better wages for home care in demand

Subject: “Don’t Leave Texas Home Care Workers Behind – Those Keeping Patients Out of Hospitals Need Rises and Support,” by Rachel Hammon, Saturday Opinion.

Some older people develop bothersome physical disabilities but do not require them to be in a care center if they could find daily or less frequent helpers at home. Their psychological state and memory are less likely to deteriorate if they can stay at home, and their physical health is also prolonged. In addition, the cost of home medical assistance of this nature may be less expensive than institutional care.

The state provides help to those who need it, and it would be a less costly burden than simply raising taxes to pay for nursing home care. This topic should be made clear to our state legislators before the end of this year, and sufficient funding to pay better wages to the people who provide this home care must be part of the solution.

Marvin Noble, North Dallas/Preston Hollow

Any bonuses should apply to teachers

Re: “DISD Board of Directors Approves Superintendent’s Compensation – Elizalde to Earn $338,000, Plus $20,000 in Goal Bonuses,” Friday Metro & Business article.

This story says that ISD Dallas’ new superintendent can earn huge bonuses if students achieve ambitious academic goals. What about the teachers who played a role in this process?

Barbara WiskowDallas

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