LETTER: Watertown Educator Supports Legislation to Encourage Early Retirement for Teachers

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Dear Editor,

My name is Holly Carroll Cachimuel and I have been a public school teacher for over 25 years. I am writing today in support of the proposed Early Retirement Legislation H.2620/S.1791.

Under this proposed bill, veteran teachers have the opportunity for an early retirement. At the same time, it also supports two urgent needs in our education system: diversifying the educational staff and creating a cadre of certified teachers able to work as substitutes.

First, as veteran teachers choose early retirement, there would be an opportunity for a more rapid diversification of the workforce. As openings arise, more educators who reflect the many racial and ethnic backgrounds of our student population can enter our public schools. There is a recent trend of increased hiring of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Directors. This hiring trend, in combination with the proposed bill, presents an opportunity for the new DEI Directors to specifically focus on staff diversification.

I had the opportunity to attend the September Race Reels event at Watertown Free Public Library. Dr.Tatiana Cruz, Fellow for Faculty Diversity at New England Board of Higher Education, spoke about her K-12 school learning. She did not have one teacher of color in her entire educational experience. This is unacceptable for students of color and frankly all students as it does not prepare them for the real world. Filling openings that arise by early retirement with a more diverse staff would help prevent our future students from having similarly homogenous experiences.

Secondly, the early retirement of some teachers would result in the expansion of a qualified pool of certified teachers available to substitute. While many veteran teachers may no longer want to work full time, some would welcome the opportunity to work as substitutes. I, for one, would be part of this pool of retired educators interested in substitute teaching.

In addition, there can be important savings as part of this legislation. By letting teachers at the top of the payscale retire and be replaced by new teachers, districts will save substantial funds. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) states:

…proponents point to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s “golden handshake” program as evidence of the efficacy of retirement incentive programs. . . The California State Controller’s annual cost-benefit analyses of the program have reported millions of dollars in savings over the past five fiscal years, including last year’s report on fiscal year 2018-19.

A common concern is that replacing veteran teachers with novice educators will sacrifice student achievement. This fear has been debunked by the same NCSL study that shows that student achievement does not correlate with teacher experience.

In conclusion, this is a win-win bill that gives veteran teachers the opportunity to pursue new endeavors, districts the opportunity to save money and students the opportunity to learn from a more diverse cadre of teachers . I urge you to please consider fully supporting this legislation and opening up our doors to a teaching staff that reflects the beautiful diversity of our community.

Sincerely yours,
Holly Cachimuel

6 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown Educator Supports Legislation to Encourage Early Retirement for Teachers

  1. I thought there was a shortage of teachers?
    https://teach.com/careers/become-a-teacher/teaching-credential/state-requirements/massachusetts/#shortage

    Also what would early retirement mean , looks like you could purchase 5 years or if 55> possibly something else?

    I’m pro teacher but also would want to know what the costs would be for early retirement for the town/state? (I believe you could pay for 5 years to get to 30 possibly?)
    I’m not certain that having teachers retire in bulk is a good thing to our schools but possibly timed retirements(not sure how this would be done though). Possibly this is not something they see happening(big amounts of retirements in the same year)?

    Also would not create a direct correlation with early retirement and diversity in teachers(this is a problem that needs to be addressed in many ways and I could see more opportunities for positions as a side correlation to diversity but not a direct one).

    Some novice teachers are great while others are not great(experienced this first hand with my daughter). Same goes for very experienced teachers(some great/not great). So I do understand that argument is fret with holes.

    While I do believe new energy/teachers coming in may be great, I do value great teachers too..that said after the past 2 years, I would not blame a teacher who has been teacher for 25+ years to want early retirement!

  2. Teachers should be chosen on their merit.

    That is, their record in being able to teach students well.

    This has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

    Shall we hire teachers based on their race/ethnicity as compared to percentages of certain races and ethnicities in the student population?

    That’s absurd. And if there was ethnic or racial bias in past hirings, that has to stop.

    What this would mean, for example, in a town that is 99% Irish Catholic is that 99% of the teachers there should be Irish Catholic. Does the letter writer believe that?

    Shall Newton South High School hire a load of Jewish teachers because many of the teachers are Jewish?

    People are tired of this diversity nonsense. It does not hold up to scrutiny.

    • Agreed, William.

      In an effort to rectify the racism of our past, we now put race requirements on employment. How is this less racist than NOT hiring someone based on the color of their skin?

  3. I too am concerned about the costs involved with allowing early retirement for teachers, especially covering their health care benefits for a longer time. What age are they talking about? Even though teachers have had a stressful two years with covid, all in all they still have better jobs than other people dealing with the virus. They get better pay, better benefits, a lot more days off in a typical year, and a better retirement plan than many others. They were able to work from home during the pandemic while many others could not. We all have had stressful situations in our work environments and yet teachers seem to think they suffer more. We need to hire teachers based on their credentials, not necessarily because of their ethnic backgrounds. All qualified individuals should be considered in all communities and communities should have input if they feel certain teachers are failing their children by teaching their own prejudices and/or political leanings. We constantly increase the money we spend in education, but there are still many students graduating with less than exemplary skills to work in today’s world. We are allowing the dumbing down of the testing and by doing that we have no accurate information on what these students actually have learned and, therefore, how well their teachers did their jobs. Many of the students aren’t proficient in math, reading or being able to think critically. Most teachers have good intentions, but others seem to be out for their own agendas as we saw during the pandemic.

  4. This is ridiculous. The argument here for early retirement coupled with the desire of many older teachers to get out sooner, rather than later, has been around forever. I experienced it 35 years ago as a young teacher, day in and day out in the teacher’s lunchroom, and it left a totally negative impression on me, which resulted in my leaving the profession after 3 years of service.

    The fact is teachers here in the Commonwealth hold benefits that are among the best in all of the fifty states. Unions advocate strongly for pay and benefits; in right to work states, teachers have to do it on their own. Employment retirement pensions and health insurance for life are nowhere to be found in the private sector. My mother, who was a retired teacher, had many medical issues that would have left her financially crippled if not for her generous health care plan. The commonwealth provides very well for former public sector employees on the backs of the private sector. The latter pays for these benefits of pensions and healthcare while working in increasing numbers beyond the age of 65. Just last week, I was speaking to a colleague who is still at full time employment at, age 66, and sees no stopping on his horizon due to increased medical cost burdens and living expenses. We both are employed at a Fortune 50 company.

    The argument that allowing teachers to retire early would diversify and expand the workforce is particularly lame. Fact is teaching candidates are decreasing markedly at institutions of higher learning for reasons going beyond so called “poor pay and benefits.” Providing teachers an earlier escape will only result in increased expenses for the local communities and the commonwealth, again being placed on the shoulders of people who are having to move their own retirements further and further beyond the age of 65.

    One last thought, if a teacher is tired of their job, just leave. That’s what the rest of us are faced with: do your job or quit. And educators are no more special than the rest of us. They have a job and so do we.

  5. Teachers early retirement is about giving a financial incentive (aka $$$) for teachers to retire early, to dress it up as some pro-diversity effort is a sham and pretty degrading to genuine efforts to raise inclusiveness in our schools. In fact, the argument laid out above amounts to a sort of diversity extortion: “If you pay us old white ladies enough to stop working, we’ll get out of the way and you can hire some faces that look more like today’s students. If not, too bad. Looks like you’ll still have the problem!”

    Finally, there is zero chance it saves money to gift a bunch of teachers bigger pensions, hire their replacements, and then hire the retired teachers back as subs.

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