In The Kansas City Star: Educator Pensions Impact Teacher Quality

What do teacher pension plans have to do with the quality of education?

Michael Podgursky, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, explains the correlation in an editorial published in The Kansas City Star.

It summarized his research — sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation — of the Missouri teacher pension system, which found that the state's complex pension systems actually acts as a "tariff" for educators, creating significant consequences for teacher quality.

Read an excerpt of the editorial below.

Rethinking teacher retirement plans

The source of the mobility penalty lies in the balkanized structure of educator pension plans.

Teachers and principals in Kansas City Public Schools have their own plan. Educators on the Kansas side of the state line are in a different plan. Educators in the St. Louis school district have their own plan, and the rest of Missouri teachers, including those in the KC area, are in yet another.

The penalties associated with crossing pension boundaries act like a tariff on the import of human capital into Kansas City Public Schools. They can have large consequences for Kansas City students and schools because research consistently identifies teacher quality as one of the most important determinants of school effectiveness.

Read the rest of the column at and see the full research report at