When you talk about PERS, you're talking about Lindsay.
I have six classes totaling about 140 children – from kindergarten to fifth grade – every day. I love working with the children, helping them get excited about learning a second language. I find my work extremely rewarding.
I did not go into public service for the money or for financial reward. As such, my salary does not have much room to save for retirement. I thought that was okay because I had the promise of my PERS benefit. I thought it made financial sense to sacrifice salary today knowing that I would have retirement security later. I do not know how I could possibly afford to continue teaching if my future retirement benefits were to be cut, by any percentage.
I am already slated to receive the lowest level of retirement, as are most public employees. The Oregon Public Service Retirement Program provides a pension that, on average, is $2,300 per month. According to a recent AARP report, Oregon teachers make 22% less in salary than other college graduates in the workforce. My retirement benefits don’t make up that gap, but they do make it possible for me to teach. It’s that simple.
I have heard some politicians say they want to cut PERS. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but is just flat out wrong. These cuts will mean fewer teachers in the classroom because like me, young and eager teachers will have to look elsewhere for their careers. It is already difficult to retain talented people. Please do not make it impossible for me to continue working with children in the profession that I love. Please do not break your promise to provide a secure retirement for teachers like me.