Governor Christie promises he will pay into the state pension fund if a number of his demands are met (that's how collective bargaining works now in New Jersey) and one of his prerequisites is to raise the retirement age for teachers to sixty-five . . . and while I realize that 65 might be a typical retirement age in the private sector, it is not what was promised if you dedicated your life to education-- when I started teaching, the retirement age for teachers was fifty-five: it was one of the alluring things about the career-- and although the age has been raised periodically for new hires, it hasn't changed if you were "grand-fathered in," but the new proposal states that anyone with less than 25 years teaching experience must work until they are 65 before they can receive their pension, and I understand that the Governor is trying to balance the budget, but I am not sure that he's thought about the ramifications of this proposal:
1) Though it won't be so bad for this generation of kids, the next generation of children will rarely have the joy of a new, young teacher, idealistic and fresh out of college . . . instead they will be taught by old, bitter and wilted hags and crones, eking out those last few years before retirement and the big sleep . . .
2) It will be extremely difficult for new teachers to get jobs, because the old teachers won't be able to retire . . . and teaching is a young person's job-- it requires an incredible amount of energy and endurance-- so health care and logistical costs will sky-rocket because old teachers will be taking loads of sick days and using far more health care than young teachers . . .
3) The only time students will get a new, fresh, young idealistic teacher is when their old teacher dies, and this will inevitably happen in front of students, and the psychic toll this exacts on our population-- the collective trauma our youth will share, that they all have seen a teacher fall over in the middle of class, croak out a last bit of wisdom, and then die in front of them-- will off-set any budgetary benefits from the proposal;
4) On the plus side, this makes the rest of my life very easy to figure out . . . I don't have to worry about thinking about early retirement . . . what I might do with myself, where I might want to live . . . I will be in the same spot for the next twenty-five years, doing the same job, watching my colleagues grow old and wrinkled, living in the same house in the same town . . . and enjoying a higher quality of living that the vast majority of the humans on the planet . . . and there's something comforting in that, as long as I pace myself.