Letters to the Editor

Letter: Doing right by teachers

House Bill 220 is the bill to remedy the current lose-lose retirement situation Alaska teachers are in. It provides a much-needed incentive for folks to teach in Alaska, as it is currently very difficult to attract applications from the Lower 48.

As a retired teacher (27 years in Anchorage), I had the good fortune to discover the then recently adopted retirement system in 1969, now referred to, I believe, as Tier 1. It was adopted by a forward-thinking Legislature (read “Democrats”), aware that the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay would result in a huge population increase for the state (it did). The Tier 1 system mainly did its job, and most school districts managed to keep up with the population surge. This isn’t rocket science. If a business can’t attract employees, what do they do? They increase salary and/or benefits.

The 1970s batch of hired teachers are mostly, if not all, retired. Many of us can afford to stay in this great state due to, in my case, lots of summer employment and a meaningful retirement system. We pay our taxes and support local businesses. Many of those coffee shop tables you see around Anchorage loaded with old folks are filled with retired teachers.

The current system attracts a few outside adventurous teachers, wanting to see Alaska, to hunt, fish, hike and climb. But they mostly can’t, and won’t, stay. HB 220 will help solve this.

— Tom Nelson


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