Teacher retirement numbers up in Chicago

May 31, 2012

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The number of Chicago teachers retiring this year is getting close to a record-breaking level.

So far 1,954 Chicago teachers plan to retire. The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund estimates that number will hit 2,000 before summer ends. That would be a 40 percent jump over last year.

Chicago Public School officials previously reported the number of retirees at 1,400.

The retirements come as lawmakers attempt to tackle pension reform and as Chicago Public Schools implements longer school days and new teacher evaluations.

A smaller increase in retirements is expected statewide - just 5 percent, according to the state’s Teacher Retirement System.

Previous spikes in retirements came in 2007, 2005 and 1994 – years when the state started offering incentives to reduce future pension costs.

Helen Ptacek is a CPS special education teacher who e-mailed WBEZ.

"I live to teach," she wrote. "Why would I go now when I still want to teach and I'm at the top of my game?  The list of reasons is exhaustingly long."

Ptacek listed a number of reasons, including too much testing in CPS and a lack of respect for teachers.

Teachers aren't the only ones leaving the district in big numbers. The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association says 92 principals and 50 assistant principals also plan to retire this summer.