By: Mark Glennon*
Illinois is among the worst states in the college student debt “crisis,” as it’s often called. Per student college debt here averages $28,543, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.
But look at unfunded teacher pension liabilities on a ‘per student’ basis and you get about the same. That’s the calculation made for all fifty states by the National Council on Teacher Quality in a report earlier this year. Illinois is the very worst by that measure: $27,022 of unfunded teacher pension debt per student, according to the report (p. 78).
Borrowing for college may be sensible. Debate that if you want. But student borrowing for primary education is an entirely different matter.
A decent, free public education — “the great equalizer” — is part of what America is about, right? Not in Illinois. We’ve betrayed that, and so much more. By passing teacher pension debt to our children, we will make them pay for much of their own education — just part of the hundreds of billions of pension liability we are leaving to them.
“Intergenerational theft” is the term recently used by Jeremy Gold, a nationally prominent actuary, to describe public pension debt. He is among the growing number even in his profession starting to speak out about how deceitfully that bill has been allowed to explode and be left to our children.
If you think public unions and pensions have crippled Illinois and Chicago, remember it’s worse than that. It’s intergenerational theft.
*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.