America's Hidden Education Funding Cuts
How Growing Teacher Pension Debt Stresses America’s K–12 Education Budgets
Rapidly growing teacher pension debt has caused retirement costs to triple as a share of state and local education budgets since 2001, leaving less money to support classrooms, teachers, and students. These are America's Hidden Education Funding Cuts.
Understanding America's Hidden Education Funding Cuts
Teacher pension costs have grown significantly faster than K-12 education spending over the past two decades, driven by teacher pension unfunded liabilities. These rising costs have necessitated larger contributions from states and local school districts' budgets to fund retirement benefits. As a result, teacher retirement costs have consumed an increasing share of total K-12 education funding, siphoning off money that could be spent on important resources and programs to improve educational outcomes for students and provide better supports for teachers.
This is a Hidden Education Funding Cut.
Hidden Education Funding Cuts By State
There are two different ways of thinking about the change in hidden education funding cuts over time:
Percentage growth, typically measured over the last two decades or since 2009
Absolute change in the size of hidden cuts
Either approach paints the same trendline picture — either positive or negative depending on the state. But the scale of change can be different, and each approach can make certain states look better or worse compared to one another.