More Ohio teachers retiring amid pension program changes, frustration with new state tests

Associated Press

Leaders of Ohio's education retirement system said pension changes have led to more teachers retiring, while some educators have said new state tests have factored into to their decisions.

Districts are already bracing for increased retirements this year, The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1zHMshL), as state requirements for age and years of service are set to increase in August.

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Some teachers planning to retire said they disagree with the changing education culture that relies on more tests.

"I don't know if I was ready to leave in some ways," said Jack Minot, a science teacher who is retiring after 33 years. "But I do feel affected by the new rules of testing. I feel like that's become the dominant priority. I don't feel like it's something I'm willing to accept as a dominant priority."

Ohio was one of several states this year to use new tests linked to the Common Core standards, and some parents and teachers have complained they're too time-consuming and distract from deeper learning.

Ellie Wiseman, an English teacher at Pickerington Central High School, said she is retiring after 43 years in the classroom.

She said she doesn't have the energy to teach properly while jumping "through the increasing number of hoops" the state and district require.

The State Teachers Retirement System doesn't track why educators leave, but spokesman Nick Treneff said many retirements are expected this year.

According to the retirement system, fiscal year 2012 had 7,613 retirements and fiscal year 2013 had 7,658 retirements — each peak years. 2014 dropped to 5,875 retirements, closer to normal.

Teachers with 30 years of service have been able to retire at any age and get full benefits in the past, but the age and years-of-service requirements go up starting in August. Teachers considering early retirement would take a bigger financial hit if they wait until after August.

Columbus is facing 217 retirements — the most in five years. Spokesman Jeff Warner said changes in teacher pensions are causing most of the retirements.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com