As early as the turn of the 20th century, American legislators seemed to understand the importance of teacher quality to students’ education. A 1917 report on public education noted that “a school-teacher’s work is personal, direct, and positive. It works for the good or the ill of each pupil.”1
Defined benefit (DB) pension plans were first introduced for teachers in the United States to help with the recruitment of high quality educators, and as an incentive to keep those educators in the teaching profession. By 1916, some form of retirement plan was made available to public schoolteachers in 33 states. It was thought that such a retirement system might serve two purposes: 1) bringing more diverse, and highly qualified teachers into the profession; and 2) creating a more productive workforce that actually saves public employers money, as one dollar in pension benefits was seen as worth more than a dollar in salary.2
Today, the vast majority of public school teachers in the United States participate in a traditional DB pension plan.