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Special Edition: The Per Pupil Pension Subsidy

Hot off the presses, our affiliate, Education Reform Now CT, and the Equable Institute have released a report today that establishes a new equity metric for the state of Connecticut: the Per Pupil Pension Subsidy. The report, titled "Who Benefits? How Teacher Pension Financing Impacts Student Equity in Connecticut," explores the implications of having the state fully fund each local school district's pension obligations—in spite of the fact that local school districts set their own salaries.

The state's coverage of teacher pensions amounts to a subsidy for school district compensation packages. Looked at on a per student basis, the report's broad finding is:

The Per Pupil Pension Subsidy allocates more dollars to higher performing, more affluent, less diverse school districts. That puts districts with the greatest need at a structural and systemic disadvantage in terms of compensating their teaching workforces.


  • The State of Connecticut pays a larger Per Pupil Pension Subsidy to high-performing school districts than to districts with lower performance.

  • The State of Connecticut subsidizes school districts at double the rate for more affluent students as for their peers from low-income families.

  • The State of Connecticut subsidizes school districts at more than twice the rate for white students as for students of color.

Given that each school district must compete to attract and retain a stable, high-quality teaching workforce, there are serious implications to the state’s inequitable subsidizing of compensation disparities. The report shows that, ironically, the districts with the greatest need are the ones put at the greatest disadvantage.

In their joint opinion with Hearst CT today, the leaders of ERN CT and Equable Institute observe that: “Connecticut cannot continue to sustain this practice now that it has been exposed for this level of implicit, systemic discrimination. We must all consider the consequences of these findings for students’ educational experiences. Especially given the state’s sunnier economic outlook, it’s time to be purposeful about building education financing systems that ensure that students — all students — are the ones who benefit.”

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