Before National Teacher Appreciation Week wraps up, let’s all take some time to thank or remember our favorite teachers. We all have them. In fact, great teachers are everywhere. They are our neighbors, our friends and probably in our own families.

At the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, we know people don’t enter the teaching profession to get rich. It’s challenging work but a true calling. And, just like teacher salaries aren’t generous, neither are their retirement benefits.

Louisiana retired teachers do not get Social Security. The average TRSL pension is just $2,102 per month. Still, it’s modest and reliable income for more than 73,000 retirees and beneficiaries, most of whom still live right here in Louisiana.

Last year, TRSL paid out almost $2 billion in retirement benefits. Those dollars impact every parish in the state where TRSL retirees buy local goods and services — and pay taxes, too.

Some pension critics may find satisfaction leading efforts to scale back retirement benefits that retirees, in large part, fund themselves. But, it’s important to know that — to its credit — Louisiana began addressing pension funding long before most other states. Sensible and lawful changes in recent years will save more than $5 billion in the long term. For the sake of Louisiana and its retired teachers, let’s give these reforms time to work so that we can fully realize the cost efficiencies they will produce.

Robert Lawyer

board chairman, Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana

Baton Rouge