Darryl Sanderson's recent letter blasting "lucrative" public pensions needs a counterpoint.

First, Louisiana teachers and other public servants tend to be underpaid, have poor prospects for raises, and face job insecurities worse than many other states, The public employees' pensions are in many ways compensation for those shortcomings in their jobs. If the pensions were not attractive, the low pay and miserable prospects for advancement would cause many job seekers to ignore Louisiana completely. An attractive pension system is a requirement to effective recruitment of public employees, teachers and professors.

Second, the state pensions were fiscally responsible when they were first designed; that has long been a legal requirement. The unfunded pension liability has arisen because of meddling by legislators (adding benefits without paying for them) and by governors (raiding funds and earnings). The unfunded liability is not the fault of the pension system itself, but of outside factors. The attrition rate among Louisiana's teacher ranks is already dangerously high, leading to classrooms being staffed with increasingly less-experienced faculty. Making their pensions less attractive would be a major mistake, and our students, and our state, would suffer for years to come.

L.W. Shell

retired educator