The unions and pols want a lot at of it at the back because then it's less transparent. There's other ways they try to hide it as well e.g. "disability" system, spiking your best years for retirement, etc. Teachers are already comparable to a lot of bachelor holding professions at ~$56-58k per year (2016), which doesn't factor in the lower hours/days worked in comparison to typical private sector work. I suspect that they also would look more favorable due to the likelihood of being located in a lower cost of living area in general as well. Moreover, that "crappy" pay means that you don't have to save as much as others, since teacher pension is better than the SS payments for the majority of Americans.A huge part of the problem is states have negotiated huge future benefits to help justify crappy current pay and benefits. Unions have accepted that, even though it is obviously not sustainable.