There are two points about your post that I'd like to respond to. The first is the statement that "this site is a refuge for what educators are not getting--information about low cost 403b options." I have no problem with that...except that that's NOT what the site describes itself to be. When you go to the homepage, and click "About us," you get the following description (excerpted): "Our goal is to provide valuable information and education so that participants can make informed investment decisions whether that means directing their own 403(b) investments, or using the services of an agent or advisor." This is, in a nutshell, what I find to be problematic about the site: while it claims to want only to "play a role in increasing the understanding of and participation in a 403(b)" (taken from the same section), it's really not that at all. The site appears to me to have an agenda: to portray all low-cost financial products and the fee-only financial planners who sell them as good, and all full-service financial service providers (and their "higher cost" products) as bad, or at the very least, not even close to worth the extra money. That's certainly a defensible position, but it seems like the folks running the site should at least come clean and say so in their self-description. I acknowledge that perhaps I'm confusing the site with the participants in this discussion group, but since the site owners have leaped to Joel Frank's defense so readily, it seems a logical link to make.
The other part that I find interesting is the notion of full disclosure. Whenever an agent comes on this site, and engages in full disclosure, (s)he is routinely hooted off the site, or (worse!) portrayed as a charlatan. (Most recent example was Joel Frank's recent Bob Grant imitation, in which he branded such an agent a fraud and a phony, despite a complete lack of evidence that the original poster had said ANYthing to merit such treatment.) Yet someone like Joel, who may well be a fee-only financial planner, is allowed to simply speak at length without giving any indication of what HIS agenda is. And yes, his (possible) status as a fee-only financial planner WOULD be quite relevant. Let's say I'm a first-year teacher, salaried at $33,000, and I'm deferring 4% of my salary to a 403(b) plan. If I do so with a full-service provider, I get an agent, who assists me with asset allocation and rudimentary education on the markets. So I invest the money with him, receive his advice, and pay him an amount...let's say 2% of everything. So I'm investing $1,320 with him, and paying him $26.40 for his efforts. Let's say Joel is a fee-only financial planner, offering his services to me at a fixed rate of $150 per hour, which would be a very modest fee where I live. Is anyone seriously suggesting that I'm unequivocally better off paying many times more money for "low-cost" funds accompanied by advice, vs. $26.40 for "overpriced" ones, also accompanied by advice? And if my agent is also a CFP (he is, by the way), is there anyone really arguing that the quality of his advice is substantially lower simply because his product range is more limited? Someone will undoubtedly extrapolate how many thousands of dollars this will cost me over the years...but if I'm meeting with my fee-only financial planner for annual updates that take at LEAST a few hours (as I'm sure you would all recommend wholeheartedly), the difference is a LOT smaller than you think.
I'm not suggesting that all fee-only financial planners are bad, nor would I expect a truly neutral site to be so thoroughly dominated by people who believe that full-service agents are all frauds, or phonies. You'll find some good people in both camps; I just wish the proprietors of this site, and more specifically, the denizens of this discussion board, would take the trouble to point that out as well. You do a great disservice to your teachers if you promote fee-only financial planners and THEIR products as the One True Way.