CF’s work in education focuses on promoting opportunity and improving children’s lives though incentive-based reforms. Instead of repeating the failed attempts to reform education through new rules or additional funding, such reforms use competition to improve education.  Incentive-based reforms include providing choice within the public school system through charter schools and cyber schools, providing families with private school options through vouchers or tax credit-funded scholarships, and measuring and rewarding success in education for both schools and teachers. Only when parents are able to choose the best school for their child, have an abundance of educational choices and ample information, and schools are forced to compete for students will we provide the best education to Pennsylvania’s youth.

Recent Issues

Cosigned: Amicus Brief Says SCOTUS Must Restore Teachers' Rights


For Pennsylvania teachers and other public employees forced to fund union interests, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could be a game-changer.

A Day in the Life of a Union Dollar


James Williams teaches science in the West Middlesex Area School District in Mercer County, where school began on Monday, but he doesn’t belong to the teachers’ union. James recently exited the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the state’s largest teachers’ union, fed up with how the PSEA was using his dues.

Pa. Teachers Exit Unions, Reclaim Freedom


On the schoolyard playground, rules maintain a fair playing field. But in most Pennsylvania school districts, the game is rigged in favor of powerful unions—at teachers’ expense. That’s why a growing number of teachers are opting out of their union and reclaiming their freedom.

Recent Blog Posts

Wolf Veto = $11 Million Bill for Taxpayers

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

School districts have borrowed $346 million—and taxpayers will pay to pay up to $11 million in interest payments—as a result of Gov. Wolf’s budget vetoes, according to a report from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

DePasquale noted that this borrowing is due to the lack of tax dollars flowing out of Harrisburg—despite the fact the state is certainly still taking money from taxpayers.

At the press conference announcing these findings, Sen. Scott Wagner stood up to say he’s tired of taking blame for Gov. Wolf’s actions. That is, the House and Senate passed a budget—and subsequently passed a temporary funding plan—but Gov. Wolf’s vetoes denied funding for schools and social services.

Sen. Wagner is right. The only person to blame for schools having to borrow money is Gov. Tom Wolf, who vetoed the original budget in its entirety—rather than using the line-item veto as previous governors have done—and the temporary stop-gap measure.

Wolf says his vetoes are about education funding, but are they really?

Education spending is already at an all-time high, while Pennsylvania ranks among the highest spending states. The Republican-passed budget would have increased aid to public schools by another $350 million (and $1.4 billion more than four years ago).

Republicans even offered Gov. Wolf $300 million above that total.

Gov. Wolf thinks that’s not enough, and continues to cling to his demand for higher taxes on working families.

But there can be no doubt, Wolf is the only reason schools are struggling to make payroll.

posted by NATHAN BENEFIELD | 02:10 PM | Comments

Audio: Protecting Teachers' Rights and Paychecks

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

Teacher unions are taking money from teachers to fund political causes they do not support. Through Free to Teach, teachers like James Williams and Linda Misja are speaking out and shining a light on shady union practices.

CF’s Brittney Parker was on the Gary Sutton Show to talk about Free to Teach and how it's helping teachers who have fought against being forced to fund causes that conflict with their morals.

Brittney explains, “a lot of teachers feeling like their beliefs are being violated because they are being forced to pay this money to keep their job”.

The Teacher’s Bill of Rights is one of Free to Teach's resources that outlines personal freedoms all teachers should enjoy, including the right to a protected paycheck. 

Click here or listen below to learn more about Free to Teach and the Teacher's Bill of Rights.

Connect with Free to Teach on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

The Gary Sutton Show airs daily on WSBA 910AM in the York area.

Follow Commonwealth Foundation’s SoundCloud stream for more of our audio content.

For mobile listening, get the SoundCloud iPhone and Android apps.

posted by JONATHAN REGINELLA | 10:06 AM | Comments

Young Teachers Pay the Price for Pension Politics

SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

The first month of a new school year is an exciting—but stressful—time for school teachers. This is particularly true for young, newly-hired teachers who must quickly acclimate to their students, colleagues, and a professional environment.  

In Pennsylvania, however, rookie teachers face an additional burden. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains how the commonwealth’s hemorrhaging pension system stacks the deck against young teachers:

The pension plans…are structured to favor the small minority who teach in a single system for a working lifetime, at the expense of the vast majority who leave the system much earlier in their careers. 

Our state’s backloaded defined benefit pension system is a bad deal for younger teachers—not to mention workers who begin their career late or shift to another job. Fewer than 25 percent of Pennsylvania’s teachers will remain in the school system long enough to even become vested in their pension.

The WSJ article continues:

Under current plan structures, teachers accrue almost no retirement wealth in their first several years—then accrue substantially more as they near retirement age. The hypothetical Philadelphia teacher earns an average of about $1,326 in retirement compensation (in present-value terms) during each of her first 25 years of employment, followed by an average of about $37,593 during each of her last 10 years.

The Pennsylvania Public School Retirement System’s actuaries expect that about 80% of teachers will leave the system before their pension benefit is worth a single dollar. And according to a report last year from Bellwether Education Partners, more than half of all public-school teachers nationally will exit their school systems before their pensions vest.

Pennsylvania’s young public school teachers deserve better. They deserve a retirement account that is portable, and they deserve to own their retirement savings. Helping young teachers is yet another reason for Gov. Wolf to re-consider his veto of meaningful pension reform.

posted by JAMES PAUL | 00:08 PM | Comments