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 have 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.
Alyssa Weaver is a poster-child for the benefits of choice in public education. At the age of twelve, Alyssa was diagnosed with a crippling case of scoliosis which, in decades past, might have brought her education and career aspirations to a screeching halt. But, thanks to the marri
It was the last straw for teacher Steve Calabro. When the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) ran advertisements claiming any teacher who didn’t contribute to the union PAC was part of the “Gov. Tom Corbett fan club,” he had seen enough. Steve, a teacher from Lackawanna County in northeastern Pennsylvania wrote, &ld
How would you feel if you were forced to pay for a political cause that worked against your own beliefs and values? Outraged? Victimized? Just plain angry? Many Pennsylvania teachers, including some in the Philadelphia area, are no different, and they've started speaking out about an injustice that should infuriate every taxpayer.
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This perspective on union spending by Pennsylvania public school teacher John Cress originally appeared at Free to Teach, a project of the Commonwealth Foundation.
I have been a middle school math and special education teacher for six years. After nearly all that time in the union, I decided last year that I’d had enough of financially supporting an organization that funded abortion groups.
The PSEA may claim that dues do not support such “politics.” True, dues money cannot be used for the direct election of candidates. But that counts only political action committee, or PAC, money that goes to PACE.
In fact, dues can be used for a variety of political and ideological causes apart from political action committees. According to the NEA’s (of which PSEA is part of) disclosure report to the U.S. Department of Labor, $1.15 million in donations went to the AFL/CIO and another $15,333 went to the SEIU, which both donate to Planned Parenthood.
In 2012, the PSEA alone reported spending $3.2 million of member dues on “political activities and lobbying.”
If my dues to the union at the local, state and national level do not fund political activities, then why is the NEA reporting that these activities are funded? If one follows the money, part of my pay funds abortions. As an adoptive parent, I should not be required to give one fraction of one cent towards abortion and will not be forced into doing so.
Also, there is a difference of approximately 35 percent in being a fair share payer, instead of a full-fledged union member. Obviously, this 35 percent has to go somewhere.
Often, I receive e-mails, flyers, and communications from the PSEA telling me who to vote for. The 35 percent difference in dues vs. fair share largely pays for these communications, such as this anti-Corbett ad which solicited members to donate directly to PACE.
Dues indeed pay for marketing the union’s political agendas. One example is the $30,000 that the NEA disclosed was given to the Daily Kos, a very liberal-slanted blog. If I want to donate to a political cause, I can as a free citizen do so and as a teacher have the ability to research these issues independently.
My employment conditions should not include funding groups such as the Daily Kos and Planned Parenthood. I should not have to prostitute my beliefs and values to teach and refuse to do so. This is why I resigned from my union and became a fair share payer.
Public School Math and Special Education Teacher
posted by JOHN CRESS | 03:00 PM | Comments
How will more than 35,000 cyber school students be affected by legislation pending in the state Senate this week? There’s both good and bad news on the horizon and your voice is critical.
The good: Senate Bill 1085 fixes the “pension double dip” for cyber schools in an equitable manner—an improvement on the bill passed by the House that cut funding more severely. SB 1085 would also institute necessary accountability and oversight measures, which would give cyber and charter schools more fiscal transparency. The bill would also allow universities to authorize new charter schools, lessening school districts' ability to squelch their own competition.
The bad: SB 1085 threatens an arbitrary 5 percent funding reduction for cyber schools. This “ready, fire, aim” approach cuts funding for cybers before a commissioned study on charter school funding has time to make a reasoned report.
What would school districts “save” from this arbitrary cut? Not much, a 5 percent cut to cybers would fund a mere 57 minutes of school district class time statewide. For cybers, though, it amounts to about one-third of teacher salaries, and could effectively shut the door on many families’ educational choices.
Why should cyber school students have to do with even less, especially when they already account for just one percent of state and local education spending? Cyber and charter schools already receive only about 80 percent of the per-student funding that traditional public schools get.
Tell the state Senate how you feel about keeping educational choice alive for tens of thousands of families across the state!
This perspective on union spending by Pennsylvania public school teacher Rob Brough originally appeared at Free to Teach, a project of the Commonwealth Foundation.
I left my teachers union because I was against the forced funding of political groups that go against my personal beliefs.
The NEA/PSEA’s agendas and political ideals are counter to what I believe, and it is a kick in the teeth every time my dues are withdrawn from my hard-earned paycheck and handed off to some organization that I would never contribute to of my own free will.
For example, ACORN and Planned Parenthood both received NEA money, which comes from teachers’ union dues. Both of these groups are what I consider to be unacceptable recipients of my money. I would never support a group that engaged in voter registration fraud and pushed for housing loans to under-qualified borrowers as ACORN was proved to have done.
I also have no desire to fund Planned Parenthood, a group that provides abortion. I have a three month old premature grand-daughter who was a candidate for abortion, but we did not give in and she is the apple of our eye.
It is a recorded fact that the NEA did in fact send money to both of these groups. This misuse of my dues money finally made me look for a way to get out of the union.
Now don’t get me wrong: I like my local and the people who make it up. I have no problem having my dues money going to support them and their efforts on my behalf. I like having them there to answer questions and to take care of negotiating a contract. Heck, I was on the negotiations team for three contracts.
However, when my dues keep rising and I see the NEA spending my money on ridiculous recipients, that is where I draw the line. The straw that broke the camel's back was when I received an email telling (not asking) me not to read any emails from the Commonwealth Foundation, which runs Free to Teach.
The union claimed they were a union-busting organization and the email should not be read but deleted from our inbox as soon as possible. So much for presenting both sides and allowing people to make their own choices.
I chose to take a look since I was looking to get out and wanted to be educated on what my options were. The information I was able to absorb allowed me to make an informed decision to resign from my union and become a fee payer instead.
Public School History and Reading Teacher
Lawrence County, Pennsylvania
posted by ROB BROUGH | 11:00 AM | Comments
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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.
In the last year, the Pennsylvania State Education Association poured $3.8 million of its members' dues into "political activities and lobbying," according to its 2013 financial disclosure report. That's an increase of 46 percent in the last five years. Bear in mind this spending comes from teachers' ...