Center for Educational Excellence
The Center for Educational Excellence strives to implement reforms that create greater incentives for schools to respect parents and students as customers; encourage continuous quality improvement, parental involvement, and respect for teachers as professionals; and use taxpayers’ resources more efficiently.
From my vantage point on the frontlines of Pennsylvania’s public schools, I see teachers’ unions with money to spend and power to wield who are unresponsive to the very people they’re supposed to represent. Giving them special treatment that boosts their political ambitions is not the way to make them pay more attention to local education problems.
Let teachers worry about teaching; let politicians worry about politics. That’s been my mantra throughout my career as an educator. But, sadly, most public school teachers in Pennsylvania don’t have that luxury.
I taught science full-time for more than two decades and enjoyed a rewarding career educating a generation of public school students in Westmoreland County. I retired from teaching earlier than I wanted, though, and I’d like to tell you why.
June 10, 2014, Harrisburg, PA – Although it doesn’t fit the popular narrative of cash-starved school districts, spending and revenues are at all-time highs, reserves have increased, and property tax growth has slowed. The real trouble lies in every-growing pension costs, according to a new analysis by the Commonwealth Foundation.
June 6, 2014, Philadelphia, Pa – While public school teachers, taxpayer advocates and business leaders supporting paycheck protection answered pointed questions yesterday from lawmakers, government union executives refused to attend the House Government Committee hearing. Instead, six of them signed written testimony only. In it, they make several deceptive arguments, which explains their hesitation to face tough questioning.
June 5, 2014, Harrisburg, Pa—Today, the House State Government Committee will hear testimony on paycheck protection, which would close a loophole in state law that permits government unions to use taxpayer resources for politics. This comes on the heels of a rally, yesterday, where hundreds of concerned citizens voiced their support for fairness for taxpayers and empowerment for public sector union members.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released its annual summary of public school finances for the 2012-13 school year. Here are some basic facts about school finances and spending, that you might not be aware of.
Standard & Poor’s recently issued a stern warning that they would lower Pennsylvania’s bond rating—making it more expensive for the state to borrow money—unless they “adopt meaningful pension reform.” This worries Steve Calabro, a public school teacher and participant in the public pension system, who says, “Without a fix, this is going to decline rather quickly and something drastic is going to happen.”
Last month, families from across Pennsylvania waited anxiously to hear if they had finally won the lottery. But these hopeful parents weren’t looking to win the MegaMillions—they were hoping for the chance at enrolling their children in a better and safer school.
The government liquor monopoly, the pension time bomb, and Philadelphia’s public school crisis—what do they have in common? Each of these public policy disasters was supported by government unions. What’s more, taxpayers help collect the funds that union leaders use to stand in the way of commonsense reform—and union members themselves want it to end.
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Who are We?
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.