Bethel Park Teachers Strike
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported that Bethel Park teachers were on strike for the sixth time in thirty years. Interrupting classes in order to negotiate taxpayer-funded salaries and benefits is a practice that Pennsylvania’s teacher unions lead the nations in. Parents have even begun to hold protests expressing their frustration over the issue. In response, I wrote the following letter to the editor:
The recent Bethel Park teacher strike should be seen as a wakeup call for citizens of the district and the Commonwealth as a whole. School children should not be held hostage while teacher unions negotiate their salaries or benefits.
Pennsylvania has led the nation in teacher strikes since 1992 and it is about time that lawmakers enact legislation similar to that of most other states that bans teacher strikes.
Teaching is by no means an easy job, but as we fight through the worst recession in 70 years, one wonders if a 4.1 percent a year pay and benefit increase, like the Bethel Park teachers have had, is justified. The Commonwealth Foundation launched openPAgov.org to give voters information—on teacher salaries, educational spending, performance, enrollment, current labor agreements, and taxes for all Pennsylvania school districts—to help answer this question.
The average teacher salary in Bethel Park is $58,978 and includes full benefits.
Enrollment in Bethel Park has gone down by almost 8% since 2000. Education spending though has increased by 11%, while the district ranks in the top 10% of property taxes in the state. Pennsylvanians can use openPAgov.org to inform themselves on teacher salaries and also track their districts educational spending, performance, enrollment, and taxes. With only 77% of Bethel Park’s eleventh graders proficient in math, taxpayers should take a serious look at how their education dollars are being spent.