Harrisburg, PA – The Commonwealth Foundation announced today preliminary results from extensive Open Records Requests that found more than $59 million dollars of taxpayer money is being funneled through taxpayer-funded public school districts directly to organizations frequently involved in lobbying against the interests of taxpayers and underserved children.
“As thousands of children gather in the capitol today in support of expanding school choice, it is outrageous that their parents’ tax money is being funneled to lobbyists trying keep them from escaping violent and failing schools,” said former teacher and school board member Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation. “While it is no surprise that those who financially benefit from the current public school system want to prevent kids from choosing a safer or better performing school, it is shameful that they get to use taxpayer money to do it.”
The Commonwealth Foundation issued Open Records Requests to all 500 Pennsylvania school districts for information on all payments including dues, insurance, and add-on services to the following organizations over the course of the 2009-2010 school year:
- American Federation of Teachers (AFT) or any AFT local union
- Council of Great City Schools
- Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Children (PAGE)
- Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (PASCD)
- Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP)
- Pennsylvania Association of Pupil Services Administrators (PAPSA)
- Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
- Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA)
- Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
- Pennsylvania Middle School Association (PMSA)
- Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)
- Pennsylvania School Counselors Association
- Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) or any PSEA local union
With 120 school districts yet to complete the request, including the School District of Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the two largest districts in the state, Brouillette said the costs to taxpayers were sure to increase.
“Taxpayers cannot afford to continue to fund and heed the calls for more money and more time while our students are held hostage by a system that cannot fix persistently failing schools,” said Brouillette. “To continue this practice is a disservice to our children, parents and taxpayers.”
The full list of payments to lobbyists by school districts can be found at www.CommonwealthFoundation.org/Lobbying.
EDITORS NOTE: The totals represent all payments by school districts to organizations, including membership dues and other fees for services, as well as union dues forcibly taken out of the paychecks of public school employees and sent to directly to unions.
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The Commonwealth Foundation (CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.