Who are Teacher Unions Protecting?

The Patriot-News published my letterĀ that questions whether teacher unions protect teachers.

Union lobbying to create an unsustainable pension program is directly connected to the Central Dauphin School Board’s decision to let go more than 70 teachers and raise property taxes by more than 3 percent. Sadly, that’s only the beginning of student, teacher and taxpayer pain.

Taxpayer contributions for school and state worker pensions will increase from $1.7 billion in 2011-12 to more than $6.1 billion in 2016-17 – a 257 percent increase. Next school year, the average homeowner will pay an additional $370 just for increases in required pension contributions.

Ultimately, the cause of this crisis is not an underfunding of education (education spending has doubled since 1995), but a failure of politicians to recognize they had surrendered to an unsustainable pension plan.

The union that had intended to protect teachers contributed to this crisis that threatens thousands of jobs. The PSEA not only lobbied for increases in pension benefits, but also for the 2003 and 2010 legislation to delay pension payments. That bill is now coming due. Teachers at Central Dauphin should be upset with their union for not only creating the crisis, but refusing to protect jobs.

Given the choice between teacher layoffs and forgoing a 3.75 percent raise next year, the union opted for layoffs. This makes one wonder, who are teacher unions really protecting? It was never kids or taxpayers, and it sure doesn’t look like teachers, either.