It’s no secret to fellow educators that I do not agree with much of the Pennsylvania State Education Association’s dogma. I especially disliked the Union frequently wanting me to take action that I didn’t believe in—and forcing me to pay for it for 23 years. What may be a secret to some is why I retired from teaching earlier than I would have. Let me tell you why.
Last year, I received (as did almost every teacher in PA) an email from a group called Free to Teach. I liked what I saw and joined the cause. A few months later, I agreed to let my name be used in a Free to Teach email explaining the state’s pension crisis, which is an issue close to my heart as a farmer and property owner—and as a teacher with a pension.
I only endorsed the email’s content. I did not send it or otherwise involve school resources, but within a couple of minutes of receiving the Free to Teach email myself, I also received emails from PSEA members across the state saying I was a bad boy for “using school email for political purposes,” and telling me not to send junk to school email. Several carbon-copied my administrators asking them to reprimand or even fire me. Personal threats, from Union members to a Union brother?!
The next day, administrators asked for a meeting and told me I could face disciplinary action. During the meeting the Principal threatened to take my certificate and made various threats and unfounded accusations. It was ugly!
I explained that I only endorsed the email’s content—I did not send it or otherwise involve school resources. But the meeting dragged on.
I wondered what was wrong about sharing information about pension reform with my colleagues when, back on an in-service day, the Union had sponsored a pep rally and shown a video to the entire school district staff encouraging us to re-elect President Obama.
My PSEA local president said nothing in my defense at any time before, during, or after the meeting with my administrators. Could it be because the Free to Teach email was not supportive of the Union? Further, could one say the school administration chose to devote time to a “witch hunt” at the behest of the PSEA rather than educate?
For me, it was the last straw. I decided it was time to retire, work on my farm, and devote my efforts to reforming unionism in Pennsylvania.
Retired Public School Science Teacher