Wolf Sacrifices Great Teachers for Union Approval

Wolf Sacrifices Great Teachers for Union Approval

Governor Vetoes Protecting Excellent Teachers Act

May 18, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Gov. Tom Wolf today chose to side with teachers’ union leaders over high-performing teachers by vetoing the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act (HB 805). The bill, championed by Rep. Stephen Bloom, would have ensured that during furloughs, teachers are retained based on performance rather than on the number of years they have been teaching.

“It’s disgraceful that Gov. Wolf has sided with teachers’ unions instead of with students and teachers,” commented James Paul, senior policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation. “And it’s ridiculous that a governor who rhetorically champions ‘schools that teach’ would tolerate a seniority-based system that punishes young, effective teachers who excel in the classroom but simply haven’t racked up as much service time.”

The statewide evaluation system adopted last year rated 98.2 percent of Pennsylvania teachers as “distinguished” or “proficient.” The bill would have protected these teachers from being furloughed in favor of teachers with longer tenures but “failing” or “needs improvement” ratings. Seniority would have remained the tiebreaker if teachers have equal ratings.

Current law denies local school districts the ability to consider teacher performance during furloughs.

Among HB 805’s most vocal opponents were teachers’ union leaders, who have consistently opposed reform efforts ranging from protecting quality teachers, to commonsense public pension reform, to parental choice in public education.

“Our students don’t deserve simply the longest-serving teachers,” Paul said. “They deserve the best teachers, period. Sadly, the status quo, enforced by Governor Wolf today, fails to ensure that our students receive the best education.”

James Paul is available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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