Ghost Teachers Bill Advances in State House
Legislation Strictly Limits Union Work on School Time
June 6, 2016, HARRISBURG, Pa.—Today, the state House Education Committee advanced HB 2125, which would strictly limit teachers’ unions’ ability to pluck teachers from the classroom to work full-time for the union while remaining on the public payroll. These ghost teachers often accrue pension credit, health benefits, salary, and teaching seniority as if they remained in the classroom.
Click here for the latest information on ghost teachers in Pennsylvania, including a breakdown of teachers’ union release time provisions in school districts across the state and a one-minute video explaining how ghost teachers harm public education.
The legislation comes on the heels of a lawsuit in Allentown exposing that since 2000, more than $1.3 million meant for educating students has instead funded the salary and benefits of the Allentown Education Association (AEA) president. Another lawsuit is pending in Philadelphia, where last year, 16 ghost teachers earned $1.5 million while working for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, according to Watchdog.org.
“Pennsylvanians looking to keep more education dollars in the classroom should cheer this bill,” commented James Paul, senior policy analyst for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Under this legislation, the Allentown and Philadelphia ghost teacher scandals could not have happened, as full-time ghost teachers would be banned at the local level.”
The Allentown lawsuit, filed by the Fairness Center on behalf of an Allentown taxpayer and a former Allentown school board member, recently spurred the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System to declare that AEA president Debra Tretter is not entitled to six years of pension credits she accrued since she became a ghost teacher in 2009.
HB 2125 ends ghost teaching with two exceptions:
- Statewide teachers’ unions (like the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Education Association) could have 3 officials on leave for up to 6 years, and
- School district employees may be on leave for 15 total days each school year but no more than 3 consecutive days.
“The bill also requires teachers’ unions to reimburse every cent associated with costs of the limited number of school employees still permitted full-time leave—including their pension and health benefits,” continued Paul. “Year-in and year-out, Pennsylvanians are asked to contribute more and more of their hard-earned dollars to public education. The least state government can do is ensure this funding is used in the classroom and not tapped to staff private organizations. HB 2125 strictly limits ghost teaching and is a victory for Pennsylvanians.”
James Paul and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.
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