Teachers’ Unions Dwarf School Choice Spending

When it comes to education, government union leaders are Pennsylvania’s top political spender. No contest.

We recently highlighted how government unions, outspoken proponents of a severance tax, far outspend the natural gas industry. Likewise, in the debate over education reform, Pennsylvania’s government teachers’ unions use a heavy hand.

A comparison of 2015-16 political action committee (PAC) spending finds teachers’ unions spending more than doubles the spending of school choice advocates.

The top three school choice supporters—Students First PAC, Excellent Schools PA, and American Federation for Children, Pennsylvania—spent a combined $1.6 million. In comparison, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers contributed $3.4 million. PSEA alone outspent the school choice advocates combined at $2.7 million.

What’s more, teachers' union leaders have leveraged an additional $5.8 million in dues money to support political activity, as the chart below shows. And they used the taxpayer-funded state payroll system to collect that money.

Among the political activities this money supports: stopping education reform.

For example, PSEA and PFT have fought against tax credit scholarship programs, vouchers, and charter schools for years. That’s $9 million spent to keep transformative opportunities from thousands of struggling students and their families.

Despite this opposition, state House members recently voted to increase EITC and OSTC funding, giving hundreds of students a lifeline to better education.

House members can do more by passing paycheck protection legislation. Paycheck protection prohibits the collection of government union political money with public resources. Pennsylvanians should not be forced to subsidize the teachers’ union campaign to maintain the status quo in education.