Taxpayers Notch Another Win Against Ghost Teaching

Reading residents received an early Christmas present this week, as the city’s teachers’ union agreed to reimburse taxpayers for the costs of ghost teaching in the Reading School District.

The Reading Eagle covered the promising development (subscription), highlighting the Fairness Center’s work in reining in this unfair union practice:

The Fairness Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Americans for Fair Treatment – an Oklahoma-based nonprofit that says it seeks “fair treatment from government unions” – against the Reading School District and its teachers union in June. The suit claims that allowing the Reading teachers union's president to work only for the union – while still receiving pay and benefits from the district – is illegal.

According to court documents, the Reading School District and teachers union entered into a memorandum of understanding under which the teachers union will reimburse the school district for the union president's salary and benefits beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

The Fairness Center points out this is just a step in the right direction. While taxpayers will be reimbursed for future costs, they are not being reimbursed for the $580,000 spent on ghost teaching since 2011. Consequently, the lawsuit will proceed until taxpayers receive full reimbursement.

Unfortunately, ghost teaching isn’t confined to Reading. CF’s exhaustive analysis of school contracts found the practice is authorized in more than 100 school districts. The Allentown School District was just one of many on the list until recently, when the Allentown School Board ended the practice and required the local teachers’ union to reimburse taxpayers for the union president’s salary and benefits.

Taxpayer wins in Reading and Allentown should encourage lawmakers to move toward prohibiting the practice statewide. Sen. Pat Stefano has introduced legislation to make ghost teaching a practice of the past. Our kids and taxpayers deserve nothing less.