Ghost Teacher Ban Passes Senate Committee

In late March, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 494 banning “ghost teachers” who drain resources from public schools to work full-time for teachers’ unions.

A Commonwealth Foundation analysis of Pennsylvania’s 500 school district contracts reveals up to 198 former district employees may work full-time for the teachers’ union while remaining on public payroll.

These ghost teachers are teachers in name only; many haven’t taught in decades and will never return to the classroom. In some cases, ghost teachers receive taxpayer-funded salaries, gain seniority, and accrue pension and health benefits while working for a private organization. This practice is sometimes called “release time” or “union release.”

Nearly 25 percent of school districts—111 of 500—authorize ghost teachers in their collective bargaining agreements.

This is a blatant misuse of resources meant to educate children. The full senate should act on this legislation to ensure every public education dollar is benefitting students, not special interests.

SB 494 would ban full-time union release in all school districts, allowing up to 30 days of leave for administrative duties in any one year.

Fast Facts:

  • 111 of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts—or 22%—authorize ghost teachers in their teacher contracts.
  • Philadelphia School District allows up to 63 employees to work for the union full-time.
  • Pa. taxpayers owe $1 million for Philadelphia ghost teachers' pensions since 1999.
  • Allentown taxpayers have paid ghost teachers $1.3 million since 2000 without reimbursemen

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