PSEA Anti-School Anti-Child Pro Power

PSEA Anti-School Anti-Child Pro Power

PSEA Anti-School Anti-Child Pro PowerBy Scott Wagner

“It is not because we care about children, and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective because we have power.”

These were sad and shocking admissions made by Bob Chanin, a leader of the National Education Association, an organization of which the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) is a member and significant funder.

I think it’s time Pennsylvanians have a serious conversation about the PSEA.

Protecting power — not kids, teachers and taxpayers — is what drives the PSEA. And the PSEA is Tom Wolf’s largest union funder.

Worse yet, in Pennsylvania, public sector employees — like teachers — don’t get to choose whether or not they pay dues.  Dues are taken from their paychecks and sent to the unions — like the PSEA — whether teachers like it or not.

This method of collecting union dues has made the PSEA very, very powerful.

And I’ve seen firsthand how the PSEA uses teachers’ dues against them, and against students and taxpayers. They block every effort that would benefit these stakeholders — like solving the pension crisis so that money can actually go to the classroom, and eliminating school property taxes so hardworking people can keep their homes.

Back in February, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that would stop the PSEA from collecting involuntary dues, and curb their ability to block what’s good for stakeholders. Senate Bill 166 (Paycheck Protection) passed with a vote of 28 (Y) to 22 (N), and upon passage was sent to the House for a vote. This past week, however, the State House defeated the bill by a vote of 102 (no) to 90 (yes).

The PSEA doesn’t like me much — and I’m not particularly fond of the way they work against teachers, students and taxpayers — but make no mistake. When I’m governor, changing this power dynamic will be a top priority of my administration.

Unlike Bob Chanin and the PSEA, as the governor of Pennsylvania, I will be representing children, teachers and taxpayers from day one, because for me, it is about children, and it is about having a great public school for every child, every teacher and every taxpayer.

Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate and is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.

PSEA Anti-School Anti-Child Pro Power

Gender Policy Change Pitch Made In Penn Delco

Gender Policy Change Pitch Made In Penn Delco

By John Haenn

Advocates of fluid definitions of gender found themselves stymied and flustered by simple questions from the audience and school board at last night’s (Dec. 18) Penn Delco (Pa) School Board meeting.

They were on hand to support a proposed new policy that would add “gender identity” to a student’s accepted identity even if it differs from the birth certificate.

This would effectively give by-right access to traditionally gender-segregated places and athletic teams to all desiring such access regardless of biology.

Testifying for a policy change were Samantha King, who directs the sex and gender clinic  at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP); counselor Erica Smith; and Quinton Cruise of the Pennsylvania Youth Conference, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

School Superintendent George Steinhoff noted that the district now handles such matters of confusion on a case-by-case basis with the emphasis on protecting the child. He questioned their claim that failing to adopt a general policy would violate federal law as an Obama-era directive had been rescinded.  Ms. King said court battles were  occurring but conceded that he was correct. School Board Solicitor Mike Puppio would also point out that there are no laws binding on this.

School Director Lisa Esler noted that CHOP’s website suggested that single-room bathrooms as an option for children having difficulty. She said that the school district has those including one in the nurse’s office.

“Single use bathrooms might not be close,” Ms. King responded. “Also kids might get sick using the nurse’s bathroom.”

Mrs. Esler asked Cruise if any research had occurred regarding  the impact and emotional distress on the 99.9 percent of the student population in currently segregated areas. He became noticeably flustered and removed himself from the podium. Ms. King stepped in to rescue him.

“Someone not trans can also use single-use bathrooms,” she said which didn’t really answer the question.

Mrs. Esler asked if the policy would extend to adult visitors at the school.

“It doesn’t matter because adults use faculty facilities anyway,” said Ms. King.

Then the audience took over.

“How do you handle mean kids, bullies?” one person asked.

“Bathrooms are just unsafe,” Ms. King answered. “Adding gender identity to the polices helps address bullies.”

“Should there be a security guard in the bathroom now?” one person asked.

“Students can handle this,” said Ms. King. “Friends and going into the bathroom with a buddy. The non-bullies and trans students can use the special bathrooms.”

“We’re already complying, this is a waste of time,” said one person.

“You don’t comply because you have no policy,” said Ms. King. “You don’t comply because you can’t use any bathroom you want.”

The board discussed the matter. Director Georgia Stone pointed out that the district is not in the best position to help students decide who they are.

“This impacts too much, lives, families and friends, future,” she said. “This should be left to the courts on a case-by-case basis.” She noted that the district would of course comply with a court order.

Several residents made public comments. One said “This is a far reach” as there are already unisex bathrooms, the district is accommodating and that there already are bullying policies. One said “getting changed in a locker room is already stressful,” and a new policy should be enacted before it gets worse. Another said “all students need to be given equal rights”. Another who moved into the district a year ago from Chester County said “I know students are bullied and some decide to be home schooled. Students are mean.”

Gender Policy Change Pitch Made In Penn Delco

Gender Policy Change Pitch Made In Penn Delco

 

 

 

Gender Identity Policy Proposed In Penn Delco

Gender Identity Policy Proposed In Penn Delco — The Penn Delco School Board will hold a special board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Dec. 18,  to discuss a new policy which would add GENDER IDENTITY (distinct from sex at birth) to its discrimination policy.

If this is enacted, children will lose their privacy, not only in the bathroom, but in changing areas, swimming and overnight trips.
“Penn Delco tends to the needs of all it’s children,” said one concerned citizen. “There are ways to accommodate everyone but not at the expense and privacy traditionally and biologically know to our community. Please take the time to attend the meeting so you are aware of what is being discussed. Protecting our children should be our first priority.”
Gender Identity Policy Proposed In Penn Delco

Gender Identity Policy Proposed In Penn Delco

SB 76 Fails To Ease Tax Burden Says Lisa Esler

SB 76 Fails To Ease Tax Burden — Lisa Esler, who is one of our favorite people and is a Penn Delco school director, had a 14-minute interview, today, Nov. 30, with Gunther Rewind concerning SB 76. The proposed legislation would prohibit homes from being taxed to fund schools.

Lisa notes that this reform does not solve the tax burden issue and that  state legislature is not interested in taking the simple, commonsense steps necessary to do so.

She says the prevailing wage mandate increases construction and maintenance  projects between 10 and 30 percent and should be simple to repeal with an honest government. She notes unnecessary state mandates such as paid teacher sabbaticals. She points out the crushing $70 billion-and-rising pension shortfall. She mentioned how the right to strike by teachers inevitably means tax increases.

And while nobody should be taxed from their home, Lisa is 100 percent correct that  Harrisburg is not serious about fixing things.

You can find Lisa’s interview here.

SB 76 Fails To Ease Tax Burden

SB 76 Fails To Solve Tax Burden Problem

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2 — A film concerning school choice will be aired, 7 p.m., Nov. 2 at the Bryn Mawr Church of the Redeemer, 230 Pennswood Road, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010. It’s called Backpack Full of Cash and will be narrated by noted Hollywood star, Harvey-Weinstein enabler and Howard Zinn fan Matt Damon.

The tagline is “Why are vouchers and school choice killers of local public schools?”

Attend if you can. As Joanne Yurchak wisely notes conversation is good.

The event is free and sponsored by Parents Across America — Suburban Philadelphia, and the Moms’ Group of Bryn Mawr Church of the Redeemer.

 

Matt Damon School Choice Film Screening Nov. 2

Matt Damon School Choice Film Airing Nov. 2

Teacher Strikes Harm Children, Ban Them

Teacher Strikes Harm Children, Ban Them

By Chris Freind CHRIS FREIND

Like clockwork, several things occur each September in Pennsylvania: Kids have a hard time getting out of bed, compasses required for math class are never used; and, most predictable, teachers will strike.

On that last point, the teachers’ union in Methacton School District in Montgomery County did not disappoint. Just as students and teachers were settling into a rhythm, the union called for a walkout. The result? More than 400 teachers are walking the picket line – potentially for weeks – while 5,000 students sit idle, leaving their parents frantically scrambling.

And it’s not just Methacton, as other strikes are occurring in Pennsylvania, with more surely to come. It’s time to end the recklessness of holding parents and students hostage – especially because there is no downside for teachers, as they will be fully paid for all 180 days of school, regardless of the outcome – and reform our state’s inefficient and expensive educational system.

To modify the legendary quote from Dean Wormer in “Animal House:” Arrogant, greedy and aloof is no way to go through life.

But that’s exactly how the teachers’ unions in Pennsylvania have behaved for decades.

With millions in forced dues – monies automatically deducted from teachers’ paychecks even if they don’t belong – the unions have constructed a statewide political empire, using their muscle to crush any opposition.

To their credit, they have been immensely successful in squeezing every last penny from broke school districts and overtaxed residents. In good economies and bad, they demand and receive large raises and benefits, including, in many cases, free or highly subsidized health care.

So it’s no surprise that Pennsylvania leads the nation in school strikes, with some years seeing more walkouts than all other states combined. As a result, its teachers are near the top in salaries and benefits. Inexcusably, the same cannot be said of student achievement, as SAT scores, literacy, graduation rates and students going on to college are perennially much lower.

And you can’t simply blame city schools for dismal student achievement. A quarter of Methacton’s 11th graders aren’t proficient in math, and almost one of five is deficient in reading. Yet over the last 15 years, the number of students in that district has dropped by 10 percent while spending has more than doubled, to almost $110 million per year. In other words, there’s more money to educate fewer students, but student achievement isn’t where it needs to be, and yet the teachers’ union authorizes a strike because it wants more, more, more. You don’t need an education to know there’s something seriously wrong with that picture.

And that has left many citizens scratching their heads.

Teachers are universally respected for the priceless role they play, but when they strike, it’s seen as a slap in the face – especially as the private sector continues to hemorrhage jobs, with many paying astronomical health-care costs.

Of course, to the unions, more money is the cure-all to improved student performance. Pay the teachers more and give them even better benefits, while increasing funding for public education, and all problems will be solved. But we’ve been doing that for decades, and education achievement hasn’t improved.

The global economy is here to stay, so our dismal academic performance has become dire. Our students are no longer competing solely against those in San Francisco and Seattle, but Stockholm, Singapore and Sydney. Yet compared to our top 30 global counterparts, the U.S. is, at best, in the middle of the pack and more often, much lower.

The solution is to instill accountability and rein in out-of-control unions. Here are two steps to accomplish that:

1) Inject competition by enacting school choice. When parents have a choice in their children’s education, schools that do well will attract more students and succeed, while those that continue with the status quo will lose students and fail. The free market system that has served us so well will have the same effect on our educational product. And for the first time in generations, our students would actually learn the skills necessary to succeed in life.

2) Outlaw school strikes. No public-sector union should have the right to strike, which is why our police and firemen are prohibited from doing so. It is beyond explanation that teachers, in whose hands we place our most valuable asset – our children – are not considered equally essential.

Strikes are disruptive to all parties. Parents endure incredible stress in their frantic search for child care, often risking job security by tending to their children (and blowing hard-earned vacation), and students’ disciplined approach to schoolwork is shattered, with no possibility of a seamless transition after a long strike.

And whom are we kidding? Sure, the law mandates a 180-day school year, but are students really learning anything sitting in a classroom over the Christmas break, or in late June, weeks after exams have been taken? In effect, students are held hostage so that teachers can justify their salaries and school districts don’t jeopardize their state subsidies.

Often overlooked is that teachers are also victimized by strikes. They become pariahs in their communities, and respect for their profession takes a hit. Let’s be crystal clear: Many teachers often don’t agree with union leaders’ decisions. But when that leadership calls for a strike vote – and refuses to use a secret ballot, as is almost always the case – there is virtually no chance of opposition. The risk is simply too high, and mob mentality rules the day.

At the minimum, there should be a law requiring secret ballot votes for school strikes, monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. That common-sense, practical solution would be overwhelmingly supported by the public – and teachers.

But if you outlaw strikes, basic fairness dictates that there should be a method to resolve an impasse. Perhaps the most viable alternative would be final best offer arbitration, the same system Major League Baseball uses with great success.

In regular arbitration, both sides throw out a number, with the arbiter often adding them together and dividing by two. That’s inefficient, because when one side makes a reasonable offer while the other side comes in with a pie-in-the-sky proposal, the result is lopsided in favor of the greedier party.

But with final best offer arbitration, the arbiter can’t compromise. He must take one of the two proposals in its entirety. That being the case, both sides innately understand the need to be reasonable in their one-and-only proposal, or risk getting blown completely out of the box. Cooler heads would prevail with final best offer arbitration, which is definitely in the taxpayers’ best interest.

Is final best offer arbitration ideal? No, since you are placing an unelected arbiter in a position of power, but in the real world, it’s the best we have to stop unaffordable contracts. It is a classic example of philosophical versus practical, and in this case, the practical side should prevail.

But there’s a huge irony. Because the union leadership has pushed the envelope for so long, the pendulum may be swinging back hard, to the point of potentially being unfair.

Outlawing school strikes (as they are in 37 states) can be enacted like any other law: Passed by the Legislature and affixed with the governor’s signature.

Arbitration, however, requires a constitutional amendment, a difficult process and one that would take at least four years. So the unions are facing the possibility of seeing their right to strike abolished, with no chance of arbitration as recourse. In effect, our teachers would be completely beholden to the school boards, and that is certainly not in anyone’s best interest, most of all our children’s.

But right or wrong, they made their bed, and now they may have to lie in it.

Aware that their backs are to the wall, the unions have spent considerable sums on candidates sympathetic to their “plight.” Unfortunately for them, they’ve suffered huge losses, and the head of the dragon is in danger of being decapitated, as Republicans hold sizable legislative majorities, and the upcoming governor’s race could easily swing to the GOP.

Hopefully, the do-nothing state Legislature will stop sleeping in class and strike while the iron’s hot, outlawing school strikes once and for all.

If our state lawmakers do that, they would deserve an A.

 

Teacher Strikes Harm Children, Ban Them

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher — Last week, Governor Wolf once again put his ideology ahead of what is best for Pennsylvania when He nominated Jerry Oleksiak to be the new Labor Secretary. Mr. Oleksiak is the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the largest teachers’ union in the Commonwealth. Making matters worse, Oleksiak also took part in one of the most tax-payer abusive practices available to union officials: he was a ghost teacher.

As a ghost teacher, Oleksiak worked full time for the PSEA, but he collected a paycheck, accumulated seniority, and pension benefits from the Upper Merion School District. Although the district was reimbursed for his salary and health benefits, Oleksiak and the PSEA still rely on the generosity of taxpayers to cover his lifetime pension benefits.

Mr. Oleksiak penned an editorial questioning the fitness of President Trump’s selection for Education Secretary because of her lack of experience in the classroom. Using experience as a measuring stick, how does Oleksiak stack up?

Has he ever dealt with the unemployment system as an employer? Has he ever had to appeal a workers’ compensation assessment? We can continue this line of inquiry for some time, and the answer would continue to show a dearth of experience on the part of Mr. Oleksiak.

In our conversations with business owners and employers, no one has ever complained to us that Pennsylvania wasn’t pro-organized labor enough. According to most recent studies, Pennsylvania ranks at the bottom of places to do business; our labor regulations are a significant reason why. A Labor Secretary with no experience in the private sector and a decade’s worth of experience advocating for policies hostile to the best interest of taxpayers would make the Commonwealth even less appealing to job creators.

Oleksiak’s nomination will go to the Senate where there is an opportunity to stop it. Republicans have a supermajority in the Senate, but so far they have not been willing to use it to benefit taxpayers. Here is a chance for Senators to remedy that mistake.

— By Leo Knepper

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher

 

Jerry Oleksiak Ghost Teacher

Pa School Districts Reserves Are $4.4 B

Pa School Districts Reserves Are $4.4 B

By Leo Knepper

The amount of money held by school districts in “reserve” has more than doubled over the last 10 years according to a new report by the Commonwealth Foundation. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, district reserves were over $4.4 billion. According to that same report, there were 13 school districts who held more than 20 percent of their budget in reserves and requested property tax increases well above the limit established by the Department of Education. Not only did they request higher taxes, they did it between eight and ten times in a ten year period. In other words, the school districts could operate on their savings accounts for more than 20 percent of the year, but still wanted taxpayers to pad the accounts even more.

One of the names on the list, Lower Merion School District, has been sued by local taxpayers for their budget practices. A Commonwealth Judge found their budget practices so egregious that the district was ordered to roll back their 2016 tax increase. despite a $56 million reserve fund, Lower Merion is seeking a tax increase again this year that exceeds the state cap.

The worst offenders among schools seeking unnecessary tax increases are not confined geographically. Rather, it seems that there is a systemic problem among school boards. It is hard to argue against keeping a rainy day fund in reserve. At some point, the reserve fund becomes an insult to taxpayers. Although school district finances do not garner the same attention as national, or even state-level scandals, understanding how they are spending your money is vital.

To see how your local school district stacks up, take a few minutes and review the financial data collected by the Department of Education. You will probably be surprised by what you find.

PS-The Senate will begin working to advance pension reform legislation later this week. Their legislation does not include funding reform at this point. Please, take a moment and contact the General Assembly about this important issue.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Pa School Districts Reserves Are $4.4 B

Pa School Districts Reserves Are $4.4 B

MPGA — Senate Ed Committee OKs 5 Sane Bills

MPGA — Senate Ed Committee OKs 5 Sane Bills  — Pennsylvania State Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30) reports that the Senate Education Committee, yesterday, April 19, approved five bills, including legislation intended to improve transparency and legislation expanding access to vocational education and school resources to students.

The bills are all small but significant advances to the cause of common sense that should be no-brainers but have long be stifled by our special-interest wannabee masters.

Two of the bills are sponsored by Stewart Greenleaf (R-12) and one by John Rafferty (R-44). Neither is considered the type who would fly a Gadsden flag and wear a “Don’t Tread on Me” teeshirt.

It’s amazing the progress that is being made. Make Pennsylvania Great Again.

Here are the bills. Hat tip Joanne Yurchak.

Senate Bill 88 (Greenleaf) – The legislation would amend current law to prohibit censorship of an American or Pennsylvania historical document based on any religious content. The bill would allow documents or portions of documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States; Acts of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and of the United States Congress, etc. to be used, read or posted in their entirety regardless of whether such documents contain religious references.

Senate Bill 93 (Greenleaf) – The legislation would amend current law to provide that a pupil of a home education program or a private tutoring program shall not be refused admission to courses held in additional schools or departments such as a vocational school. Under current law, a school district is not required to provide dual enrollment for homeschooled students.

Senate Bill 273 (Rafferty) – The legislation would prohibit any form of state funding to any public or private institution of higher education that designates itself as a “sanctuary campus”, refuses to share information about undocumented students, or in any way impedes the federal government’s ability to enforce federal immigration laws.

Senate Bill 383 (White) – The legislation would authorize school boards to allow certain school employees to access firearms on school property and further enhance security measures when emergencies arise. If a local board decides to establish such a policy, any person so authorized must at a minimum have a license to carry a concealed firearm; and maintain a current certification in the use and handling of a firearm.

Senate Bill 592 (Stefano) – The legislation would amend current law to require that when a school board extends an offer of employment for a district superintendent, assistant district superintendent, associate superintendent, or any principal, it must first post the terms of employment on the school district’s public website.

 MPGA — Senate Ed Committee OKs 5 Sane Bills

 MPGA -- Senate Ed Committee OKs 5 Sane Bills

Desperate PSEA Responds To Sen. Wagner

Desperate PSEA Responds To Sen. Wagner 

By Sen. Scott Wagner

I have repeatedly expressed that the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), is the number one public sector union that opposes any type of reform in Harrisburg, particularly pension reform and school tax elimination. 

Apparently as a result of yesterday’s email blast, I have gotten the PSEA’s attention.

Last evening, with the click of a button on a computer keyboard, the PSEA sent an email blast to their 180,000 teacher members.

The email sent out by the PSEA is shown at the end of my email.

When you read the email sent out by the PSEA, it clear to see that the PSEA is trying to raise money for their left-wing, anti-children political agenda by attacking me and one of my colleagues, Senator John Eichelberger, by telling their members inaccurate information. 

I need your help to fight the PSEA Union Bosses who are blocking critical reforms that need to take place in Harrisburg.

Every single day, I hear from people that their number one concern is about school taxes on real estate. Last evening, I held a tele-townhall meeting and 90 percent of the questions I received were questioning what we are doing in Harrisburg to solve this large problem.

Let me crystal clear…

The PSEA Union Bosses are against any effort to eliminate school taxes on real estate.

The PSEA Union Bosses are opposed to any pension reform.

The PSEA Union Bosses are against paycheck protection, which is the deduction of union dues from teacher paychecks.

The PSEA Union Bosses are against the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

Governor Wolf and the PSEA Union Bosses have a very strong relationship with each other.

The PSEA was the largest contributor to Governor Wolf’s campaign when he ran for Governor.

The PSEA has to be stopped and I will lead the fight against the PSEA, so that we are able to enact reforms in Harrisburg that benefit the taxpayers, not the PSEA union machine. 

Here is what the PSEA sent regarding me:

Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Desperate PSEA Responds To Sen. Wagner