Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

By Leo Knepper

The Commonwealth Foundation undertook the monumental task of acquiring and analyzing teachers’ union contracts from 499 school districts. Their main findings were shocking, but not surprising. Two of items that caught our attention were the prevalence of release time provisions and the “generosity” of healthcare benefits.

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax BurdenRelease time or “ghost teacher” provisions force taxpayers to foot the bill for union activities. Roughly 20 percent of contracts across the state allow for a full release. These teachers don’t set foot in the classroom at all. Instead, they are on the district payroll and can collect a variety of benefits while they work for the union. One of the most expensive benefits that ghost teachers had received, until recently, was a taxpayer funded pension.

On the issue of health insurance benefits, in 99 districts taxpayers foot the entire bill. The workers covered under the teachers’ union contracts don’t pay anything for their premiums. In instances where teachers are required to pay toward their premium costs, they pay far less than the Pennsylvania average of $3,598 per person.

A full summary of the Commonwealth Foundation’s findings can be found on their website; the district-by-district contract details can be found here.

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

Ghost Teachers Unnecessary Tax Burden

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

By Leo Knepper

It is fairly common and legal in Pennsylvania for teachers to engage in union activity while continuing to collect their teaching salary. The practice, officially known as “release time”, is written into union contracts all over the commonwealth. In addition to receiving a taxpayer-funded salary, these ghost teachers were also accruing time in the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). In other words, some union officials who had not set foot in a classroom for years were increasing the value of their pension at taxpayers’ expense. That arrangement may finally be coming to an end. Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

In late June, PSERS revoked the pension credit accumulated by a ghost teacher in Allentown. Furthermore, PSERS ruled that the past two union heads had accrued more than $1 million in pension benefits illegally. An article published by details PSERS findings:

“PSERS concluded, ‘an active member is permitted to receive retirement credit while working for a collective bargaining organization provided: (1) at least half the members of the organization are members of PSERS; (2) the employer approves the leave; (3) the collective bargaining organization reimburses the employer for the member’s salary and benefits; (4) the member works full-time; and (5) the employer reports only the salary the member would have earned as a school employee.'”

PSERS’s ruling is great news for taxpayers. Teachers who are working exclusively for the union have no business being paid by taxpayers or collecting a taxpayer funded pension. The union is appealing the decision; we will let you know what ultimately happens.

Ghost Teachers Lose, Taxpayers Win

Pro Teacher Bill Vetoed By Wolf

Pro Teacher Bill Vetoed By Wolf

By Scott Wagner Pro Teacher Bill Vetoed By Wolf

Governor Wolf continues to resist any reforms that would change the Pennsylvania education system.

This past Wednesday, Governor Wolf vetoed legislation designed to keep the best teachers in Pennsylvania’s classrooms and boost student achievement by ending the practice of seniority-based layoffs.

In Pennsylvania, teacher layoffs are conducted in order of inverse seniority.

The last teacher hired is the first person fired, regardless of job performance.

Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that require seniority to be the sole factor in determining layoffs.

With the Governor’s action, our Commonwealth will continue this backward approach.

House Bill 805, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act, would have ensured that school districts use teacher performance to guide furlough and reinstatement decisions.

Performance ratings would have been based on the comprehensive statewide educator evaluation system adopted in 2012, under which observed educators are assigned a rating of distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing.

House Bill 805 prohibited school districts from using a teacher’s pay and benefits as determining factors for any layoff decision.

I co-sponsored the Senate version of this measure because a child’s education matters more than union tradition.

Governor Wolf’s refusal to enact pension reform means there will be more teacher furloughs in the future, as school districts trim personnel costs to balance their budgets.

And his refusal to sign House Bill 805 means some of our most dedicated, energetic teachers will continue to be the ones losing their jobs.

Not a surprise to anyone, the PSEA – Pennsylvania State Education Association – the teachers’ union, was out lobbying against this bill in full force when the House and Senate voted on this important piece of legislation.

It is clear that Governor Wolf and his public sector union friends at the PSEA have formed a unified partnership to snuff out any positive developments for the children in our schools and the taxpayers that pay for the education system.

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

Pro Teacher Bill Vetoed By Wolf

HB 805 Protects Good Teachers, Wolf Opposes

HB 805 Protects Good Teachers, Wolf Opposes

By Leo Knepper HB 805 Protects Good Teachers, Wolf Opposes

Pennsylvania is one of only six states to use teacher seniority as the only factor considered when making layoff decisions. On May 9, the Senate passed HB 805 to correct this problem.

Commonly referred to as “last in, first out” or “LIFO”. A seniority-based system often results in the most effective teachers being let go. According to the co-sponsorship memo, the most effective teachers are laid off 80 percent of the time. This is why we see so many stories about a “teacher of the year” being laid off for budget reasons.

Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-199), the prime sponsor of the legislation and a Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania member, summed the up the situation in a recent interview:

“Pennsylvania has an archaic law that says if a school district would need to furlough teachers for economic reasons, they cannot let go of the teachers that are the worst performing teachers. Instead, they have to go by blind seniority,” said Bloom. “It’s about time that our local school districts would have the ability to make a smart, rational decision to make sure the best teachers are in the classrooms with the kids.”

Despite the absurdity of the LIFO system, Gov. Tom Wolf has indicated that he will veto the legislation. If he follows through with that threat, the Governor will once again be siding with the teachers’ union. Wolf has repeatedly stated that one of his goals is to have “schools that teach.” If that is truly the case, how can he not be for schools having the ability to consider teacher performance in the unfortunate event of layoffs?

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

HB 805 Protects Good Teachers, Wolf Opposes

Target Bathroom Policy Bad Business

Target Bathroom Policy Bad Business — Target Corp., April 19, declared that men with severe emotional issues can use the ladies’ bathrooms at its 1,800 discount retail stores and its stock has since dropped  $2.65 per share. Target Bathroom Policy Bad Business

More than a million people have  signed a boycott petition against it.

If the organized boycott ended tomorrow the business’s future would still be bleak.

The vast majority of those who use the stores are women. People — especially women — don’t want to be in places that creep them out.

If one saw a mouse scamper across the floor of a restaurant one would never return no matter how much one had patronized it in the past.

So imagine a woman seeing the equivalent of a 200-pound mouse in lipstick and a wig and fishnet stockings scamper into the stall next to hers.

If you have Target stock sell it while you can.

And in a related issue, Montgomery County’s Springfield School District has opened its girls rooms to boys who say they feel feminine.

Hippette Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hacker says it was done because a junior at the school was afraid to use the boys’ rooms.

So now the 14 and 15 year old girls, many of whom are just as insecure about their bodies and the changes occurring in them as he, get to share their private space with him.

And maybe other males trying to make a big prank out of it.

With cellphone cameras.

Really stupid people are now running our institutions.

And for those who claim that this is now an undebatable matter of “settled science” here is what the most authoritative scientific voice says.

Target Bathroom Policy Bad Business


Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

Ghost Teachers Cost Millions By Leo Knepper

The Fairness Center filed another lawsuit, Feb. 24, on behalf of taxpayers against ghost teachers. Officially known as “release time,” ghost teachers are being paid by taxpayers to conduct union business. The most recent lawsuit addresses the Allentown School District where the union president has collected more than $1.3 million in salary and benefits since the year 2000. When you add in the state portion of her pension, the cost goes up even further. According to a news report on the lawsuit, teachers’ union presidents haven’t had to step foot in a classroom since 1990. Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

The cost to the Allentown School District, while substantial, pales in comparison to the $1.7 million ghost teachers collected from the Philadelphia School District in 2014. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers also enjoys a rent-free office provided by the school district. An article published by details some of the political work undertaken by union bosses at taxpayer expense:

“Hillary Linardopoulos, who has not taught in a classroom since 2009, ‘coordinates much of our political activism and legislative involvement,’ according to an op-ed penned by union members that endorses its current leadership team going into an upcoming internal election. Since leaving the classroom, her taxpayer-funded salary has almost doubled to $91,156.”

Legislation to eliminate ghost teachers was introduced last August. The General Assembly should shift the cost of union operatives from taxpayers to the unions. Furthermore, given the blatantly political nature of the work, there is no excuse for forcing taxpayers to subsidize the activity.

Leo Knepper is executive director Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Ghost Teachers Cost Millions

Defies Measurement Screening At Villanova

Defies Measurement Screening At VillanovaDefies Measurement Screening At Villanova — Defies Measurement, a film revealing how the worship of standardized testing is ruining schools, will be screened, 7 p.m., Feb. 2 in the cinema at Villanova University’s  Connelly Center.

The event is being co-sponsored by Parents Across America (Suburban Philadelphia). There will be a panel discussion following the one-hour movie.

Among those featured in the film is a Lower Merion parent.

Pro-education activist Joanne Yurchak of West Chester is strongly promoting the movie.

“It is time to start thinking about opting as many children out of these standardized tests as we can,” she said. “Some parents are actually putting up yard signs to publicize this issue and I have been told that folks who come to the screening can take one home.”

Defies Measurement Screening At Villanova

James Wigo Bonus At RTM

James Wigo Bonus At RTM — The Rose Tree Media School Board just voted to give Superintendent James Wigo a $6,667 performance bonus. James Wigo Bonus At RTM

Wigo’s base salary is $181,001 — at least as of 2013-14, the most recent record at Note that does not include benefits like health care or the obscene pension he can look forward to getting.

So why does he need a performance bonus? Is his base compensation package really not enough to ensure top performance?

In the private sector, bonuses are a way of divvying up profits hence they make sense there. They make no sense for non-profit like the Rose Tree Media School District. Wigo is more than — far more than actually — compensated with his base package. We are, in fact, quite confident RTM can find someone who would work just as hard and perform just as well if not better with half of Wigo’s compensation package.

What the RTM Board did was not just pointless — Wigo would have quit if he didn’t get the bounus? LOL — but thoughtless considering Pennsylvania’s budget turmoil. Did you know that RTM gets about 15 percent of it’s $94.76 million budget from the state?

Wigo should — no must — give this bonus back. It’s the only decent thing to do. It’s just a drop in the bucket to this very rich man and it would set an necessary example of leadership.

James Wigo Bonus At RTM


Principal Steals Christmas

Principal Steals Christmas
The cover of the December 1943 edition of Frauen Warte which was the Nazi Party’s biweekly illustrated magazine for women. The caption translates to Winter Solstice 1943 according to

Principal Steals Christmas — You’re a mean one, Ms. Kim.

Eujin Jaela Kim, principal of PS 169 in Brooklyn, has banned any mention of the word Christmas and has replaced the holiday with “winter celebration.”

She has also stopped the Pledge of Allegiance, replaced Thanksgiving with “Harvest Festival” and has taken down historic murals.

If she hates America so much why is she living here? Is it just for the money? Well, New York public school principals have it kind of sweet.

Rather than get mad at her, though, look to make lemonade from this lemon. If parents had the power to choose their schools very few would send their children to schools run by the likes of Ms. Kim. We doubt few would want to touch her even with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. Fight for charter schools. Fight for school vouchers. Fight the corrupt educational monopoly.

By the way, it’s not like no one has tried to replace Christmas before.

Hat tip Bob Small

Principal Steals Christmas In Brooklyn

Teacher Strike Record Looms?

By Leo Knepper

The school year is less than a month old, but there are already two districts where teachers are on strike. There also are at least two more districts were teachers have indicated they’d walk out by mid-October. Teachers from Shamokin and Line Mountain Areas are out of the classroom. In both cases, the teachers’ unions are demanding more.Teacher Strike Record Looms? The new school year is less than a month old, but there are already two districts where teachers are on strike. Teacher Strike Record Looms? Teacher Strike Record Looms? Teacher Strike Record Looms?

The PSEA negotiator at both school districts is Mark McDade, who makes over $100,000 per year. The situation was neatly summed up in a letter from the Line Mountain School Board:

“It is apparent, by the Association’s last proposal, that the Association has no desire to settle these negotiations . . . Based on McDade’s leadership of 5 other local Teachers’ Unions toward strikes, regardless of how much they are being offered, it is obvious they just want more!”

In Shamokin Area, the School Board offered teachers $9,000 in salary increases over the next three three school years. The Line Mountain School Board was even more generous. Some teachers there would have seen their salaries increase by over $17,000 by 2020. Higher salaries also mean higher pensions. A multi-billion dollar funding shortfall in the pension system means taxpayers all over the state will be picking up those costs.

Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states where teachers may hold students’ education hostage to extract a higher salary and better benefits than the taxpayers who are covering the tab. We also lead the nation in teachers’ strikes. It would appear we are on track to keep that title.

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

Teacher Strike Record Looms?