Big Labor Pennsylvania Governor Is a ‘Student-Buster’

Philadelphia charter school principal Sharif El-Mekki is outraged by union-label Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of legislation “that would have helped school principals ensure that our most effective teachers are in classrooms” for district public school students in the City of Brotherly Love. Image: Pam Panchak/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In forced-unionism Pennsylvania, if a public school district has to lay off teachers due to a budget shortfall or any other reason or combination of reasons, state law actually prohibits principals and other administrators from considering how well educators are doing their jobs when they choose who gets furloughed, and who doesn’t. Instead, teacher furlough decisions must be based solely on the number of years on the job.

In a recent op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sharif El-Mekki, the principal of Mastery Charter School, Shoemaker Campus, in Philadelphia bemoaned the damage wrought over the years by the Big Labor-backed legal requirement that seniority be the sole factor in determining who gets laid off in district public schools:

I’ve been a Philadelphia principal for 13 years. I’ve been in schools where the best teachers were experienced veterans. I’ve been in schools where the best teachers – the ones who were really moving the needle on student growth and achievement – were new in their careers. I have also experienced times – during necessary layoffs due to budget problems, enrollment shifts, or student needs – when I’ve had no choice but to give a pink slip to that great young teacher, the one who connects with kids whom others have given up on (while the ineffective teachers keep collecting paychecks).

Students should have access to the best teachers possible. That’s the whole premise of educational justice and equity. “Best” doesn’t mean “years served.” The district doesn’t owe senior teachers anything: We owe our kids the best possible odds of academic achievement.

Too often, people ignore the reality of what schools need to be focused on: the successful delivery of students’ educational rights.

(See the link below to read the whole thing.)

Late last month, Big Labor Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf had an opportunity to reform the counterproductive current policy when legislation allowing districts to protect their best teachers by using, in the words of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Karen Langley, “performance ratings, not seniority, in determining staff furloughs” reached his desk.

But instead of untying district public school principals’ hands, Wolf vetoed the reform, known as the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act (PETA). In choosing to perpetuate the status quo regarding teacher furloughs, Wolf ignored the recommendations of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and independent education reform groups such as PennCAN, the Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now, and bowed to the wishes of teacher union bosses, the only education constituency to oppose PETA.

What possible explanation could there be for Wolf’s “student-busting,” as El-Mekki aptly characterized his veto? Clearly,when he runs for reelection in 2018, Wolf wants to be able to count on the support of the massive, forced dues-funded union political machine.  And Jerry Oleksiak, the head of the Pennsylvania subsidiary of the giant National Education Association (NEA) union, and his cohorts are implacably opposed to any policy changes that make teachers less dependent on Big Labor and more reliant on their own skills and hard work to improve their job security and pay.

The best way to stop Pennsylvania politicians like Tom Wolf from selling out schoolchildren, parents, taxpayers, and independent-minded teachers in order to obtain massive forced-dues political support from the NEA machine is to cut off the flow of forced union dues and fees.  By passing a state Right to Work law that prohibits the termination of employees for refusal to join or bankroll a union, Pennsylvanians will pave the way for a host of other common-sense reforms that are currently being stalled as a result of Big Labor’s inordinate monopoly power.

Commentary: With veto, Wolf puts unions ahead of students –