Sometimes it’s good to be #1 – to be at the ‘top of the class’, but I don’t know that the following is a distinction that will excite us. A report from the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) that was just released lists Pennsylvania as the national leader in public school teacher strikes for the 2009-10 school year – 6 strikes over the 501 school districts.
For those that are interested, these are the six districts in Pennsylvania where strikes occurred during the 2009-10 school year:
- South Butler, strike from September 21 – October 6
- Saucon Valley, strike from October 14 – October 30
- Lackawanna, strike from October 29 – November 2
- Penn Hills, strike from February 2 – February 9
- McGuffey, strike from March 22 – March 23
- North Penn, strike April 19 – 27
To give you a comparison, Ohio had no strikes with 612 school districts during last year’s school year. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states in the country which legalizes strike by state employees, including public school teachers.
There’s a state representative Paul Clymer (R – Bucks) who is the minority chair of the House Education Committee who has decided that to make it his priority to outlaw teacher strikes in Pennsylvania. There are currently 2 House Bills and a House Resolution that would either ban teacher strikes in Pennsylvania or further restrict them. State Rep Daryl Metcalfe (R – Butler) introduced HB 2092 which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to prohibit teacher strikes and lockouts. HB 1334 introduced by State Rep Doug Reichley (R – Berks) would not ban all strikes by teachers by would require more arbitration and fact-finding.
Rep.Clymer is arguing that the Commonwealth needs to stop teachers’ strikes in a tough economic year because Pennsylvanians cannot continue to pay the real estate taxes of previous years. “Taxpayers are really hard pressed to pay any increase in real estate taxes and we have to find different avenues to balance school budgets,” Mr. Clymer said. “When the teacher contracts become too onerous financially, too much of a burden for the taxpayers we have some serious problems. I’m sure the school boards do their best to come up with equity in the contract [but] everyone has to cut back, government included.” The Democrat majority chair of House Education did not respond to Clymer’s remarks.
Do we think that Paul Drucker and Warren Kampf would come down on party lines on this discussion? Would Kampf side with some of the outspoken Republicans who want to ban public school teacher strikes? And Drucker . . . would he support the right of state employees to strike? Interesting question.