2/17/08

The teacher-strike capital of the nation

The Downingtown (PA) Area School District teachers and school board are planning separate votes on a tentative contract agreement that ended a seven-day strike on Feb. 4. Neither the union nor the school district has released details of the tentative pact, pending ratification, but the district has put in place a plan to make up for the lost days.

High school seniors are worried about the proposed calendar changes, since graduation dates were pushed back a week in the makeup plan.

While this Chester County district works its way through a strike aftermath, a Bucks County school board has become the first to adopt a resolution calling for an end to teacher strikes in Pennsylvania.

The resolution adopted by the Pennsbury School Board is being circulated by a Bucks County group, StopTeacherStrikes Inc.

The Bucks County Courier Times recently endorsed the action of the Pennsbury board, writing, “Just as teacher unions represent the interests of educators, school boards represent the interests of school children and taxpayers — or should.

“It’s why a vote by the Pennsbury school board supporting the proposed Strike-Free Education Act should come as no surprise. Indeed, other school boards should follow Pennsbury’s lead.”

The strike-free measure calls for the passage of House Bill 1369, which would make both teacher strikes and school district lockouts illegal. It also would revamp teacher contract negotiations and require nonbinding arbitration.

The bill would stipulate that teachers lose two days of pay for every day of an illegal strike, and tentative agreements and contract proposals would have to be made public before being ratified.

The newspaper points out that Pennsylvania is the teacher strike capital of the nation, with more than 60 percent of all teacher strikes since 2000 occurring here. Meanwhile, 37 other states have banned teacher strikes.

Downingtown students, parents and taxpayers grappling with the costs in time and money for the recent teachers’ strike are likely sympathizers with the stop-teacher-strike movement.

Other districts should be as well. The argument is not whether teachers are paid too much or too little; the argument is whether labor actions should be allowed to disrupt public education.

We believe they should not, and we urge area school boards to follow Pennsbury’s lead and urge passage of a bill that would prevent teacher strikes.

(dailylocal.com)

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