PFT Leaders Use Students as Pawns in Political Game

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: Cindy Hamill
(856) 607-4208

PFT Leaders Use Students & Teachers as Pawns in a Political Game
Leaders Block Millions of Dollars from the Classroom to Push Self-Serving Agenda

October 16, 2014, PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—Academic failure, school violence, and broken dreams: This is the failed legacy that years of Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers’ leadership has left Philadelphia’s students and teachers—and all for political gain.

"Jerry Jordan and PFT leadership have failed students, teachers, and the poor by putting politics ahead of people," commented Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation and a former high school teacher. "Change that benefits the youth of Philadelphia simply will not happen as long as PFT leaders use students and teachers as pawns to advance their political agenda rather than working for their best interests."

During PFT’s protest at the School Reform Commission meeting this afternoon, Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation representatives will be on-site, informing teachers and parents about how PFT leaders have consistently failed them.

PFT Fails Students

PFT leadership defends the dismal status quo at violent and failing schools:

• 80 percent of Philadelphia students last year could not read or do math at grade level, according to Nation’s Report Card. Philadelphia had twice the number of students perform below basic proficiency than other participating cities.

• 1,358 assaults, 12 rapes, 102 indecent assaults, 86 robberies, 149 thefts, and 253 knife possessions occurred in the district in 2012-2013 alone.

• 2,485 violent incidents have been reported during the current school year, according to latest statistics.

PFT Fails Teachers

PFT leadership spends hundreds of thousands from forced union dues on their personal political agendas rather than negotiating for teachers’ best interests:

• PFT extorts dues from their paychecks and using the money on politics like $70,000-per-minute TV ads during a Philadelphia Eagles game attacking politicians and canvassing and rallying for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf.

• Philadelphia teachers are forced to pay union dues or fair share fees—with average annual dues of more than $800—to the PFT and its state and national affiliates just to keep their jobs.

• The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – the Washington D.C.-based parent of PFT—is set to spend more money on elections than ever before. This includes a recent gift of $500,000 from teachers’ dues to fund political attack ads via the PA Families First "SuperPAC."

• PFT fails teachers by clinging to rigid seniority mandates that result in the best teachers being fired.

• PFT fails teachers by refusing to reward high performing educators with higher salaries.

• PFT fails teachers by refusing to agree to health care concessions that would distribute an additional $54 million dollars for classroom instruction this current school year.

PFT Fails the Poor

PFT fails low-income parents and families seeking to escape failing, violent schools and find the best education opportunity for their children:

• PFT opposes tax credit scholarship programs, which serve as lifeboats to low-income families seeking better, safer schooling options.

• The Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program, in particular, is crucial for low-income families that don’t have the resources to move to a new area or pay for private school tuition. The OSTC is reserved for students in the lowest performing school districts—and PFT opposes the program.

• PFT undermines, attacks, and lobbies against charter schools that are hugely popular in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. A majority of the 44,000 students currently languishing on charter waiting lists are in Philadelphia.

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Brouillette continued:

"The list of failures caused by PFT leaders is truly shameful. They seem to place a higher priority on partisan political activity than on creating a safe learning environment for students and their own members.

"PFT’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with the School Reform Commission has worsened a situation that has been at crisis-level for years. With former Governor Rendell, Mayor Nutter, and others from across the political spectrum criticizing them, PFT leaders should realize that they are on the wrong side of this fight."

Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Cindy Hamill at (856) 607-4208 to schedule an interview.
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For more information, please contact Cindy Hamill, director of strategic communications for the Commonwealth Foundation at (856) 607-4208 or [email protected].
The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.

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