HARRISBURG, PA (4.12.11)—The Commonwealth Foundation announced today
preliminary results from extensive Open Records Requests that found more than $59 million dollars of taxpayer money is being funneled through taxpayer-funded public school districts directly to organizations frequently involved in lobbying against the interests of taxpayers and underserved children.
"As thousands of children gather in the capitol today in support of expanding
school choice, it is outrageous that their parents’ tax money is being funneled to lobbyists trying keep them from escaping violent and failing schools," said former teacher and school board member Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation.
"While it is no surprise that those who financially benefit from the current
public school system want to prevent kids from choosing a safer or better
performing school, it is shameful that they get to use taxpayer money to do it."
The Commonwealth Foundation issued Open Records Requests to all 500 Pennsylvania school districts for information on all payments including dues, insurance, and add-on services to the following organizations over the course of the 2009-2010 school year:
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) or any AFT local union
Council of Great City Schools
Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Children (PAGE)
Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (PASCD)
Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP)
Pennsylvania Association of Pupil Services Administrators (PAPSA)
Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA)
Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
Pennsylvania Middle School Association (PMSA)
Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)
Pennsylvania School Counselors Association
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) or any PSEA local union
With 120 school districts yet to complete the request, including the School
District of Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the two largest
districts in the state, Brouillette said the costs to taxpayers were sure to
"Taxpayers cannot afford to continue to fund and heed the calls for more money and more time while our students are held hostage by system that cannot fix
persistently failing schools," said Brouillette. "To continue this practice is a disservice to our children, parents and taxpayers."
The full list of payments to lobbyists by school districts can be found at
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The Commonwealth Foundation (CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent,
non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.