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HARRISBURG (April 18, 2018) – Pennsylvania State Education Association President Dolores McCracken today issued the following statement on the state Senate Education Committee’s public hearing on alternatives to Act 88 of 1992, the current law that governs contract negotiations between Pennsylvania educators and support professionals and public school entities.
“A recent study by Dr. Jeffrey Keefe of Rutgers University found that Pennsylvania teachers’ wages and benefits are 7 percent lower than those of full-time workers with similar education and skills. With this in mind, it makes no sense to weaken Pennsylvania’s bargaining law and hurt hard working teachers, nurses, and support staff and their families in the process.
“All legislators have to do is turn on the TV and see why Pennsylvania should not be stepping backwards to emulate states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma where teachers and school support personnel have had to go to great lengths to fight for fair funding and a decent standard of living.
“But if Sen. John Eichelberger’s committee is asking whether Act 88 has been working for the past 25 years, there’s plenty of evidence that it is. In the past 25 years, the vast majority of school contracts have been resolved without much discord. And 98 percent of our local associations have settled their contracts without strikes.
“If Sen. Eichelberger wants to solve a real problem, he can help reverse what’s left of the nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts he voted for in 2011 and move Pennsylvania up from 46th of the 50 states in state support for public education.
“It seems to me that focusing on real problems like the state’s responsibility to fund its public schools is a much better use of lawmakers’ time.”
McCracken is a paraprofessional in the Council Rock School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 181,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.