December 4, 2013

PSEA President: Economic furloughs won't solve the school funding crisis

Gov. Tom Corbett's nearly $1 billion in school funding cuts caused Pennsylvania school districts to eliminate more than 20,000 education jobs since 2011.

Now, state legislators are considering legislation that would allow school districts to furlough even more employees with fewer restrictions.

PSEA President Mike Crossey testified before the House Education Committee on December 3, cautioning legislators about the proposed bills, which would allow school districts to furlough for economic reasons and in some cases, not based on seniority.

"The financial pressures facing our school districts, our local taxpayers, and our educators are very real – no one is denying that. But allowing school districts to furlough educators for economic reasons is not a solution to the problem," said Crossey.

Under current law, school districts must base furloughs on program alterations, organizational changes, and declining enrollment.

Furloughs result in larger class sizes, less individual attention for students, and cuts to valuable academic programs. Allowing districts to furlough for economic reasons would only make these problems worse.

"The true answer to the problem facing our schools is for the Commonwealth to enact and implement a sound, rational, and equitable school funding formula that provides resources to districts that need it most."

Furloughs not based on seniority
Crossey also addressed proposals to allow districts to furlough based on factors other than seniority.

"Experienced teachers have been well-trained, and those years of experience and training walk out the door when these educators are furloughed," Crossey noted.

"Seniority and experience reflect the investments of significant time and energy teachers make in our schools and in their professional practice. These investments are valuable and should not be disregarded. Research shows that educators continue to gain effectiveness for decades when consistently teaching at a specific grade level."

PSEA believes the current law surrounding employee furloughs is appropriate and reasonable. The real answer to concerns raised by school districts is for Pennsylvania to meet its obligation to provide full and fair funding for public schools. 

We cannot support using the school funding crisis as a tool for advancing policies that will harm students and communities for years to come.


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