Most public school teachers choose their profession because they want to teach children. Like any other occupation, teachers are a diverse lot: they are liberal, moderate, conservative, apolitical, or anything in between. But today, in many states, including Pennsylvania, teachers are forced by contract to subsidize a very specific political agenda, regardless of their own personal views: that of the government union leadership. Worse yet, they do so on the taxpayer’s dime. Government unions are the only private political organizations that collect membership dues by using government payroll systems to automatically withhold them from members’ paychecks, just like taxes.
This is deeply unfair. It is unfair to the teachers whose voices are silenced, and unfair to the taxpayers who have to shoulder the burden. Thankfully, there is a movement in Pennsylvania to reform this system, to restore fairness and accountability to labor relations, and to restore teachers’ voices and professional freedoms. The reform is known as “paycheck protection,” and is spearheaded by the Commonwealth Foundation, one of Pennsylvania’s leading free-market think tanks.
When the Commonwealth Foundation first proposed the idea in early 2013, it was laughed off by most decision makers in the state Capitol in Harrisburg. Today, legislation has cleared its respective committees in both chambers of the legislature, and it is one of the hottest items on the agenda as Pennsylvania politics enters into a contentious fall season. The Commonwealth Foundation and its allies will continue educating and advocating about this critical reform, because our teachers, our taxpayers, and our kids deserve better.