Pennsylvania continues to lead the nation in teacher strikes even though Pennsylvania teachers are among the highest paid in the U.S.
Trying to make sense of this contradiction is one of the goals of Stop Teacher Strikes Inc., the Pennsylvania-based advocacy group working to prevent teacher strikes. (It's illegal in the majority of states for teachers to strike.)
In order to have a fair debate about teacher compensation, you have to start with the facts. How much do Pennsylvania teachers earn?
Stop Teacher Strikes Inc. has a link at its Web site to a database that lists 195,000 Pennsylvania public school employee names and salaries.
The searchable statewide database, which includes teachers and administrators, is accessible via www.stopteacherstrikes.org
The database originated at the Asbury Park Press Web site http://php.app.com/PAteachers/search.php
Another good source of information about public education in Pennsylvania is School Board Transparency.
From a recent press release issued by Simon Campbell, president of StopTeacherStrikes Inc.:
"With the most recent salary data (2007-2008) now released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Asbury Park Press has once again done an outstanding job at bringing searchable public information to millions of Pennsylvania residents. Any Pennsylvania public school student can now research the salary of his or her teacher to gain an understanding of Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know-Law, and appreciate the difference between public sector and private sector employees. Taxpayers can also review how much money all school employees make, to see how public money is being allocated. The publishing of this data may also help taxpayers understand why some public servants feel the need to eject children from their classrooms by going on strike for higher compensation.
Also profiled on the new "Pension Scheme" Web page of www.stopteacherstrikes.org is the manner in which Pennsylvania State Education Association President (PSEA) union president James Testerman is able to collect a teacher's salary for not being a teacher; thereby enabling him to obtain a taxpayer-guaranteed public employee pension plan for the nine years and counting he has spent working for a private organization. This scheme is also being used by other teacher union officials.
With the Pennsylvania school employee retirement fund in crisis and facing a massive shortfall in 2012-2013, the message is clear. If you don't actually work as a public employee, yet you want a defined-benefit public employee pension plan that taxpayers will bail out, just find a way to become a union boss."