Take Action: Join AFT Pennsylvania In the Fight to Protect Education

The following is from AFT-Pennsylvania.

On Monday, the PA House and Senate will return from the Memorial Day recess to pass a state budget, which is due by midnight, June 30. They’ll be in session all month. Budget bills and other legislation will move quickly, and AFT Pennsylvania will keep you up to date on bills that affect our schools and members.

This week, AFTPA’s largest locals – the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh unions – held news conferences to send a message to legislators about the need for funding for our schools.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, legislators and community leaders in the Fund Our Facilities Coalition held a news conference Wednesday to unveil legislation by Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, to fund critical school repairs to correct health and safety problems. Senate Bills 555 and 556, which have not been filed yet, would establish the School Emergency Repair Program. Districts could use grant money for immediate emergency repairs.

SB 555 would establish in the Department of Education a $125 million program funded from several Commonwealth special funds with outstanding balances. (SUPPORT)

SB 556 would establish in the Department of Education a $125 million program funded from the current state budget surplus. (SUPPORT)

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Federation President Nina Esposito-Visgitis organized a news conference with Sen. Lindsey Williams, D- Allegheny, Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and other leaders to urge lawmakers to increase public school funding and reject damaging EITC-voucher and charter school bills. They urged the legislature to increase school funding and reject harmful legislation that undermines state funding for public education, including: 

HB 800, EITC voucher expansion, which gives tax credits to businesses and wealthy individuals for private/parochial school scholarships. (OPPOSED)

HB 356, which removes control over charter school expansion from locally elected and accountable school boards, taxpayers and parents, and

HB 357 removes control over the sale of unused school buildings from school districts as well. (OPPOSED)

We need your help to stop these bills. Click here to write to your legislators now, and ask your members, co-workers and friends to write to their legislators, too.

Finally, Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne County, introduced House Bill 1545, which would raise the minimum salary for teachers from $18,000 to $45,000 a year. Gov. Wolf proposed raising the minimum teacher salary in his budget.

We will continue to fight for our members and support adequate education funding from early childhood through college. You can view our talking points for this last, critical budget push. If you have any questions, please contact me. If you would like to organize a budget news conference around your local issues, please contact Barbara Goodman (bgoodman@aftpa.org).

You can follow legislative developments on aftpa.org’s Bill Tracker.