Monday, April 25, 2011

Teacher Contracts Available in Online Database

The Education Action Group has compiled a database of teacher contracts of 481 school districts in the state of Pennsylvania. These contracts, gathered through public record and Freedom of Information Act requests, outline the provisions included in collectively-bargained teacher contracts.

Kyle Olsen, CEO of the Education Action Group, says the organization brought together these contracts into one place so taxpayers could see how oftentimes more than 80 percent of public education funding goes to labor costs.

To Olsen, the database is an important resource as taxpayers consider ways to close Pennsylvania’s $4 billion budget gap.

“We’re trying to peel back the layers of public school spending to show taxpayers exactly where their dollars are going because the reality is 80 to 85 percent of every dollar that is spent in public schools is contained in that contract,” he says. “So what we’re urging people to do is take a look at those and start asking questions to figure where their dollars are going.”

Olsen stresses that things like annual raise for teachers regardless of performance, lavish health insurance, and an uncapped amount of sick days are all “wasteful provisions” in contracts that could dramatically reduce the cost if eliminated. Olsen says he doesn’t want to label teachers as the bad guys.

“We’re not making an assertion that teachers are paid to much. All we’re saying is these are the ways teachers are being paid and as school districts are looking to make cuts and asking for concessions and scaling back and all of those types of things, would it make sense to look at those different types of provisions that have zero impact on student learning?”

The group hopes to gather the remaining 72 contracts of the state’s 500 school districts and post them along with the others. The contracts are available online.

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