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State Research Elements that Influence State Government - Essay Example

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This organization can trace its roots back to the mid 19th century when it was organized with the intention of facilitating the professional development of…
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State Research Elements that Influence State Government
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In the of Pennsylvania, a major player in politics is the Pennsylvania Education Association (PSEA). This organization can trace its roots back to the mid 19th century when it was organized with the intention of facilitating the professional development of teachers and school personnel in Pennsylvania’s schools. This organization has grown over the decades into a powerful labor union the boasts over 180,000 members.
PSEA seeks to influence elections in the State of Pennsylvania in several ways. The organization identifies legislators that a friendly to the goals of PSEA and their members. Members are encouraged to vote for these state and local leaders presented by the union. Another way they seek to influence state government is through their Political Action Committee called Political Action Committee for Education (PACE). Pace contributions are given separately from union dues. This money is used for lobbying and election contributions. PSEA spent nearly $1,000,000 on lobbying salaries and efforts for FY 2006-2007.
Democratic candidates are the main recipients of PSEA member and PACE contributions. Many of these candidates favor increased funding for public schools, blocking voucher programs that would send public money to private schools and merit pay for teachers. These initiatives have been identified as some of the most troubling issues for teachers and PSEA members in Pennsylvania. Traditionally, Democratic candidates have been able to count on PSEA as an ally in most elections in districts where education is an issue.
Republicans in Pennsylvania have usually been in opposition to PSEA in every way. The whole concept of unionized public sector employees upsets many Republicans. They often point out the fact that some school districts require all members to pay a portion of dues even if they do not join the PSEA. These sorts of ideological and structural differences between the PSEA and Republican Party have traditionally kept them on opposite sides of legislation that seeks to weaken unions or change rules.
The effects of the PSEA on state elections is debatable, especially in a weak economy. Pennsylvania has experienced a record number of teacher furloughs since the economic downturn began in 2008. The localized structure of public education in Pennsylvania weakens the effectiveness of PSEA at the state level as well. Pennsylvania is divided into 501 independent local school districts. Each one of these districts has a school board that oversees local expenses and taxation. PSEA has not done a good job of ensuring that local school boards remain in line with their legislative agenda. During the economic downturn, many school directors have been seated that were elected on a no or low lax platform. This has resulted in a cut in funding for public schools and the loss of many PSEA members for the union. PSEA had proven much more effective battling big issues such as student vouchers for private schools and merit pay for teachers. Both of these efforts have been defeated in the current House and Senate in Pennsylvania. A testament to the PSEA can be found in the fact that the current Governor and House of Representatives are conservative Republicans that have vowed to take on the PSEA. So far, their anti-public education agenda has been thwarted.
Bibliography
Dochat, C., & Abraham, P. (2011, October 27). Government unions steal worker freedom. Retrieved from http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/research/detail/government-unions- steal-worker-freedom
Hofius Hall, S. (2011, April 20). Acting education secretary defends state budget, calls for merit pay. Retrieved from http://citizensvoice.com/news/acting-education- secretary-defends-state-budget-calls-for-merit-pay-1.1134896
PSEA. . (2012). Key issue: school vouchers. Retrieved from http://www.psea.org/vouchers/
Runk, J., & Brouillette, M. (2008, November 1). Pennsylvania State Education Association: Compelling Teachers, Marginalizing Students, Lobbying Politicians & Increasing Taxes. Commonwealth Policy Brief. Vol. 20 No. 5 Read More
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