#PAGOV: Wolf’s Endorsee for State Democratic Party Chair Voted to End Teacher Seniority

That’s right.

On June 11, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf posted a blog and sent out an online petition asking his supporters to join him on endorsing Katie McGinty as Chairwoman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Jake Wheatley as Vice Chairman for the state party.  In the blog post, Tom Wolf’s campaign writes:

As you know, there is a long history of Democratic Gubernatorial nominees having their team in place to work in an integrated way with the party structure. It is why the election of the party chair immediately follows the primary election. State committee is incredibly important to me, and to the success of our candidates. The work each of you do in your communities is invaluable and the leadership of state committee members helps to elect Democrats up and down the ticket.

As I look toward the fall, I know that I need a battle-tested team in place to take on Tom Corbett, build the party, and elect Democrats up and down the ballot. And it is my sincerest hope that you will help me build my team that will lead the effort to defeat Tom Corbett.

Last week, State Representative Jake Wheatley, one of the two people Tom Wolf is endorsing for the state party chair positions, was one of two Democrats in the House Education Committee to send House Bill 1722 to the floor.  Wheatley was also the only Democrat to vote on a really bad amendment as well.

Pennlive describes House Bill 1722 as:

The House Education Committee today voted 17-7 to advance legislation that would add economic reasons to the list of permitted situations when teachers and other professional school employees could be furloughed.

Current law only allows districts to layoff professional staff if there is a reduction in enrollment, if a program is curtailed or eliminated, or if schools are consolidated or reorganized.

and continued with:

But Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, one of two Democrats to support the overall legislation, said given the economic realities that schools are facing and having to reduce staff, “I believe we should have a matrix that allows them to do it not just by seniority.”

State Rep. Jake Wheatley was the only democrat in committee to vote for this:

Amends the bill to provide that (1) a temporary professional employee will be considered a professional employee if the employee’s work is certified as satisfactory during the last four months of the fifth year of service, and must be given a regular employment contract after five years of satisfactory service; (2) a school district must enter into a written contract with a professional employee after five years of satisfactory service and receipt of overall employment ratings of “distinguished” or “proficient”; (3) a school district may not use costs as the sole factor in determining which professional employees to suspend; (4) a school district must suspend professional employees in the following order within their area of certification: first, those rated “failing,” second, those rated “needs improvement,” third, those rated “proficient,” and finally, those rated “distinguished,” with seniority used to determine suspensions among employees with the same rating; (5) the highest rated professional employees must be reinstated first, with seniority used to determine reinstatements among employees with the same rating; (6) a new collective bargaining agreement may not conflict with the new provisions; and (7) the provisions related to new collective bargaining agreements take effect immediately, with all other provisions taking effect July 1, 2015.

And one of two democrats to vote for this:

Amends the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code) to (1) provide that a temporary professional employee will become a professional employee if the employee’s work has been certified as satisfactory; (2) provide that a temporary professional employee who is not tendered a regular employment contract after 5 years of service must be given a written statement setting forth the reason for such refusal; (3) provide for tenure after 5 years of service and a rating of distinguished or proficient on the employee’s two most recent performance evaluations; (4) allow suspension of professional employees for economic reasons; (5) require suspension determinations to be made based upon a professional employee’s performance; and (6) require that an appeal by a professional employee aggrieved by an action of the board of school directors be filed with the Secretary of Education within 15 days of the employee’s receipt of written notice of the board’s decision.

The bill Wheatley voted to send to the House floor will:

  • strip teachers of seniority if they are in an economically distressed school district, like Philadelphia, to meet budget needs
  • implement a grading system of teachers in poor school districts
  • will subvert CBA’s set up between local school districts and the local school district

The bill that Wheatley supported is being pushed by Students First.  Do we really want someone supporting corporate education reform to be running the statewide party?  Tell and tweet Tom Wolf what you think.


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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to sean@rcpress.org or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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5 Comments on #PAGOV: Wolf’s Endorsee for State Democratic Party Chair Voted to End Teacher Seniority

  1. Wolf screwed up big when he got involved in the internal politics of the State Dem Party! Poor judgment on his part. McGinty got less than 10% of the State Committee’s 250 or so votes for endorsement, she got creamed by the electorate in May, she has questionable speaking skills and she is big into drilling the crap out of our state’s Marcellus gas fields—also check out Karl Hausker, her husband’s connections to gas drillers. She talks out of both sides of her mouth and to bring her into the State Dem Party is analogous to bringing back T. J. Rooney—-the guy who “gavels” dissent with passion and apparent delight. Wolf needs to distance himself from people like loser McGinty. What did he have to gain? Big question, is it not? Rendell and T. J. Rooney—will they ever make enough money and simply retire. They do the Dem Party zero good—-nothing good comes from these self-serving pseudo-dems.

  2. Taxing Tom Wolf cares as much about what the people think as Toxic Tom Corbett, and that’s not at all. There’s not even a dimes worth of difference between the two. Neither “Tom” is fit to govern, and at this point it’s a toss up as to which one will do more damage.

  3. Let’s hope the members of state committee next Saturday will reject these Repubs leaning Dems…we need progressive leadership at state committee to keep Tom Wolf focused on being a Dem with Democratic values…we have had enough of the gang of Dems in name only crowd…no wonder we can’t win more house and senate seats @ the local, state and national levels.
    Sean, maybe y could post the e-mails of all the Berks County state committee members, so we could e-mail them to reject Wolf’s picks.

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