For years, the Professional Educators of Tennessee have repeatedly asserted that they are not a “political organization,” while employing several lobbyists. Currently, three of PET’s staff members are listed by the state as registered lobbyists:
In fact, PET has employed lobbyists for years:
Contrary to what PET claims, the organization is extremely political. But what are their politics?
Well, to figure that out, we need only look to their record.
- In 2011 PET actively lobbied for repealing the collective bargaining rights of teachers.
- PET has publicly supported the use of growth scores in teacher evaluations and merit pay.
- PET has taken every opportunity possible to undermine the biggest opponent to the privatization of public education: the state’s teacher union. PET lobbied for repealing the law that ensured that the union has guaranteed seats on the state’s pension board (the state has since drastically cut the pensions for incoming teachers) and release time for union officers.
Now, PET is actively working with pro-voucher groups to lobby for a law that would repeat the right of teachers to voluntarily choose for union dues to be automatically withdrawn from their paychecks.
Kyle Mallory, a PET leader who was named 2015 Advocate of the Year by the organization and has represented PET in events organized as part of a campaign by pro-voucher consultant Steve Gill to demonize Tennessee’s public schools, has recently written an editorial promoting the legislation:
Recently, the Tennessee Legislature took up the Fair Access to Collection of Teacher Support Act (SB 151 / HB 294), a piece of legislation that has been amended to take the school district out of collecting dues through payroll deductions for unions who use them for political activities. . . I support the FACTS Act (HB 294 / SB 151) as amended, and hope others will as well.
Not only has PET published editorials in support of this legislation, PET’s executive director JC Bowman has publicly lobbied in favor of it during the legislative session.
Given PET’s history (especially the pro-voucher and pro-charter history of JC Bowman), it should come as little surprise that PET is actively lobbying to undermine the strength of the teachers union, which is the most powerful obstacle standing in the way of the corporate takeover of public education. And yet, there are many teachers across the state who have not heard how PET uses the dues money of their members to lobby for legislation that strips teachers of their rights. Please help spread the word.