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The Shaler strike: 'Professionals' once again do the unprofessional thing

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Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Shaler Area School District teachers opened the 2013-14 school year Tuesday not by greeting their students with encouraging smiles and extolling the limitless possibilities of what they could learn but by going on strike.

Thus, “professionals” did the unprofessional thing. And more than 4,000 Shaler students will pay the price for their “role models'” pique.

Shaler teachers have been without a contract since August 2011. Negotiations, ongoing since January of that year, have failed to produce an agreement. Salary and health care contributions are said to be the sticking points. Just how far apart the sides are — or how close — hasn't been made public.

Under state law, and a prerequisite court order, Shaler teachers will have to end their strike on Sept. 20. The Shaler Area Education Association has vowed to remain off the job until there's a contract or a judge orders them back into the classroom. Perhaps they can stamp their feet and hold their breath until they turn blue, too.

The Shaler strike breaks an odd one-year period in which there were no public school teacher strikes in Pennsylvania. And there likely will be more this school year. But how sad it is that among the Pennsylvania Legislature's priorities when it returns for its fall session — on Sept. 23, the same day Shaler teachers would have to return — outlawing teacher strikes isn't one of them.

So, once again, a union swings its strike cudgel and smacks hard the very people its members are charged with serving. What a sad lesson.

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