House Democrats, along with one Republican, passed a bill that would guarantee the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) a monopoly on training for school directors. House Bill 1743 passed this week by a vote of 103 to 100.

Why is this such a big deal?

Currently PSBA, as the only statewide approved agency to provide mandatory training for school directors, has a theoretical monopoly, but other agencies can apply to become statewide providers.

This legislation ends the theoretical monopoly and makes it an actual monopoly.

If this bill passes the Senate, the highly polarizing PSBA will push their political agenda and ideology on every school director in the state whether they want it or not.

The timing of this bill is suspect on multiple levels. Earlier this year, a new organization, The Pennsylvania School Directors Coalition launched to provide an alternative to the PSBA monopoly.  Last month, I reported on the Coalition and their plans to pursue approval to become a statewide provider.

Why is it necessary to limit the training of school directors to one entity, especially when this entity has a political agenda? PSBA’s ideology may not align with all school directors across the Commonwealth, regardless of their political affiliation.

Take, for example, PSBA’s legislative agenda that includes charter school reform, school funding, voucher programs, and Right to Know Law reforms. Their position on these initiatives is clearly partisan. And, lest we forget, PSBA was formerly associated with the National School Boards Association that called parents who spoke out at school board meetings domestic terrorists.

Christina Brussalis, President and founder of the newly formed School Director Coalition, said, “I am aware of the bill, and I find it to be a peculiar piece of legislation. If a multi-million-dollar organization like PSBA is so threatened by organizations seeking to improve public education in Pennsylvania that they need to push a bill like this to essentially create a monopoly, then we should all question, not just PSBA’s priorities, but their use of taxpayer-funded lobbying to promote such nonsensical and undemocratic legislation.”

So what else is wrong with the Democrats’ legislation?

Have you forgotten about all those draconian mandates during covid that took away local control from school boards across the state. This legislation is consistent with the mandatory school closures, masking, and quarantine rules handed down by the state until the governor’s power was stripped away following a constitutional amendment.

Why should local school boards be forced to use only one entity for training? I guess local control is out the window again.

“PSBA opposes efforts to provide direct financial aid to students who would use those funds to enroll in non-public schools or efforts that would divert state or federal funding away from school districts in order to fund such programs.” 

That statement exemplifies the majority of elected Democrats’ views on school choice. Looking at this legislation, the Dems don’t want school directors to have any choices, just like they don’t want parents and students to have any choices.

Current Perkiomen Valley school director, Jason Saylor, said, “although PSBA is a good source for both new and veteran board members, it should not be the only source a director uses. We are elected by the people to think freely and should go into the role with an educational base from PSBA and also learn to use our hearts and minds to form proper decisions for our students and community.”

If that is not enough to convince you that this legislation is political pandering, let’s look at this statement in the bill. “NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL DEEM THE STATEWIDE EDUCATION ORGANIZATION AS A STATE-AFFILIATED ENTITY.” (emphasis original)

Yet, the PSBA staff are members of the state pension system. How can an organization not be a state-affiliated entity if its staff are part of the state retirement system?  

Senator Phillips-Hill has significant concerns about their participation in the pension system, and she subsequently proposed legislation that would require PSBA to comply with the state’s Right to Know law. Last month the Senator said, “we have tried for years to remove them from the pension system, but have hit a roadblock over who is stuck with the multi-million dollar liability.” 

Since they were not successful in removing the PSBA employees from the pension system, the only solution, according to Phillips-Hill, is to treat them as a state-affiliated agency and force them to comply with the Right to Know law.

Finally, and maybe the most concerning aspect of this legislation is the financial component. The bill states that the statewide organization “shall prepare and offer the approved training program at no cost to school districts or school directors.” (emphasis added)

Interestingly, the fiscal note attached to the bill states “House Bill 1743 would have no fiscal impact on commonwealth funds.” So, where is the money coming from to fund these trainings if the statewide organization cannot charge for it and the state is not allocating dollars?

A request for comment on that question to Representative Maureen Madden (D-Monroe), sponsor of the legislation, was not immediately returned.

Her press release includes this statement:

“Currently, the Department of Education is responsible for delivering the training to elected school board officials. My legislation would allow professional organizations to implement the required training. This important and simple reform would ensure that school board directors have access to high quality training.”

Her statement is completely meaningless because PSBA, as the only statewide entity approved by the Department of Education, already provides the training to the majority of school directors. The “reform” she refers to is simply granting a monopoly to the Democrat-aligned organization and preventing groups like the School Directors Coalition from providing differing perspectives.

The only Republican who voted in favor of the bill, Representative Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin), said that the legislation continues the current process for school director training.

“My interpretation of the bill is that it does not alter the current process for determining who provides training at the local or regional level. PSBA has been a trusted source of non-partisan training for over a century. Given the increasing polarization of school boards and the high turnover of members in recent elections, it is crucial to maintain the non-political nature of this training. This is essential to preserve the effective functioning of school boards for the benefit of students, teachers, staff, and residents.”

And it still does not answer the question about the cost. PSBA is a member organization and as such collects dues from school boards who join. Conceivably, those dues are used to pay for the training provided.  

So if PSBA is the only organization allowed to provide the training, does that mean that every school board is now legally required to become a member? Since the fiscal note states that there will be no funds needed to implement the bill, it seems the only logical conclusion.

Absent an explanation from the bill’s sponsor, it remains unclear how the training will be funded. What is clear is that the legislation is deeply flawed and will not likely pass the Senate.

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at

6 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: House Dems vote to establish monopoly in school director training”

  1. As transparency is the antidote to corruption and foolery in government, so too is competition the remedy for inefficiency, bloat and indifference in society.

    There are economic arguments for monopolies. They are called “natural” monopolies. Government mandated monopolies, unless they are natural monopolies are foul and dangerous.

    Yet another documented, relevant report by Dr. Rosica. Thank You!

    1. As word salads are the non-answer for conspiracy theorists, so to is the competition to explain answers you do not like.

      1. Lower-case judah and Judah,
        Folks keep using that word “conspiracy” often and I do not think it means what you might think it means…
        Conspiracy (n.) A word that has been in use since the 1350’s. A plotting of evil, unlawful design; a combination of persons for an evil purpose, from Anglo-French conspiracie, Old French conspiracie “conspiracy, plot,” from Latin conspirationem (nominative conspiratio) “agreement, union, unanimity,” noun of action from past-participle stem of conspirare “to agree, unite, plot,” literally “to breathe together” (see conspire).
        Calling everything a conspiracy theory is very revealing. You remind me of a teenage girl… “like, as if.”
        1. Conspiracy: The government was stealing dead bodies to do radioactive testing.
        The truth: The government was stealing parts of dead bodies. Because they needed young tissue, they recruited a worldwide network of agents to find recently
        deceased babies and children, and then take samples and even limbs – each collected without notification or permission of the more than 1,500 grieving families.
        The world only woke up to the horrific scientific history of Project Sunshine half a century later. – Readers Digest
        2. Conspiracy: During Prohibition, the government poisoned alcohol to keep people from drinking.
        The truth: Manufacturers of industrial alcohol had been mixing their product with dangerous chemicals for years prior to Prohibition. But between 1926 and 1933, the
        federal government pushed manufacturers to use stronger poisons to discourage bootleggers from turning the alcohol into moonshine. That didn’t stop the
        bootleggers or their customers, and by the end of Prohibition, more than 10,000 Americans had been killed by tainted booze. – Readers Digest
        3. Conspiracy: A stroke rendered United States President Woodrow Wilson incapable of governing, and his wife surreptitiously stepped in.
        The truth: Wilson did suffer a debilitating stroke towards the end of his presidency – but the government felt it was in the country’s best interest to keep things
        quiet. The public didn’t learn about the stroke for months, during which time his wife, Edith Wilson, was making most executive decisions. Despite Mrs. Wilson
        claiming that she acted only as a “steward,” historians who have analyzed the Wilson term in office confirm that for well over a year, Mrs. Wilson was effectively
        president. – Readers Digest
        4. Conspiracy: The CIA was testing LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs on Americans in a top-secret experiment on behavior modification.
        The truth: The program was known as MK-ULTRA, and it was real. The CIA started by using volunteers – the novelist Ken Kesey was one notable subject. But the
        program heads soon began dosing people without their knowledge; MK-ULTRA left many victims permanently mentally disabled. – Readers Digest
        5. Conspiracy: The Dalai Lama is a CIA agent.
        The truth: Perhaps the reason the Dalai Lama is smiling in all those photos has something to do with the six-figure salary he pulled down from the U.S. government
        during the 1960s. According to declassified intelligence documents, he earned $180,000 in connection with the CIA’s funding of the Tibetan Resistance to the tune of
        $1.7 million per year. The idea was to disrupt and hamper China’s infrastructure. – Readers Digest
        6. Conspiracy: The FBI was spying on former Beatle John Lennon.
        The truth: They most certainly were. Like many counter-culture heroes, Lennon was considered a threat: “Anti-war songs, like “Give Peace a Chance” didn’t exactly
        endear former Beatle John Lennon to the Nixon administration,” NPR reported in 2010. “In 1971, the FBI put Lennon under surveillance, and the Immigration and
        Naturalization Service tried to deport him a year later.” – Readers Digest
        7. Conspiracy: With the advances in technology, the government is using its vast resources to track citizens.
        The truth: In 2016, government agencies sent 49,868 requests for user data to Facebook, 27,850 to Google, and 9,076 to Apple, according to the Electronic Frontier
        Foundation (the EFF), a major nonprofit organisation that defends civil liberties in the digital world and advises the public on matters of internet privacy. – Readers
        8. Conspiracy: The Gulf of Tonkin incident on August 2, 1964, was faked to provoke American support for the Vietnam War.
        The truth: By the time news reached American ears, the facts surrounding the North Vietnamese attack on the American Naval ship Maddox were already fuzzy.
        Declassified intelligence documents have since revealed that the Maddox had provided support for South Vietnamese attacks on a nearby island and that the North
        Vietnamese were responding in kind, according to the U.S. Naval Institute. The event “opened the floodgates for direct American military involvement in Vietnam.” –
        Readers Digest
        9. Conspiracy: For decades, tobacco companies buried evidence that smoking is deadly.
        The truth: At the beginning of the 1950s, research was showing an indisputable statistical link between smoking and lung cancer, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s
        that Philip Morris even admitted that smoking could cause cancer. – Readers Digest

  2. Shapiro ‘s attack on school choice is pervasive in these ( non governmental ) organizations

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