It's not even a blip on the horizon yet, but teachers contracts at many school districts all over the suburbs - Downingtown, to name one - expire over the summer.

That raises the possibility of strikes, which is one category where Pennsylvania is a national leader every year. Among the nastiest recent strikes: the 21-day walkout in the Pennsbury School District in Bucks County in 2005.

There have been two recent proposals to avert teacher strikes. State Sen. Robert J. Mellow (D., Lackawanna) is pushing a bill to require districts and unions that can't reach a negotiated settlement to submit their last best offer to a Common Pleas Court judge.

The judge would then select one of those offers as the settlement, after taking into account such factors as taxpayers' ability to pay for it.

Another option, supported by a group called StopTeacherStrikes Inc., is for Pennsylvania to adopt a version of New York State's Taylor Law, which bans teacher strikes and has stiff financial penalties for teachers and unions that walk out.

You can find more detailed explanations of each position on the Web at www.senator-mellow.com/ and www.stopteacherstrikes.org. Do you like either solution? Have a better idea? Tell us about it. Reply by Tuesday to chesterletters@phillynews.com.

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