In the public school system, where there is a lot of this top-down micromanagement, the union is there to kind of be that buffer and to help teachers do what it is that they need to do, which is to teach. And in a lot of charter schools, there isn’t that top-down, all that micromanagement. …
I’ve never seen somebody who’s left [for charters] because of the union. They don’t leave because they feel like the union is holding them back. They’re leaving because they feel like forces outside of the union are holding them back from being able to do what it is that they need to do.
Participants in our roundtable discussion
Denise (Dee) Rogers is a National Board Certified Teacher working for the Peer Intervention Program. Before that she taught 2nd through 8th grades at EM Stanton, Finletter, Grover Washington, and Spruance. She is on the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) panel and is also a member of the executive board of the PFT. She is in her 15th year of teaching for the District.
Bonnie Breese is an English Language Arts teacher at Overbrook High School, where she previously taught special education. Besides 10 years at Overbrook, she taught in Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre as well as Graterford and Muncy state prisons. She is involved in the Philadelphia Writing Project and is a member of the PFT executive board.
Trey Smith is in his first year at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School after three years teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Morrison Elementary. At Boys’ Latin, he teaches physical science and chairs the science department. A TFA alumnus, he is involved with the Philadelphia Writing Project and the National Science Teachers Association.
Jim Hardy is a fourth-year social studies teacher at Kensington Culinary Arts High School. He is an active member of the Kensington School and Community Coalition and a co-founder of both the Teacher Action Group and Education Not Incarceration – Delaware Valley. He is a PFT building rep.
Kristin Luebbert is a 7th and 8th grade literacy and social studies teacher at the Bache-Martin School and the PFT building rep. She came into Philadelphia in 2001 as a literacy intern, and has taught 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at Bache. She formerly taught at Saint Michael’s business school in Fishtown and the University of Nebraska.
Jonathan Garr is in his fifth year at Tilden Middle School. An alumnus of Teach for America, he teaches 6th grade math and is also his school’s PFT building representative.