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District wants Promise Academies layoff exemption

By Benjamin Herold on May 18, 2011 11:41 AM

The District plans to inform the School Reform Commission that it wants teachers in Promise Academies to be exempt from layoffs.

"The District’s recommendation is to make Promise Academy teachers part of the protected class. This recommendation will be shared with the SRC," said a statement from spokesperson Elizabeth Childs. It is unclear whether this means that the SRC will need to approve the recommendation.

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan immediately responded that the union will fight this. He said that there is no language in the contract to justify singling out one group of teachers to make them members of a protected class.

The District has said that it will lay off as many as 1,260 teachers if it doesn't get more money from the state or city to close a projected $629 million budget gap.

Last week, the Inquirer reported on the District's plans to exempt Promise Academies teachers, but a follow-up statement from the District said the leadership was continuing to explore options.

Today, Jordan said, “I’ve already alerted my attorneys. We will fight this in every legal way available. We don’t want there to be layoffs, but if there are they have to be done in a fair and equitable way.”

Update: The District issued a statement implying that it may use its power under the state takeover law to impose terms on the union without collective bargaining. In addition to the issue of whether it can exempt Promise Academy teachers from layoffs, the District has also said is planning for $75 million in union concessions as one way to balance the budget.

The follow-up statement from Childs said:

"The School Reform Commission is reviewing all of its options as it addresses the budget for 2011-2012. The Commission was given certain extraordinary powers and the SRC is considering whether the exercise of any of those powers will assist it in resolving the budget issues, while preserving to the greatest extent possible the educational program and priorities of the District. This would include all of its options under Section 696 of the Public School Code. The SRC is scheduled to vote on the budget on May 31, 2011."

Comments (160)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:17 pm

It's very simple: ABSOLUTELY NOT. It violates (not stretches, not follows if you interpret it right) the contract. Promise Academies have no right to extras that nobody else gets.

Saying these teachers should stay and these schools should get extra money is admitting that you know you are screwing over every single other student and teacher in the district.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:56 pm

I wonder how this works in her plan for weighted student funding?

Nothing is equal at all.

True lies, True deception, the only thing true about a Promise Academy is that it's a BROKEN PROMISE that uses our kids.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:38 pm

This is leading to inequality. We are bringing back segregation by class. Separate and unequal schools is the agenda of Corbett, Ackerman, and the SRC. We have always had defacto segregation by the way urban schools are underfunded. Now, they want to make it the law to once again have segregated schools.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:27 pm

Plus all you mentioned they want to destroy the UNIONS.

Submitted by West supporter (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:39 pm

I am a longtime supporter and currently a teacher in public schools. This really is the end for me. I cannot believe in this system, let alone this leadership anymore. I am heartbroken, but I will be going to the first charter school that will have me.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:05 pm

Get ready to be heartbroken more. They will treat you like dirt and pay you like dirt

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:33 am

Very much depends on where. There are some charters where this poster will be treated much more like a respected professional.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:00 am

Pay attention - we are being treated like dirt now. Nothing we do is right - scripted programs that a trained monkey could deliver- every at risk student is our fault and no one listens to what our education, experience or collaboration tells us is right.
It is probably bad in charters, too, but it is not like we have any respect now.

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:29 pm

Come on, we all knew this was going to happen. When the staff in Promise Academies are mostly those with under 5 years, they are cheaper to keep. Of course they want to keep those teachers and protect them. I called this weeks ago that they would use those extraordinary powers to force this on the union. Not much Jerry will be able to do about this.

Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:28 pm

What do you mean there's not much Jerry Jordan can do? Nothing in the contract says Promise teachers are protected from layoffs...he has already said he will go to court over it....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:24 pm

It will be decided in court but I don't think it's a clear win for PFT. Not all parts of contracts are enforceable and state law can have a lot of power--especially in relation to state employees. We must make sure we follow this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 13, 2011 11:37 am

read the contract there is mention of promise academies in the contract. And we all were required to re-interview for our jobs, equally and fairly. Its a tough time we all know that can the selected promise academy teachers then cry foul when they are targeted by the same union they support bi-weekly.

Submitted by tom-104 on July 13, 2011 12:16 pm

It is disingenuous for you to say the union has "targeted" Promise Academy teachers. The only people who have targeted you are the SRC and Ackerman. They targeted you to be exempt from the union contract so they could carry out their union busting objective. Ignoring seniority is part of their game plan.

I understand it is hard for you to be objective because your self interest requires you to see yourself as a victim. However, exempting Promise Academy teachers from seniority protections means there is no longer a contract if this is allowed. The SRC can then do whatever they want to any public school without any protections for the employees.

There are many teachers in traditional public schools who were laid off even though they had higher seniority than teachers at Promise Academies. Is that fair? This divide and conquer method is done deliberately to cause division among teachers. Please, in your own self interest, don't fall for it. In the long run you will regret losing seniority rights if it happens.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on July 13, 2011 12:10 pm

Yes, there is mention of Promise Academies and PA teachers in the contract. Nowhere, does it say, however, that PA teachers are exempt, or should be exempt from seniority rules. The contract makes sure PA teachers are paid for their extra hours. We all should be treated equally. PA teachers or not, we all work very hard for our kids every day--we should not be making certain teachers exempt from seniority.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:38 pm

You must be naive!!! It will go to court on an expedited process. The PFT will win plain and simple. Teachers can't strike but I bet if 10,000 decide to walk for a few days that will get Ackerman scared straight. No way will this District ever be able to replace 10,000 teachers!!! They need those teachers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:58 pm

I agree. What is wrong with these weak folks. I have no intention of turning back the clock 90 years. I would DIE first. No way would I accept this ever!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:23 pm

The BOOB speaks--doesn't think but speaks. The union better resist big time. I will, will you?? Get a pair, pal. Class Warfare--here it is, let's get it on and we better win.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 12:46 pm

This is another straw in breaking the union. Ackerman, Archie AND every SRC members that supports this is destroying the union.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:27 pm

The UNION is not destroyed nor will it be. Trust me when I say that Jerry Jordan is a bright and intelligent thinker and a master of plans. The PFT along with the AFT will prevail and ride this out. Word is Nutter is supporting turning the schools back over to District control and out of the States hands. We will see.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:27 pm

I agree with parts of what you are saying. UNIONS all better join together or we're all done. This is Class Warfare and we better win--let;s get it on !!!!!!

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:45 pm

Nutter is powerless - and he's the guy who suggested Arlene Ackerman be considered for superintendent. I wouldn't count on him to stand for the children of this city.

Submitted by rob (not verified) on May 18, 2011 1:01 pm

This is all part of the Queens plan. She wants to tout hyow great her plans are with promise academies and wants professionals to have studies about their success. If there is significant teacher turnover then the data is useless. This is all an experiment using our money to make her look good. Just think about how many pictures there are of her on the district's website. It's all about Arlene!

Submitted by teachmyway (not verified) on May 18, 2011 1:32 pm

This is a bunch of bs, I hope the district fights this with everything we have. How can they be a protected class, we are all teachers employed with the same district it just isn't fair. They created this budget bs, the promise academy is just too costly so instead of revamping the schools they want to lay everyone else off and keep promise academy teachers I don't think it is going to pass

Submitted by Bobbie Cratchitt (not verified) on May 18, 2011 2:30 pm

Wouldn't it be nice to call our ELECTED BOARD MEMBERS and share our thoughts on the misguided and capricious actions of Dr. Ackerman? Oh, that's right. We the people of Philadelphia are not permitted a say about what goes on in OUR school district...that right was taken away from us...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 3:17 pm

I guess its safe to say its not about all the children anymore only those in promise academies.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 23, 2011 10:19 pm

Yes it is about the children. Where were all you guys when the promise academies needed employees to teach at these schools. Now that there is going to be layoffs everyone wants in just to have a job. Disgusting is the word.

Submitted by teapartyslayer (not verified) on May 18, 2011 4:14 pm

How is that investigation going regarding Archie? I guess they want to give the thieves more power.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:59 pm

Haha I was just thinking the same thing. Despite mounting evidence I do believe that the courts will rule she must be tried as an adult.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 4:32 pm

I am very frustrated with the Ackerman administration over the way they are handling this. I actually am a pretty big supporter of the ideas behind Promise Academies and the site selection model. I don't even think it's bad to protect Promise Academy teachers (if you are going to try to do massive "turnarounds" they have zero chance of success if you have to replace the staff again the next year).

BUT, instead of getting this put into the contract (which probably could have been done pretty easily), they invent a "protected class." This is why Philadelphia is different from other "education reform" locations. Many places get laws/contracts changed to accomplish their goals. In Philly, they just ignore the laws/contracts.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:39 pm

Exactly Right and that's what makes UNION BUSTING such a big issue. If she can pull this, she'll be back again and again and again................... We have to win this !!

Submitted by Anon and anon (not verified) on May 18, 2011 4:54 pm

This is an outrage. Not only are the Promise Academies exempt from the staff cuts that all schools are experiencing, but now the teachers there should also be exempt from layoffs? I don't think so. The motivation is clear....the powers that be want their "experiment" to look successful. If the rest of the district goes down and Promise Academies don't, they can claim success. Yes, schools with enough staff will do better than schools with inadequate staffing. And teachers DESPERATE for jobs would be more inclined to apply to Promise Academies. But we all know when something sounds rotten and this is one of those times.

I support the union with whatever actions they take against this ridiculous idea. Until a merit-based evaluation system is used to keep teachers during layoffs, the rule is seniority based. The "reward" that teachers got for signing on to Promise Academies was a signing bonus, later retention bonuses, and higher pay for additional hours/Saturday school. They knew that when they signed on. Protecting them now is unwarranted.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:12 pm

Fear not. The PFT and the AFT will prevail and ride this out. No judge will go against a written contract that is concrete in its language.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:49 pm

Nothing is in concrete these days! Management just has to cry "financial crisis" and they get carte blanch. We better learn the history of labor in this country and relearn how to organize and if necessary strike (which would be civil disobedience in the spirit of Martin Luther King since we, by law, have had the right to strike taken away from us.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:09 pm

Whatever happens, ALL UNIONS NEED TO JOIN TOGETHER OR UNIONIZATION IS DONE IN THE U.S. THIS IS CLASS WARFARE--I AGREE!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 11:53 pm

The Promise Academies are definitely not exempt from the staff cuts -- I'm not sure if they are as severe as other schools, but there are definitely experiencing cuts.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:28 am

A lot of teachers hate working for Promise Academies and they're able to bail after just one year. This move is probably to prevent a rash of voluntary transfers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:22 pm

Jordan better grow a pair, The Queen is bullying again and this time, she is doing Corbett's bidding for him. Let's get it on !!!! Unions are being challenged everywhere so let's go and we have to win or we're all done--back to the 1920s if we lose. CLASS WARFARE-101 !!! I'm READY, are you??

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:52 pm

His reaction to these unreasonable demands - renegotiating the contract and the "protection" of Promise Academy teachers - will be Jordan's legacy. He will be known as the man who saved the PFT - or destroyed it through his weakness.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:50 pm

WE need to oust him unceremoniously if he dares to even remotely punk out. This is the time for all unions to stand together because what happened in Wisconsin is giving the Queen and lots of others the balls to bully us into submission. I don;t want to be melodramatic but this is Class Warfare and anybody who thinks it's not is deluding himself. The Tea Party and their crowd want to destroy unions and give all the power back to the very rich--corporations--the way it was for 250 years. I say---NO WAY and so should everybody else.
Divide and conquer is their strategy and we have to stand together and fight as though our lives depend on it because they do.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:12 pm

I agree. However, if he stands up and leads us in a fight, we should support him.

Courage will be demanded of all of us in the coming months.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:35 pm

No Doubt-----but I do doubt that he will lead us anywhere good. Hope I'm wrong !!

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:13 am

I have the same doubts you do. He was inept in his handling of our contract, especially when it came to the vote. I hope he's gotten himself turned around since then. I hate it when people I'm enthusiastic about turn out to be such let-downs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:26 am

I agree--he's always shocked by everything the Queen does but never seems to transfer that into action--just shocked, I say like Foghorn, Leghorn. His job calls for a Tony Soprano not Tony Bennett. We all should be scared. He needs to grow a pair or step down now before he allows us to get run back into the 1920s before unions and then we're all dead.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:25 pm

Every teacher I know agrees with this assessment. I hope he reads some of these comments and discovers more of the "You'll fire Hope over my dead body" Jerry Jordan, rather than the JJ who wouldn't let us have time to read the contract before voting for it, who meekly said he would never suggest we do anything against the law (i.e. strike or blue flu it) and who ignored dozens of great suggestions (including a real PR department to answer outrageous claims by the district) made over the past few meetings.

Jerry, stay strong. We don't want to negotiate. We don't want one class of teachers being allowed special perks because they're at a school that leaves them miserable.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:18 pm

This is absurd. It's no wonder the general public lacks respect for teachers and the American education system in general. What happened to integrity in the workplace. And the Promise Academy teachers know this is wrong----but could care less. Divide and conquer---this is the agenda.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 9:28 am

I am a first year teacher at a Promise Academy. I am one of the teachers they are trying to "protect" by once again violating the contract. Our rights have been violated all year by calling the things we're asked to do Promise Academy duties. Even though this violation would protect my job, I am not in favor. Please, be careful not to assume that Promise Academy teachers are in favor of this proposal. We are not the enemy. I'd rather be laid off than have protection as part of a special class when it's in violation of the contract. I think most other Promise Academy teachers would agree with me.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:36 pm

I'M READY. SOUNDS LIKE A STRIKE TO ME!!!! REGARDLESS!!! FORGET ABOUT ACT 46. IT HAS NO VALUE RIGHT ABOUT NOW, ANYWAY. I MEAN----WHAT'S TO LOSE? WE'RE LOSING OUR JOBS, ANYWAY.

DEAR FELLOW TEACHERS, PLEASE START SAVING YOUR MONEY!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 5:43 pm

You're right. The time has come to unite. STRIKE!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 5:39 pm

Strike, baby, strike!!! Forget about ACT 46. They're taking our jobs anyway.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 6:08 pm

I agree----If anybody approves this, all bets are off and we better win and win big with everything we have-----100% in.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 7:43 pm

Viva la revolution! I am sick of being bullied and threaten!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:33 pm

Lets see if the Union will grow a pair and actually stand up to this as it MUST, instead of simply saying its bad and doing nothing else. While we're at it this would also be a great time to take Act 46 to court to get it ruled unconstitutional. From a legal standpoint the district and state would have a hard time defending a law that prohibits a union from functioning like every other union in the city (state and country for that matter too) by putting some of OUR MONEY that WE have had deducted from our paychecks to support the PFT PAC and legal fund in addition to the dues we pay. If the city can survive a SEPTA strike I think it can survive a teacher strike.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:46 pm

Right On, Brother or Sister--I agree.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:02 pm

Lets see if the Union will grow a pair and actually stand up to this as it MUST, instead of simply saying its bad and doing nothing else. While we're at it this would also be a great time to take Act 46 to court to get it ruled unconstitutional. From a legal standpoint the district and state would have a hard time defending a law that prohibits a union from functioning like every other union in the city (state and country for that matter too) by putting some of OUR MONEY that WE have had deducted from our paychecks to support the PFT PAC and legal fund in addition to the dues we pay. If the city can survive a SEPTA strike I think it can survive a teacher strike.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:42 pm

Jerry Jordan must file a lawsuit for unequal treatment and violation of a legally negotiated contract. And if we have to, we must all - ALL - walk off the job, call in sick or do something else to send this sick machine to a grinding halt. They can't replace 11,000 teachers. They will not only lose this battle, they'll lose their momentum toward breaking the union.

What I'd like to know is why parents haven't filed lawsuits against the district over Promise Academies. It is 100 percent illegal to treat one public school student differently than another. This is merely a play off of "separate but equal," and the Supreme Court stated in "Brown v. The Board of Education" there is no such thing. Parents, where is your class action lawsuit? Why are you allowing your children to be deprived of the funding, more nutritious food and other preferential treatment accorded Promise Academy students. Do you not think your children deserve them?

There is so much pressure for Jordan to lie down for the administration. I hope he has the fortitude to protect us by staying strong.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:16 pm

Fortitude, I call it by another name but I agree. The time to be shocked, just shocked is OVER, Jerry. It's time to get it on or we're all dead.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:48 pm

While I strongly oppose unequal funding, this isn't new. Penn's Penn Alexander school gets $1300/per pupil more because Penn gives the funding. (This was just extended for 10 more years). Penn also provides professional development, a staffer, grounds keeping, etc. SLA get money from an endowment from Glaxo Smith Kline, money from the partnership with the Franklin Institute, etc. High School with Department of Labor grants get millions more per year. These are just some examples. (Schools with "gifted" students get money for each "gifted" student; Title 1 gives money based on SES, etc.)

That said, breaking the contract by having a "protected class" of teachers is different. This makes the contract null and void.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:15 pm

90% of your post has nothing to do with the point of the article. Having said that, the Queen has crossed the line and she must be stopped. Jordan is the leader and if he falters, we must oust him immediately or we're all dead.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:15 pm

He won't falter!! He is a keen strategist. I am sure Ted Kirsch will be behind him as well as all of the AFT and PFT. Solution: all 10,000 teachers walk---you cannot replace that many teachers no way no how. A stand has to be taken. Jordan already said today that PFT lawyers are preparing for a lawsuit through an expedited process---so have no fear!!! Good luck teachers--it time for battle.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:46 pm

I totally agree and we better all stand together. Don't let them divide and conquer us. Charter Teachers---be with us or you'll be next. Read "First They Came."

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:52 am

Kirsh is the one who refused to allow union members to take a week and look over the contract before voting for it (He used a technical point of order, but then shut down debate before someone could re-issue the motion properly). That makes it hard to trust him. Let's see how much better he and Jordan do during this crucial time.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:24 pm

The Penn Alexander money is from a *private* source. Big difference.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:26 pm

Fear not anyone!!! Jordan has already said PFT lawyers are working on a case and will fight anything as far as promise academy teachers being exempt from layoffs and will fight if they try and cancel the contract. Apparently, SRC head Archie and Ackerman have said yesterday that they are strongly considering using a power to cancel the current contract. The only way to stop this is through a lawsuit filed on behalf of the PFT through an expedited process and have ALL teachers and I mean ALL walk off. They can threaten taking your certification but each one of you has earned and paid for that certification---it is yours to keep!!! If they threaten to fire then see if they can fire all 10,000 teachers!!! It can't happen. There is no way to replace that many teachers and the schools will be closed. It will make national headlines and Ackerman doesn't want that publicity. YOU NEED TO STAND TOGETHER!! I am sure the AFT is ready to support you to the fullest. Good luck teachers!!! Its time for battle.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:15 pm

I hope you're right about Jordan. We all need to stand and fight--ALL, not one teacher should not walk---EVERYBODY---Read "First They Came."

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:00 pm

The lawsuit which has to be considered is the Constitutional one to overturn the State takeover law as being unconstitutional on its face and as applied and return the governance of our schools to local control. I can think of several constitutional grounds and some civil rights issues under the Civil Rights Act.

Here is a provocative question that can be argued on several grounds: Why was Philadelphia singled out for a special law that applies only to Philadelphia, treats the people of Philadelphia differently than the people in the rest of state, and denies the people of Philadelphia control of their school governance?

These are not just union issues, they are parent issues, student issues, and citizen issues. They are American issues. But most importantly, they are the People of Philadelphia's issues.

Are we not the birthplace of Democracy?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 11:42 pm

The chances of having all teachers walk off in Philly is very low. There are many young teachers in the city who are not very supportive of union initiatives, for a variety of reasons.

Also, while I don't think the SDP would follow through, they could fairly definitely start the certification revocation process for teachers who exceeded their allotted time off unless the strike was recognized as a legal work action.

A teaching certificate is like any other license. The fact you earned it doesn't mean you keep it for life. Just like a Driver's license, medical license, bar membership in law, if you break the rules of the PDE, you can lose your teaching license.

I'm not saying the PFT would lose in court if they challenged these things. But I'm also not so sure it's a definitely win.

That's why Ackerman's actions are so bizarre. She could probably have just officially changed the terms to allow what she wants (or could have essentially demanded them in the last contract), and the state takeover law gives the SDP tremendous leverage in negotiations. So signing a contract that was remarkably similar to the old one (except for the vague Renaissance language) was odd.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:40 pm

Actually, they gave a lot away in terms of the establishment of renaissance schools. You'll note that a bunch of additional schools were tapped for renaissance schools, causing Jerry Jordan to cry foul - but otherwise do absolutely nothing - even though this essentially violated the contract.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 11:12 pm

I don't agree with taking from other schools to fund Promise Academies, but "separate but equal" has nothing to do with this. And a recent class-action lawsuit against a school District (LA) resulted in a ruling that the District could ignore seniority in layoffs because it would impact poor minority schools more harshly.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 9:34 pm

Maybe I'm not reading your post right... "Parents where is your class action lawsuit"?????????????? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...................................................HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dear New Philly Teacher,

There is no such thing as a parent in the Philadelphia School District. The only parents in the district are sitting in your classroom.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 21, 2011 5:38 pm

I find your comment highly offensive. That is not the type of cynicism that we need to project at this time. I am a veteran teacher at a promise academy and our student's knowledge base was so low when we arrived it made us sick. With that said, the amount of money given to our schools is very much needed. Also, many of you seem to believe that we don't care about what is going on and we do. I very much believe that promise academy teachers will not be exempt and many of my colleagues are scared of losing their jobs also. There are going to be many losers here in the end including our students.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 8:48 pm

YES!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 9:54 pm

Me thinks the Queen is just trying to get attention as bullies tend to do. A judge would laugh her out of court and if he/she didn't, we're all dead anyway. I think Arlene needs to give herself another award or two.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:10 pm

Can someone please post/explain the current text of PA School Code 696 that the district keeps referring to?

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on May 19, 2011 12:29 am

If you are speaking about 24 P.S. Section 6-696, it is too long to copy here. But I would not rely on the School District's interpretation of that section and the related legal issues.

It does not appear to give the SRC the power necessary to eliminate your contract provisions as you are being led to believe.

The SRC clearly has the power to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the PFT and CASA. Section 6-696 does not grant them the power to breach the contract that was fairly negotiated and ratified by the SRC. I am sure the PFT lawyers are warming to the task. They did a great job on the Moffet complaint and I will put my money on them. They may even file an unfair labor practice complaint if the SRC tries to breach its own contract and impose working conditions.

If the administration and the SRC start a war over this, the turmoil they will create will hurt the school children. If the Mayor cares about the School Children as he professes, he will get together with Governor Corbett and City Council and meet their "moral obligation" to fund Philadelphia's public schools and stop playing games with our children's well being.

Leaders are judged by their followers not on what they say, but on what they do. Followers wait to be shown.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:33 am

Dave-------------Get a grip. Using Corbett and morally into the same sentence is not a good idea. Tea Party Types have no morals except for people who look and have just like they do. Inner city problems and their kids mean NOTHING to them. Moral Obligation????????? PLEASE !!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:36 am

Dave-------------Get a grip. Using Corbett and morally into the same sentence is not a good idea. Tea Party Types have no morals except for people who look and have just like they do. Inner city problems and their kids mean NOTHING to them. Moral Obligation????????? PLEASE !!!!!!

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on May 19, 2011 12:39 pm

i absolutely agree with you on that one! I am sitting here chuckling at your reply. You are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Thanks for the reply....

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on May 19, 2011 12:03 pm

i absolutely agree with you on that one! I am sitting here chuckling at your reply. You are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. Thanks for the reply....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 10:33 pm

Yes, to all my brothers and sisters who know that this is the time to come together and fight....let us not forget, as much as we keep talking about "the union," we ARE the union! What we do will determine our strength.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 11:24 pm

How will this play out for layoffs and June 30th being the last date they can notify teachers? If they flout seniority will they have to rehire all of those they fired with higher seniority and then be unable to get rid of those they kept at promise academies?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 18, 2011 11:10 pm

(Note the part about removing commissioners)

October 30, 2001 (P.L.828, No.83), are amended to read:
Section 696. Distress in School Districts of the First
Class.--(a) Within thirty (30) days of a declaration by the
Secretary of Education that a school district of the first class
is distressed under section 691(c), a School Reform Commission
shall be established consisting of four members initially
appointed by the Governor and one member initially appointed by
the mayor of the city coterminous with the school district. The
School Reform Commission shall be an instrumentality of a school
district of the first class, exercising the powers of the board
of school directors. The Governor shall appoint a chairman of
the School Reform Commission. At least three of the commission
members, including the member appointed by the mayor, must be
residents of the school district.
(b) Membership of the School Reform Commission shall be as
follows:
(1) Members appointed pursuant to this section shall serve
terms as follows:
(i) Two of the members appointed by the Governor shall serve
initial terms of seven (7) years.
(ii) One of the members appointed by the Governor shall
serve an initial term of five (5) years.
(iii) One of the members appointed by the Governor shall
serve an initial term of three (3) years. Upon the expiration of
the initial term of this member, the mayor shall appoint an
individual to fill this position.
(iv) The member appointed by the mayor shall serve an
initial term of three (3) years.
(v) After the expiration of each initial term[, a subsequent
term shall be for four (4) years.]:
(A) Members appointed by the Governor under subclauses (i)
and (ii) shall be appointed for a term of five (5) years.
(B) Members appointed by the mayor under subclauses (iii)
and (iv) shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years.
(2) Except as authorized in this subsection, no commission
member may be removed from office during a term. The Governor
may, upon proof by clear and convincing evidence of malfeasance
or misfeasance in office, remove a commission member prior to
the expiration of the term. Before a commission member is
removed, that member must be provided with a written statement
of the reasons for removal and an opportunity for a hearing in
accordance with 2 Pa.C.S. Ch. 5 Subch. A (relating to practice
and procedure of Commonwealth agencies) and Ch. 7 Subch. A
(relating to judicial review of Commonwealth agency action).
(3) Upon the expiration of term or the occurrence of a
vacancy in the office of a commission member appointed by the
Governor, the Governor shall appoint, with the consent of a
majority of the members elected to the Senate, the successor
member. Upon the expiration of term or the occurrence of a
vacancy in the office of a commission member appointed by the
mayor, the mayor shall appoint the successor member. An
appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the balance of the
unexpired term.
(4) A commission member shall hold office until a successor
has been appointed and qualified.
(5) A commission member may serve successive terms.
(6) No commission member may, while in the service of the
School Reform Commission, seek or hold a position as any other
public official within this Commonwealth or as an officer of a
political party.
(7) Commission members shall be reimbursed for reasonable
and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their
official duties from funds of the school district.
* * *
(h) The School Reform Commission shall be responsible for
financial matters related to the distressed school district of
the first class and:
(1) All taxes authorized to be levied by a school district
of the first class or for a school district of the first class
by a city or county of the first class on the date of the
declaration of distress shall continue to be authorized and
levied in accordance with this act and shall be transmitted to
the school district. For the first fiscal year or part thereof
and every fiscal year thereafter in which the school district is
declared to be distressed, the amount appropriated or paid by
the city or county to the school district and the tax authorized
by the city or county to be levied for the school district or
dedicated to the school district shall be [in] an amount or tax
not less than the highest amount paid by the city or county to
the school district or authorized by the city or county to be
levied for the school district or dedicated to the school
district during any of the three full preceding fiscal years. In
addition, the city of the first class shall provide to the
school district of the first class all other available local
non-tax revenue, including grants, subsidies or payments made
during the prior year.
(2) In addition to the moneys collected under paragraph (1),
the city of the first class shall remit to the school district
of the first class for each year that the school district is
declared distressed that portion of all other local tax revenue
levied for a full fiscal year by a city or county of the first
class coterminous with a school district of the first class that
was allocated to the school district prior to the school
district being declared distressed in accordance with section
691(c).
(3) All taxes collected on behalf of a school district of
the first class by any person or entity, including a city or
county of the first class, shall be promptly paid following
collection to the School Reform Commission for the benefit of
the school district.
(4) In the event the city or county of the first class does
not meet the financial obligations prescribed in this
subsection, the Commonwealth may apply to that obligation any
amounts otherwise due from the Commonwealth to the city or
county of the first class, including, but not limited to,
grants, awards and moneys collected by the Commonwealth on
behalf of the city or county of the first class. Funds withheld
shall be maintained in a separate account by the State Treasurer
to be disbursed as determined by the Secretary of Education in
consultation with the State Treasurer.
(5) The School Reform Commission shall adopt a budget.
* * *

Submitted by Just Sayin' (not verified) on May 19, 2011 8:47 pm

Two things:

1) Isn't the SRC supposed to be dissolved after 10 years? If so, would those 10 years be up Oct. 2011?

2) I just saw this passed the PA House yesterday:
(PN 615) Amends the Public School Code, in professional employees, to allow
suspension of professional employees for economic reasons. If the board
suspends instructional professional, they must also suspend and equal
number of administrative staff, however, a waiver of this requirement may
be granted by the Department of Education. (Retrieved from http://pittsburgh.cis-pa.org/news-capitol/)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 5:29 am

I am a new teacher at a promise academy. The principal knows that as new teachers we all fear losing our jobs. They are constantly making changes at the last minute, changing our schedules and there is usually a lot of confusion about what we are supposed to do. We are not willing to speak up because we are criticized. I realize things are being done unfairly to teachers but we are trying our best as new teachers too. I never expected any of this. This is a difficult situation for everyone.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:40 am

And there are thousands of other new teachers, like me, who are working under the same circumstances but are finishing out this year under threat of layoff. Just because being a new teacher is rough does not mean some of us should get laid off and others shouldn't, especially not in such an arbitrary way as what school you happened to get.

Also, it sounds like you need to elect a building union rep asap. You should not be living in fear of being criticized for expressing ideas.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:10 am

You're correct - this is difficult for everyone. For more "seasoned" teachers like myself, the uncertainty of next year with the upheaval we will experience is unsettling. Since I am not at a promise academy but at an empowerment school, we are facing severe staffing cuts. I also understand your fear of speaking up because the message from the Ackerman Administration and the SRC is clear - "shut up" and "do what you are told."

When I started teaching, my idealism was quickly smashed by the School District starting with my principal. I focus on what I could do in class that built relationships with and between my students and the "simple joys" of teaching. The student who wasn't interested and now finds something interesting is a "simple joy." The student who has an attitude and asks "how you doing" is a "simple joy." The other way to grow is through networks of teachers usually not part of the School District. I also attend summer seminars/workshops not sponsored by the School District.

I realize you are being watched by your administration so that gives you little flexibility in class. That said, every time you and your students have positive interactions, you are building human relationships that matter. That can't be scripted by any imposed curriculum or 7 step lesson....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:55 am

What I am not understanding is why there seems to be this "Valiant Effort" towards recruiting yet more "Teach for America" teachers, or retaining them. There are teachers with less than 3 years seniority, and are fully certified. Yet, these teachers do not "hold a candle" to the TFA teachers who are NOT fully certified, and only hold intern certificates. I also heard that if a TFA has more "seniority" over a teacher who is "fully certified" would not be susceptible to layoffs due to their seniority. How is that fair? How can they keep teachers that are not fully certified over those that are?
If we are in such a "Budget Crunch", why on earth isn't something being done to keep the fully certified teachers????? Why are we saving the jobs of TFA? There is now a surplus of teachers! For those that are fully certified, we really should be given consideration when layoffs occur.....especially fully certified teachers under three years who could lose their job due to "seniority" rules, and to those that are holding intern certificates. What is being done about this??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:00 am

MONEY is the answer. Plus, TFA folks have NO latitude---A perfect storm for bullies to exploit. Why don't you know this already??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:00 am

MONEY is the answer. Plus, TFA folks have NO latitude---A perfect storm for bullies to exploit. Why don't you know this already??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 1:55 am

The way someone enters the District (TFA, Teaching Fellow, tradition cert.) has absolutely nothing to do with their seniority status. The State of PA considers Intern and Instructional I certificates to be essentially equivalent (both are "highly qualified" under NCLB). Interns have two years to finish their program, just like Instructional I holders have a certain number of years to get enough Act 48 credits to move to Instructional II. The only certificate that doesn't hold the same weight is Emergency, which is the truly temporary certificate (very short time to take action to convert to something else before your teaching position is in jeopardy).

Posters who spread misinformation claiming that they "have heard" that certain groups get different treatment give a strong appearance of having uninformed prejudices against those groups.

And to be honest, the School District of Philadelphia is less enthusiastic about TFA than most urban districts, and definitely doesn't do much to try to keep TFA teachers in Philly after the two years.

Submitted by Promise Academy Teacher (not verified) on May 19, 2011 9:26 am

I very much understand the argument that this "potential" decision goes against the PFT contract. However, as someone mentioned earlier, no one really wants to work in a Promise Academy and those individuals that got hired are mainly young teachers. How is it "fair" to go through a several month interview and observation process and then layoff these teachers who were proactive and did something about securing a job? Also, assuming these teachers want to work in these schools, wouldn't it be better to retain them then have hundreds of force transfers into these schools?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:42 am

Let me explain it to you. You buy a house and pay for it. Then the previous owners decide they still want the house so they move back in plus keep your money. Any more questions?? Can you spell CONTRACT and do you understand how dense you are?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 11:11 am

This is a horrible analogy... and quite honestly, more so argues for PA exemptions not against.. let me show you..

you spend months looking for a house.. loads of time moving in.... put everything where you want it and it's starting to look like a home.. the flowers are growing on the lawn.

the old owners did nothing with it and eventually were foreclosed on and pushed out

they moved into a new house and that one was foreclosed on also

so they decide they want your house back... after you've done the work to make it flourish...and only because they have no where else to go.

so because they are older and have had more houses than you, they can come and take your house away and you are homeless..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 12:10 pm

Sorry if I offended your tender senses. Do the words, anal retentive mean anything to you?? I was just trying to give a quick analogy, not a microscopic one--Sorry Again if I hurt your feelings.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:53 pm

I am sorry that you feel that this is "unfair". However, I am looking at losing my teaching job to someone that teaches a subject that I am certified in, yet, that person is part of TFA, and is not "fully certified". Why should new teachers in the district be passed over for those that are not fully certified? I am routing for the teachers that have worked in the system long enough, and should definitely be chosen over someone that does not even hold a full certification. Sorry you were inconvenienced. Yet, so was I !

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Certified teachers should always have precedence over uncertified or temporarily certified ones. There shouldn't be a question about this.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:44 am

An intern certification is not a temporary certification. It's a real, completely valid in PA certification given to teachers with Bachelor's degrees while they finish required Master's level educational certification course work. Having taught at university and private school and now in the process of taking these master's level educational classes at a top ranked university you'll have to excuse me for having the arrogance to believe that my intern certification is as valid as your certification. Not everyone believes that an education major is the best way to start a teaching career. I preferred studying my subject area at university and I believe it has helped me to be a better teacher.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 7:30 am

Uh.....if your certificate was "valid" or permanent you would be holding either an Instructional I or II. Why should someone who holds a valid, and permanent certificate (which by the way holds more than an "intern" certificate), lose their job to YOU? All I need is years in the district in order for my certificate to turn into an Instructional II. Excuse me for my candor, You are being PAID to get your certification. Yet, what about all of the teachers that GOT their certifications the traditional way---and that is for FREE.

Sorry, an Intern Cert is not an Instructional I. So, I hope that the Union will look carefully at this as well. You are better than regularly certified teachers because that program issued a certificate? I don't agree with that at all. You did not even do student teaching!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 8:52 am

But whether you have an intern cert of Instructional I has no bearing on your seniority. A second year teacher who did traditional cert and a second year teacher working on an intern cert have the same seniority.

Submitted by Norrin Radd (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:06 am

So I just want to make sure that I understand this:

Protecting Promise Academy teachers from potential layoffs--bad.

Protecting teachers who have 3+ years of experience--good.

Laying-off teachers with < 3+ years experience--good.

Promise Academies/Renaissance charters, where teachers--veteran, in-/low-epxerienced, etc--could have applied, but are now significantly staffed with younger, "inexperienced"--bad.

Man, I'd hate to be a young teacher in SDP--there's apparently nowhere to run to, what with virtually everyone wanting you out of a job or hating where you are working.

Will/would veteran teachers rush to fill the vacancies created by Promise Academy layoffs?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 1:09 pm

The majority of Promise Academies have newer teachers, so I am wondering the same thing. If they are laid off who will fill their positions? I can't see very many tenured teachers who aren't in fear of loosing their jobs running over to fill the vacancies.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:47 pm

The real Silver Surfer wouldn't be so intentionally dense.

ALL lay-offs are bad. They're also unnecessary. The SPD is playing games here and no one in a position to do something about it is calling them on it.

There are some great young teachers in the district - many of them Teach for America hires (they get a bad rap because of how they're used politically, but they're often terrific teachers).

However, those who have devoted years and years (and money and time acquiring advanced degrees) to the children of Philadelphia should obviously have priority over newcomers. That's only fair. People have to know they can build a career here without being axed after they start to reach a certain salary base.

The only lay-off that's truly necessary is that of the individual sitting in the top office at 440 S. Broad.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 23, 2011 11:13 pm

Beautifully said. Finally someone who understands.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 11:00 am

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." We must ban together!!! TOGETHER!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 1:30 pm

That's exactly what I've been asking everybody to read--"First They Came"---very appropriate for what we're going through now. Obviously not to that degree but the concept of sitting back is exactly the same--Great Post !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 1:30 pm

That's exactly what I've been asking everybody to read--"First They Came"---very appropriate for what we're going through now. Obviously not to that degree but the concept of sitting back is exactly the same--Great Post !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 1:31 pm

That's exactly what I've been asking everybody to read--"First They Came"---very appropriate for what we're going through now. Obviously not to that degree but the concept of sitting back is exactly the same--Great Post !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 12:34 pm

As a teacher in this district they should fire and close down as many schools as possible. I hope the voucher bill passes and takes as much money from this corrupt school district as possible. This place is a joke and the union is just as bad the administration.

Submitted by gdgman3 on May 19, 2011 1:31 pm

Given your grammar skills, I can only hope that you're not actually a teacher.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 2:07 pm

I just want to point out what a terribly painful situation this is for us Promise Academy teachers. On the one hand, we really want to stay in our schools and continue to build the relationships that we've fought so hard to build this past year. We understand that starting over with a brand new staff will harm our students first and foremost; believe me, our kids were really distrustful of this new group of teachers and understandably so. We've worked really hard to gain their trust and we want to preserve and build on the good work we've done so far. Despite mixed reviews, believe it or not there actually are some legitimately great things happening at the Promise Academies (I also know that there are great things happening at all the schools, despite sweeping generalizations to the contrary).

On the other hand, we understand the frustration of our peers at other schools and we appreciate the work that the union does to protect us. And yet here we are, our union (who we also pay dues to) fighting to get us out and our peers across the district antagonizing us for simply working where we chose to work. If we lose our jobs, we lose the work we've done and the kids we love so much. If we keep our jobs, we've viewed as "scabs" and perceived as being anything but what we are -- teachers who like ALL teachers simply want to do the best we can for our kids. I've read a lot of comments about what's fair to teachers and what's uncool about the district but can we please (corny as it sounds) just think about what's best for our students? Not the abstract group of hypothetical students but the ACTUAL students who we know by name, face and family and think about what is the best possible way to serve them. Are veteran teachers extremely beneficial to students? Absolutely. But are the new teachers currently at the Promise Academies (and at all the schools across the district for that matter) doing great work and working tirelessly for our students? Absolutely. There are no pat answers, no win-wins -- but can we at least agree that perhaps TEACHERS - Promise Academy or otherwise - shouldn't be bearing the brunt of all this criticism? We are a bunch of hard working folks working within a broken system. Let's stop criticizing one another and focus our frustrations where they belong.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 3:38 pm

All schools will lose teachers - except Promise Academies. Non-promise academies are facing severe budget cuts. Promise Academies are getting not only the standard allotment but additional funding. Won't our students miss their teachers who were cut?

The cuts should begin with anyone who does not have full certification. Then, based on seniority. Will this complicate things for everyone - teachers and students? Sure. But, Ackerman, Archie, etc. have created a fiasco and, as usual, those of us in schools pay for their mistakes. The Mayor and City Council have to increase school funding before they go to Harrisburg. Harrisburg is already increasing funding.

As you wrote, this is difficult for everyone but giving Promise Academy teachers "protected status" kills the union - there is no more collective bargaining and the contract is null and void. That, in the long run, will hurt students.

Submitted by Norrin Radd (not verified) on May 19, 2011 3:16 pm

What a great, and eloquent post.

I couldn't agree more. I think it's sad to see the contradictions that are bandied about on this website in the comments section someitmes, where the rallying cry is for teachers to unite, yet there's simultaneously this vitriol tossed at their own peer group--TFA teachers, young teachers, veteran teachers, Promise Academy teachers, Empowerment teachers--all union, hard-working teachers, the lot of them--tossed under the bus in so many comment sections.

It's bizarre. And sad. I think some of you fail to see that you're doing exactly what you claim "the Queen" and others are supposedly doing to your ranks.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:41 pm

This is what happens when the leader does not build trust within an organization. "Trust formation" is the number one element of successful leadership cited in study after study of successful leaders in both private and public domains.

What the district's leadership has done is create a toxic climate of distrust. The vitriol is a product of that toxicity. Our leadership, including the SRC and Mayor Nutter need to get together and provide us with some positive leadership and positive solutions to the issues raised on this website.

I, and so has Jerry Jordan, lived through this before. We went on strike before and gave up paychecks. Some of us even went to jail. It was about our passion for our profession and doing right by children and about our job security.

The three comments above are well said and true. Everyone needs the support of each other at this time. Young teachers -- it will all work itself out.

Teaching is a profession and you had better understand that sometimes you have to sacrifice for the profession.

Submitted by Norrin Radd (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:47 pm

"Teaching is a profession and you had better understand that sometimes you have to sacrifice for the profession."

Really? Because "sacrifice" usually implies "choice" in giving something up.

I'm not hearing too many young teachers saying that they're choosing to undergo this.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on May 19, 2011 5:15 pm

Nobody chooses this. It is a consequence of poor leadership and poor management. Your sacrifice is the manner in which you choose to stand up to it. Believe me, it is worth it. Teaching was and will be again a Great Profession. I dedicated 35 years of my life to it and it breaks my heart to see what is happening to it. I am not rich in $$$$ today, but I am rich in memories.... and friends.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:22 pm

Why the heck should someone with excellent credentials and evaluations teaching 20 years in this District be layed off before someone with 1 year experience at a Promise Academy??? Lets get serious here!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 5:43 pm

Not a single person with 20 years of experience is getting laid off, and you know it.

That said, while I agree with the sentiment of the OP, I have to say that every new teacher feels exactly the same way and there are other schools with a large percentage of new teachers. There are two fair ways to address this: 1) Cuts are LIFO by certification, we all file right-to-returns, and when nobody with more tenure wants our job, we come back and 2) Schools with severe experience balances are cut separately from other district schools, as was done in California where factors other than seniority were considered in schools with tons of new teachers.

The district seems to have chosen 3) Protect all Promise Academy teachers regardless of performance or any other factors that could have been used and lay off the rest, screw 'em.

I don't know how anyone thinks that #3 is fair or good for the kids. Promise Academies should be eradicated, or they should be the model for the whole district. Their existence is an admittance by Ackerman that the rest of the schools are underfunded and understaffed. Why would exacerbating that problem help anyone but those lucky enough to go to a Promise Academy. Especially when the selection criteria are, frankly, secret and inconsistent.

Submitted by Stop The Insanity (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:20 pm

This is a well-reasoned and compelling commentary. It would be extraordinarily wrong for any of us to consider a Promise Academy teacher a "scab." If the district gets away with this proposal, it won't be any teachers' fault and no one is going to resign because they don't think they should have gotten preference over teachers in other schools (I wouldn't).

My belief is no one should get preferential treatment, but the Promise Academy teaching staff will not be to blame no matter what happens as this issue resolves itself.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:07 pm

I would argue that what happens is not the fault of Arlene, nor Jerry. one should look back to who was in administration (both district and union) when Section 6-696k was enacted. That is where the district is getting their guts from. It's NOT just about the SRC commissions.. if you read 6-696k it clearly states that the district does not have to negotiate nor sign an UOM on decisions regarding reduction of force, and SRC approved programs that may be pilot or experimental.. This was enacted in 2001 (I THINK). Way before Arlene and perhaps Jordan as well.

Whatever the outcome, this will be a historic case,

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:56 pm

PA took over the SDP in December 2001 - a few days before the winter break. While Ackerman, Archie, etc. weren't in power in December 2001, they are using the law to their benefit. This didn't happen before under previous administrations. (Jordan was in power - he has been in PFT leadership since the 1980s - I believe he only spent 6 years in the classroom.)

That said, I agree it will be an historic case because it involves equal protection, legitimacy of a contract, etc. I rather not be an experiment...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 4:02 pm

wow @ Jordan only spending 6yrs in a classroom...

but yes they are using it to their benefit.. why wouldn't they? it was a brilliant piece of legislature that somehow got passed and the union did nothing (or did they?)

as for not being an experiment, please believe you already are.. someone is most certainly writing their dissertation based on what is happening in the school district of Philadelphia..

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on May 19, 2011 5:32 pm

Secton (k)(2) reads in its exact language: No distressed school district of the first class 'shall be required' to enter into collective bargaining negotiations or memorandum of understanding or agreements on the following issues:"

Section (k)(2)(I) is a subsection of (k)(2) which reads: "Decisions related to reductions in force."

No where does Section 6-696 say the SRC can breach its own collective bargaining contract that it freely entered into. The SRC can not be "required" to enter into a contract on decisions related to reduction in force, but it does not prevent them from doing so, and they already did. So contract law applies. So does equal protection. So do confilict of laws issues arise. You see, that's why we have lawyerst to argue these things in court.

I advise you to not listen to the school district's interpretation of the law and start reading your contract. And then start thinking of ways to overturn that law. The crap that it embodies has not worked anywhere in America and it is destructive of what needs to be done for children.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:44 pm

Touche'

but you best believe they will have lawyers on their side to argue just the opposite..

what I am really curious about is if these PA teachers are laid off and the positions are open, how many displaced teachers would want to go to the PA anyway? it's my understanding that as of Aug 15th all unfilled PA positions will go on the vacancy transfer list and filled in order of seniority. Any teacher who has not been placed can pick one.. and if they don't.. they will be considered resigned..

now.. lets see how that one plays out..

it's gonna be a hot summer in Philly..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 8:42 pm

Promise Academies are not like other site selection schools. They can not be put on a vacancy list because no one can be forced to work at one of those schools. I don't know how the vacancies will be filled. They had this problem last year, which is why they were filled by many non certified and inexperienced teachers. If they lay off the majority of the PA teachers they will have problems finding teachers to replace them.

Submitted by Your Neighbor (not verified) on May 19, 2011 9:11 pm

The language in the contract in regards to Renaissance Schools is kind of vague. It can be interpreted in different ways. Last year, the timeline was too short. The District didn't even start interviewing teachers for Promise Academies until the end of May, observations didn't start until the second week of June. Anyone who was displaced by the Promise Academy was placed in a school. This year that is not the case. If you look at the Renaissance timeline that is posted on the District's website, they have already said that Promise Academies will be placed on the vacancy list. It will happen in August. Also, if you read Article 17, section F, clause 5 the Promise Academy is described as full site select, that would mean that any unfilled vacancies can be put on the list, just like other site select schools (even though all schools are now site select).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 6:54 pm

Dear New Teachers: When you were hired you understood there was an existing contract as well as a teacher's union in the city. I am sure you quickly signed up for health insurance and the other union benefits you enjoy. Please understand that responsible people follow rules. It is interesting to note that you seem to be conveniently forgetting this. It's like......driving a car without a license.

Furthermore, education is a public good. Like you....teachers with seniority are here to educate young people to succeed in a global society. While many teachers understand reform efforts are necessary, the existing achievement gap was caused, in part, by school leadership and central office staff. Poor leadership and lack of fiscal oversight have been issues in this district for a long time. Teachers did not hire bad administrators or bad teachers. We did not ask for the Promise Academy "model" to be forced upon Philadelphia schools either---- following years of neglect and mismanagement. Poor mgmt. includes the fact that our society's least well served and poorest students have been taught by the least experienced teachers for a very long time.

In addition, it is my understanding that one third of Ackerman's Promise Academy teachers are not certified. This does not happen in affluent districts. You can't possibly think a court is going to justify this. I don't believe they are going to say it's okay for our nation's poorest students to have teachers who are not certified....teachers who are not highly qualified under NCLB legislation. Simply put: it's discriminatory. So now, Ackerman has decided to play a shell game and send tons of extra money to those neglected schools as the other schools suffer. She knew the stimulus money would run out. This is a trick!!!!!! WE WILL NOT FALL FOR THE DIVIDE AND CONQUER.

JERRY JORDAN, JOE PIZZO, TED KIRSCH, ET AL WENT TO JAIL TO FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS/BENEFITS AS TEACHERS!!!!! PLEASE DON'T DISRESPECT THE UNION OR FELLOW TEACHERS!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 7:55 pm

I'm not sure who this was addressed to. I don't think many people here or in the district disagree.

I will say that the fact they had to extend the Promise Academy application deadline twice means that EVERYONE sees through the charade and realizes that there is a reason nobody wants to work there. Nobody wants Ackerman as a boss.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:16 am

It's addressed to new teachers. And it's saying if you signed up to teach at a promise academy you're not following the rules. Well, I applied to promise academies and not because I thought it would exempt me from being laid off. In fact, I'm not likely to be laid off anyways (multiple high-needs certifications). If we want unity don't make accusations at those who applied to promise academies. We didn't try to undermine other teachers. We sent letters of interest to principals. We are not bad people. This whole fight is not our fault.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on May 20, 2011 8:27 am

True. It is management's fault and what you are feeling is the destructiveness of a "toxic" climate of distrust. That toxic climate has been created by the poor management of the district.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:19 am

There is so much misinformation out there. I don't have access to actual statistics, but I can guarantee the the statement about one-third of Promise Academy teachers being uncertified is patently false.

Strong PFT supporters making completely uninformed and false statements probably does more to erode support for the PFT than any strategy Dr. Ackerman could ever implement.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:20 am

I believe it's referring to teachers with intern certifications (TFA/PTF). Even though they are members of the union, some traditional model teachers feel they are not real teachers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 1:17 am

Considering them "not real" teachers is part of the problem. Outside of a student teaching experience, the only preparation difference is some extra educational theory classes, which I'm not entirely convinced is terribly meaningful. Student teaching is also a mixed bag. I'll agree that someone who has a great student teaching experience with a fantastic mentor is far more prepared than a TFA teacher. But that's not what happens every time.

When these teachers are considered "not real," they are not terribly inclined to support union actions. It seems rather silly to expect people that are not shown collegial professional respect to "stand united" for a cause that might actually not be in their best interest. If the PFT wants strong support from younger members, it (and all of it members) need to extend true respect to ALL teachers, regardless of preparation method.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 1:05 am

To add on, both TFA and PTF have 1-2 months of intensive student teaching over the summer. That and many chosen to be in the program have previous teaching experience in other non-public school forms (teaching assistants, private school, religious schools, etc.). I completely agree with you about the respect we get. I've had a teacher talking about not breaking 1000 on her SATs question my qualifications. I'm not self-serving enough to see no value in seniority. Protecting teachers from being cut solely based on wages _is_ important. But, I think it would be nice if more teachers saw me as a value and not a threat.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 5:41 am

Are you assuming SAT scores equate with the ability to teach students whose educational experiences, socioeconomic status, etc. are probably very different from yours? The assumption that "bright" as measured by test scores, access to elite institutions, etc. make "better" teachers is not true. There is much more to teaching than the teacher's test scores and students' test scores.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 11:27 am

You misread. I never said she was less bright than I was in any way because of her SAT scores. But she was saying I was unqualified solely because I came in through the TFA process. Which I find to be as silly as me saying she is unqualified solely because she had bad SATs which forced her to go to a poor college. You're exactly right. Being a good teacher is not related to your test scores or your ability to get certification. That's my point, I should not be treated like I'm not a good teacher because I didn't have 6 months of student teaching. I've now had over 6 months and done well on my walk throughs. I should be treated as a qualified teacher just like she should be.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 11:12 am

Again, you are making assumptions. Why do you assume she went to a "poor college?" Colleges look at more than SAT scores.

You've only had six months of teaching - it takes at least 10 years to acquire the frame of mind, skills, and knowledge to be able to work with a wide variety of students. Walk throughs - for what they are worth - certainly aren't the be all and end all of teaching. They are checking for our ability to follow their script - whether a 7 step lesson or an actual script. That is not teaching - nor learning.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 5:27 am

TFA is 5 weeks during the summer; PFT did as little as 3 weeks during the school year. At our school they were in the classroom right away. That is very different from 12 weeks to 6 months.

Your come across as very arrogant - which is what turns off many teachers who view teaching as a profession - not a stepping stone to something "better." SAT scores are irrelevant after getting into college. Teaching, or attending, a private or religious school, is very different from working in an urban, "high needs" school.

I do not see you as a threat - I have spent years honing my craft, furthering my education (with non-education graduate degrees), attending and leading seminars, etc. You are more of an annoyance because you come across as arrogant.

Unions are collective bodies which are to work for the rights of all members and, hopefully, the betterment of society. Groups like TFA promote a neo-liberal agenda for education - individualism and privatization versus collective action. While the US is not known for collective action, collective action from the bottom up is the the way real change has occurred. No movement for social justice/change happened because those on top relinquished power. So, while the PFT is far from progressive, it provides a buffer against the encroaching power of the SDP leadership.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 11:15 am

I did not mean to come off as arrogant. As I mentioned above I bristle at being called unqualified because I went through a different process and am well educated. I wanted to compare that to "what if I told that teacher she was unqualified because she had poor SATs". I understand all of my experiences were different from teaching in a high-needs school. But so are the experiences of teachers who come from Lower Merion into Philly. And everyone knows that certification courses are easy to pass. None of them mean you'll be a good teacher. It's the things you mention above which make a good teacher and I am striving to be one. I don't think I should have TFA stigma just like no one should have SAT or college stigma.

And I am with you on unionism. Whatever TFA national's viewpoints TFA graduates are merely people who want to be teachers and get their graduate school paid for. We have a wide diversity of views. And that's the point. Despite being misread by both responses (no doubt, from my lack of clarity), I do not judge teachers by what certification programs brought them to teaching. I would like that feeling to be reciprocal.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 9:14 am

Is this the Queen herself posting?? Otherwise, you may be the dumbest person in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks for the funny post--John Stewart.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:41 pm

So many negative comments about the PFT---then give up the job and its excellent healthcare package, pension, due process rights, etc. Thats what this union has fought for long before you were here. Read your history about the great strides the PFT has taken over the years. Without them, you are screwed and will be walked on by management like old news..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 8:15 pm

Why can't we use SEPTA as a model? They got a 25% decrease in their budget from outside sources. However, they are still giving their employees their raises and don't expect cuts in service or layoffs.

Who runs SEPTA and why can't they run the SDP too?

And the $64,000 is what is the difference between the two unions? (hint: they still strike)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:46 pm

Seems as though Ackerman is stuck with non-certified teachers since experienced teachers don't believe the promise school hype. She's stuck with her inexperienced teaching force and wants to use the courts to impose her will and continuing to use non-certified teachers. This is crazy....and desperate!!!!! Who knew a school leader could be this incompetent? This is a perfect example of how incompetent our leadership is at 440.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 19, 2011 10:51 pm

To reply to the many individuals who have posted comments about supporting the union and perhaps walking off the job, you might want to find some way to appeal to those teachers who are working at a Promise Academy (or have been hired to teach at one next year). For many of the young teachers there, you are asking them to support a move by the PFT that would lead to them losing their jobs. Sharpen your arguments, or you will end up contributing to the very goal that many attribute to those in charge - divide and conquer. Though this is my tenth year of teaching, I have only been with the SDP since last April. As a Promise Academy teacher who is married with children and a mortgage, someone needs to convince me to get behind a plan of action that aims to increase the likelihood that I will be laid off. I am not being facetious when I ask for someone to tell me why I should care about the strength of the union if the district cuts my position and I no longer am a member of the PFT.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 12:22 am

I'm in the same position* and here's why I worry about it. Having the District break contract might benefit me in the short-term but it hurts me in the long-term. Firstly, I'm not sure I'd be let go since I have a few certifications. But, if I am let go we get pretty decent unemployment if we can't find a job in another district and we will be the first rehired next year since we keep our District seniority. It's not great but it's not horrible. If the District can void parts of contract, attack seniority, and keep certain mostly lower seniority teachers to save money and give them more control that isn't good for our futures here. I worry what the District will be like when I have 10 years of seniority and I'm a better target to cut for budget reasons--and you should too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 1:37 am

Here's why a lot of young teachers have trouble supporting the PFT and strict-seniority: They would lose their jobs while other who put in far less effort and, in many cases are less effective with students, keep their jobs.

The vast majority of teachers a dedicated hard-working professionals and teacher evaluation is still tricky. However, there are some teachers that are simply not effective by most measures (professionalism, test scores, student relationships, etc.) They might not reach the level of incompetence that will get them fired through the relatively lengthy contractual process, but they are not serving students as effectively as most other educators.

What gives a young teacher a sour taste is the idea that these underperforming teachers will keep their jobs simply because they started working for the District at an earlier date.

There is also a generational piece. Many of today's young adults have no intention of staying in any one job for more than 5-10 years. Therefore, they have very little interest in supporting structures that are designed to reward a 20-30 year career in the same profession.

I'm not looking to argue for or against PFT. I'm just articulating the way many young teachers see the PFT -- it's no a matter of "not understanding" the situation. Many understand it just fine and quite intentionally do not support labor actions to preserve the traditional structure of unionized teaching profession. (Not necessarily a lack of support for unions in general, but an informed disagreement with the specifics of the current union goals and priorities).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 6:04 am

I absolutely agree. In many places, unions don't even talk to you until you have tenure-- which leaves many new teachers with a similarly hostile response. I am glad that the PFT isn't like this, however, in statements Jordan has made clear that he is much more interested in saving benefits and pay raises than saving our jobs. Now, I happen to agree with him, but it is very alienating from many people's point of view to see that older teachers are saying they value pay increases over their colleagues' jobs. I understand that this argument is a long-term, end-game sort of thing. When you're the one facing the early termination of your career (and face it, for some of us it will be) it comes off a little differently.

We also have lived our whole lives in an era where most people don't belong to a union. Of all the places I've worked, some of the non-union ones have been much more collegial and management has been much more fair and clear-headed. Don't get me wrong, I see exactly why the PFT is needed and I pay my dues. But I have a nagging feeling that administration isn't the only reason the work environment in some schools is so hostile. When I hear "You can't keep us past 3:04, it's in our contract." I cringe. I don't mean when people have an appointment, have to go pick up their kids, whatever. I mean, just because it's in the contract.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 8:00 am

I also find colleagues who run "with the bell" and do next to nothing, including search for non-SDP professional development, outside of class annoying. I'm beginning my 20th year in Philadelphia SD so even as an "old head" I expect to go above and beyond the contract. (Needless to say, my children will never become teachers.) But, I want union protection because I've worked under too many incompetent administrators.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on May 20, 2011 9:14 am

Many people who "run with the bell" go home to do hours more work, and many stay after school hours to do that work. The Union process after a teacher is 'written up' is ONLY to make sure the procedure is fair. If you think you do not need PFT protection, wait until you are written up after spending five days in Intensive Care (as I was), or for missing days when undergoing chemo-therapy (as many others have been). Principals who want to get rid of deadwood and poor teachers have the tools available--they just do not want to do it. It is easier to shift bad teachers around and then blame the union fro protecting them. Many struggling teachers also can respond well to mentoring and good professional development, and it would benefit everyone.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 9:21 am

Yes, they need to be told that it's not personal and they need to know that and likely do if they are past the age of reason. Even if the way case scenario occurs--and it won't--and you lose your job--you will still be part of the union and you will return to work soon because the district is always in need of teachers due to the turnover rate.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 5:37 am

The Information about one third of the Promise Academy teachers not being certified was reported by Research for Action---a well recognized non profit group

http://www.thenotebook.org/blog/113679/philadelphia’s-renaissance-schools-feature-youth-inexperience-and-some-progress

What happened to Nutter's campaign promise to return schools to local control?

Here's some more information on the SDP administration's corruption. This is how they've managed to turn our schools over due to their mismanagement and neglect. Johnny Irizarry needs to be investigated along with Archie. He is the token "latino" they are using to replace Heidi Ramirez on the SRC. Funny how he's been linked to charter schools. Ackerman is the doctor of disaster, disengagement, and distrust. Time for her resignation. SRC also has to go. They are all a bunch of incompetent crooks. Funny how Nutter appointed both Archie and Irizarry who both have charter school connections. We need a new mayor too. Here' the link on Irizarry:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/03/28/idUS53514+28-Mar-2009+PRN20090328

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 20, 2011 5:13 am

More on Johnny:

http://www.phila.k12.pa.us/announcements/SRC_March09.pdf

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