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Judge stops teacher layoffs

By the Notebook on Jun 6, 2011 04:54 PM

by Dale Mezzacappa and Benjamin Herold

Common Pleas Court Judge Idee C. Fox granted a temporary restraining order Monday sought by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that stops any teacher layoffs at least until a hearing on June 14.

The PFT went to court while principals were distributing notices in their schools to more than 1,500 teachers.

The union argued that the District wasn't following the contract because it was exempting teachers working in Promise Academies, which are turnaround schools run by the District and largely staffed by young teachers. The contract calls for layoffs to proceed according to seniority.

"Close to 200 teachers who received layoff notices today should not had been laid off had the Promise Academy teachers been treated the same way all other teachers were treated," said PFT president Jerry Jordan.

In the late afternoon, the District released a statement on layoffs that did not mention the lawsuit by PFT but called it a "dark week" for the District. The statement said that 3,024 layoff notices were issued. Of those, 1,523 were for teachers and 490 for central office staff.

UPDATE: This evening the District issued a statement on the layoffs suit. It says that the judge's ruling means that the District may not suspend any teachers until the Jun. 14 hearing, and that the District will not comment further on pending litigation.

Jordan said that under the order the the District is supposed to send emails to the teachers rescinding the layoffs today.

The atmosphere in schools today was grim. Jordan said that never before in his experience had principals been given the task of distributing pink slips. Teachers agreed.

"I don't think this was respectful way to do it," said Gail Lynch, a history teacher at Benjamin Franklin High School with 21 years in the District. "We work with kids, and we're expected to show them respect and professionalism, but we're not given the same. This is hard for me. I think teachers do a really difficult job, but people don't understand or respect what we do."

She described a mood of "anticipation" in the building all day.

Ruchi Gupta, an English and creative writing teacher who is with Teach for America, said she didn't know coming into work today what to expect. 

"There was fear, nervousness, anger. There is a lot of misinformation out there,"  Gupta said, adding that she was upset that she learned more about what was going on from the Inquirer than from the District. 

"No one really knew what was going on. I didn't know until 3 this afternoon. There was a lot of guess work, a lot of what-ifs. I'm still kind of dubious about my lack of a letter."

Gupta did not get a layoff notice. "I'm excited to be here next year, but it's kind of a Catch-22. It's uncomfortable to be one of the only younger teachers I know of to still be here next year. I want solidarity in the layoff process. I'm excited and nervous.  Financially, I would have been in a bad strait. More than that, I'm also committed to helping close the achievement gap. It's mind boggling that people who work so hard are being pushed out."

Another young teacher who did not get a letter was Gregory Ellis, who teaches English and drama.

"We love our jobs, and we love our kids. We want consistency, and that's all the kids want, too."

The District was scheduled to hold its annual Celebration of Excellence on Tuesday, at which it honors a Teacher of the Year as well as an exceptional alumnus/a and administrator. But it canceled the event in deference to the timing of the layoffs. A statement said it would be rescheduled for later in the year.

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Comments (290)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:36 pm


Judge Stays Philly Teacher Layoffs

A judge has ruled in favor a Philadelphia teachers union who asked for an injunction against massive layoffs.

The move will not likely stop the layoffs, but it could change the pool from which teachers can be picked from, to be laid off.

The teacher's union had filed for an injunction on Monday afternoon, saying that Promise Academy teachers were excluded from layoffs.

The issue will settled by a judge on June 14th.

The Philadelphia School District had been expected to start notifying teachers on Monday if they were part of a huge teacher layoff tied to the district's budget woes.

The total number of layoffs was expected to fall between 1,200 and 1,500 teachers in Philadelphia, with notices planned to be sent out, or made in person, starting on Monday.

In April 2011, the district said about 12 percent of its teachers would be lost because of the layoff process.

The crisis in the school district extends beyond the layoffs, as the city council and Mayor Michael Nutter were unhappy after School District Arlene Ackerman made a sudden announcement last week that she would seek funding to keep full-day kindergarten intact in the city.

The council, and Nutter in particular, went out on a public limb to get additional money for the district, before Ackerman held an expedited press conference on Friday to say she would reallocate the use of Title 1 funds to save the kindergarten program.

On Monday, Nutter made his displeasure publicly know in a letter to Ackerman, setting deadlines for full disclosure from the district who how much money it needed, and what programs would be cut.

Nutter and the city are one of two major funders for Philadelphia's school district.

In his letter, Nutter said missing the deadlines could lead to the city passing on any additional revenue measures to aid the school district.

"These deadlines are firm and must be met in order for the City and my administration to move forward in our efforts to support the legislation for additional funding, which is pending in City Council, or for me to sign any legislation that may be approved by Council. This is a serious matter and I know you realize the gravity of my concerns," Nutter wrote.

City council will begin debating the Nutter's plan to raise that money by implementing a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as raising real estate tax levies and upping some parking fees.

The school district has a budget gap of more than $600 million it must fill.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:04 pm

so Jordan the politician says 200 teachers would have been saved if Promise Academy teachers were treated the same? Does that account for the majority of Promise Academy staff that would have been fired due to the fact that most are made of first year teachers? Jerry: stop asking for all teachers to be treated the same when your union doesn't fight for all teachers....only those in the district for a certain amount of years. When was the last time you were in a classroom Jerry? Have you been to a Promise Academy ever? This is a political game that Jordan and his union buddies are playing to go after Ackerman where it hurts.

Protecting people just because they've been in the system longer is like starting Mike Bibby over Lebron James because he's played in the NBA longer. I thought it was about the team?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:52 pm

You seem so proud of Ackerman. You must not have heard what is going on in this city. Mayor Nutter wants to oversee the Districts spending, etc. because Ackerman and the SRC blew, thats right blew millions of dollars in federal stimulus monies that should have been used for important things (not for installing brand new state of the art cameras at South Philly H.S.). They did this for 3 years and finally will be held accountable. The teachers didn't cause they $629 million dollar hole that was dug----your Ackerman and SRC did---even the IRS is involved. The Administration is a complete joke. Good for Jerry Jordan and the PFT attorneys--someone needs to stand up to these cronies. By the way, That is Jerry Jordans job as President of this fine PFT union.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 6:01 pm

You go Jerry Jordan, your the BEST! Thanks for sticking up for us teachers. Ackerman has to be fired. If we teachers made mistakes like she does our "observations" would be 1's and we would get the boot. She is ridiculous! Who else do you know that has a salary like hers with bonuses, two chauffer driven cars, a security detail that follows her and a housing allowance? What's next AirForce Philly or Marine 440? The President of the United States doesn't even have it as good as this presumptuous woman who can't balance the district finances or keep a staff. She really does not put our kids first. Get her out of that position and hire someone who can do the job. Our kids deserve better. They are our future.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 8, 2011 12:59 am

If there was a 'like' button here, I'd hit it. Marine 440. LOL.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:40 pm

I don't care how long Jerry Jordan spent in a classroom. He's not a teaching mentor, he's a union leader and he was 100 percent right in what he did today. People who have devoted more time to the district's children absolutely deserve preference over newcomers. This is not to disrespect new teachers - most of them are wonderful - but you've got to expect some security after years of loyal service. This is supposed to be what being a good employee is all about. Otherwise, layoffs are selected through politics (i.e. the Promise Academy preference) or popularity.

It's encouraging to see Jerry the Fighter. We'll be needing him over the next few months.

Submitted by Ruchi Gupta (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:26 pm

I don't think it's fair to lay the learning of our children at the feet of a person who is in their job just because they've given years of loyal service, most especially because I think our definitions of loyal service may differ. To many, loyal service means simply sticking around for the requisite amount of years and coming in, doing lesson plans, reading from a textbook, etc. To me, loyal service means putting in extra hours rather than speeding home at 3 and coming in at 8, coming into work with innovative ideas or at least being open to new teaching tools, and truly believing, even after so many years, that our kids CAN and WILL learn.

I know many amazing, hard working veteran teachers who even now mentor the newer ones, and who fulfill the above requirements...and I know many awful, terrible, horrifyingly apathetic and disrespectful veteran teachers who have, by their own words, checked out of the process and are simply waiting for retirement. It;s unfair that people who fulfill that latter requirement get to stay, but more than unfair, it's dangerous to our kids.

The problem with claiming "We are One!" is you put a group of diverse people with diverse backgrounds, talents, experiences, and motivations into a monolithic formation, and that formation does not promote solidarity, it promotes hive-mind thinking and truly hurts our case. I don't appreciate layoffs that simply go down a line of system seniority and decide who gets to stay. If we need a more precise way to do layoffs lest it become a popularity or favoritism question, why don't we spend more time devising better systems of teacher evaluation??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:43 pm

I don't completely disagree that there are horrible veteran teachers out there. But your point assumes that all first year teachers are good and should be in the classroom, which simply isn't the case. A better teacher evaluation system is fine; however, it better take into account standardized testing, and look more at the qualitatitive methods that happen in the classroom. The achievement gap cannot solely be measured by faulty tests that drive faulty instruction.

In the end, I think it is more appropriate, for those fighting for the future of the teaching profession (not just a 2 year commitment) to ensure that due process is given to its employees. The judge and PFT are right in pursuing their legal options.

Submitted by Ruchi Gupta (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:51 pm

I don't think I said all first year teachers are good. I just pointed out that all veteran teachers are NOT good. My point, in fact, as stated was: teachers are NOT a monolithic entity and if we want to help ourselves out, we ought to stop referring to them as such. Seniority is such a tricky practice because it inherently assumes that experience = skill, which might be the case 80 percent of the time if we're lucky but is definitely not the rule. And I agree--whatever system is devised better take into account qualitative AND quantitative measures. But the point is, if we want to be treated better as professionals, we can't just claim we deserve it without stating what we ourselves are doing to change the status quo. If we keep protecting the dregs of our practice under the veil of 'solidarity' we will continue to be misrepresented as those dregs. We are only as good as our weakest members, and I say this as a 2nd year teacher (who is staying, thanks very much for that 2 year dig that assumes TFA corps members go on to shiny law degrees and policy and completely ignore the reality of our teaching experiences, even though many of us saturate the field of educational entrepreneurship and struggle every day to change the outlier factors that make this job so hard) who has a lot of growing to do. I would just like the chance to do that growing, and layoffs due to seniority don't help develop a generation of better future teachers.

I think that the PFT is right to pursue its legal options--no one should be exempt from a process such as this one. I just took exception to the idea that seniority is the "only" way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:48 pm

Well put. I think that this says it all. No more argument.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 10:53 am

I agree with the rationale of respecting loyalty and dedication. However, many individuals have rested on their laurels once they make tenure. They sit and buy their time with no accountability or real sincerity for children education careers . Then the other side is when new energy and commitment make a difference , it should override seniority... I'm for whoever does the job well- regardless of how long it took/takes.

Submitted by Rich (not verified) on June 7, 2011 11:08 am

There is no fair and unbiased system for evaluating the performance of teachers. How are you going to say that you are a better teacher than another who teaches in a completley different school? You can not rely on an arbitrary and capricious evaluation system. Many teachers and administrators are unethical and play their petty little power games.

That is not to say the the Majority of administrators are not credible.

As time goes on and you become more experienced, you will see more and more why seniority is the least bad way of doing things. There is a procedure for removing teachers who do not meet their responsibilities to the children. It is the Teacher Tenure law that provides for that system. If there are any bad teachers out there, it is because the administration has not done its job. Let's all read about the Salem Witch Hunts....

If teachers were treated respectfully and professionally many of the Great teachers would not have left our district in disgust with what is going on around them.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 7, 2011 11:02 am

Location has a part to play in the effectiveness of most teachers. I am currently on my 6th principal. With the backing and respect I received from number 5, I was a great teacher. I grew a lot under his "wing" as it were. Now, I am reading a script and getting through the days. This is not TEACHING, but it is all I am permitted to do.
Several years ago, I was very excited when a teacher I had worked with was transferred in as a music prep. I was thrilled - she was great. Unfortunately, she never got respect from the school's population at the time and they never saw the dynamic, strong and creative teacher I knew. She left at the end of that year, leaving the system heart-broken.
Some of us, as people, individuals, educators and learners just cannot fit in anywhere. Square pegs do not fit in round holes.
This is another thing that is scaring me about all this movement this year - not all the moves are for the better. They cannot be.

Submitted by Rich (not verified) on June 7, 2011 12:06 pm

The movement and turmoil is not good for the students, teachers, parents or taxpayers. It is destructive and very sad, All good teachers who care about their students end up with a home somewhere. It may just take a year or two or three....

This ridiculousness was created by the management, not you and not Jerry Jordan. It is the SRC's ethical responsibility to stop it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2011 7:01 pm

Teachers should be kept based on how well they do their job NOT on how many years they taught!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2011 7:13 pm

Shut up

Submitted by Rich (not verified) on June 8, 2011 8:29 pm

And what criteria would you use to judge who is a better teacher? How do you know you are a better teacher than someone at another school? Without seniority, there are no rules and the principals who are known for playing their power games will get away with whatever they want.

There is a reason seniority is in the School Code & in the PFT contract. If you have a better way, write an article explaining how it would work equitably and fairly. What protections would you put into the system?

The quickest way for our district to devolve into toxicity is do away with the PFT contract. Look around you with eyes wide open and see the toxicity of what is happening.

Do you think it is good for children?

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 9, 2011 7:41 am

based on what criteria?
If you want to "judge" my performance based on test scores of my kids, we need to look at progress for each individual student year to year, not compare the kids in front of me this year to those from the year before.
I would love to be graded on the progress of those kids in front of me, who attend more than 80% of the year (taking latenesses into account), who are in the classroom and with their peers for that time (not in timeout somewhere, begging for several bathroom trips, or just walking out of the room), who complete more than half of their homework and generally cooperate in their own learning. I should be held accountable for paperwork needed, in whatever the new formate is, for all those not progressing as they should - and for connecting with the T2 team for these children.
It is not right that I be graded on those kids of parents who refuse the support of the T2 OR T3 teams, who will not get their kids into the desk, or who ignore homework, notes home or my phone calls. Any child missing more than really 10% of instructional time is going to struggle with a year's worth of growth and these children should not count against any teacher.
I am responsible for the educational, developmental and even emotional growth of my children. I accept this, but as I say every back to school night, the chair has already learned all it can from me. Someone has to put a child in the chair for me to work with.
I cannot teach a chair, or rock to read, problem solve or write.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 9, 2011 8:28 am

You are absolutley correct about what you say. But there are three points you must consider, for example, as in reading growth:

1) What test are you going to use to measure individiual growth? You need a valid and reliable diagnostic instrumentwith at least two psychometircally equivalent forms which measure "reading level." You must have a valid pre-test and a valid post-test.

2) The second is how are you going to objectively measure the other criteria? Are teachers at Masterman better than teachers at promise academies?

3) If I take a class of high school students who are dyslexic who read at say the 2nd & 3rd grade levels, and their average growth is a half of year's growth, am I a bad teacher or a good teacher?

I ran a high school diagnostic - prescriptive reading program for 20 years in the 70's 80's and 90's so I've discussed those issues hundreds of times. We (our team of reading specialists) used the MAT 6 as our pre and post. Also please be cognizant of the fact that "grade level equivalents" are NOT READING LEVELS. They are merely the "bell curve" broken down statistically.

Merit pay systems have been a failure everywhere they have been tried. Most schools and districts who have tried them in the past, have turned away from them becuase they are unfair and did not work.

Keep up your Great work!

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 9, 2011 9:21 am

I consider those points daily.
I agree with your points, totally and disagree with the amount of time we spend testing our kids. We are not teaching thinking, problem solving or even logic any more. It's all to fill in those bubbles and this should not count.
I, as a classroom teacher should be held accountable for a full year's worth of growth for each and every child. Parents need to be held accountable to the issues I identified earlier and many others. With both of those issues in place, our children will shine.
Please noticce that my year's worth of growth idea includes those who start the year above grade level. They have the right to get instruction moving them just as far as their peers - something Imagine It does not include.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 9, 2011 9:09 am

I agree with you that we "over test" students today in a counterproductive manner. Our pre and post tests were given in a non pressured setting and we only gave them the California Achievement Test in a one day setting. The post-test was given as part of their final exam.

All other diagnostics took place "informally" as part of normal instruction. Informal assesment by a qualified teacher in a non-threatening climate is the most accurate assessment.

It is my professional opinion that the present test taking curriulum and the constant teaching to the test invalidates the PSSA scores and is detrimental to teaching kids to read, think and analyze text deeply. It is often counterproductive to true achievement because it teaches students to "read to look for answers to questions" rather than to read analytically for meaning.

That is one reason why I had to retire from the district as an administrator. I was disheartened by the poor pedagogy I was forced to impose upon teachers, and was not allowed to be a democratic leader which the research says is the best form of leadership!

Teachers like you are the next wave -- Good luck changing the system....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:10 pm

As a brand new teacher myself-- students who have 3 new teachers in elementary school NEVER recover academically. I am not so arrogant to think that 5 years from now I will not be a much better teacher. Are there crappy teachers with tenure? Undoubtedly, yes, and I'm sure we all have a few examples in our heads. But that is a separate issue.

While it may be nice as a Promise Academy sell-out to imagine that you deserve job security over everyone else, you don't. I for one will be glad when these figments of Arlene's imagination are gone forever. No proven results, millions of wasted dollars. All those "extra" hours you get paid for are hours that everyone works without another penny.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:44 pm

Pretty harsh. As I have said many times before NO ONE WAS BEATING DOWN THE DOOR to get into these so-called sell-out Promise Academies. I love where I work and how dare you call someone who works in a Promise Academy a sell-out. We work harder than most of you out there. We work and the ROUGHEST schools in the district. Some of you so-called tenured experienced teachers wouldn't last a week at these schools. Before you beat us down think back to how many people last year were talking about going to a promise academy. Not many. We were the few who wanted it. And as far as extra money we get paid for extra hours, we work these hours and still do extra work after regular hours. We go home and do more work than you could imagine and we work those extra hours. I kind of feel that you are bitter and many others like you. Where were you guys when the students at these schools needed you? Nowhere.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:06 pm

I love the students I teach.....but I also have my own children and a life outside of school. Just because I choose to want to spend my weekends with my own family......doesn't mean I don't care.

Submitted by Renaissanced twice (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:39 pm

I lasted 5 YEARS at your rough school. I and many of my colleagues applied to stay to turn the school around. Who wouldn't have, since the Promise Academies were going to get the supports that ALL comprehensive neighborhood high schools should get. We were NOT picked to stay. Only 10% of the faculty was picked to stay. Of them 2 had more than 20 years in that school. Believe me. You have drunk too much Kool-Aid.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:42 pm

It is because of teachers that have been around too long and that have not cared that we have promise academies in the first place. This crap makes me sick that people are actually fighting other teachers. We are all in this. As the students would say "Stop hating".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 6:17 am

I hope you have something else you are qualified to do when you "have been around too long". We were all new teachers at some point. If you stick around, you too will become a veteran teacher and I wonder if you'll still have the same attitude.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 7:47 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:58 pm

I know where I was.....for twelve years I worked at Clemente. We are all union......congrats for those putting in the extra teaching time at promise academies. We all work hard and we all need to stand united.

One worry I have is that I hope promise academy teachers are not trashing those who came before them at their schools. At Clemente we worked our asses off.....sorry the PSSAs results werent good enough for the powers that be......but we cared, we tried many many ways to get parents involved. For new people to come in and assume these neighborhoods/families/students were neglected for many years would be arrogant ignorance.

Seniority is the only reasonable way to deal with layoffs. "Fair" might not be a good word to use but i hope the promise academy teachers see the point.......without seniority, any teacher can be at risk at any time due to a vindicative principal. Yes there will be turnover, which might not be "fair" to the promise academy schools....but these positions will be filled and life will go on ( I am not even going to point out that the promise academy model created the turnover in the first place).

PFTers....we must stand united in these times......and I am proud that the PFT leadership fought for and got the injunction today

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:19 pm

I couldn't have said it better myself. You are so right. PFT UNITE for the good of us ALL.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:46 pm

I agree with what you are saying but I am not sure that making it fair for teachers who are just looking for a job to make it into the school we built this year would be fair or even good sense. Turnover has been happening for many years before the Promise Academy model. You know that just don't want to admit that. It's ok. It is easier to get rid of the teachers with least seniority than to actually weed through the bureaucratic seniority crap and keep good teachers. This is just messed up all around. The PFT is only protecting teachers with seniority and can give a care less about the teachers that are new or not certified that pay dues. You are right about one thing positions will be filled. Life will go on but for many who don't necessarily deserve it. And for many years for that matter.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:04 pm

I am a first year teacher. If it weren't for the union non of us would be protected. It isn't about the individual, it isn't about where you is about how bad it would be for ALL of us if the union didn't fight for our CONTRACT.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:03 pm

And with your attitude to seniority we will lose it. Then you will be a the whim of whatever administrator comes along. No job security year after year for the rest of your career. Is this how you want to live?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:08 pm

Wow. Grow up.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:37 pm

Where was I? Teaching the kids who get kicked out of your Promise Academy, that's where. You do NOT work in the "roughest" schools in the district. I don't know who is forcefeeding you that line, or why you swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. I do know that for many students in this district, the Promise Academies have broken their promise.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:25 pm

Funny because most of the kids who get kicked out of the Promise academies come right back. I guess you are not doing your job efficiently. Oh wait no thats not it. You do not have a clue. We do work at some of the roughest schools. But you wouldn't know that because you do not work at one. Your schools do not work. Wherever that is.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:43 pm

I feel quite bad for you. When you eventually leave the cocoon of PAs, you are in for quite a shock. SMH

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:52 pm

No that's not the case. Welcome to the SDP. When someone gets kicked out of your will always get another one to replace them. These kids who get kicked out of one school just end up in another one and possibly right back where they started. The district doesn't address their behavior.....nor hold them accountable to high standards.....they just transfer them from school to school...That's just the way it is in SDP.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:18 pm

Divide and conquer. You are falling for it! Do you really think your fellow teachers are your enemy?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:49 pm

You chose the Promise Academy--no one forced you. Stop complaining. Bitter about what? You have no due process rights and can be terminated whenever they want.

Submitted by Renaissanced twice (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:11 pm

Well I lasted 5 YEARS at one of these schools (without the extras). Many people at my school applied to stay. Why wouldn't we??? Our school was finally going to get the supports that ALL comprehensive neighborhood high schools need to service the children and lead them to success. WE were not PICKED to stay. So before you continue with your browbeating and blowhard diatribe, get your FACTS straight. Of the 75 teachers who applied to stay at my school, only 20 were picked.

Submitted by Love to teach (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:06 pm

How dare you make statements like "where were you guys when the students at these schools needed you?" I worked at two of the roughest schools in this district for 12 years and was in AGONY over being force transferred last year and having to leave the students who I taught, loved and inspired (their words, not mine) for my entire career. You should be ashamed of yourself for typing such vile, hate filled words about dedicated veterans. All of you who are new now, will be veterans some day, and I hope that you are treated with respect and not venom. There are lousy teachers both new and veteran but turning on each other now will not help us or our students in this fight. We are all teachers in this district and we are in this together.

Submitted by 21 year veteran (not verified) on June 8, 2011 10:22 am

I spent 19 years at a school that was changed into a promise academy, believe me I understand the difficulty that you face. However, I made the decision to leave because I didn't want to be part of an experiment that has already proven not to work! Trust me promise academy teachers aren't the only ones who spends many hours of there own time and MONEY creating great lessons for their students, with getting paid to do it. You CHOSE to teach there, don't blame other who had the common sense not to deal with chaos and unobtainable results. I agree you have overdosed on the koolaid!!!!!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2011 8:47 pm

You are obviously young and inexperienced. You will get no where if you self-righteously claim you work harder than teachers in regular schools. There are very few schools that are not rough. As stated previously, you get paid for your extra hours you work, the rest of us don't. No one was beating down the doors to get into Promise Academies because they do not want to be part of Ackerman's Potemkin villages (look it up).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:39 pm

so now teachers who teach(like you) in a Promise Academy where most of the teachers(like you) are first year teachers, are sell-outs? Just because you hate Arlene(hint most teachers no matter what their school is called do as well) please do the profession a favor and not call me or my hard working colleagues sell outs for working in a school and community that needed teachers who were going to care about them. i came to the district and applied to the promise academies as well as other schools. i liked the promise because of the high need, not the money.

As for these "unproven results"(by which I assume you mean data?) the numbers have not come out yet. other data can be seen in previous notebook articles such as decrease in dropouts, higher attendance and less violence at schools. am i saying that this is not happening at other schools..of course not. there are schools across the city and state that have high attendance and high score and that is great...that's what it's supposed to be. but these schools were not achieving and now they are. So when the data comes out and progress is made(as it has been already) PLEASE do not think about calling it fake or not real out of frustration for ackerman. that is an insult to OUR colleagues, my administration and my hardworking children.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:10 pm

One thing a "promise" academy has is much more money and staff. If the ratio of staff to students is about 8 or 9 to 1 versus 20 to 1, there will be different results. For example, attendance has increased in high schools because of (1) transpasses / transportation, and (2) Parent Ombudsmen. Students can get to schools without worrying about transportation and there is an adult who is responsible for attendance. It is also much easier for a teacher with an advisory to follow up on 10 students versus 33.

Now, "promise" academies will keep the surplus of adults while other neighborhood high schools will not. I do not believe the teachers/administration at "promise" academies are more committed, talented, or anything else. You have more "time on task," better funding (and salaries), and a wealth of outside supports. You are using Ackerman's mantra re: children by assuming only you "care" about students. I care about my students - and my children who live in my/our Philadelphia row house. As a single parent, working every other Saturday is a burden. (I usually stay at work - without extra pay - until 5 pm anyway because I have my kids in after school care which does cost me money.) So, no, I did not apply to a "promise" academy. The teachers who I know who applied had no other option - they had student taught in Philly and were denied "site selection" opening in other neighborhood high schools. We had to take teachers who were "forced transferred" - so, only "site selection" for "promise" academies and magnet schools. Now, how it that fair?

The only way for equity is to stay with the contract and use certification and system seniority. Will there be upheaval? Sure. There was upheaval last year. As a parent of School District of Philadelphia students I don't want upheaval but I also don't want my children to enter adulthood with the gains of unions demolished.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:39 pm

First of all numbers at the Promise academies are still high. Try 30 plus per advisory. Pleas people if you are going to say something again get your facts straight. Saturday is a burden for everyone. We also have families. We stay after school till 6 and go home and still work so what is your point? Just another person who has no clue. But of course you will get what you want. More turnover and teachers who have been around waaaaay tooooo long. Sorry just an opinion with most of the facts.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:48 pm

The thing about agism is your are becoming what you are prejudiced against.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 7, 2011 7:07 am

You can have 33 in an advisory and still have a building ratio of 8/9 students per adult. That's the point. Many sites are dealing with the 30 plus in a class without the addition of extra adults to follow up on attendance, run book fairs, pull kids out for academic support or behavioral issues.
That is the point the poster above is missing. When the ratio of 8 or 9 per student is posted, it is the adults per building ratio, not in class.

The supports out of the room make a HUGE difference in the school climate and time on task in every classroom.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2011 12:13 pm

"Just because you hate Arlene(hint most teachers no matter what their school is called do as well) please do the profession a favor and not call me or my hard working colleagues sell outs for working in a school and community that needed teachers who were going to care about them."

To the commenter above who said this. This is highly insulting. The majority at regular schools also work hard and care about their students. Yet you, the attacker, are the one who complains about people criticizing the concept of Promise Schools and takes it as a personal criticism. Most people at the traditional public schools work just as hard as you and care just as much as you. The difference is we do not get the extra resources being sent to Promise Academies so Ackerman can have showcase schools to show off for the press while the rest of us are strangled!

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:25 pm

I agree with what Jordan is doing, but Promise Academy teachers are our sisters and brothers. They didn't ask to be singled out. This is Arlene, pitting us against each other. If you buy into it, you're playing right into her hands.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:16 pm

So in five years when some principal decides you are costing too much of his/her budget and you should be let go, that would be fair? Waiting every year to find out if you get laid off just because, is fair? In this case, you keeping your job just because you work in a Promise Academy, which is still a district school, is fair? It's all good until it happens to you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:01 pm

Your absolutely right but attacking people who have nothing to do with this mess (Promise Academy teachers) is wrong. Everyone is wrong for doing this regardless of what you think or feel. We did nothing to deserve all these attacks, hateful words and just uninformed comments. Crazy how we turn on each other so quickly. We at the Promise Academies are in the union as well. Take our money and do nothing for us. Matter fact lets think about the kids who will have brand new teachers again because of this crap. Shame on all of you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:06 pm

And my students will have 95% new teachers as well. It is bad everywhere and it is insane to suggest the kids at Promise schools should not have any turnover if the result is that every other school in the district is thrown into upheaval.

You say you are in the union as well. You say by fighting for the contract the union is doing "nothing" for you. The comments on this board show that PA teachers think they are the messiah of the SDP and that everyone everywhere else is lazy and worthless. You get paid 20k extra to do the same job, and still complain about the extra hours.

If PA teachers were all on here saying how unfair it was to be treated differently for happening to work in a pet project school, then I would be absolutely with you. However, every single one has been saying how they deserve special treatment because they were "willing" to work at such an "awful" school. Get out of here with that load of baloney.

Shame on us? Seriously? You are voluntarily and enthusiastically making life worse for MY students at the expense of yours.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:07 pm

See now that is where you are wrong. We do not do the same job, we do more. And we do not think what you say. Most of us work the extra hours plus some. Our students are needier than most. You can never imagine the things we go through on an everyday basis. You other teachers put these words in our mouths. Shame on you. We just do not think it is fair for all the attacks. It is time for Promise Academy teachers to unite. And where do you work that 95% of you are being removed? Oh must be a PROMISE ACADEMY! You are actually making me less intelligent. Reading all of this hatred towards us is horrible. Thanks for being a part of it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:29 pm

promise academies are not the only needy schools in our district. your students are not the only needy students in our district. wake up. seniority is the best way to deal with this awful mess.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:14 pm

Your ignorance of other schools in the district is no defense. I do not work in a PA, yet only 1 teacher in my school has tenure. 100% poverty rate. Little extra support. Are you shocked that these things exist outside of Promise Academies? Well, they do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:51 pm

You are the one who comes on here with your self-righteous attitude that Promise Academies exist because teachers in other schools are not doing their jobs. Isn't that hateful? It simply isn't true!

This is all about economics. The children in low performing schools come from low income families. This is the source of their learning problems. That resources should be taken from all the other schools for Promise Academies, and they should be protected from what all of us are going through, is a scam run by Ackerman and the SRC to break the union. Your attitude shows you are willing to be on the front lines to do this. If they succeed in breaking the union you will have to live with the fact that you helped them do this...and the consequent oppressive working conditions and lowered living standard.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:02 pm

ha ha ha!! You are funny. Last time I checked Charter schools do just fine and they have no union. Matter a fact they are doing better than public schools that have unions. I am not against them but damn can we change some things in the process. Those who stay stagnant fall victim to stupidity. You guys are really taking it too far.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:51 pm

Teacher turn over in many charter schools is very high. There are many reasons but lack of a union certainly contributes to arbitrary, dictatorial decisions by charter school CEOs/administrators.

Submitted by Tara (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:29 pm

I have to disagree. Schools that do well typically have high parental involvement as well as an administration and staff that work well with each other and the community, regardless of whether they are public, charter, or private. I speak from experience of working in all three types of schools. The charter school was by far the worse in terms of administrative leadership, and the teacher turnover rate was incredibly high. This instability created turmoil among staff.

Almost every school can make improvements, but what happened today is a breach of the contract plain and simple. If the SDP can simply ignore the contract that they negotiated with the PFT, it is not worth the paper it is written on. Every teacher I know works hard, and some word harder than others. Some are willing to work at Promise Academies, and others are not. We can not get caught up in petty issues about what schools are better, what teachers work longer hours, and who deserves a job. The teachers being laid off will eventually be the experienced teachers down the line.

Seniority is the only fair way to deal with the layoffs. The contract doesn't give special privilege for any group of teachers. The SDP knows this, yet still went ahead and violated the contract. The PFT dealt with it, and we will have to see what happens on June 14th.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 7:42 am

Compare Philly non-union charter schools to Lower Merion union public schools. No comparison. Unions have little to do with this.

Submitted by icculus124 (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:13 pm

you guys do more? i get to work by 7 everyday and stay most days after school. i routinely give up lunches and preps to work with students in some way or another. just this weekend i chaperoned a dance on friday night and took my students to Moore College of Art where their work is on display through the Literacy Through Photography program (maybe you should go down and check them out to see what kinds of things we deal with). Did I get paid for it? No.
i have students who wear the same clothes everyday, cook from portable stoves in the house, don't have heat, water, or air conditioning in their homes. they come from single parent homes where dad or mom is in jail, students who have watched loved ones be shot outside their homes. disrespectful kids. fights. you name it.
these are not things confined to promise academies. they are things we all deal with. the difference is that you get paid more for it than me. I do it for the love of teaching in the inner city and would do it for free. I don't need to be paid for my extra hours.
I teach right around the corner from a promise academy (clemente), so are the kids really different or is it just in your head to make you justify your job?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:24 pm

Why is it that everyone says that we get paid for extra hours? We are with the kids during those hours and then we still stay after school just like you do. We make lesson plan, just like you do. We run after school activities and stay after to help our students, with no pay just like you. We do all of these things. Are we just viewed as these money hungry people who just go home right after the bell rings at the end of the day. WE ARE TEACHERS just like you.

You are right, the students are the same in your case but not all. Trust me I was right down the street last year and did not get paid this extra money. I chose to stay in the area I was in. I was forced out of my school because a charter took over. No question that this is my community as well. I stay here. So I do it for free everyday of my life. I just thought if I gave back to my community through teaching I can do something good. I am those kids that went through all the things you talked about. I understand trust me.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:06 pm

Your arrogance is amazing.. I wonder if you are really a teacher or just a troll trying to incite others.. It's time for Promise Academy teachers to unite? unite and do what? grade papers?

big dummy (and yes I'm name calling) You don't see you are being used as a pawn for the district. When Ackerman came to Philly she was pegged as being a union buster. She has done exactly as she was expected to do.

Here's a question for you though.. if you are okay with her breaking OUR contract when it benefits you, so you can keep your job... will you be okay when she breaks it and takes away your raise in January? How about when she raises your health coverage benefits? What if she decides hey Promise Academy teachers'.. I won't pay you for those extra hours you work..I know it's in your contract but I'm screwed the district up and now I need that money back.. .That'll be okay too right?

oh no.. you'll want Jordan in court filing papers to protect your contract then I bet..

get over yourself..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:13 pm

I never once said I was for the breaking of the contract. I just do not agree with how some "traditions" are done. Is a contract and seniority needed, of course it is. I just do not think at the expense of losing good teachers and keeping bad ones. There has to be a way that something different can be put in place some type of a combination between seniority and more accurate assessments. I do not have the answers but what has been going on for years is not working either.

As far as the whole unite thing. We are being attacked by all when we are not the ones that created the problem. We had nothing to do with the evil plot everyone thinks is going down behind closed doors at the Promise Academies. We work like crazy in that place. All the other stuff doesn't matter, like the "pawn" comment. Silly idiot are we not in it for the students? I am not sure when all we do is attack each other about contracts and rights. Lets just quit while we are ahead.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 5:09 am

No one was attacking Promise Academy teachers.. people are attacking the exemption that Arlene gave Promise Academy teachers.. you internalized that and took that as a personal attack against you, when quite honestly it's never even been about YOU the teacher.. it's about the need to uphold the contract as it was written, the need to equitably fund all schools, and the need to stand together as a union.

so again.. stop being so dag on simple and get over yourself.. it's not about YOU.. this is so much bigger than you.

Submitted by icculus124 (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:22 pm

let's think about the students who are losing teachers that are not in promise academies. what about them? they don't matter as much?
the union is treating you fairly, just like everyone else. not giving you special status because you work at a promise academy.
i pay the same dues as you so why should you matter more than me?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:43 pm

You need to understand that at the promise academies there is about 95% new teachers. In other schools, like your schools probably, this number is around 20% maybe a little higher. So lets dissect this. TURNOVER WILL HURT THE PROMISE ACADEMIES MORE THAN OTHER SCHOOLS. That is what the district is arguing and guess what (lets be real) they are right. Of course all students matter but things have not been equal or even fair for years with these schools. Crazy people. Think for once.

Submitted by icculus124 (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:46 pm

let's try 13 out of 30 teachers being laid off in a non promise academy? and then more being force transferred? really? that's almost 50%. but I don't think the kids will notice all those teachers missing. we'll just tell them to go over to the promise academy where the teachers care more about their students and are better suited to deal with them, being new teachers and all. we veteran teachers couldn't possibly want to deal with them or know how to deal with them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:35 pm

FYI, in our PA, 15 teachers were laid off I'm not seeing the argument, just sayin'

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 9:53 pm

I do not work in a PA. Only 4 teachers in my entire school will still be there next year. Do you have any more fool things to say about fairness?

You need to understand the ONLY reason PAs are special is because Queen Arlene said so. Nothing else. Are all schools like this? No. Are only PAs like this? No. Welcome to the real world.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 8, 2011 7:12 pm

I assure you that the vast majority of teachers who came before you at the schools that are now Promise Academies cared just as much as you and worked hard for their students.

Most shools which are now Promise Academies were wondeful places to work and teach before Paul Vallas and his Chicago Regime destroyed everything they had built before. Most of those schools had magnet programs and were the leaders in the Small Learning Community movement and intensive scheduling.

They became "depressed" because of poor management, poor leadership and poor pedagoy imposed upon teachers.

All of those schools have a history and most have a rich history of student centered instruction. It was not the teachers who set up the present situation. If your students get new teachers, they will build relationships with students just like you did.

The layoffs of teachers is not necessary. I just watched the SRC ask questions about contracts to outside entities that totalled in the double digit millions. Most of those contracts are unnecessary expenditures.

The good thing is, they (SRC) all started to ask questions so they are beginning to understand. That is a good thing!!!

Submitted by Just Sayin' (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:36 pm

FYI - More veteran teachers, even though they get paid more in their check, do not cost a school's budget more money. We each cost about $90,000 (there is an exact number out there; this number includes our health insurance) in each schools budget, regardless of how big (or small) our actual pay check is.

Each teacher being worth the same means that principals won't consider this in the hiring process.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:21 am

The argument that an individual principal would cut a teacher to save money is based on a lack of understanding of the budget process. The District might save money, but the building wouldn't because all teachers "cost" a school the same amount in the budget process.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on June 6, 2011 9:56 pm

 The trade union movement has historically recognized seniority as the only fair way to deal with layoffs and union workers, regardless of how much seniority they had as individuals, have fought hard to protect this principle.   Significantly the people who constantly bleat about how the union or Jerry Jordan is "throwing them under the bus" don't suggest any alternative course of action other than protecting them.   The PFT has been fighting the budget cuts and defending the contract.   That's what it should be doing.


Submitted by I Teach in Philly (not verified) on June 7, 2011 3:07 pm

I got a layoff notice yesterday.

I resent Promise Academy teachers getting special treatment. I work in an empowerment school, one that is persistently dangerous.

There is absolutely NO difference between my work and creating a bond with my students than those teachers who work in Promise Academies.

They share the benefits of belonging to a union. Let them share the pain the rest of us feel.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 4:15 pm

This isn't a game, it's people's lives and following contract! Take that talk elsewhere!!!!! Fight Jerry fight!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 8, 2011 4:59 pm

I disagree... I am a new 2nd year teacher and wouldn't mind the layoff notice that I received so much if I know that it was strictly done by seniority - which is only fair and equitable. It upsets me that a teacher who has been in the district for months can have their job saved over mine because they are employed at one of "Ackerman's babies".

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:03 pm

It is about the team. Why should someone with only 1 year of teaching experience be exempt from a layoff over someone who has much more experience with 20 years? Read the PA Code on seniority which is law in our State as it says there is an order of seniority to uphold. I bet you wouldn't be saying this if you were working for 20 years and someone brand new took your position would you? I thought so!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:32 pm

get a life! Not a single person with 20 years experience is being laid off!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:38 pm

The SRC and Ackerman want to EXEMPT Promise Academy teachers and not go by seniority. Therefore, they want to keep new teachers and get rid of teachers who have more time at their position. You don't know what you are talking about.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:25 pm

Lay offs took place in all Promise Academies today...I hope that was made clear!

Submitted by B Taylor (not verified) on June 7, 2011 2:46 pm

I beg to differ... I do agree that seniority is an objective way to do lay offs... BUT I do not always think it is a fair way. I AM a teacher with 20 years of certified teaching under my belt. My reputation has always preceded me and I have been fortunate to work in some wonderful places. However, I have finally realized my dream of working in an urban school (moving FROM suburban private schools into the SDOP by choice) and I WAS ONE OF THE TEACHERS to receive a letter yesterday. I am looked as a nontenured teacher in the district as this is only my second year. However, I am much more experienced than many of my colleagues. It is hard to be in this position. I don't know who to blame accept myself for making the choices to work where I wanted to work. And now I've found the place I want to commit to through to my retirement and I quite likely won't be able to do that because someone with less experience, technically, will be taking my job.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:10 pm

What about starting with all the uncertified teachers!?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:11 pm

I agree!!! They should go first--it is federl law that each teacher MUST be certified!! Go PFT and all of its teachers!!! Its time for a stand and the battle has begun. Lets see how the Judge rules on June 14th.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:01 pm

Divide and conquer....part of Ackerman' s plan.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:33 pm

Yes, and tragically, the so-called educated people on this board are obliging her with lightning speed. When we allow ourselves to be manipulated, we're her pawns. Some comments here suggest her strategy is working perfectly.

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

I thought all the teacher layoffs were done today? If I was not laud off today and am not at a promise academy am I still safe? Or should I be worried again?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:15 pm

I'm wondering the same thing.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:46 pm

Your safe : )

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:40 pm

So do you think everyone who was supposed to be laid off was told today ?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:00 pm

My principal couldn't even bother to show up today, leaving us all in the dark. I doubt that not being told means you are safe. The letter from HR will come, and if it doesn't, then you're safe.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:22 pm

My principal was there and told 4 teachers about layoffs. I'm just wondering if since she already told teachers if that was it.

Submitted by Curious (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:29 pm

Yes, our principal was out of town, so who knows whose name is in that envelope? I wonder now if we have to wait until the 14th...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 11:25 pm

If your principal didn't tell you today, you are safe until June 14. Then things may change.

In the end, I don't believe that many layoffs will happen at all. I believe everyone will eventually get a spot at the table. Just like full day Kindergarten and transpasses, smoke and mirrors until school begins.

Teachers-- hang in there and hang in solidarity.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 7:15 am

Things are subject to change. If the judge rules that Promise Academy teachers can't be exempted then it will change who is laid off. The District can also recalculate how many of each positions it needs in an amended budget which affect you depending on your certifications. If you're not a Promise Academy teacher neither of those are likely to make you lose your job.

The biggest deal will be if the courts rule the Contract can be canceled on June 30. Then a lot more will be up in the air and it will all depend on how the SDP plays its hand.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:06 am

The crazy part of this is that Promise Academy teachers DID get laid off yesterday. Is the District so inept that it can't even breach a contract correctly?

Submitted by Anonymous #576 (not verified) on June 7, 2011 2:51 pm

Not all of the, but they clearly exempted some. The injunction wouldn't have gone through if they had done layoffs solely through seniority. It's unclear to me what they did and why. This only makes it worse for those of us worried about layoffs to figure out what's going on. The good news is they only have until June 30 to do layoffs under the contract and if they cancel the contract that's the day we'll find out too. Less than a month for all of that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:16 pm

so if it is about the goal then the best teachers should be kept correct? if i was working for 20 years and I was terrible and just came to work because of my job security, then yea I would be saying the same thing. You can throw any code on seniority in my face all you want, but that doesn't make it right. The best teachers should keep there jobs, no matter how many years they have in the system. Why would a first year teacher even pay union dues? At this rate, there will be no more of the untouchable teachers come 10 years . PS why didn't these amazing vets take the challenge of coming into a Promise Academy, the "most challenging of all the schools"

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:55 pm

First of all, many teachers can't work an extra hour and work Saturdays and have children and responsibilities in the home. Maybe some would like to teach at a Promise Academy, who knows. Who is to say that someone teaching for 20 years is a bad teacher??? My wife has been in this District for 13 years and has excellent evaluation with a Masters plus 30 Degree. So does my mom and sister. They love their jobs. READ THE CURRENT STATE LAW and brush up on your facts before spewing ridiculous comments. Promise Academy teachers being exempt from layoffs was NOT negotiated in this contract. A contract is binding and not meant to be broke. That goes for any contract no matter what the job.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:20 pm

Many of us at the Promise Academies sacrificed working these extra hours. It is a choice. We have families and children as well as other responsibilities. Come on guys this whole thing is messed up. Us at the Promise Academies didnt want things to be this way either.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:40 pm

You are the first person to say that the people at the PAs didn't want things to be this way either. I hope that is true, and if it is we still have a chance.

This whole thing seems like that horrible experiment they did in the 50s where they told blue-eyed children they were better and smarter than brown-eyed children. Those blue-eyed kids sure believed it. Human nature, for sure. I get it, I do. If I was being told I was safe because I was special I would really want to believe it too.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 11:55 pm

It was an experiment in the late 60s following the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. Both the blue-eyed children, and the brown-eyed children eagerly believed in their own superiority (each got a day "on top").

It's silly to suggest that Promise Academy teachers are in collusion with the administration on this. They took the only jobs available to them - no one wanted to work in a PA - and many wanted to leave this year. Protecting them from layoffs was probably, among other things, an incentive to keep them around.

Parties bickering on both sides of this argument need to remove the blinders. Arlene is laughing at you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:54 pm

I teach at a school that, frankly, is more challenging and difficult than any PA. I consciously decided against applying at a PA because I believe that they are not good for the students. The scripted BS, the emphasis on disposable teachers, the insane pet-project status... it just isn't any better.

These amazing vets don't want to touch the PAs because they aren't desperate for a job. While I understand there may be many reasons that PA teachers took that job (20k extra for something I ALREADY DO being just the beginning) don't for a second think that people aren't lining up to take PA jobs because they aren't up for the "challenge" of a scripted curriculum. Sorry that you were sold a lie and that you believe yourselves more important than your fellow teachers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:49 pm

It is not all scripted like you state. It is just like any other empowerment school. Corrective Reading and Corrective Math and that is it. All of the rest of the subjects are not scripted including Math and Literacy. These are separate programs. People PLEASE get your facts straight. We are fighting the wrong people. This is craziness. Please if you are going to say something at least know what you are talking about.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:22 pm

How do you decide the "best" teachers? Student surveys? Standardized tests? "I'll know it when I see it?"

Nebulous standards like those are the reason why we, unfortunately, need seniority rules. And yes, I got a letter today.

Submitted by Anon and anon (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:28 pm

I, too, got a letter today, and I agree with you. Until someone can show me a fair system for evaluating "teacher effectiveness", seniority must rule the day. However, that should include all teachers. Promise Academy teachers should NOT be exempt, nor should PA budgets be exempt from the same cuts all schools are taking. Otherwise, we are punishing schools that have been successful and rewarding schools that have not. Makes no sense.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 10:01 pm

If you cripple the fastest runners, slower people will win the race...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 10:56 am

Well said!

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:35 pm

How we will decide who are the best teachers, and who will decide. Test scores? Attendance? Yearly improvement? There is no good way to do this. Seniority is the only fair way.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 10:06 am

Seniority is not the only way. There was an excellent article in the NY Times about the PAR program in Montgomery County Maryland. It's been in place for 15 years, and everyone (admin and teachers) seem to be pretty satisfied that it does a good job of both giving teachers a chance for improvement and moving teachers who don't get better out of the district.

Test scores, etc. aren't perfect either, but, especially in earlier grades in measurable areas (literacy, numeracy), they do have some value. If, year-after-year, a teacher's students don't advance very far, then something's not right.

It takes collaboration and serious reflection, and it can't happen overnight, , and you can't get an absolute rank-order of teacher effectiveness. But claiming that you can't tell the outstanding teacher from the average from the mediocre strikes me (and I would imagine most people who've recently been in a class as a learner) as a far-fetched claim.

When teachers claim that seniority is the only way, they lose credibility with a very large percentage of the population. Namely, those that have children in school or who have ever been to school. Involved parents know that some teachers are really ineffective. When unions go in public and claim that no one can tell what an effective teacher is, it's no more ridiculous than when Arlene Ackerman speaks in public about any of the numerous things she "didn't know about." It makes people wonder if unions are more interested in students or in job security.

Submitted by Rich (not verified) on June 7, 2011 11:36 am

The problem at present in the School District of Phialdelphia is that there is no fair and equitable teacher evaluation system in place. The procedures set by our legislature in the Tenure provisions of the School Code provide a mechanism for removing unsatisfactory tenured teachers and it is not burdensome at all.

It takes three years of satisfactory performance to attain tenure.

Since you have not had the chance to work in several different schools, you probably do not realize that many principals reward their friends and punish their enemies in unethical ways. That is why seniority becomes necessary. They know how to play the "power game" and it rarely comes down to who is the most effective teacher.

Submitted by B Taylor (not verified) on June 8, 2011 5:08 am

Seniority would be more fair if a person's total years of certified experience were counted. I am a 20 year veteran of the teaching profession and yet I got a lay off notice on Monday, because I'm only 2 years in as a Philly teacher. Seniority is not exactly fair, but it is objective.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 6:47 pm

don't get me wrong there are some AMAZING veteran teachers who I have learned so much from this year. But what is the incentive to become a teacher if you are not going to be protected and only those who have been here for a long time are? These layoffs should have never happened in the first place and Ackerman and the SRC are 100 percent wrong...but for Jordan to go after other teachers who work just as hard if not harder to make a point is a disgrace.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:06 pm

Your missing the point! I give up explaining to you..

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:33 pm

Are you deliberately misunderstanding? Jordan's not going after teachers. He's demanding the contract be honored so those who have been loyal employees for the greatest number of years will be rewarded for that loyalty. Our union agreed to a contract that stipulated a certain methodology to layoffs and the SDP signed off on it. He's fighting to keep what was agreed upon, rather than let the district pick and choose based on its own interests.

You need to take out your resentment on the people who are laying you off unnecessarily, not those who would fight for your rights if you were being "suspended" ahead of someone who has put in fewer dues than you have.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:02 pm

I'm glad the PFT is fighting this. What I would like to know in the interim is how will Site Selection now work? Do the teachers who were laid off now get a chance to interview or not? How can Site Selection begin if you don't know who is eligible and what positions will actually be available? This is a complete mess.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:54 pm

The Attorneys are discussing this very thing. I can't see it happening until all is resolved.

Submitted by Audax (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:37 pm

Speaking of Site Selection, say a principal kept an English position that was staffed by a first year teacher but then said teacher got laid-off. Would that position then become open for Site-Selection or what? Too many f'in questions and no damn answers.

And rumour has it that the District brought in an outside attorney to handle this. If that is true, why and how much is it costing us?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:38 pm

They did use outside counsel. I believe Pepper Hamilton usually serves as outside counsel. As for how much, I would go with a lot.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:24 am

The scenario you mention seems unlikely. Most first-year teachers (without rare certifications) got force transferred so the position was open already. I'm not sure lay offs will change much besides who can site select or be placed later in the process.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:46 pm

The use of seniority as the basis of layoffs has a long bitter history. Do you really want your job to up to the whims of some administrators each year of your teaching career? That is what you are talking about if you want to do away with seniority.

The point is that public education is under attack. We must unite against this attack. We did not create this problem. It is the politicians who represent the banks and corporations, not our fellow teachers, who are doing this to us. If they succeed in dividing us, they will have far worse in store for us than eliminating seniority.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:08 pm

I hope the judge has a big checking account. Otherwise, the checks will be written but not cashable.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:07 pm

I work in the district as a counselor and I was one of the many who received my notice today. I was told I'm being laid off; however many other counselors with the same hire and contract date did not. I have tried several times to find out my position on the seniority list, but was told over and over again that I was not entitled to this information. No one has since been able to tell me how this type of layoff decision would be made. How can there be seniority when you have over 100 counselors hired with the same contract date? If anyone has that information please inform me! The district sure isn't.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:04 pm

In a lot of unions if ALL of you had the same hire date then it goes by your last name alphabetically. It may sound stupid but those with last names beginning with the letter "A" go first and so on. Otherwise, there is no way to figure it out.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:54 pm

You are absolutely entitled to seniority lists. However, it seems that building seniority (!) is playing a much bigger role in these layoffs than it was supposed to.

It is not just the date of hire, but actually hour and minute and even seconds of hire. A coworker of mine was forced transferred because two other teachers had been hired earlier in the same day than her.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:06 pm

yes that does seem to be the case. I did not get a notice yet, but I was told a few weeks ago that I was on the force transfer list, while the person with one more year building seniority but is not even certified gets to stay. Not even certified.....but I am. It's crazy.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:37 pm

You ARE entitled to the seniority information. Not sure who told you otherwise. Contact your building rep.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:18 pm

Our union rep posted our seniority by position- both system and building- months ago. I'm not sure about viewing other employee's seniority, but this is not "privileged" information and you should be able to see your own.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:15 pm

All unions do that--open and honest facts. Solidarity, my friend.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:40 pm

My thinking is they had a higher interview score. I am also a counselor . I am being forced transferred. Am I now eligible for your job either by site selection or to pick from when I go to pick a new assignment ?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:00 pm

I am also a counselor. I am only certified in Elementary and I was not laid off. I went to the PFT a couple of weeks ago and they had no problem telling me where I was on the seniority list. I had the same questions as you did about how they can lay off some and not others when we were hired all at the same time. I was told that they go by your interview score after the hire date. 2 years ago when they hired so many counselors, almost all of them were secondary counselors which is why the bulk of the layoffs were secondary I think. I'm not sure that they had to even lay off any elem. counselors.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:10 pm

Contact PFT...every school MUST give all employees a senority list.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 11:36 am

Unfortunately the PFT seemed to be no help with this issue. I originally contacted HR and was told that, "they could share information about seniority". I was then directed by my building rep to contact the PFT. I emailed the contact and my email was then forwarded back to HR. The same person wrote me again saying, "she could not share information about seniority". All seems a bit shady. Unfortunately now, what's done seems to be done. I'm sure my position will be selected quickly as I am from a good school. It's truly a shame for the students who build bonds and trust with their counselors and teachers.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 7, 2011 12:11 pm

Principals were given updated seniority lists over a month a go and directed to share it with all staff. Your Building Rep should have made sure this happened. People were supposed to have time to check the list to make sure that all dates were correct (and all certifications were listed. This is a legal requirement. I am not sure who told you that you were not entitled to it. They are wrong. We get a chance to look at it every year. It is in your building and anyone on Building Committee or Leadership team should be able to show it to you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:54 pm

A filed Right to Know application may get you your seniority list. The Right to Know application can be found as the first link on this page.

Print it out and submit it to the SDP address at #4 on the following page.

It may take several weeks to get the information.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 9:10 pm

after start date it goes by your lsit date which is when you interviewed..then your interview score. If you call the union they should give you your position on the list though...were you elementary or secondary? It seems like a lot of new counselors (about 150) that started in 2009 were secondary. Supposidly there were 180 hired and 102 were laid off.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 11:26 am

Yes, I am secondary. About two months ago we were told that about 60-70 secondary counselors would be affected. It now seems like a lot more have been.

Submitted by Mark (not verified) on June 7, 2011 7:30 am

It largely has to do with the test score you earned when you were interviewed/hired. People who received higher test scores than you will retain their positions. It has nothing to do with alphabetical order; that's absurd.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:21 am

Well, I got a 102 and I'm laid off.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 10:49 am

From my understanding, if two or more employees are hired on the same day, and the position was a test position - then the score comes into play. That's how it works in my department -- we do site selection nearly every year.

Submitted by Get Real (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:14 pm

Were you certified? Do you have a Master's Degree? What was your field of concentration as a counselor? Try the universities.

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:30 pm

Your coworker was transferred because the other two teachers had higher interview scores, which is why they were hired earlier in the same day.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:46 pm


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 7:35 pm

If I am on the forced transfer list, but did not receive a lay-off notice, am I good? Or are they sending lay-off notices in the mail for teachers who are forced transferred?

Submitted by TeachersStandTogether (not verified) on June 6, 2011 11:35 pm

My guess is you wouldn't be on the forced transfer list if they were going to lay you off. You should get a letter or e-mail from the district telling you when you need to go down and pick soon. Good luck.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:19 pm

I received my lay off notice today and got a letter saying that I can work summer school. If on June 30th or such I'm no longer an employee how can I work summer school? Any answers or advice would be helpful

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 6, 2011 8:44 pm

Same situation here. I got my summer school assignment about an hour after my lay off notice. I also worked summer school last year and made less per hour because I was not an appointed teacher at the time. Makes me wonder...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 7, 2011 8:31 am

I also got an email saying that I got my summer school placement. I emailed Carol Ann Kenney and asked her am I still able to teach summer school even though I got my lay off notice and she said yes I am still able to teach summer school. This makes no sense to me but I will not be asking questions since I could really use the money since I am getting laid off.

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