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Amid shouting and chants, SRC adopts bare-bones budget

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 31, 2012 04:44 PM
Photo: Bas Slabbers / for NewsWorks

The auditorium at District headquarters was packed with critics of the District budget.

At a raucous meeting Thursday, the School Reform Commission approved a $2.5 billion operating budget for next year that relies on more than $200 million in borrowing and counts on $94 million from the city that has yet to materialize – all to maintain a minimal level of educational services.

Listen to Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY. 

Check out a slideshow of photos from the meeting on WHYY/NewsWorks.

“We determined what was a bare-bones level of services and programs and we built a firewall around those expenditures,” said Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen at a pre-meeting briefing for reporters. “That’s why we are … borrowing to maintain the academic programming in the schools.”

Knudsen said he had no other options.

As SRC members voted yes on three budget-related resolutions, including short- and long-term capital plans, the crowd shouted them down. Pedro Ramos, Feather Houstoun and Lorene Cary were present; Joseph Dworetzky and Wendell Pritchett participated by phone.

Knudsen also disclosed that he has been unable to close a $22 million gap in this year's budget, although he said that accounting rules may yet allow for it to be technically balanced.

Chanting crowd

From the start and throughout the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, District officials got an earful from the audience.

Parents at the meeting presented the SRC with a "no confidence" petition signed by 54 parent organizations, representing 49 schools. Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education and Delores Solomon of the Home and School Council read a roll call of the schools that signed on. Gym decried the leadership's transformation plan for focusing on organizational restructuring rather than on "finding efficiencies and savings."

“Restoring the cuts should be the number-one thing," she said.

Gym and Solomon were the first of six speakers, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, to address the SRC about the budget.

As the crowd cheered him on, Jordan said, "We want adequate, stable funding spent in schools and classrooms -- not millions of dollars wasted on no-bid contracts, overpaid executives and pricey consultants."

In the pre-meeting briefing, Knudsen reiterated that the budget situation left the District with few options.

“My answer to those who would say that somehow this is no confidence: I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where else to go,” Knudsen said.

At the start of the meeting, hundreds of union members, student activists, and others packed the auditorium, drowned out speakers with loud chants of “save our schools,” and demanded that the SRC ask for more money from Harrisburg. The crowd continually interrupted the commissioners’ attempt to conduct business.

To noisy skepticism, Knudsen emphasized that adopting the 2012-13 budget did not commit the District to any long-term reorganization.

"Passing this budget is not passing the proposed five-year financial plan on which we are still taking public input," he said. "It does not in any way define the long-term future of the District's educational structure."

For most schools, the “bare-bones” budget option means no full-time nurse, fewer counselors, and unstaffed libraries. Some sports, music, art and other extra-curricular activities are also being reduced or eliminated. There is no more common planning time for teachers.

Thomas Knudsen and Penny NixonThe school budgets are "not adequate for the children we serve," said Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon. "We lack the appropriate funding to provide our students with the education they deserve."

SRC Chairman Ramos agreed that it is ugly – and will be even uglier without City Council’s action to give the District more money.

“You can look at any school’s budget and determine what’s left without the $94 million,” he said. “We’re not cutting schools further. We’ve drawn the line.”

But without making major changes, he said, the District will face a $1.1 billion cumulative deficit in five years.

Knudsen said that borrowing $218 million is possible, but more than that is doubtful.

“We have maxed out our credit card,” he said.

Already, the District spends about $261 million, more than 10 percent of the operating budget, on debt service. It is still paying off its last major borrowing for operational costs, which occurred in 2002 as part of the state takeover of the District.

Seeking more funding

In the briefing for reporters, Knudsen and Ramos reiterated that getting $94 million from City Council was crucial not only to avoiding more cuts to schools, but also to maintaining credibility with Harrisburg that the city is willing to do its share to fund education.

“It would be a catastrophic mistake politically for the School District’s prospects in Harrisburg for a long time if Council failed” to give the District more money, Ramos said.

Mayor Nutter wants to raise the money through the so-called Actual Value Initiative, which would change the way residential property is assessed by bringing tax burdens more in line with what a home is actually worth. The city’s assessment system, rarely updated, has long been out of whack.

City Council failed to pass its own budget and tax bills Thursday for next year, missing its deadline. Council was still trying to coalesce around a plan to provide the District with additional funds, which Knudsen has said is crucial to the District's ability to regain some modicum of financial stability.

Council President Darrell Clarke told the It’s Our Money blog Thursday that Council is building a consensus around giving the District more money, but hasn’t agreed yet on how to do it.

It did pass a resolution that would delay any Council action until a settlement is reached with the District's blue-collar union, District 1201 of SEIU Local 32BJ. The union is threatened with the layoffs of all its 2,700 members, starting in July. The District has said it needs to trim $50 million in costs from maintenance and transportation and has put out a request for proposals to privatize these services.

The commissioners were adamant that they were determined to present a realistic, responsible budget rather than one that relied on unrealistic revenue projections.

“We’re being asked to repeat past dysfunctional behavior, which we are not going to do,”  Ramos said.

Yes or no

At the SRC meeting, Knudsen’s attempt to explain the budget was initally drowned out by shouting protesters, some of whom were demanding answers to a series of yes-or-no questions.

First, protesters noisily asked whether the SRC would ask for more money from Harrisburg.

Ramos said “yes,” but added that “the answer should also be, 'Yes, you are supporting what the mayor is proposing in local funding.'”

To a chorus of boos, Ramos said, “That explains a lot."

At the briefing, Ramos criticized "labor" for not doing its part to share in the sacrifice required to keep the District functioning.

The PFT's contract expires in August 2013, and Jordan has said that he will not reopen negotiations beforehand. The SRC must pass a 2013 budget by May, however, so must know by then if it has been able to rein in labor costs going forward. 

"You can’t say it's just about kids when adults all refuse to do more or give something up," Ramos said. "We all share the circumstances in which we find ourselves. ... At some point, labor will realize that there is no silver bullet, no magic out there, and we have to work together to increase revenues over the long term."

At the end of the meeting, however, Ramos thanked people for their participation.

"I will take passion over indifference any day of the week," he said.

 

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Comments (141)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 5:35 pm

It's time to FIGHT and we'll win. No more talking, PLEASE !! Mobilize and Now !!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on May 31, 2012 7:52 pm

The SRC needs to DEMAND that the City of Philadelphia start collecting on the $472 million in unpaid property taxes that the many individuals and businesses owe! The District needs this money to educate our kids!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:36 am

Most of that money is not realistically collectable.

But the millions that Universal owes us is.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 2:59 pm

The reason most of that owed money ain't goin to happen is because the slumlords are 1%ers so Nutter et al won't bother them ever. Yes, the Universal money is right there disrespecting us to our face but Nutter has Gamble's back so .............................unless WE force this all to stop, it won't---------FORCE !!

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on May 31, 2012 7:04 pm

I hope everyone listened to June Bey and Cathy Roccia-Meier's passionate speeches on behalf of children with special needs. June Bey grilled the SRC and Thomas Darden on the language in the contract between the SRC and Mastery Clymer regarding students with multiple disabilities. Cathy Roccia-Meier followed up by stating that if a school would not discriminate against a child because he or she was Black, a school should not discriminate against a child because he or she has a disability. Discrimination against children with disabilities is a civil rights issue!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 8:02 pm

The only way that Mastery and the SRC will change is with lawsuits -- lots of them. Free and Appropriate Public Education for all -- and all means ALL.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on May 31, 2012 8:12 pm

And I mentioned that the very same thing -- that is, the threat of lawsuits -- in a comment on the post about Mastery Clymer in the Notebook. There are many frivolous lawsuits out there, of course. However, lawsuits have been very important for ensuring that children with disabilities receive a FAPE.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 8:07 pm

Can someone please follow the money. I think that the money stays w the charter if they are there after oct 15. So if the child comes back to the district on the 16th then the charter school keeps the money. It seems like we the citizens are just pawns in the game

Submitted by mrsaltz (not verified) on May 31, 2012 7:15 pm

Free Advice for the PFT leadership:
Youth United for Change is way better at chanting and cheering than you. And buy bigger speakers.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on May 31, 2012 9:48 pm

Hear! Hear! I wish I could have heard the speeches delivered outside 440, but it was impossible. I am dismayed that the PFT is proving to be so lame. This would have been a chance to be heard...and they lacked the foresight/interest to make sure that they could be heard. I would have thought this was the kind of thing they knew how to pull off. Apparently not.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 8:33 pm

Ramos is quoted in the Inquirer:

""You can't say that you're just about education and you're just about the kids when adults all refuse to do more or give something up," Ramos said. "We all share the circumstances in which we find ourselves today and in the next few years."

Ramos also questioned the motivation of the activists who protested at the meetings.

"I think parents are often drowned out by existing adult economic interests," he said. He said that the coalition organized to oppose the budget was being funded by unions, specifically by the PFT."

Mr. Ramos - Are you taking a cut in pay / benefits from your lucrative job? Are you assuming all parents are "duped" by the PFT? Didn't you see the list of 54 schools?

Mr. Ramos - You can live in your cushy home, with your cushy job and your kids in their cushy Masterman school... How much out of pocket have you paid to work this year?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 9:35 pm

Of all the cretins, Pedro is the worst because he really knows better but just doesn't care anymore. This is Corbett's fault but the SRC are following his script without any shame.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 2:01 am

SRC members are NOT paid. Pedro is doing his best in a tough situation. Look at the situation he inherited and realize that tough decisions have to be made. This SRC is doing more than ANY in the past to be transparent and LISTEN, going against staff recommendations! Just ask the parents of Stanton and Sheppard.

Submitted by tom-104 on June 1, 2012 6:38 am

Anyone who serves on the SRC is not necessarily being altruistic. The position provides many opportunities to steer contracts to friends and associates (the previous SRC was blatant in doing this) and a track to contacts for future career opportunities. Just the way the SRC is touting the Boston Consulting Group, notorious for downsizing companies (Mitt Romney's first job was with BCG - see http://nymag.com/news/politics/mitt-romney-2011-10/index1.html), shows their main interest is business, not education.

As to Stanton and Sheppard, this is part of their tactic to appear reasonable while in fact they have a set agenda which was decided on long ago by the business and financial community. Stringing the teachers at Creighton along for awhile was part of the same game. Their public budget meetings are a sham to give the appearance of democracy while the actual decisions have already been made in private in the interests of privatizing public education.

The community has made it very clear at the SRC community meetings we want a new Superintendent who is from Philadelphia and has a background in education, not business. Let's see who the SRC is listening to!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:28 am

Ramos has said in public that he wants to get rid of neighborhood high schools and make them charters. This was months ago. I assume they'll leave Washington, Lincoln, Northeast (maybe Fels and Frankford) because of their size. Mastery can't run a big school. Ramos will have to leave a few other neighborhood high schools because Mastery won't take all the "problem" students. So, the neighborhood high school will become a discipline school.

Ramos is very politically connected and ambitious - has been for years. This has helped him professionally - especially his law firm. Ramos can say all he wants about "high quality seats" - his aim is further segregate, track and warehouse students who don't qualify for magnets.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on June 1, 2012 6:19 am

They are more than complicit in their "tough situation." I am sure that many SRC members care about kids, but they care about their political connections even more. They need to take a stand for Philadelphia and resign in a body. Clearly Corbett isn't interested in public education. The SRC shouldn't be providing him with cover.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:58 am

Of course, you are right. Corbett is a devil and they give him tacit approval by being quiet about the child killing budget.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 1, 2012 7:09 am

Not only should they resign, the SRC should be abolished. It is a colonial administration set up by the state to take away community control of OUR schools. It was supposedly set up because of a fiscal crisis in 2001. They have made the fiscal crisis much worse.

When it was set up, one of the first things attempted by the SRC was privatizing public schools by turning them over to Edison. (Edison is long gone. Where will today's charters be in ten years?) This objective has not changed.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:08 am

Thank you for restating the facts. The two points need to be reiterated over and over again. The only difference in 2012 is No Child Left Behind. (Ironically, or not, NCLB was signed a few weeks after the SDP was "taken over" by the Commonwealth of PA).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:29 am

Moron.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:51 pm

Nice rebuttal. When losing a debate, resort to name calling.

Submitted by Christa Parlacoski (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:21 am

I appreciate that Ramon is unpaid, but he accepted the job a Chairman of the SRC knowing what he was coming in to. He simply doesn't care to work with the teachers, parents, or community and that was made evident last night. Why should we feel sorry for him because he is unpaid? Everyone in the district was hoping that after Ackerman left and new SRC was put in place that things would get better, instead they have gotten worse.

Submitted by A Once Pedro Admirer (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:19 am

Believe me, people closest to Pedro are not amused with his behavior. He knows better and that makes it even worse. He has been a giant disappointment and he is NOT on the side of the kids, not by a long shot. Pedro has become "corporate" in every sense of the word. He's following the script of the 1%ers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:06 am

This is what you get for teaching poor students. You get paid less and then they tell you you're getting paid too much.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:11 am

And you must supply all basic supplies yourself. That is a pay cut no matter how you look at it. When you have to supply the writing instruments for your own classrooms and hope and beg for the paper required to track the data folders required, you have taken on a pay cut. Don't let them lie to you on this issue. Now do this without the EC hours to cover those supplies - we have accepted pay cuts for the last couple of years already.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on May 31, 2012 9:47 pm

Most memorable quotes of the evening:

Rev. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church:
"90% of can't do is don't want to.
"You have lost our trust."

Pedro Ramos:
"Charter schools are not private schools."
(Someone should show him Diane Ravitch's recent column:
"Are charter schools public schools?" at:
http://tinyurl.com/6wkdnf9
"We have the deficit because previous administrations did what the public asked for."
(Greeted with resounding shouts of "Shame!")

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on May 31, 2012 9:23 pm

Rev. Waller was great. He was forthright and did not mince his words, especially concerning the loss of trust in the SRC. Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church did everyone in Philadelphia a great service by (a) hosting the Education Town Hall with all of the major players present and (b) producing a report, available to anyone who goes to their website, http://www.enontab.org/. It's right there on the homepage. The direct address for the report is http://enontab.org/pdf/Town_Hall_Report_3-%205-21-12.pdf. The report is well-written, insightful, and provides specific recommendations to the SRC. At the meeting tonight, Rev. Waller demanded that the SRC look at the report's recommendations.

If a church can release a report from an Education Town Hall that they hosted, then surely the BCG can release its report TO THE PUBLIC!!!

Submitted by ConcernedRoxParents (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:09 am

Thank you! I was looking for a copy of this!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 10:25 pm

It's time for concessions from the PFT, like having the teachers pay for half their healthcare costs just like everyone in private industry does. The city has already raised property taxes 3 times in 3 years. The taxpayers can't pay any more. The state is already spending 40% of all revenues on education, so there will be no more coming from them. We have 15 million people out of work and many more working part time because they can't find a full time job. It's time for some shared sacrifice from the unions.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on May 31, 2012 11:26 pm

When is Wall Street and the financial community going to do their "shared sacrifice" since they created this mess?

http://vimeo.com/25491676

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 11:54 pm

There's plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Banks for committing fraud. The Federal Reserve for not regulating the banks. Republicans for repealing Glas Steagall. Democrats for ordering banks to lend money to people who cannot repay. Mortgage brokers for misleading people. Homeowners for lying on their mortgage applications. Homeowners for using their homes as ATM's. There were many parties involved in creating this mess and we will only get out of it through shared sacrifice.

As for Wall Street, Obama has ordered the Justice Dept. not to prosecute anyone. After all, Obama received more campaign contributions from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate in history. By the way, you have heard of the Bear Stearns collapse and Lehman collapse and Merril Lynch collapse right? Those were a lot of jobs lost up there.

Submitted by Michele Warren (not verified) on May 31, 2012 11:43 pm

Interesting that you posted as "Anonymous" ...."A Nation of Wusses"....you are one of them! It's not the teachers' fault that we are in this financial mess...it is poor leadership and a lack of fiscal responsibility!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2012 11:25 pm

Yes. The type of fiscal responsibility your union demanded in the past from politicians pandering for votes. You were perfectly willing to have them make promises to you that they couldn't keep. Now the jig is up. The trough is empty. And sacrifice you will. The taxpayers have had enough of this thuggery by public sector unions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:12 am

Thuggery?
Quick history lesson, you have YOUR
1. 8 hour work day,
2. a decent living wage
3. overtime pay
4. holiday pay
5. health benefits
6. vacation days (with pay)
6. sick and personal days (with pay)
8. maternity and family leave days (with pay)
9. any pension contributions/401 K contribution from your employer
10. federally enforced saftey rule and laws at your workplace laws
11. Due Process job protection

to the "Thuggery" of UNIONS. If that's thuggery, I say the more the better.

You are welcome

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:19 am

Most professions have all of those listed in your list so your argument is null and void!! Sorry....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:22 am

They do now. Regardless of whether that profession is unionized, those benefits exist because unions once fought for them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:10 am

The unions do nothing for me except cost me money. They may have been helpful 100 years ago, but I didn't live then. Nowadays, unions do nothing for private sector workers except drive up our taxes and drive up costs for cars, telephone bills, electricity, etc. Thank God they're on their last legs.

After Wisconsin passed a law saying public employees did not have to pay union dues, the number of teachers in the union dropped from 17,000 to 6,000. It appears that many people in the unions are only there because they are forced to be.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:50 am

PFT members are not forced to pay dues either.

Submitted by Mark (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:48 am

No? That money has been automatically deducted from my check for years. I can opt out?

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:14 pm

Yes - you can opt out, if you so choose.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on June 1, 2012 2:06 pm

 Clarification.   The PFT has what is  called an agency shop.   All bargaining unti members, union members or not, under this provision must pay what is called "fair share" to cover the costs of administering the conract, benefits etc.   If you choose not to join the union you do not lose due process rights.   You do lose the rights to participate in the union (meetings, elections etc.)   The financial difference between being a union member or a fair share member is small so there is little to be gained by quitting the union.   In most schools people who are not union members are not respected by their fellow workers and, historically at least they are few and far between.       

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 4:11 pm

Several of my coworkers opted out of paying dues (I think they mostly started as TFA and Teaching Fellows) and I have never seen them be treated differently by other staff nor has our building rep ever treated them any differently. I pay my dues and I pay them happily but I don't think bullying others into paying dues is the right way to increase membership. $40 a month or so might not seem like much money but for some beginning teachers, it actually is. A lot of us are paying $800 a month in student loans when we first start.

My point above was simply that joining the PFT and paying dues is not actually a condition of employment-- if for some reason you got a job teaching in Philly and hated unions you would not be forced to join. An oft-used argument is that unions only survive by forced membership. If we all decided the union wasn't really working for us anymore, the PFT would collapse. That was my gist.

Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on June 1, 2012 5:00 pm

 And part of what I was getting at is that if someone refuses to join,or quits,  the PFT they still will have to pay "fair share."   I'm a supporter of a closed shop where everyone is required as a condition of employment to pay union dues.   This insures the union has a steady and predictable stream of revenue and allows it to concentrate on effectively representing and servicing the membership instead of constantly working to get people to join.  This option doesn't exist under Pennsylvania law for teachers but fair share does and that's good enough.

Morally the argument comes down to this.   If everyone benefits from the collective effort of the unions, why shouldn't everyone pay dues or at least fair share.  

I am not advocating bullying people, but I do think they should be challenged to join.   When I was a building rep I tried to make sure we had and maintained 100% membership which we usuallly did.   When there was someone who refused to join I didn't keep it a secret,  

A union's strength depends on its collective power.   I hear you about students loans, but I don't think that justifies not joining.   During the two long strikes the members waged to win the things like prep time, caps on class size, and decent benefits, many people endured great sacrafices to win.   That's always going to be the case.   Without solidarity, without everybody pulling their weight, there is no union.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:27 pm

You hit the nail on the head Ron!! Thanks for sharing that information. Just like when I keep seeing people say we can't strike. If people would read they would know that if the SRC cancels the contract, then there is no contract and then we can strike.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on June 1, 2012 2:11 pm

You may opt out, but must pay "fair-share" dues because you will still get health and welfare benefits. But, I believe you will not be represented fro any 204 conferences with the principal or other admins, you cannot vote for building committee, and the PFT will not have to represent you if any complaint or unsatisfactory eval is brought against you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:39 pm

An dare stupid fro dropping out of the Union. Once you become non union your due process rights are gone.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:33 pm

I guess you support The Walmart CEO. Sounds like something he would say. While he lines his pockets with the big money he starves his workforce who have families and gives them a lousy $7.50 per hour to work. What a slap in the face of Americans. Vote the Union Way. Unions are for fair wages for the working family. And what is wrong with that? It's the American way!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 7:28 pm

Unions have gone way too far. Unions bankrupted GM, Chrysler and our entire steel industry. Now they are threatening to bankrupt our state and local governments. At the end of the day, the gov does not have the money to pay you what you want, so it won't. Period. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained. Scream and protest all you want, but the outcome wil be the same. Have a good day.

Submitted by Frank Murphy on June 2, 2012 10:17 pm

Your assertion that the unions bankrupted GM, Chrysler and our entire steel industry is not supported by facts. That they are now threatening to bankrupt our state and local governments is also a dubious statement. Show me some evidence.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 2, 2012 10:42 pm

Unions have not bankrupted private industry or the government. The auto industry went to the cheapest labor it could find in the world. Do you really think we should become a third world nation with wages of a few dollars a day? What are you ready to give up?

As for the government not having any money: we have $2 billion a week to spend on endless wars which accomplish nothing and worsen the problem they claim to solve, Governor Corbet cut education funding by $1 billions this year alone and increased funding for prisons by $700,000. It all depends what your priorities are. As Rev. Waller said at the SRC meeting Thursday, "90% of can't do is don't want to."

I suggest you watch "Inside Job" if you want to find out where the money went.

http://vimeo.com/25491676

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:53 am

I saw Inside Job and am no fan of the criminal sociopaths on Wall Street. That does not change the fact that state and local governments were collecting tax revenues based on inflated home prices during the housing bubble. Now that bubble has burst and the revenues associated with it are gone forever. Pennsylvania, like most states, has a balanced budget amendment in its constitution. It can only spend what it takes in. PA spends 40% of its revenue on education. That leaves 60% for everything else. Roads, bridges, state police, social programs, prisons, etc., etc. Those are the facts.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 3, 2012 11:34 am

The Pennsylvania Constitution also says this:

Section 14. Public School System
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.

And by the way, it also says:

Section 15. Public School Money Not Available to Sectarian Schools
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.

The problem is not the balanced budget, the problem is the corporations and banks are not contributing sufficiently to state revenues. It is unconscionable, for example, the natural gas companies are not taxed even though they exploit our resourses and do untold damage to our environment and state infrastructure.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:12 am

I see the word efficient in there. It is not efficient for the state to be giving money to school districts so they can pay 100% of their workers' healthcare. It is not efficient for the state to give money to school districts who pay teachers 96K per year and then give them a 25K bonus if they quit after ten years, like Neshaminy does. BTW the 40% I mentioned comes from the general fund. The state can spends it as it sees fit. In the real world, the state cannot spend 100% of its revenues on education for bloated salaries and benefits packages.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 4, 2012 7:08 am

By your argument, it is also not efficient to attempt to educate every child in every classroom to the exact sam standards - planning on every chill to attain college degrees and post-graduate ones is not efficient or realistic - yet that is the goal we push for daily.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 2:23 am

Who said that? Not me. Why would we, as a country, push for every child to attain a college degree? It doesn't make sense economically or practically. A nation needs college degreed people, for sure, but a nation also needs police, firemen, auto mechanics, etc., none of which require a college degree. So why burden a young person with all that debt to do a job that they don't need a degree for? The education "busineness" has become a scam for many of our young people. I don't mean that for you guys in primary education, but wouldn't you agree that some of these colleges are selling a bill of goods to collect tuition money?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:21 pm

The foreign auto companies opened up plants down south in Tennessee and Mississippi, away from union labor. The American companies stayed up north with their overpaid and overbenefited workforce, with union hacks making close to six figures for screwing in headlights. The American companies could not compete with the foreign who are paying their American workers $15/hr, which is about right for a high school grad living in a rural area. DId you see any of the foreign, mostly Japanese, auto companies file for bankruptcy? 2 out of the 3 American companies did. A direct result of the unions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:02 pm

I'll put my money on it that given a job offer between the lower paying non-union autoworker and the higher paid union autoworker job that you would pick the union one!!! That is a fact!!! Seems to me like those people who like to bash unions are hinting at major jealousy. It's not my fault you get McDonald's pay lol.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:15 pm

Amen to that!!! Who wouldn't take the higher paying union job. You do what you have to do to provide for your family!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:47 pm

Well, that's interesting, because those non union workers still have their jobs while many of the union auto workers are getting paid, drumroll, EXACTLY ZERO dollars per hour, the same that many of your union brethren will be making after the next round of teacher layoffs. LOL!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 6:45 pm

Hate to break the news to you but most of the autoworkers took "Buyouts", in fact, really nice buyouts to save the less senior union brethren. Look it up, get your facts straight, then we can have an all out discussion on union and non union. Game???? Ready to get schooled. This time use FACTS, not stuff you may believe. Actual facts, literature. Post it!! If not, game over....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:58 pm

OK. Here are the facts. The UAW would grant no concessions to the automakers. GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. The union sold out its own sons and grandsons. Many were laid off, based on seniority of course. So there was a deal made. The new hires get paid 14.95 per hour, exactly half of what the institutionalized hacks get, for the same job. Working side by side, doing the same job, the new hires get half of what the old union greedy hacks get because they wouldn't compromise. The new salary level was set by Obama's car czar to reflect what other autoworkers get paid in Japan and Germany and the south in the U.S. Those are the facts. Obama did a good job protecting taxpayers' money.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:48 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 11:15 pm

Like I said to you before-----I guess you support The Walmart CEO. Sounds like something he would say. While he lines his pockets with the big money he starves his workforce who have families and gives them a lousy $7.50 per hour to work. What a slap in the face of Americans. Vote the Union Way. Unions are for fair wages for the working family. And what is wrong with that? It's the American way!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:08 pm

The American Way is free markets and capitalism. If they don't like their pay at Walmart, they can go work somewhere else. Similarly, when the Philly teachers take their pay and benefits cuts, if they don't like it they can go work for another school district or go work in private industry. If it's private industry, I would suggest to keep it low key that you are only willing to work six hours per day, require 2 months vacation, are not willing to contribute anything to your healthcare costs and that any problems you may encounter at work can only be solved by giving you more money.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:27 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:45 pm

Some people can only find work at Walmart. Wages should be made so that every American in this country can provide for their families---end of discussion!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:15 pm

Yes. Let's end this discussion. I need to run to Walmart so I can pick up some nice cheap stuff!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 7:47 pm

Watch the 20/20 program on the 3 CEO's--Walmart's , Sams Club, and Costco. When the Walmart CEO was asked do you think you pay fair wages for a family of four like the truck driver that is employed by you---the CEO dodged, dodged, and dodged again the question and would not answer. There is a reason for that---he knows darn well that he is lining his fat pockets with the gold while paying his employees s***--slave labor is what it's called. And yes the CEO doesn't want the company to become union. Why?? So he can continue to pay these poor people $7.50 an hour. Hey I got an idea---you work there and see how you make out you idiot!!! You are a SCAB!!! in every meaning of the word. go apply at Walmart while your there!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 7:39 pm

Walmart scab!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 5:37 pm

Hey Mr. Walmart???? Here is what you support!! Read and see the one term Governor go down..........

Both Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley today defended the proposed $1.7 billion tax break for Shell Oil to build a petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania as way to bolster the state's manufacturing base.

“My whole goal is to grow good, sustaining jobs for the people of Pennsylvania, not just today but for decades to come,” Corbett said in his first public comments about the tax proposal during an appearance on a Harrisburg talk radio show today.

The 25-year tax credit was designed to seal the deal with Shell to build an ethane plant in Pennsylvania, rather than in neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia, although talks are still ongoing.

The governor's comments came as various groups lambasted the notion of doling out multi-billion tax break for one of the largest corporation's in the world, while cutting education as well as food aide, health care and other services for low income Pennsylvanians.

“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.

There you go---since your such a supporter of Corbett you may as well read this. ONE TERM GOVERNOR----Puts Gas Company over the education of children--Wow--That speaks volumes!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:31 pm

I bet that money will be better spent than the $500 Million Obama flushed down the toilet to his buddies as Solyndra!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:04 pm

Sorry nice try!! I got you with your own ammo. No contest here! Corbett is a one term Governor. All the Dems need to do is pull out huge showings in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and we get another Democrat Governor!!! As for your sentence, one could say that your George W Bush drove this economy to what it is and that is no lie!! Just the facts... Obama is trying to dig us out of this mess. George Sr. was a good President--his son GW is a loser. Best President eceomey 8 years strong was Bill Clinton and you can't argue that--that is fact.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:56 pm

Your Corbett could raise plenty of money---it's called tax the "Fracking" idiots. Watch the news specials about the people have have homes and live out there--THEY ARE DISGUSTED. The people were there first and now big business (which Republicans only care about) stomp on the little guy!!

Submitted by anon (not verified) on June 3, 2012 6:43 pm

spare us your slogans. where in the usa, pray tell, do you find true free markets and capitalism? maybe at the local flea market, but certainly not on wall street where big business is concerned. if that was the case, we would not be asked to constantly bail out banks that are "too big to fail". for them, it's more like heads we win and tails you lose. ever hear of the "greenspan put"? gamble all you want fellas, cause if and when things go south, the fed has your back. we live in a country that doesn't think twice about rigging markets all to the detriment of the poor slob who has his pension in a 401k mutual fund. this is the best country that money can buy.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:41 pm

Yes. I've heard of the Greenspan put and the Bernanke put. I hate it. I also hate the fact that Obama has ordered his attorney general, Eric Holder, not to prosecute anyone on Wall Street for the crimes committed. An interesting fact since Obama was the greatest beneficiary of Wall Street campaign contributions of any presidential candidate in history. FACT!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 5:29 pm

Both Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley today defended the proposed $1.7 billion tax break for Shell Oil to build a petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania as way to bolster the state's manufacturing base.

“My whole goal is to grow good, sustaining jobs for the people of Pennsylvania, not just today but for decades to come,” Corbett said in his first public comments about the tax proposal during an appearance on a Harrisburg talk radio show today.

The 25-year tax credit was designed to seal the deal with Shell to build an ethane plant in Pennsylvania, rather than in neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia, although talks are still ongoing.

The governor's comments came as various groups lambasted the notion of doling out multi-billion tax break for one of the largest corporation's in the world, while cutting education as well as food aide, health care and other services for low income Pennsylvanians.

“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.

There you go---since your such a supporter of Corbett you may as well read this. ONE TERM GOVERNOR----Puts Gas Company over the education of children--Wow--That speaks volumes!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:31 pm

If someone wants to be anonymous then so be it!!! Relax......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:48 am

Philadelphia teachers are paid less than most teachers in Southeast Pennsylvania. I'll be fine with pay cuts when the cost of our total compensation package is close to the average of the suburban districts. If you're looking for teacher cuts go there first, not to the poorest districts.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:12 am

No problem. The suburban teachers will be taking paycuts, too. But the days of you public union people not contributing to your healthcare are over. Times have changed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:08 am

Except we do contribute to our health care and retirement.

Next half-baked argument, please.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:40 am

In what way? $10 for a copay for a prescription? I'm talking about paying half of your premium, just like most of the taxpayers do.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:03 pm

Prescription coverage is paid for through the union.

You can't make up facts and then base your argument on them. The average percentage of premium paid by non-public employees is 16% for individual coverage and 28% for family coverage. We might pay a little less than this, but arguing that we need to pay 50% (WAY more than "most of the taxpayers do") is insane. We do pay a portion of our premium, just like we pay 7% into retirement and have to make up the difference with private supplemental retirement income.

We also get nothing for health care after retirement. And we are taxpayers, too.

The argument that we have inflated benefits might sound good, but it doesn't really work in Philadelphia. Sorry about that. I know it is one of your favorites.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:54 pm

1. You do not pay for part of your healthcare premium, but you will.

2. That 28% only applies to premiums paid. It does not acount for deductibles, which can be quite high. Alot of people nowadays have to pay the first $1500 for any healthcare issue. You will see when you are handed a new healthcare plan.

Submitted by Tara (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:11 pm

I don't know where you came up with $1500, seems so random. I can be more specific with some examples. I have three family members who all had healthcare issues in the last several months. One is dealing with a chronic illness, not life threatening, but serious enough where she was admitted to CHOP. She still has to go back for follow-up appointments. Her parents have paid nowhere near $1,500 for this. Two other family members had major surgeries and had to go to physical therapy afterwards. Again, neither has paid $1,500 for this, which includes doctor's appointments, prescriptions, rehab, etc. I am sure you can give me examples of people you know who have paid more than $1,500 for their health care issues. I can say 0% of people do not pay % $1500 and someone else can say 100% of people pay $1500. Statistics can be so misleading.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:42 pm

Except, yes, we do. Not only is there a deduction from your paycheck for a premium coshare, but if you opt out of the District's insurance they pay you aout $250 a month. That means that some of the rest of the premium coshare is built into the compensation package, but hidden rather than being a deduction.

You are like a child who breaks his toy on accident, and gets so mad that another child has a toy that isn't broken that you go over and break his toy, too.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 1:37 pm

No. Your union is like a child who wants a toy that the parents cannot afford but he won't take no for an answer, so he cries and throws a temper tantrum. The state simply does not have the money to keep the old pay and benefits packages. That is the reality of the situation. You have a school district that is going to borrow $200 Million next year for operating costs. That money has to be paid back, with interest. That is unsustainable. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained.

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 3, 2012 1:14 pm

Corbet has $700 million to build three more (for profit) prisons, the state can afford not to tax natural gas companies. As was said by Rev. Waller at the last SRC meeting "90% of can't do is don't want to."

Why aren't you complaining about tax cuts for the wealthy?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:56 pm

And what, pray tell, should we do with the criminals if we don't have enough room in existing prisons? Would you like to take them in as boarders?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:46 pm

What should we do with them??? It's called The Death Penalty. The rapists, child predators and murderers should be given the Death Penalty and make room for more losers!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:14 pm

I'm all for that, but your business acumen is showing again. It costs much more to execute someone than it does to keep them in prison for life. How do we pay for the additional expense of your plan? Another round of education funding cuts, perhaps?

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 4, 2012 7:14 am

Execution only costs more because we allow for so many appeals. If we limited those, the costs would drop. There really should be a time limit and yes, I am aware of just how many people get released based on new technology years later. Some things we just can't afford.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 3:09 am

Well I agree with you there. I think the appeals process is way out of control. I'm not a lawyer, though, so I wouldn't have a suggestion on how to fix it. As you alluded to, we have to be very, very careful about executing people. Because of DNA analysis, we are now finding people who have spent many years in prison wrongfully convicted. I still think we should err on the side of caution.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:23 pm

I'm all for that, but your business acumen is showing again. It costs much more to execute someone than it does to keep them in prison for life. How do we pay for the additional expense of your plan? Another round of education funding cuts, perhaps?

Submitted by Ken Derstine on June 3, 2012 5:27 pm

This reply is for the benefit of the audience and not the poster who obviously lost touch with their humanity a long time ago!

The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world. 748 of every 100,000 people is in prison. Countries who we think of as repressive like China don't even come close: China: 120 has per 100,000 in prison. http://chartsbin.com/view/eqq

Now, you either think that the U.S. has an exceptional number of criminally inclined people or there is something very wrong with a social system which puts so many people in cages. If you think the first reason is correct, why is this so? It all gets back to social conditions.

88,000 of U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement, many for years and some even for decades, also the highest rate in the world.
http://tinyurl.com/7vqs7hq
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/iran-hiker-sarah-shourd-soli...

Governor Corbet and the people he represents are very aware that the cuts of $1billion in education this year will lead to worsening social conditions. This is why he is building three new prisons and increased the prison budget by $871 million. By the way, them being run by private, for profit companies means they are being built for slave labor. In Pennsylvania, $8,985 is spent per student and $31,900 is spent per prisoner.

If this Anonymous is also the one who posted the comment about executing more prisoners would make room for more prisoners, that is fascism they are talking about!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 7:01 pm

Hi Ken,

Yes I agree with everything you say except for the last sentence. Personally, I believe in Capital Punishment. Especially when it involves murderers, rapists, and child predators. Why waste out taxpayers money on these scum while justice could be served and not have to shell out $31,000 per prisoner???

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 5, 2012 7:49 am

In my head, it is much worse than wasting monies. In so many cases, prisoners are treated better than the law-abiding people trying to keep it together. I will be in debt forever trying to pay off my college degree and am walking around with holes in my mouth because of the dental costs with insurance and the convicted murdered of my 16 year old unarmed brother got his teach fixed at my expense. My taxes kept him feed, medicated, dry and educated while he served a short 18 months for the murder... getting out with good behavior - well, why not behave when you have no financial worries and a little homework to do to complete your degree? How is this fair to survivors? We make prison too easy in this country. It is in many cases not a deterrent, because of the treatment inside.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:13 pm

Yes. Please quote the minister, a man who makes a living by taking money from others. Sounds familiar, eh?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 5:32 pm

Both Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley today defended the proposed $1.7 billion tax break for Shell Oil to build a petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania as way to bolster the state's manufacturing base.

“My whole goal is to grow good, sustaining jobs for the people of Pennsylvania, not just today but for decades to come,” Corbett said in his first public comments about the tax proposal during an appearance on a Harrisburg talk radio show today.

The 25-year tax credit was designed to seal the deal with Shell to build an ethane plant in Pennsylvania, rather than in neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia, although talks are still ongoing.

The governor's comments came as various groups lambasted the notion of doling out multi-billion tax break for one of the largest corporation's in the world, while cutting education as well as food aide, health care and other services for low income Pennsylvanians.

“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.

There you go---since your such a supporter of Corbett you may as well read this. ONE TERM GOVERNOR----Puts Gas Company over the education of children--Wow--That speaks volumes!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:34 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 3:24 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:14 pm

Do I sense jealusy in your tone???? I do. If you are unhappy with your situation then do something about it. Being callous and jealous is just not right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:49 am

No. What you sense is the anger of the taxpayers getting their pockets picked by public sector unions. You saw it in NJ. You saw it in WI. And now you are seeing it in PA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 12:01 pm

Please learn facts before posting. KTHXBAI

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:52 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:55 pm

Their masters degrees are a joke. So are their PhD's. Look at all the idiots running around in the teaching profession calling themselves doctor. They couldn't make it through freshman year of an engineering program.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 6:02 pm

Never heard anyone ever say a Masters or Doctorate are a joke. Doesn't matter what the Degree is in it matters if you have it!!! I know someone who has a degree in Art and is a Financial Analyst with Vanguard. All that matters is that you have the degree period!! It's funny that you bash because educators taught your sorry a** from elementary school , high school on up!!! Bottom line is people become jealous because teachers have off during the summer--your profession obviously doesn't and their benefits are better than yours. Plain and simple--so who has the better job??? I rest my case. Choke on it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 11:50 pm

1. In the financial world, Vanguard is a joke. They simply invest their clients' money in index funds. No work required.

2. You choke on this. Your union is not getting any more money from the state (taxpayers). The city is also broke so no money from there. Deal with it. Choke on that.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 8:44 am

Once again you have NO CLUE what you are talking about!! Vanguard is ranked very high for best places to work! It also very rarely lays employees off. The company is set financially for years.

I'll still have a union job--No one is running to teach in Philadelphia. Inner city schools are so much more complex to teach in than suburban schools. I can get into it and support that with facts but you are a waste of time and couldn't fathom it. Have a nice day scab!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 3:25 am

Uh. No. In the financial world,Vanguard is a joke. The average salary at Vanguard is 45K. The average salary at Goldman Sachs is 600K. Vanguard is fine for people with 300-500K to invest but for anyone with real money they are a joke.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:48 am

you continue to 'dodge' and do not respond to my comments. Can't have an intelligent conversation with you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 6:00 pm

Hey Artful "Dodger" Read about your soon to be one term Governor---WOWIE KAZOWIE!!! Tax breaks for the Gas Company over the education of children--speaks volumes!!!

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Home » Blogs » Dale Mezzacappa's blog
Amid shouting and chants, SRC adopts bare-bones budget
by Dale Mezzacappa on May 31 2012 Posted in Latest news
Photo: Bas Slabbers / for NewsWorks

The auditorium at District headquarters was packed with critics of the District budget.

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School Reform Commission

At a raucous meeting Thursday, the School Reform Commission approved a $2.5 billion operating budget for next year that relies on more than $200 million in borrowing and counts on $94 million from the city that has yet to materialize – all to maintain a minimal level of educational services.

Listen to Benjamin Herold's radio report for WHYY.

Check out a slideshow of photos from the meeting on WHYY/NewsWorks.

“We determined what was a bare-bones level of services and programs and we built a firewall around those expenditures,” said Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen at a pre-meeting briefing for reporters. “That’s why we are … borrowing to maintain the academic programming in the schools.”

Knudsen said he had no other options.

As SRC members voted yes on three budget-related resolutions, including short- and long-term capital plans, the crowd shouted them down. Pedro Ramos, Feather Houstoun and Lorene Cary were present; Joseph Dworetzky and Wendell Pritchett participated by phone.

Knudsen also disclosed that he has been unable to close a $22 million gap in this year's budget, although he said that accounting rules may yet allow for it to be technically balanced.
Chanting crowd

From the start and throughout the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, District officials got an earful from the audience.

Parents at the meeting presented the SRC with a "no confidence" petition signed by 54 parent organizations, representing 49 schools. Helen Gym of Parents United for Public Education and Delores Solomon of the Home and School Council read a roll call of the schools that signed on. Gym decried the leadership's transformation plan for focusing on organizational restructuring rather than on "finding efficiencies and savings."

“Restoring the cuts should be the number-one thing," she said.

Gym and Solomon were the first of six speakers, including Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, to address the SRC about the budget.

As the crowd cheered him on, Jordan said, "We want adequate, stable funding spent in schools and classrooms -- not millions of dollars wasted on no-bid contracts, overpaid executives and pricey consultants."

In the pre-meeting briefing, Knudsen reiterated that the budget situation left the District with few options.

“My answer to those who would say that somehow this is no confidence: I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know where else to go,” Knudsen said.

At the start of the meeting, hundreds of union members, student activists, and others packed the auditorium, drowned out speakers with loud chants of “save our schools,” and demanded that the SRC ask for more money from Harrisburg. The crowd continually interrupted the commissioners’ attempt to conduct business.

To noisy skepticism, Knudsen emphasized that adopting the 2012-13 budget did not commit the District to any long-term reorganization.

"Passing this budget is not passing the proposed five-year financial plan on which we are still taking public input," he said. "It does not in any way define the long-term future of the District's educational structure."

For most schools, the “bare-bones” budget option means no full-time nurse, fewer counselors, and unstaffed libraries. Some sports, music, art and other extra-curricular activities are also being reduced or eliminated. There is no more common planning time for teachers.

Thomas Knudsen and Penny NixonPhoto: Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks
Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen and Chief Academic Officer Penny NixonThe school budgets are "not adequate for the children we serve," said Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon. "We lack the appropriate funding to provide our students with the education they deserve."

SRC Chairman Ramos agreed that it is ugly – and will be even uglier without City Council’s action to give the District more money.

“You can look at any school’s budget and determine what’s left without the $94 million,” he said. “We’re not cutting schools further. We’ve drawn the line.”

But without making major changes, he said, the District will face a $1.1 billion cumulative deficit in five years.

Knudsen said that borrowing $218 million is possible, but more than that is doubtful.

“We have maxed out our credit card,” he said.

Already, the District spends about $261 million, more than 10 percent of the operating budget, on debt service. It is still paying off its last major borrowing for operational costs, which occurred in 2002 as part of the state takeover of the District.
Seeking more funding

In the briefing for reporters, Knudsen and Ramos reiterated that getting $94 million from City Council was crucial not only to avoiding more cuts to schools, but also to maintaining credibility with Harrisburg that the city is willing to do its share to fund education.

“It would be a catastrophic mistake politically for the School District’s prospects in Harrisburg for a long time if Council failed” to give the District more money, Ramos said.

Mayor Nutter wants to raise the money through the so-called Actual Value Initiative, which would change the way residential property is assessed by bringing tax burdens more in line with what a home is actually worth. The city’s assessment system, rarely updated, has long been out of whack.

City Council failed to pass its own budget and tax bills Thursday for next year, missing its deadline. Council was still trying to coalesce around a plan to provide the District with additional funds, which Knudsen has said is crucial to the District's ability to regain some modicum of financial stability.

Council President Darrell Clarke told the It’s Our Money blog Thursday that Council is building a consensus around giving the District more money, but hasn’t agreed yet on how to do it.

It did pass a resolution that would delay any Council action until a settlement is reached with the District's blue-collar union, District 1201 of SEIU Local 32BJ. The union is threatened with the layoffs of all its 2,700 members, starting in July. The District has said it needs to trim $50 million in costs from maintenance and transportation and has put out a request for proposals to privatize these services.

The commissioners were adamant that they were determined to present a realistic, responsible budget rather than one that relied on unrealistic revenue projections.

“We’re being asked to repeat past dysfunctional behavior, which we are not going to do,” Ramos said.
Yes or no

At the SRC meeting, Knudsen’s attempt to explain the budget was initally drowned out by shouting protesters, some of whom were demanding answers to a series of yes-or-no questions.

First, protesters noisily asked whether the SRC would ask for more money from Harrisburg.

Ramos said “yes,” but added that “the answer should also be, 'Yes, you are supporting what the mayor is proposing in local funding.'”

To a chorus of boos, Ramos said, “That explains a lot."

At the briefing, Ramos criticized "labor" for not doing its part to share in the sacrifice required to keep the District functioning.

The PFT's contract expires in August 2013, and Jordan has said that he will not reopen negotiations beforehand. The SRC must pass a 2013 budget by May, however, so must know by then if it has been able to rein in labor costs going forward.

"You can’t say it's just about kids when adults all refuse to do more or give something up," Ramos said. "We all share the circumstances in which we find ourselves. ... At some point, labor will realize that there is no silver bullet, no magic out there, and we have to work together to increase revenues over the long term."

At the end of the meeting, however, Ramos thanked people for their participation.

"I will take passion over indifference any day of the week," he said.

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Comments (134)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 17:14.

It's time to FIGHT and we'll win. No more talking, PLEASE !! Mobilize and Now !!

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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 19:37.

The SRC needs to DEMAND that the City of Philadelphia start collecting on the $472 million in unpaid property taxes that the many individuals and businesses owe! The District needs this money to educate our kids!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 10:36.

Most of that money is not realistically collectable.

But the millions that Universal owes us is.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 14:28.

The reason most of that owed money ain't goin to happen is because the slumlords are 1%ers so Nutter et al won't bother them ever. Yes, the Universal money is right there disrespecting us to our face but Nutter has Gamble's back so .............................unless WE force this all to stop, it won't---------FORCE !!

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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 19:50.

I hope everyone listened to June Bey and Cathy Roccia-Meier's passionate speeches on behalf of children with special needs. June Bey grilled the SRC and Thomas Darden on the language in the contract between the SRC and Mastery Clymer regarding students with multiple disabilities. Cathy Roccia-Meier followed up by stating that if a school would not discriminate against a child because he or she was Black, a school should not discriminate against a child because he or she has a disability. Discrimination against children with disabilities is a civil rights issue!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 20:16.

The only way that Mastery and the SRC will change is with lawsuits -- lots of them. Free and Appropriate Public Education for all -- and all means ALL.

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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 20:32.

And I mentioned that the very same thing -- that is, the threat of lawsuits -- in a comment on the post about Mastery Clymer in the Notebook. There are many frivolous lawsuits out there, of course. However, lawsuits have been very important for ensuring that children with disabilities receive a FAPE.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 20:17.

Can someone please follow the money. I think that the money stays w the charter if they are there after oct 15. So if the child comes back to the district on the 16th then the charter school keeps the money. It seems like we the citizens are just pawns in the game

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Submitted by mrsaltz (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 19:54.

Free Advice for the PFT leadership:
Youth United for Change is way better at chanting and cheering than you. And buy bigger speakers.

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Submitted by Joan Taylor on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 21:50.

Hear! Hear! I wish I could have heard the speeches delivered outside 440, but it was impossible. I am dismayed that the PFT is proving to be so lame. This would have been a chance to be heard...and they lacked the foresight/interest to make sure that they could be heard. I would have thought this was the kind of thing they knew how to pull off. Apparently not.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 20:55.

Ramos is quoted in the Inquirer:

""You can't say that you're just about education and you're just about the kids when adults all refuse to do more or give something up," Ramos said. "We all share the circumstances in which we find ourselves today and in the next few years."

Ramos also questioned the motivation of the activists who protested at the meetings.

"I think parents are often drowned out by existing adult economic interests," he said. He said that the coalition organized to oppose the budget was being funded by unions, specifically by the PFT."

Mr. Ramos - Are you taking a cut in pay / benefits from your lucrative job? Are you assuming all parents are "duped" by the PFT? Didn't you see the list of 54 schools?

Mr. Ramos - You can live in your cushy home, with your cushy job and your kids in their cushy Masterman school... How much out of pocket have you paid to work this year?

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 21:27.

Of all the cretins, Pedro is the worst because he really knows better but just doesn't care anymore. This is Corbett's fault but the SRC are following his script without any shame.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 02:11.

SRC members are NOT paid. Pedro is doing his best in a tough situation. Look at the situation he inherited and realize that tough decisions have to be made. This SRC is doing more than ANY in the past to be transparent and LISTEN, going against staff recommendations! Just ask the parents of Stanton and Sheppard.

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Submitted by tom-104 on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 06:38.

Anyone who serves on the SRC is not necessarily being altruistic. The position provides many opportunities to steer contracts to friends and associates (the previous SRC was blatant in doing this) and a track to contacts for future career opportunities. Just the way the SRC is touting the Boston Consulting Group, notorious for downsizing companies (Mitt Romney's first job was with BCG - see http://nymag.com/news/politics/mitt-romney-2011-10/index1.html), shows their main interest is business, not education.

As to Stanton and Sheppard, this is part of their tactic to appear reasonable while in fact they have a set agenda which was decided on long ago by the business and financial community. Stringing the teachers at Creighton along for awhile was part of the same game. Their public budget meetings are a sham to give the appearance of democracy while the actual decisions have already been made in private in the interests of privatizing public education.

The community has made it very clear at the SRC community meetings we want a new Superintendent who is from Philadelphia and has a background in education, not business. Let's see who the SRC is listening to!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 06:53.

Ramos has said in public that he wants to get rid of neighborhood high schools and make them charters. This was months ago. I assume they'll leave Washington, Lincoln, Northeast (maybe Fels and Frankford) because of their size. Mastery can't run a big school. Ramos will have to leave a few other neighborhood high schools because Mastery won't take all the "problem" students. So, the neighborhood high school will become a discipline school.

Ramos is very politically connected and ambitious - has been for years. This has helped him professionally - especially his law firm. Ramos can say all he wants about "high quality seats" - his aim is further segregate, track and warehouse students who don't qualify for magnets.

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Submitted by Joan Taylor on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 06:36.

They are more than complicit in their "tough situation." I am sure that many SRC members care about kids, but they care about their political connections even more. They need to take a stand for Philadelphia and resign in a body. Clearly Corbett isn't interested in public education. The SRC shouldn't be providing him with cover.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 06:52.

Of course, you are right. Corbett is a devil and they give him tacit approval by being quiet about the child killing budget.

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Submitted by Ken Derstine on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 07:33.

Not only should they resign, the SRC should be abolished. It is a colonial administration set up by the state to take away community control of OUR schools. It was supposedly set up because of a fiscal crisis in 2001. They have made the fiscal crisis much worse.

When it was set up, one of the first things attempted by the SRC was privatizing public schools by turning them over to Edison. (Edison is long gone. Where will today's charters be in ten years?) This objective has not changed.

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Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 07:59.

Thank you for restating the facts. The two points need to be reiterated over and over again. The only difference in 2012 is No Child Left Behind. (Ironically, or not, NCLB was signed a few weeks after the SDP was "taken over" by the Commonwealth of PA).

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 06:49.

Moron.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 12:17.

Nice rebuttal. When losing a debate, resort to name calling.

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Submitted by Christa Parlacoski (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:05.

I appreciate that Ramon is unpaid, but he accepted the job a Chairman of the SRC knowing what he was coming in to. He simply doesn't care to work with the teachers, parents, or community and that was made evident last night. Why should we feel sorry for him because he is unpaid? Everyone in the district was hoping that after Ackerman left and new SRC was put in place that things would get better, instead they have gotten worse.

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Submitted by A Once Pedro Admirer (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:45.

Believe me, people closest to Pedro are not amused with his behavior. He knows better and that makes it even worse. He has been a giant disappointment and he is NOT on the side of the kids, not by a long shot. Pedro has become "corporate" in every sense of the word. He's following the script of the 1%ers.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 00:25.

This is what you get for teaching poor students. You get paid less and then they tell you you're getting paid too much.

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Submitted by Meg (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 07:33.

And you must supply all basic supplies yourself. That is a pay cut no matter how you look at it. When you have to supply the writing instruments for your own classrooms and hope and beg for the paper required to track the data folders required, you have taken on a pay cut. Don't let them lie to you on this issue. Now do this without the EC hours to cover those supplies - we have accepted pay cuts for the last couple of years already.

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Submitted by Ken Derstine on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 21:36.

Most memorable quotes of the evening:

Rev. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church:
"90% of can't do is don't want to.
"You have lost our trust."

Pedro Ramos:
"Charter schools are not private schools."
(Someone should show him Diane Ravitch's recent column:
"Are charter schools public schools?" at:
http://tinyurl.com/6wkdnf9
"We have the deficit because previous administrations did what the public asked for."
(Greeted with resounding shouts of "Shame!")

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Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 21:55.

Rev. Waller was great. He was forthright and did not mince his words, especially concerning the loss of trust in the SRC. Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church did everyone in Philadelphia a great service by (a) hosting the Education Town Hall with all of the major players present and (b) producing a report, available to anyone who goes to their website, http://www.enontab.org/. It's right there on the homepage. The direct address for the report is http://enontab.org/pdf/Town_Hall_Report_3-%205-21-12.pdf. The report is well-written, insightful, and provides specific recommendations to the SRC. At the meeting tonight, Rev. Waller demanded that the SRC look at the report's recommendations.

If a church can release a report from an Education Town Hall that they hosted, then surely the BCG can release its report TO THE PUBLIC!!!

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Submitted by ConcernedRoxParents (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:26.

Thank you! I was looking for a copy of this!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 22:51.

It's time for concessions from the PFT, like having the teachers pay for half their healthcare costs just like everyone in private industry does. The city has already raised property taxes 3 times in 3 years. The taxpayers can't pay any more. The state is already spending 40% of all revenues on education, so there will be no more coming from them. We have 15 million people out of work and many more working part time because they can't find a full time job. It's time for some shared sacrifice from the unions.

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Submitted by Ken Derstine on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:03.

When is Wall Street and the financial community going to do their "shared sacrifice" since they created this mess?

http://vimeo.com/25491676

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:26.

There's plenty of blame to go around for this mess. Banks for committing fraud. The Federal Reserve for not regulating the banks. Republicans for repealing Glas Steagall. Democrats for ordering banks to lend money to people who cannot repay. Mortgage brokers for misleading people. Homeowners for lying on their mortgage applications. Homeowners for using their homes as ATM's. There were many parties involved in creating this mess and we will only get out of it through shared sacrifice.

As for Wall Street, Obama has ordered the Justice Dept. not to prosecute anyone. After all, Obama received more campaign contributions from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate in history. By the way, you have heard of the Bear Stearns collapse and Lehman collapse and Merril Lynch collapse right? Those were a lot of jobs lost up there.

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Submitted by Michele Warren (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:26.

Interesting that you posted as "Anonymous" ...."A Nation of Wusses"....you are one of them! It's not the teachers' fault that we are in this financial mess...it is poor leadership and a lack of fiscal responsibility!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:38.

Yes. The type of fiscal responsibility your union demanded in the past from politicians pandering for votes. You were perfectly willing to have them make promises to you that they couldn't keep. Now the jig is up. The trough is empty. And sacrifice you will. The taxpayers have had enough of this thuggery by public sector unions.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 00:26.

Thuggery?
Quick history lesson, you have YOUR
1. 8 hour work day,
2. a decent living wage
3. overtime pay
4. holiday pay
5. health benefits
6. vacation days (with pay)
6. sick and personal days (with pay)
8. maternity and family leave days (with pay)
9. any pension contributions/401 K contribution from your employer
10. federally enforced saftey rule and laws at your workplace laws
11. Due Process job protection

to the "Thuggery" of UNIONS. If that's thuggery, I say the more the better.

You are welcome

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 09:36.

Most professions have all of those listed in your list so your argument is null and void!! Sorry....

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 10:41.

They do now. Regardless of whether that profession is unionized, those benefits exist because unions once fought for them.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 10:10.

The unions do nothing for me except cost me money. They may have been helpful 100 years ago, but I didn't live then. Nowadays, unions do nothing for private sector workers except drive up our taxes and drive up costs for cars, telephone bills, electricity, etc. Thank God they're on their last legs.

After Wisconsin passed a law saying public employees did not have to pay union dues, the number of teachers in the union dropped from 17,000 to 6,000. It appears that many people in the unions are only there because they are forced to be.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 10:44.

PFT members are not forced to pay dues either.

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Submitted by Mark (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 11:16.

No? That money has been automatically deducted from my check for years. I can opt out?

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Submitted by Meg (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 12:21.

Yes - you can opt out, if you so choose.

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Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 14:40.

Clarification. The PFT has what is called an agency shop. All bargaining unti members, union members or not, under this provision must pay what is called "fair share" to cover the costs of administering the conract, benefits etc. If you choose not to join the union you do not lose due process rights. You do lose the rights to participate in the union (meetings, elections etc.) The financial difference between being a union member or a fair share member is small so there is little to be gained by quitting the union. In most schools people who are not union members are not respected by their fellow workers and, historically at least they are few and far between.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 16:22.

Several of my coworkers opted out of paying dues (I think they mostly started as TFA and Teaching Fellows) and I have never seen them be treated differently by other staff nor has our building rep ever treated them any differently. I pay my dues and I pay them happily but I don't think bullying others into paying dues is the right way to increase membership. $40 a month or so might not seem like much money but for some beginning teachers, it actually is. A lot of us are paying $800 a month in student loans when we first start.

My point above was simply that joining the PFT and paying dues is not actually a condition of employment-- if for some reason you got a job teaching in Philly and hated unions you would not be forced to join. An oft-used argument is that unions only survive by forced membership. If we all decided the union wasn't really working for us anymore, the PFT would collapse. That was my gist.

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Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 17:42.

And part of what I was getting at is that if someone refuses to join,or quits, the PFT they still will have to pay "fair share." I'm a supporter of a closed shop where everyone is required as a condition of employment to pay union dues. This insures the union has a steady and predictable stream of revenue and allows it to concentrate on effectively representing and servicing the membership instead of constantly working to get people to join. This option doesn't exist under Pennsylvania law for teachers but fair share does and that's good enough.

Morally the argument comes down to this. If everyone benefits from the collective effort of the unions, why shouldn't everyone pay dues or at least fair share.

I am not advocating bullying people, but I do think they should be challenged to join. When I was a building rep I tried to make sure we had and maintained 100% membership which we usuallly did. When there was someone who refused to join I didn't keep it a secret,

A union's strength depends on its collective power. I hear you about students loans, but I don't think that justifies not joining. During the two long strikes the members waged to win the things like prep time, caps on class size, and decent benefits, many people endured great sacrafices to win. That's always going to be the case. Without solidarity, without everybody pulling their weight, there is no union.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 23:23.

You hit the nail on the head Ron!! Thanks for sharing that information. Just like when I keep seeing people say we can't strike. If people would read they would know that if the SRC cancels the contract, then there is no contract and then we can strike.

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Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 14:42.

You may opt out, but must pay "fair-share" dues because you will still get health and welfare benefits. But, I believe you will not be represented fro any 204 conferences with the principal or other admins, you cannot vote for building committee, and the PFT will not have to represent you if any complaint or unsatisfactory eval is brought against you.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 12:41.

An dare stupid fro dropping out of the Union. Once you become non union your due process rights are gone.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/01/2012 - 23:20.

I guess you support The Walmart CEO. Sounds like something he would say. While he lines his pockets with the big money he starves his workforce who have families and gives them a lousy $7.50 per hour to work. What a slap in the face of Americans. Vote the Union Way. Unions are for fair wages for the working family. And what is wrong with that? It's the American way!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/02/2012 - 19:38.

Unions have gone way too far. Unions bankrupted GM, Chrysler and our entire steel industry. Now they are threatening to bankrupt our state and local governments. At the end of the day, the gov does not have the money to pay you what you want, so it won't. Period. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained. Scream and protest all you want, but the outcome wil be the same. Have a good day.

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Submitted by Frank Murphy on Sat, 06/02/2012 - 22:03.

Your assertion that the unions bankrupted GM, Chrysler and our entire steel industry is not supported by facts. That they are now threatening to bankrupt our state and local governments is also a dubious statement. Show me some evidence.

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Submitted by Ken Derstine on Sat, 06/02/2012 - 22:20.

Unions have not bankrupted private industry or the government. The auto industry went to the cheapest labor it could find in the world. Do you really think we should become a third world nation with wages of a few dollars a day? What are you ready to give up?

As for the government not having any money: we have $2 billion a week to spend on endless wars which accomplish nothing and worsen the problem they claim to solve, Governor Corbet cut education funding by $1 billions this year alone and increased funding for prisons by $700,000. It all depends what your priorities are. As Rev. Waller said at the SRC meeting Thursday, "90% of can't do is don't want to."

I suggest you watch "Inside Job" if you want to find out where the money went.

http://vimeo.com/25491676

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 11:19.

I saw Inside Job and am no fan of the criminal sociopaths on Wall Street. That does not change the fact that state and local governments were collecting tax revenues based on inflated home prices during the housing bubble. Now that bubble has burst and the revenues associated with it are gone forever. Pennsylvania, like most states, has a balanced budget amendment in its constitution. It can only spend what it takes in. PA spends 40% of its revenue on education. That leaves 60% for everything else. Roads, bridges, state police, social programs, prisons, etc., etc. Those are the facts.

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Submitted by Ken Derstine on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 11:34.

The Pennsylvania Constitution also says this:

Section 14. Public School System
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.

And by the way, it also says:

Section 15. Public School Money Not Available to Sectarian Schools
No money raised for the support of the public schools of the Commonwealth shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.

The problem is not the balanced budget, the problem is the corporations and banks are not contributing sufficiently to state revenues. It is unconscionable, for example, the natural gas companies are not taxed even though they exploit our resourses and do untold damage to our environment and state infrastructure.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 11:52.

I see the word efficient in there. It is not efficient for the state to be giving money to school districts so they can pay 100% of their workers' healthcare. It is not efficient for the state to give money to school districts who pay teachers 96K per year and then give them a 25K bonus if they quit after ten years, like Neshaminy does. BTW the 40% I mentioned comes from the general fund. The state can spends it as it sees fit. In the real world, the state cannot spend 100% of its revenues on education for bloated salaries and benefits packages.

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Submitted by Meg (not verified) on Mon, 06/04/2012 - 07:52.

By your argument, it is also not efficient to attempt to educate every child in every classroom to the exact sam standards - planning on every chill to attain college degrees and post-graduate ones is not efficient or realistic - yet that is the goal we push for daily.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/05/2012 - 02:56.

Who said that? Not me. Why would we, as a country, push for every child to attain a college degree? It doesn't make sense economically or practically. A nation needs college degreed people, for sure, but a nation also needs police, firemen, auto mechanics, etc., none of which require a college degree. So why burden a young person with all that debt to do a job that they don't need a degree for? The education "busineness" has become a scam for many of our young people. I don't mean that for you guys in primary education, but wouldn't you agree that some of these colleges are selling a bill of goods to collect tuition money?

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 15:30.

The foreign auto companies opened up plants down south in Tennessee and Mississippi, away from union labor. The American companies stayed up north with their overpaid and overbenefited workforce, with union hacks making close to six figures for screwing in headlights. The American companies could not compete with the foreign who are paying their American workers $15/hr, which is about right for a high school grad living in a rural area. DId you see any of the foreign, mostly Japanese, auto companies file for bankruptcy? 2 out of the 3 American companies did. A direct result of the unions.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 15:52.

I'll put my money on it that given a job offer between the lower paying non-union autoworker and the higher paid union autoworker job that you would pick the union one!!! That is a fact!!! Seems to me like those people who like to bash unions are hinting at major jealousy. It's not my fault you get McDonald's pay lol.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 16:06.

Amen to that!!! Who wouldn't take the higher paying union job. You do what you have to do to provide for your family!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 16:28.

Well, that's interesting, because those non union workers still have their jobs while many of the union auto workers are getting paid, drumroll, EXACTLY ZERO dollars per hour, the same that many of your union brethren will be making after the next round of teacher layoffs. LOL!!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 18:28.

Hate to break the news to you but most of the autoworkers took "Buyouts", in fact, really nice buyouts to save the less senior union brethren. Look it up, get your facts straight, then we can have an all out discussion on union and non union. Game???? Ready to get schooled. This time use FACTS, not stuff you may believe. Actual facts, literature. Post it!! If not, game over....

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 23:42.

OK. Here are the facts. The UAW would grant no concessions to the automakers. GM and Chrysler went bankrupt. The union sold out its own sons and grandsons. Many were laid off, based on seniority of course. So there was a deal made. The new hires get paid 14.95 per hour, exactly half of what the institutionalized hacks get, for the same job. Working side by side, doing the same job, the new hires get half of what the old union greedy hacks get because they wouldn't compromise. The new salary level was set by Obama's car czar to reflect what other autoworkers get paid in Japan and Germany and the south in the U.S. Those are the facts. Obama did a good job protecting taxpayers' money.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 15:58.

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 06/02/2012 - 23:23.

Like I said to you before-----I guess you support The Walmart CEO. Sounds like something he would say. While he lines his pockets with the big money he starves his workforce who have families and gives them a lousy $7.50 per hour to work. What a slap in the face of Americans. Vote the Union Way. Unions are for fair wages for the working family. And what is wrong with that? It's the American way!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 12:07.

The American Way is free markets and capitalism. If they don't like their pay at Walmart, they can go work somewhere else. Similarly, when the Philly teachers take their pay and benefits cuts, if they don't like it they can go work for another school district or go work in private industry. If it's private industry, I would suggest to keep it low key that you are only willing to work six hours per day, require 2 months vacation, are not willing to contribute anything to your healthcare costs and that any problems you may encounter at work can only be solved by giving you more money.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 15:57.

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 16:02.

Some people can only find work at Walmart. Wages should be made so that every American in this country can provide for their families---end of discussion!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 16:41.

Yes. Let's end this discussion. I need to run to Walmart so I can pick up some nice cheap stuff!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 19:02.

Watch the 20/20 program on the 3 CEO's--Walmart's , Sams Club, and Costco. When the Walmart CEO was asked do you think you pay fair wages for a family of four like the truck driver that is employed by you---the CEO dodged, dodged, and dodged again the question and would not answer. There is a reason for that---he knows darn well that he is lining his fat pockets with the gold while paying his employees s***--slave labor is what it's called. And yes the CEO doesn't want the company to become union. Why?? So he can continue to pay these poor people $7.50 an hour. Hey I got an idea---you work there and see how you make out you idiot!!! You are a SCAB!!! in every meaning of the word. go apply at Walmart while your there!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 19:03.

Walmart scab!!!

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/05/2012 - 17:59.

Hey Mr. Walmart???? Here is what you support!! Read and see the one term Governor go down..........

Both Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley today defended the proposed $1.7 billion tax break for Shell Oil to build a petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania as way to bolster the state's manufacturing base.

“My whole goal is to grow good, sustaining jobs for the people of Pennsylvania, not just today but for decades to come,” Corbett said in his first public comments about the tax proposal during an appearance on a Harrisburg talk radio show today.

The 25-year tax credit was designed to seal the deal with Shell to build an ethane plant in Pennsylvania, rather than in neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia, although talks are still ongoing.

The governor's comments came as various groups lambasted the notion of doling out multi-billion tax break for one of the largest corporation's in the world, while cutting education as well as food aide, health care and other services for low income Pennsylvanians.

“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.

There you go---since your such a supporter of Corbett you may as well read this. ONE TERM GOVERNOR----Puts Gas Company over the education of children--Wow--That speaks volumes!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 8:02 am

I agree withthe other anonymous. Your calling Vanguard a joke now? Seriously, wake up! City is broke becasue of a NON-UNION ADMINISTRATOR NAMED ARLENE ACKERMAN. Take away the $629 million dollar hole she dug and we wouldn't be talking. Go teachers!!! Go PFT!!! You earned your stripes through being well educated and having the experience to excel!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 8:08 am

Choker!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 12:15 pm

Choker

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:20 pm

Sorry but you are incorrect yet again. Look up about the history of America!!! Unions were brought about for example, coal miners in upstate Pennsylvania. The owners started taking advantage of them on a daily basis, They wanted profits and less for the worker!!! For example, coal miners worked in a mine way down deep in the earht 16 hours a day. The owners wanted more and didn;t want to give halth benefits for the miner and their family. A revolution then occurred called The Molly Maguires". Look that up and learn your f****n history before bashing. As far as teachers are concerned, Philly teachers earned their stripes. Most have Master/Doctorate Degrees in their craft and put countless hours into Professional Credits. As for the teacher pensions that everyone keeps whining about, the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck!!! Repeat----the money for their retirement comes out of their own paycheck---7.5% comes directly out of their pay and sent into their retirement. They earned it so shut up!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:48 pm

Guess what??? That Governor in Wisconsin is about to get ousted. It's called the Recall Vote!!! The Democrat will win!!! Go UNION!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 4:20 pm

We will see Tuesday. GO TAXPAYERS!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2012 6:54 pm

That's right!! We will see. You see the people aren't bowing down to that Governor!!! President Clinton (one of the best Presidents---8 yr strong economy under him) is involved. The Democrat challenger so far has the edge. Then what???

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 12:21 am

Actually, the Republican Governor has a 7 point lead in the latest poll. We'll see on Tuesday.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 4, 2012 8:30 am

What poll? Not the poll I am looking at!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:46 pm

Looks like you were dead wrong! Scott Walker and the Taxpayers won!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 6:00 pm

Guess what brainiac???? Since you are Republican and bash unions here is a little smear for ya!! Your Corbett giving $25 million in tax breaks??? Wow!! An you bash unions??? Read away......

Both Gov. Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley today defended the proposed $1.7 billion tax break for Shell Oil to build a petrochemical refinery in western Pennsylvania as way to bolster the state's manufacturing base.

“My whole goal is to grow good, sustaining jobs for the people of Pennsylvania, not just today but for decades to come,” Corbett said in his first public comments about the tax proposal during an appearance on a Harrisburg talk radio show today.

The 25-year tax credit was designed to seal the deal with Shell to build an ethane plant in Pennsylvania, rather than in neighboring states, Ohio and West Virginia, although talks are still ongoing.

The governor's comments came as various groups lambasted the notion of doling out multi-billion tax break for one of the largest corporation's in the world, while cutting education as well as food aide, health care and other services for low income Pennsylvanians.

“The governor’s proposal violates his own belief that the free market, and not government, should pick winners and losers,” said George Jugovic Jr., president of PennFuture. “Let’s be clear – by choosing to offer Shell a $1.7 billion dollar tax break while proposing to cut nearly $900 million to public education, the governor is choosing winners and losers and he has cast his lot with choosing to further help a multi-billion dollar corporation over the education of future generations of Pennsylvanians.

There you go---since your such a supporter of Corbett you may as well read this. ONE TERM GOVERNOR----Puts Gas Company over the education of children--Wow--That speaks volumes!!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 10:06 am

Just because you have been reduced to slave-like status, doesn't mean the rest of us have to. You are exactly what the Right wants. You are an angry wage-slave and you want everyone else to be just like you as well.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:16 am

BOOB !!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:46 am

Okay as long as I don't have to pay a thousand dollars per year on school supplies for my classroom that the DISTRICT should supply (like suburban districts do). Keep talking.......

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:36 am

Ramos says we have to give more. I have nothing left to give. We have to buy our own paper, pencils, libraries. We have to teach things we are not certified for. We have to help clean our own rooms. We have to accept less than all the other teachers in the Philadelphia area, and do more with it.

Stop pointing the finger at teachers, and maybe we can fix this together. You can find more $$ than is in the budget for some entire schools to pay for BCG, but we can't find the money for pencils for the PSSAs.

Something isn't adding up here, and continuously blaming the previous SRC won't cut it. I don't blame my students' previous teachers every time they don't know something.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:00 am

I so agree. I spend more every year on my classroom, only to have it declared a fire hazard by a walk through team more interested in how the students in my second grade are holding their pencils than the writing they are producing with the pencils I bought (thanks again to the staples practice that they are stopping this year of allowing teachers to get a class set of their super sales). There's another huge waste of monies - walkthrough teams that have no idea what good teaching, learning, higher-order thinking or even teamwork looks and sounds like at any grade level, but who are assigned to judge all of this in a five minute glimpse of classrooms out of their areas of training or experience.
The PSSA is a gotcha game we need to end... basic supplies need to return to the budgets and then talk to me about chipping in more for my health care.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 10:15 am

If they take a cent back from teachers, and I see a single person in this district employed as a "Walk through" anything, I will not be able to contain myself.

I have never seen anyone I have more wanted to ask "What is it you do here, again?"

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on June 3, 2012 8:29 pm

I personally would pay 100% of health insurance for life for good teachers! I want my child's teachers healthy and happy and with as an important job as they have, educating my child, I am more than willing to pay more in taxes. I do not like have my tax dollars wasted on not spent on getting quality teachers and support staff in public schools.

I am so tired of Philadelphia treating our kids like crap and part of that happens because only really dedicated to our kids stay here or really crappy teachers who can't get hired in a better district would suffer through this districts dysfunctional behavior. Why can't we have great teachers and reward them appropriately. This is my child's education we are talking about!

I am no fan of bad teachers, but I will not support the bullying of a good teacher! They are extremely important to the well being and success of our kids.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 5, 2012 2:21 pm

Good for you. If you want to pay more, just get your checkbook out and write a nice big check to the city of Philadelphia, earmarked for the school district, of course. The rest of us pay enough in taxes and we don't want to pay any more!

Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on June 5, 2012 5:53 pm

ok, I will. I also volunteer, have bought supplies like notebooks, pencils, dictionaries for students, contributed to treats for teachers, because my taxes on my house are only $300 a year, which is incredibly low. My neighbor down the street hasn't paid his taxes in 32 years, another in the past 8 years.

So if you think I pay way too much in taxes, perhaps you need to move to NJ??

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 9:36 am

yeah, speaking of supplies---Why doesn't the PFT put that in the contract about supplies??? I always wondered why the PFT never had that in any contract.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on June 1, 2012 11:14 am

They got us the $100.00. Wasn't that enough? tell me you know sarcasm when you hear it.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:43 am

Also, saying that the opposition is only from the PFT was clearly a canned response that they decided to use anyway. The no-confidence vote came straight from parents.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 6:38 am

Some PFT members are parents - like myself. Not all Philly teachers have "fled" to the suburbs!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 7:01 am

Saying the opposition is being organized by the PFT leadership ignores reality. The PFT leadership has been tepid in its response. Its method amounts to little more than a stomping of the foot and wringing of the hands. The opposition is coming from parents and the rank and file of the PFT in spite of the PFT leadership not leading.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 1, 2012 8:34 am

Yes, Parents United, Youth for Change, Phila. Student Union, etc. deserve much more credit than the PFT!

Submitted by Philly Parent (not verified) on June 1, 2012 12:40 pm

It's great that there is a dialog between concerned parties.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2012 2:44 pm

Money does not stay with charters if a student is enrolled after October 15th. In fact, the district does attendance audit and has routinely collected money from charters in the event of an overpayment or attendance discrepancy. There is a difference between private EMO's, Renaissance Charters, and stand alone public charter schools. Lumping independent charters in with the others is unfair and paints an inaccurate picture for taxpayers.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 2, 2012 10:36 pm

Independent charters need to join the fight against the scam operators, for-profit nonsense, and these bizarre Renaissance schools.

And the inaccurate picture painted for taxpayers is that charters are necessarily better and public schools can't possibly be good.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 6, 2014 4:44 am

My whole goal is to develop a good, ongoing work of Pennsylvania, not just today, but for decades, "Corbett proposals on taxes in his first public today in Harrisburg when radio talk show appearances comment said. marston rec

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