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District seeking to slash, restructure teacher compensation

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 26, 2013 08:08 PM

The School District wants teachers and other Philadelphia Federation of Teachers members to take pay cuts as high as 13 percent, work a day that is an hour longer, and then get no raises until 2017, according to documents that union officials have circulated to members and were obtained by the Notebook.

The documents are presented as summaries of the initial proposal the District has put on the table in contract negotiations, which began last week. The teachers’ contract expires this summer.

The summaries say that the District also wants union members to start contributing to their benefit costs. Both the pay cuts and the employee contributions for benefits would range from 5 percent for lower-paid employees to 13 percent for employees earning more than $55,000. In addition to the wage and benefit cuts, the District wants to eliminate the union-run Health & Welfare Fund that provides dental, prescription, and optical coverage, the documents say.

Deputy Superintendent Paul Kihn would not comment on specifics of the District's opening position in negotiations. But he said that it "should come as no surprise" that the District would be seeking wage concessions, given its fiscal picture.

"It's a really, really difficult challenge to weather this crisis and at the same time create the kind of conditions we want for teaching and teachers within Philadelphia," Kihn said.

While declining to comment on the District's negotiating stance, Kihn said that the District's "overall goal is to create ... an environment that attracts and keeps teachers as our most important employees along with principals. We’re really commited to the teaching profession and to teachers, and we're working hard to create the working conditions, educational arrangements, and experiences for teachers in schools that will value them as professionals and provide them the flexibility they need to insure student success."

PFT president Jerry Jordan begged to differ.

"In making the kinds of demands the District has made, it does not suggest that they want to treat teachers as professionals," he said. "They want to command and control what teachers do and what teachers say. We disagree with what professionalism looks like."

If the documents present an accurate picture of what the District is seeking, it would amount to a complete restructuring of the compensation system. The District proposal would virtually eliminate longevity and education level as the drivers of raises, replacing it with a system based on performance, evaluations by principals, and the superintendent's determination of overall needs.

Jordan, a veteran of negotiations with a succession of superintendents, said that "there is no evidence that I'm aware of that teacher pay-for-performance improves student achievement. Perhaps they can provide something in the negotiations to prove otherwise, but I doubt it."

On top of the pay cuts, the District would stop paying “step” raises – which are automatic based on length of service – and also eliminate the practice of paying more for advanced degrees, starting with a master's.

Instead, future raises -- starting in 2017 -- would be “performance based increases…based on evaluations from principal. Non-evaluated employees shall be eligible for an across-the-board increase in an amount to be determined,” the union documents said.

Kihn said the District's approach "is to try to make sure we have the right teachers with the right students, to make sure we can recognize and reward and keep our most effective teachers, to make sure we are able to spend our resources on the kind of support and development we know teachers value and need."

In addition, he said, the goal is "to create the space within schools so teachers can be innovative in instructional practices as individuals and collectives within schools, and make sure teachers have different career options and opportunities for growth, and do it in a way that engages teachers collaboratively to create these conditions and arrangements."

In pursuit of that goal, the District proposal would eliminate seniority in teacher assignment, a cherished union right. Instead, the document says that the District wants to eliminate seniority and voluntary transfers -- in which teachers can bid for vacancies elsewhere --  and fill all vacancies through site selection. The District proposal would get rid of maximum class-size limits, as well as take away guarantees for everything from faculty lounges to parking facilities to drinking fountains, according to the document.

District spokesman Fernando Gallard said that although there is an intent to change how teachers are assigned, the District does not intend to have employees forfeit any due process rights.

The proposal, according to the union document, would also give principals control over teacher preparation time, which at one time was a strike issue for the PFT. 

The proposal, according to the union, would also take away the bonus for National Board certification, stop reimbursing teachers for missed preparation periods, and conduct layoffs “within the parameters defined by the Superintendent.” The notice for layoffs or any other kind of termination would be seven days.

"Every time I sit at the table, there’s a new superintendent -- new plans, same kids, same city," said Jordan. "My teachers have been here, they’ve been working hard trying to improve the outcomes of the kids. I have teachers spending $2,000 a year for basic supplies. If they think these proposals are going to make teaches more professional, they’re not."

Among other things, the union document says that the District wants to eliminate from the contract any requirement that it provide sufficient learning materials for students.

The District is operating with a five-year financial plan that calls for cutting its salary costs by 16 percent in the coming year in order to make ends meet. This school year, it had to borrow $300 million just to stay afloat.

Personnel costs are by far the biggest chunk of its $2.8 billion budget. The proposal, which, according to the union’s summary, essentially eliminates most of what the PFT has managed to win over decades of bargaining, is clearly an opening salvo in what promises to be bitter negotiations.

“The battle has begun,” was the heading of the email, which was sent this week by PFT vice president of elementary schools Erik Fleming to building representatives.

The union summary outlines a separate proposal for non-teaching members of the union, which include secretaries, paraprofessionals, food service managers and others, but the bottom line is similar: heavy salary cuts, contributions toward benefits, and longer hours.

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Comments (173)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:48 pm
anyone filling out their PAreap profile yet? Mine is done.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:28 pm
It's called you go out on strike and fight!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:49 pm
440 will impose terms. The state is looking for a reason to make us strike so they can have the SRC impose terms and decertify those that do strike. The conditions are ripe. I believe they will enforce ACT 46 this time.
Submitted by Teacher (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:21 am
So let them. Fire those of us that strike. They still need teachers. I will not work under the proposed conditions for the proposed pay. I wouldn't even work under those conditions for current pay. If this is how they want to treat workers then I will be leaving the district either way so why not do it in a fight to preserve adequate working conditions? If we all fight we will not lose. If enough defect that those of us who do strike lose then I will just move on to a better paying job in an easier area. The only downside is possibly a few months of hardship in between jobs but I'm willing to deal with that for the possibility of creating a better teaching environment in Philadelphia.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:06 am
If you strike and you are decertified, you will not be able to find a teaching job in PA or any other state. 440 will impose terms and if you do not report to duty, it will be considered dereliction of duty. The only way to find out is to do a strike vote, authorize it, and see what the district's response is. If the district threatens to use 46, then it's really up in the air and a huge gamble. I don't doubt that Tomalis, Corbett, and the republicans would have any issues with holding up ACT 46. Trust me, I'll be hanging in for a while, and hoping that Jordan can negotiate some magic out of this. If not, I'm out of here.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 8:46 am

There is no magic here.   And the position that teachers can't be replaced is not supported by history.  Just ask a PATCO air traffic controller if you can find one.

But a strike can be won if:

The membership is fully mobilized

If there is a supportive public, particularly parents and students

If the labor movement is prepared to act with solidarity.

Creating these conditions over the next period should be the goal.  Chicago shows what can be done.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:41 am
LOL.. teachers can be replaced. I know this, and this is why the situation is ripe to use ACT 46. The stars are aligned this time, and I believe that a strike will not be allowed under the current political atmosphere and the synthesized financial crisis. We should strike over this, but not under threat of being decertified by the state.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:45 pm
You say you know teachers can be replaced--HOW??? The SRC is using scare tactics about being decertified and you certainly are absorbing them. You paid for and earned the certification. It is yours to have. No way the SRC will be able to find 10,000 teachers. If you believe they can than your naive.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:17 pm
Ready: https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/jbl/articles/volume5/issue3/LaRoche5U.Pa.J.Lab.&Emp.L.611(2003).pdf page 622.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 27, 2013 10:07 am
Well Said----The entire labor movement needs to be behind us. ALL unions are in jeopardy if the PFT is shown the door or made to accept unlivable wages and benefits. We'll become part of the WalMart mentality. Having said all that, they are currently posturing, of course, but they will seek to dissolve our rights if we allow them.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 2:40 pm
'tis the problem with our union membership. MOST people are extremely apathetic and they are not taking this proposal or anything related to the school district seriously. The SRC will have a hard time ignoring 15,000 people outside of 440. Chicago teachers were able to get a contract compromise by mobilizing and shutting down streets. Someone needs to light a fire under the butts of PFT members.
Submitted by Mayday (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:38 pm
Yes, exactly. As our building rep said today: "don't ask me what the PFT is doing about this...YOU are the PFT." When 45 or 50 or 100 people show up for a demonstration, the District laughs. We need 10,000 people out there, shutting 440 and Broad Street down.
Submitted by Jonathan (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:59 pm
Well said. Although, I have to say, the 13% pay cut has got all the teachers in my building talking.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:21 pm
Ron, I disagree about being able to replace teachers. The District couldn't find 100 teachers let alone 10,000. 10,000 is a lot of people to replace.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:58 pm
#1 The State cannot take your certification since you earned it and paid it!!! It's really not their call--it's called they are using scare tactics. Show me a Judge that would uphold that! #2 No way District could find 100 teachers let alone 10,000 to replace.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on February 28, 2013 12:59 am
our certs were good for 99 years and then NCLB and what?....folks who were teaching grades k-8 were now restricted to k-6 with the stroke of a pen and some tests...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:36 pm
What a naive comment! Learn your facts first!!! You can't strike while under contract, however, if the contract expires then you can!! And I'm tired of hearing 10,000 teachers can be replaced becasue they can't. Where would they get them?? The sky??
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 7:26 pm

"Learn your facts first"    Under Act 46 Philadelphia teachers were stripped of their right to strike period.   Read about the law here: https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/jbl/articles/volume5/issue3/LaRoche5U.Pa.J.Lab.&Emp.L.611(2003).pdf    

As for replacing teachers, have you ever heard the word SCAB.   When Tenple nurses went on strike two years ago the Hospital brought in hundreds of scabs overnight brought in 800 strike breakers from one of many agencies that specialize in recruting scabs.   Nurses are highly skilled and there is a shortage of them.     Teachers could be replaced with emergency certification unemployed college grads.   If you want to talk strike that's fine, just get serious and know what your talking about. 

Submitted by Christa (not verified) on February 28, 2013 3:07 pm
"Finally, and perhaps most significantly, once the district is classified as distressed, strikes by all school employees are prohibited as long as the district is under the control of the SRC.92 Even more striking is the fact that any employee who violates the no-strike clause may sacrifice his/her certification at the discretion of the Secretary of Education.93" https://www.law.upenn.edu/journals/jbl/articles/volume5/issue3/LaRoche5U.Pa.J.Lab.&Emp.L.611(2003).pdf So logic would dictate that the only way we wouldn't lose our certifications is if we appealed to Tomalis and convinced him that striking is our last resort. I find it hard to believe that he would actually pull 10,000 teacher certifications. I also truly do not believe that they would be able to find 10,000 scabs before the strike would end. The time has come for us to test the limits. We need to start soliciting support from the politicians that we help get elected. The state legislature needs to hear from as many teachers as possible. We need to fight because this whole situation is beyond demeaning. If the district is even slightly serious about this proposal then we must fight back. They are looking to treat us like sweatshop workers and not the professionals we are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:58 pm
How long were Neshaminy teachers allowed to strike?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:56 pm
I believe Phildelpehia teachers are allowed to strike for a specified number of days (and not past that legally).We also know (we were informed years ago) that it is discriminatory for Phila. to be singled out but the only way to test this aspect is to actually strike.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 11:36 pm
You are correct!! Teachers are allowed up to 21 working days to strike. For some reason, people keep commenting that they can't. They keep bringing up ACT 46, however, if the contract expires, then there is no contract, hence then you may strike. If your not under a contract, then your not under any legal obligation to adhere to rules and policies. Your free to do what you want!!!
Submitted by Allan (not verified) on February 28, 2013 7:21 pm
Whether a Philadelphia teacher is under contract or not is irrelevant in relation to Act 46. Under the provision of Act 46, Philadelphia, and only Philadelphia, is classified as a Class 1 Distressed School District. Since Philadelphia has been taken over by the State under the provisions of Act 46, the PFT has, for all intents and purposes, had all of it's bargaining power removed. The decertification of striking teachers would most likely be delayed pending the outcome of a class-action suit by PFT lawyers. I agree with those who promote a MASSIVE demonstration outside 440 that would shut down the entire area and receive NATIONAL, not just local, coverage, literally tens of thousands of people. Nothing short of that will motivate the SRC to back off their obvious intention of destroying any vestige of organized teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 3, 2013 2:07 am
Should we need to demonstrate our commitment to our students, the families, our union, and ourselves then we all must take a stance. Come September, conditions must be right for students and those that serve them to return to school. If this is not the case, then our union brothers and sisters MUST take a stance. " A rose is a rose is a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". If we are not permitted to strike, according to Act 46, then we will have a " work action " and accomplish the same result. " Those that do not stand for something will fall for anything". TAKE A STAND!!! Our country has been built on the fact that in the face of adversity, a stand was taken, i.e. Taxation Without Representation. People such as Dr. King and Rosa Parks would be proud!!! FIGHT FOR WHAT'S RIGHT!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:29 pm
When the contract expires in August then you can strike! Stand alongside your union brothers and sisters instead of running away with your tail between your legs! Your union President and Ted Kirsch striked back in the 1980's. They fought a long strike alongside thousands of their comrades. You should do the same.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:02 am
Strike for 23 teaching days. That will equate to 13% of salaries across the board. The district saves the money they want and PFT ends up with the same concessions. Make sense?
Submitted by Teacher (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:38 am
The school year needs to be 180 days for state funding.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:52 pm
So naive!!! Think Chicago. Think no way in a blue collar town teachers will lose their jobs--too many teachers to replace. The SRC couldn't even find 100 teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 9, 2013 9:57 pm
Yes, it does make sense if you were bright enough to think it through. The students aren't being taught during the strike so those 23 days will have to be made up. 180 days is mandatory. Philly has always had trouble, even in the best of times, getting enough teachers. This will only make it even harder. Teachers need to demand public trials for politicians like Nutter, Hardy, Evans, etc. who have used school funding for their own purposes. It's time to out the charter CEOS who pig out on public taxes while paying their own teacher the minimum that they can get away with. This current crisis was engineered by charters who are desperate for teachers that will stick around more than a year or two. The only way they see through their own problems is to destroy the public schools in the hopes that those teachers will accept lesser jobs at the charters. It's not going to happen.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:08 pm
I was there for that strike and it was 81 days long. It was later ruled as a lock out. Alot of friendships were lost behind that strike. During that time, SCABS were not looked upon with good thoughts. I overheard a teacher make the comment, "What do we need a union for if you are doing your job, you don't need the union." I really wanted to scream at that person and ask them are you kidding me? So, this is what we are up against within our own ranks.
Submitted by High School Teacher (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:20 pm
Also check out jobs in independent schools: http://careers.nais.org/search.cfm?src=audience
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 9, 2013 9:33 pm
Found it to be a waste of time if you want a decent wage. Too many schools wants paupers who work for peanuts.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:30 pm
Anyone else getting their resume ready? So, who would want to teach in Philly after seeing that? You might as well be looking to move to Chicago.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:32 pm
It's called you go out on strike after the contract expires and fight like your union brothers and sisters. You're throwing in the towel already????Pathetic!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:37 pm
Wow!!! Dale I just showed this blog and the article on the front page of Philly.com. I find it hard to believe the District wants to do this and then in the same sentence say they want to attract and retain teachers. This will be the biggest test of not only Jerry Jordan but the teachers in this District. To ask someone to take a pat cut after they worked 15 years in this District (or any length of time) is ridiculous. What bothers me the most is that Ackerman caused a huge $629 million dollar hole. And I blame the SRC for allowing her spending to continue. I blame the big spending on Charter Schools instead of using that money to invest in our own public schools. But like I tell my wife---If all the teachers walk after the contract expires, then there will be no one to teach. It may have to happen this time. And for those who cry about striking--there hasn't been a real teachers strike in years. This is one of those times that may call for one. Take the 10,000 out and the District will not be able to replace that many teachers. Teachers----start putting money aside now in the event a strike takes place. Have a couple of months worth of money set aside to cover your expenses.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:19 pm
I guess I'm just not the right teacher. Damn now I'll have to work half as hard for more pay in the private sector again. The district will only keep the worst teachers if this happens. Maybe that is good for the district since then they will never have to give them raises.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on March 5, 2013 10:17 am
LOL! Go for it. If you go to the private sector I would leave out your requirement of three months vacation and not paying a dime towards your healthcare costs.
Submitted by tom-104 on March 5, 2013 11:14 am
Why do you waste your time posting to a site that has people who live with the conditions you are trying to spread misinformation about when you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 9, 2013 9:57 pm
I've worked in the private sector and you have no idea of what public teachers have to put up with. I never had to pay for supplies I needed in the private sector. I got paid for anything over my regular job hours, overtime. I didn't have to deal with unruly parents, spoiled children and sneakthief principals and other cowardly administrators. Philadelphia is about to be in for a shock come Sept. You run down your public school teachers, but you do it out of ignorance. Like the old song, you don't miss your water until your well runs dry and Philadelphia you about to experience a VERY LONG DRY SPELL!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:40 pm
Well it's about time. Contract expires then strike and get what you deserve.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 10:58 pm
Hey Hite! Since if you care about the "kids", how's about you taking a 30% paycut of YOUR salary. After all, its only fair, right?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:46 am
Pass this on to Mr. Jordan. What is being spent on Administration is more than twice what is spent on Instructional Staff. The SDP needs (and can) find the savings elsewhere. Asking someone who makes 55k to take a pay cut of 13% is unconscionable. For 2010/11 FY: Administration $165,973,239.74 ; Instructional Staff $81,477,475.49 Total Instruction $1,851,889,229.12 Source: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/summaries_of_an... Go to "Expenditure Detail" under "Expenditures" Lifting the class size restriction is definitely a bad thing - there will be a lot of parent support opposing that one. The PFT does need to work out a better way to retain the conscientious, and advance the hard working than simply seniority. Yes, seniority should be rewarded; however, I have seen this status abused to the detriment of instruction. "Remove the protection" is not a solution - work something out. Whatever it is, the principals need some way to be accountable too. Put it in writing this time that if the SDP mismanages its income, the teachers will not be held liable in the form of having to take wage and benefit cuts.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:23 pm
Ms. Cheng, I definitely agree with your points about seniority. There absolutely needs to be protection for senior teachers because districts, especially more financially distressed districts, have an incentive to lay off senior teachers because they are expensive. At the same time, there needs to be a more rigorous process for achieving seniority. Two formal evaluations a year isn't enough. Evaluation from administrators needs to take place at least weekly. The principal, teacher leader, or another teacher should be observing each teacher informally, dropping into her/his class for short periods of time without warning. This is not to bully teachers, but to gain a general idea of how the teacher's classroom is functioning. How is the instructional delivery? How is the classroom management? How do the students and teacher communicate? Is the classroom inclusive/sensitive to ELLs and special education students? It would make sense for the administrators to have a rubric or checklist to use during the informal evaluations. Of course these rubrics/lists should be known to the teachers. The principal or other administrator should be taking notes and making comments. Compliment the teacher if she/he is doing a great job. At a later time, the admin gives the teacher a brief synopsis of her/his visit to the class. It's good for teachers to know how they are doing. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It's always good to have a second opinion. Frequent, informal evaluations give the admin(s) a good sense of what is happening in each classroom. The principal is responsible for the school, so he/she should know how each classroom is functioning. Also, frequent informal observations keep teachers on their toes in a good way and make students aware that administrators are present and know what's happening. It's like when you're at the office, if you see someone is walking around, you want to make sure that you're on task and not on Facebook. It's like when a teacher walks around the classroom, often times students will make sure that they are on task or at least appear to be doing their work. It's the same principle. Teachers and teachers unions need to embrace more rigorous evaluation. Most people who have sent their children to public school know of at least one teacher who isn't very good. He/she constantly screams or yells at students, doesn't do simple classroom management tasks like having students walk quietly in the hall. His/her instruction doesn't make sense to students or it's one-size-fits-all, leaving those above grade level bored and those below grade level confused and frustrated. Parents know from other parents which teachers are the best at teaching. Students know which teachers are the best at teaching. The general public is aware that there teachers who aren't very good at teaching, and therefore, should not be in the classroom because they can't do their job. Protecting teachers who don't teach well not only hurts kids but it hurts other teachers because people have less respect for teachers and teachers unions. The union should be embracing higher standards and rigorous evaluation for teaching because it is what's best for kids and what's best for teachers? Rigorous evaluation is good for teachers and teachers unions because it improves their credibility in the eyes of the public. I'm not talking about using a lot of value added measurement. VAM shouldn't make up more than 25% of any evaluation. And if VAM is in place, it needs to be more than just the PSSA. I'm talking about regular observation as well as critiques of lesson plans, IEPs, how the teacher treats students and other colleagues, student evaluations, and maybe even parent evaluations. People will support the teachers unions more when they feel that the union has an interest in promoting quality teaching, not just protecting their members. The unions do many great things to promote quality teaching. American Educator has some fantastic articles. Share My Lesson is a very useful website. The union protects the prep time of teachers, as it should, because preparation is an integral part of quality teaching. At the same time, this is the 21st Century. The importance of education has never been greater. There are numerous research-based evaluation instruments, such as the Danielson framework, that are available. There needs to be change in the personnel policies so that seniority reflects quality teaching. I want people to respect the teaching profession and know that if I'm a senior teacher, I've earned my keep. I haven't just passed and I haven't just survived. I've earned my seniority. The CASA and other unions for administrators need to be promoting the quality of their principals as well and helping these principals create an environment conducive to high quality teaching and developing authentic, democratic, positive leadership. Part of the reason that reformers have been successful is because of the teachers in the rubber rooms and the teacher that parent after parent complains is an ineffective teacher. The general public can relate enough to the horror stories of bad teachers that teachers unions have lost their credibility. At any school, the teachers know who doesn't do a very good job. Why? Because this teacher's students are loud in the hallway, they fight, the teacher is screaming. And it's not just one year because he/she has a tough class, it's year after year after year. At one school I overheard a parent complaining to a teacher about her child's teacher. This teacher, who was also the PFT rep, said to the parent, "I'm the PFT rep, I can't say anything." I totally agreed with the mother's points because I was in a classroom near to this teacher's classroom and knew that this teacher wasn't cutting it. Students were noisy in the halls every day. This teacher frequently screamed and yelled at students in a harsh tone. During lessons, I often would walk by this classroom and see kids were out of their seats, fighting in the corner. And it wasn't just this year, because other teachers said the same thing took place year after year after year. Don't tell me you're all about the kids and then keep quiet when you know that one of your members isn't cutting it. Big picture: Most teachers are good or great at what they do. Rigorous evaluation would substantiate that these teachers are good or great and that they earn their keep. The union needs to support more rigorous evaluation of teachers. This is good for kids because rigorous evaluation supports quality teaching. More rigorous evaluation will also win the union and teachers in general more credibility because the public will know that senior teachers are good at teaching and have earned their seniority. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on February 28, 2013 9:05 am
Wow EGS, what a piece- I can only briefly comment on your passionate work. Yes, if you want to know who the good teachers are, ask the children. It's very funny to me how they pass the word among themselves. I wish there was a place for them to write their opinions. The issue of seniority is complex. I am not a professional teacher so I don't feel qualified to be offering a solution, as much as I'd like to try. Suffice it to say seniority will favor a teacher who might be less motivated and less effective, over a junior teacher who is more motivated and more effective, though less experienced. That is a problem. Increasing the rigor of evaluation, does not increase the integrity with which the evaluation is carried out. That is another problem. I don't believe you should be evaluated solely by the principal. There needs to be a little bit of political separation. The principal's evaluation needs to be supplemented by a team that is not associated with the SDP. EGS, I'm phasing out my involvement in trying to help the kids. I've decided the real players are about power, not about the kids. I hope you keep your idealism. Somehow my email link for replies got disabled (there must have been some virus or other disorder), so if I don't reply to your comments, it's because I've not read the Notebook for the day.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 28, 2013 6:32 pm
Ms. Cheng, Thank you for your kind words. Children know their teachers and how they teach better than anyone because they sit in class. Ask the right questions, allow them to express their opinions, and we can learn a great deal from children. I agree that there needs to be evaluation from multiple sources, and I stated this (if not in my previous response, then elsewhere), mentioning principals, other admins, and other teachers. I'm not completely idealistic. I'm very aware of the realities involved in education, particularly with regard to education reform. I express my opinions based on idealism. I see idealism as having high expectations and a moral compass. Obviously, the world is messy, and what happens rarely squares up to ideals. For example, the ideal is that "It's all about the kids." Everyone knows that this isn't completely true. Adults have interests in what happens involving education, so nothing is every totally about the kids. The key is to try and align the interests of adults so that they match up as closely as possible with what is good for children. I'm not blind to the power issues and politics involved in education. I'm well aware of them as best I can be. I realize that power and money issues are really driving education right now. At the same time, it's important for people to speak up and challenge what rich and powerful decision-makers are doing. I'm the type of person who believes in trying, well aware that often times I will fail. I just want my voice heard and to know that I attempted to make a difference. EGS
Submitted by Teacher (not verified) on February 26, 2013 11:11 pm
I'm a teacher and as a highly qualified professional who has been teaching for a number of years I have plenty of options. There's a good chance I can get a job in a suburban district and I have a standing offer for higher pay than my current job in the private sector. I say this only to disclose that maybe job security is less of an issue for me than for my colleagues. I'm also not what I'd call a "union person". I appreciate the union at times and sometimes disagree with them. Mostly, I don't have much to do with my union. Given the egregious nature of these proposals I think it's time that I start thinking more about and respecting my union more. Maybe it's the effect of popular culture but I think of a "union person" as someone who feels labor never has enough power and always needs more money. I don't. I think I'm pretty fairly compensated and aside from a few rules that allow (bad) principals arbitrary power I think our situation is not horrible. I didn't expect a raise given the circumstances beyond possibly a slight cost-of-living adjustment but would have been fine with nothing. I also thought it was good to be flexible. Especially for myself as an elementary school teacher I know how important it can be to available for lunch duty when my other duties permit because it really is a student control issue and supervision at lunch can avoid many fights. I figured in return for pay raises we might have to pay towards our healthcare so in the future if it increased relative to pay we would have more skin in the game. Looking at the proposal, I don't even think things like termination pay at the rate when you acquired the sick day rather than at your current level is perfectly reasonable. This is all to say that I thought I was the flexible type of person who would be fine when the district presented a reasonable contract even though some of my "union colleagues" blustered and complained. This is apparently not how things will go. The district thinks it is acceptable to take away all teacher protections. They think it's okay to tell teachers they have to work whenever the district says they must. They think they can take away a decent chunk of our pay, have us pay more to health care and then ask us to work longer. They can't do any of those things. I will be out with my union protesting these efforts to trample the rights of teachers. I don't feel that I have a right to any particular pay package but I do have a right to fight for what I believe is fair. I urge all of my colleagues to start saving now so that when things get ugly--and the district is seeing to it that they will--you will have some money to fall back on. I can assure you I will not be in the classroom if my pay is cut, I'm asked to work longer, I'm told I have to work when my principal says, and I have to contribute more to my healthcare. I will not accept going backwards. You should not accept it either and you should all be prepared to fight it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 11:18 pm
Well said. Thank You
Submitted by walkaway (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:36 am
This is the time for the union to be organizing in a true way. Where is the venue for concerned citizens like me to get involved?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:02 pm
Very well said. I am also willing to make FAIR concessions, but not at the expense of my time, salary and mental well being. I would be more than willing to pay for a fair % of our healthcare. We all put in long hours after our students leave, so adding more time is a non-issue for me. I spend many of lunch periods in the cafeteria with my students as well. However, most teachers are already exhausted and frustrated. This is simply making many of us feel equally unappreciated and undervalued. I will support my union and my peers. It IS time for a change. I believe the PFT members will FINALLY be heard.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:11 pm
I agree that it's fair for PFT members to pay a higher percentage of their health care benefits. The fairest system would have higher-paid employees contributing a higher percentage and lower-paid employees contributing a lower percentage, just as the proposed cuts in salary are higher for higher-paid employees and lower for lower-paid employees.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:53 pm
If you spend your lunchtime in the cafeteria with students that's your choice, ditto for before and after school, but this should not make for different contract language for everyone else. Duty free lunch, length of day and year are all very important, unless they are bargained for. They tried this nonsense in Chicago and Rahm had to hire extra people to man after school programs just so he could have his longer day. In other words the teachers didn't allow it to happen, Don't be too quick to give up your time and benefits, don't offer more contributions and concessions and then say you feel unappreciated. There is a lot to be said for preserving what we have (which is what the district wants to take away).
Submitted by walkaway (not verified) on February 26, 2013 11:37 pm
This is awful! What is "Elimination of Red Circling"
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:29 am
If someone is late to school, their name is circled in red. I don't know if this is "elimination of red circling." Maybe they mean if you're late, your pay is docked. (I don't necessarily disagree with some repercussions for coming late. The teachers - AND principals - who come late on a regular basis should have some consequences.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:26 am
No, red circling has to do with retention of your salary: "Wherever the salary of the position to which an employee has been reassigned is lower than their previous salary, he/she shall be red circled... Effective January 1, 2001, an employee moved to a lower paid classification shall, except in cases of demotion, retain his/her former rate in his/her new classification until such time as the rate for that new classification reaches his/her red-circled rate after which he/she shall be entitled to such increases as are applicable to the classification into which he/she has moved...Should no vacancy exist in a school having the same salary classification, then the employee shall remain at the present school, red-circled at his/her current salary level, until such a vacancy exists..." Check out the contract... Red Circle Rates...
Submitted by Anonym (not verified) on February 28, 2013 2:03 am
Won't this primarily affect administrators / people at 440? If someone was a teacher and became an AP, they lose their AP position and go back to the classroom but keep their AP salary... Or, someone took a 12 month position at 440 and is back in the classroom ... They go back to a teacher's salary. This is fair. Getting paid more just because you had a job and lost it is not fair.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:31 am
I read through the "School District Proposals to the PFT." The following provisions are outrageous: - "Elimination of requiring the district to provide a sufficient number of instructional materials and textbooks." REALLY? - "Elimination of providing copy machines." Every school of which I know has a copy machine. How else are teachers going to make copies? - "Observations no longer have to be returned within five (5) days - 5 days is a reasonable time period." Why does the SDP want to remove this? - "Elimination of rooms for counselors that provide privacy and confidentiality, a telephone, file cabinet that locks, and a door." Why does the SDP want to eliminate this? All of these conditions are just common sense for a counselor to have. - "Elimination of caseload limits for counselors and requirements of one counselor in each school" Every school should have a counselor. - "Elimination of drinking fountains" Why? - "Elimination of employee lounge" Why? - "Reduced elementary lunch to 30 minutes (no longer can shorten day by fifteen minutes)" This is not enough time for lunch and recess. With regards to pay cuts, how can the SDP expect to attract good teachers by cutting their pay, especially when teachers in the SDP already make less than most surrounding districts? And there should at least be cost of living adjustments, even if there are not other salary increases. This contract proposal basically gives the superintendent the freedom to dismiss senior teachers who are typically the most expensive teachers. __________________ I also have some questions about particular proposals. - "Overtime shall no longer be distributed equitably." What does this mean? - "Elimination of PFT’s Health & Welfare Fund (dental, optical, Rx coverage through the district) – no longer will offer retirement counseling" Why do PFT members have their own H&W Fund instead of dental, optical, and Rx coverage through the District? - "Non-evaluated employees shall be eligible for an across-the-board increase in an amount to be determined." Shouldn't every employee be evaluated? - "The School District may SUBCONTRACT, OUTSOURCE, or ASSIGN Federation bargaining unit work." Can someone please explain what this means? __________________ Whose ideas are these? These sound like the ideas of someone who doesn't care about the kids in the classrooms of public schools in this city. Would anyone try to impose these types of terms on a teachers union in a wealthy suburban district? I doubt it. Education Grad Student
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:02 am
The proposal is obviously an insult and an attempt to break the union. This is the agenda of the Gates / Broad / Walton Foundations and aligned with Obama's Race to the Top (e.g. teacher ratings). The Boston Consulting Group, Scott Gordon, "Great Schools Philly," Jerry Nowak, etc. have "won." That said, this is obviously over the top. The assumption is many people will retire and they can fill positions with Teach for America 2 year "drive throughs" (thanks Geoff!). Kihn's words hollow hyperbole and the rhetoric of the education privateers. I assume when the dust settles, we (teachers and parents) will be told "oh, look at the the School District concessions!" Instead, we will have crumbs. As a parent of three kids in this District, I hope parents realize that attacking and demeaning teachers will affect your children. No limit on class size??? (except at Penn Alexander) Not guarantee of materials and copies??? (except at Penn Alexander) Elimination of case loads for counselors ??? (except at Penn Alexander) Elimination of "employee lounge" / staff room??? (except at Penn Alexander)... Charter schools will also not be immune. Salaries / benefits are suppose to be similar to the District's. Charter school teachers - your working conditions will also worsen based on "the District's contract." Charter school parents - the working conditions of your children's teachers are the learning conditions of your children! The "burn them out" charter school philosophies (Mastery, KIPP, etc.) are harming your children! A teacher can NOT learn on the job (contrary to TFA claims) and no one "has it down" in two years. I've been at this for 20+ years and am constantly learning. I do NOT want my children to have teachers who "fly in and out" every two years to "save them" from the "evil union teachers." We know the SRC / Commonwealth of PA have put the District in the financial hole. Now, staff AND Philadelphia students/ families are suppose to pay for their incompetence (or worse, intended financial destruction of the District.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:13 pm
I agree with a lot of what's above, except for the conditions part. KIPP/Mastery are in way better condition--especially for kids. One thing to keep in mind: Kids are in school all day, regardless of whether their teachers are teaching 5, 6 or 7 periods. And the extra time in school is probably good for them. It's exactly what students in the suburbs (especially high schoolers) do: They spend all day at school. Most schools, even poorly resourced ones, have more resources than anybody's house: Supervised social interactions, libraries, Internet access, etc. The vast majority of students (not just in the city, but anywhere) would just be going home to empty houses for the rest of the day, or hanging out in public. I can think of very few arguments that extra time in school, if used well (i.e. not test prep drills), hurts students. Also, your TFA comments (and name calling) are a bit misplaced. TFA teachers actually last longer in the SDP than the average new teacher from "traditional" preparation. And, more than have teach beyond two years. That's not as many as it should be and temporary teachers shouldn't be the way the District fills it staffing, but it's more than the overall teacher retention rate, including "traditional" certification teachers right now. Teachers unions aren't evil. But they do serve veteran teachers more than younger teachers, mostly through the emphasis on seniority. Especially in an era where few people, in any profession, intend to spend 25-30 years in the same job, the seniority-based system isn't very appealing to new teachers, which is part of why PFT has so much trouble getting people to rally about things--it's somewhat hard to get younger teachers to rally for the institution that insists on contract provisions that often force new teachers to bounce around the district for a few years, entirely regardless of their attachment/dedication to their school, based only on their seniority.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 10:16 pm
Anonymous, KIPP and Mastery schools are in better condition than most District schools because these charter chains are able to raise funds for renovating school buildings. Where did you read that TFA teachers last longer than new teachers from traditional programs? I'm just curious about the source of your data. In a way, it makes intuitive sense that TFA members would last longer than new teachers from traditional programs. TFA members have fewer options because there probably aren't many suburban districts that use TFA members. In other words, it's easier for a new teacher from a traditional preparation to find employment in a suburban district after a couple of years in the SDP. I also think that your point about teachers unions serving veteran teachers more than younger teachers is important. Compared to 30 or 50 years ago, people are more likely to move locations in order to pursue another career. Another fact is that teaching is that there are many more career choices for women now than there were 30 or 50 years ago. 50 years ago, especially for Black women, teaching was an excellent profession. Thus, teachers--most of whom were are still are women--were more invested in staying in the profession because they had fewer options. The Family and Medical Leave Act has only been around since 1993. Today, there are more options for women, so women may not see the necessity in teaching for 30 or more years anymore. I read a study or article about what I have described in this paragraph, but I cannot remember the name. I will search for it. Finally, I agree that the bouncing around that many younger teachers experience is not an attractive policy. This is especially true if a young teacher whose teaching is excellent has to move schools while an older colleague whose teaching is of lower quality, whose classroom management sucks, and who everyone knows isn't that good of a teacher is able to stay at the school instead of the newer teacher. It's a demoralizing situation for the younger teacher. EGS
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on February 28, 2013 2:16 am
EGS - Thank you for responding to the post. I was not up to it. The posters' claims about Teach for American (TFA) are unfounded. TFA (the organization) claims a lot of people "stay in education" when it doesn't mean classroom teaching. Look at Penn's graduate school - it is full of TFA who are getting PhDs in education. Look at administrators at KIPP and Mastery - How many are TFA? Anyway, I don't know of any evidence that TFA stay longer than traditionally certified teachers. Remember, TFA gets a lot of perks that no once else is given. For example, TFA get grants similar to City Year (even though City Year only gets a stipend - TFA gets a full salary/benefits including retirement that vested after 5 years). TFA gets a lot more support than traditionally certified teachers through their university, TFA, etc. None of this changes the purpose of TFA - to put inexperienced people in charge of a classroom for two years while the national organization works to privatize education in the U.S. I've taught for 20 years in the School District. When I started, there was no site selection and "bouncing around" was the norm. It is very different today. There are many first year teachers or teachers with a few years of experience who "site select" for magnet/special admit schools (high schools at least) who never experience teaching in a neighborhood or high needs schools. (Mastery was the exception 20 years ago - there are teachers at Mastery who have taught no where else in the District. This is now true of other schools like Bodine, Science Leadership Academy, Academy at Palumbo, etc.) Some would argue a teacher in an urban district should have to work in more than a magnet school. While I have participated in site selection for a position as well as a school hiring committee, there is still the danger of nepotism. I don't know how to avoid nepotism in this city. It isn't unique to teachers - many, many administrators have their position because of who they know versus what they have accomplished. "Bouncing around" is demoralizing to anyone - regardless of experience / age. My post was "inspired" by the over the top and insulting contract proposal from the School District. It is insulting to all staff - not just teachers. It should also insult School District parents. I can't emphasize enough - a school's condition and teachers' working conditions are students learning conditions. Even if the School District only "gets" half of what is proposed, it will be detrimental for students.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 28, 2013 5:06 am
Philly Parent and Teacher and EGS: You both are what I call "deep thinkers" in "all of this." I do so because of the quality of your posts. So as an observer and student of school governance and leadership, its social implications, its legal implications, and history, I want to share this thought with you. We have been discussing the issue of the "privatization of the American schoolhouse." But what these terms which I read above appear to be is an attempt at "the feudalization of the American schoolhouse." Explain to me the difference between what these contract terms really seek, and what is happening with the charterization of our schools -- and feudalism. It seems to me we would want to collectively move into the 21st century in our notions of school governance and leadership -- and not move backwards hundreds of years.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on February 28, 2013 6:28 am
Made a mistake - Not "Mastery" but "Masterman."
Submitted by tom-104 on February 27, 2013 6:17 am
Do you want to know where this is coming from? Read this: http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4016&section=Article
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:11 am
Thanks Ken. I want to be the first to commend you for doing such an outstanding job researching and articulating the nature of Eli Broad and his foundation. It is one of the best "scholarly works" I have read in "all of this" and I admire your unselfish dedication to our children, our community and our profession. it is an honor to have met you and come to know you. Your service to us all is greatly appreciated, and it is all done without compensation and without monetary interest. Wow.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:55 pm
Excellent, I knew about Broad and the managerial superintendents coming out of the school but wasn't aware of how far reaching it is.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 11:13 pm
Overall, it's a very good article. I do have a few devil's advocate criticisms and questions. For example, in paragraph 35, Ken mentions school closures in various cities, including Detroit. Detroit is not a good example because the 2010 Census showed that between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost over 200,000 residents (951,270 in 2000 versus 713,777 in 2010). Yes, the proliferation of charters has exacerbated the demographic issues for Detroit Public Schools. However, a loss of over 200,000 residents means that DPS was going to have to close schools, regardless of the charters. In paragraph 37, Ken mentions that vacant closed schools are "sold to real estate interests at bargain basement prices." I'd be interested to know of specific examples. Has this been the case in Philadelphia? Ken also asserts that "there is still a large amount of money unaccounted for which makes the claim of only $370 million to their "education philanthropy" since 1999, as claimed on their website, highly suspect." I would like to know of the sources indicating that the Broad Foundation has spent more than $370 million. Overall, it is a great article, revealing the motives of venture philanthropists such as Gates, Broad, and the Waltons. Another great article in a similar vein as Ken's is David Sirota's "The bait and switch of school reform" from http://www.salon.com/2011/09/12/reformmoney/. EGS
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 8:52 am

EGS

The answer to your questions is essentially that the District plans to bust the union and return to what existed before the PFT won collective bargaining rights.   Their overtime proposal means they could award overtime to favored employees.   Current practice requires it be done equitably including posting and bidding for additional work.   The Health and Weflare fund is a union administered, but District funded, entitity that provides extensive, high quality benefits.   You can be assured that the District will not only seek to administer these benefits itself but will eliminate many if not most of them.
The subcontracting language would put teachers in the same boat with private sector and many public sector workers where the District would use the threat of outsourcing to drive down wages.   This is precisely what they have been doing for years with SEIU 32BJ workers.   For example, a school could sub contract physical education programs or secretarial work to private firms.

This District's intent here is absolutely clear.   It is to eviscerate the union contract and reduce the PFT to impotence.   Every union member and every citizen who cares about the future of public education needs to stand up against this.   On March 7th the SRC, in the face of broad labor and community opposition, will vote to close 29 schools.   PFT members need to join with community allies and demand a moratorium as part of the larger battle against privatization, austerity and union busting.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:11 pm
Ron--Don't forget to mention the big Union Meeting at Girls High on March 20th. You can be sure the District will see the turnout. I hope those that never show decide to go. Every member should be there--No excuses. We have 2 children and will be there.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:54 pm
How are the health of the PFT and the future of public education related? I'm not trolling. I'd actually like to see a clear argument for the connection that address the quality of education.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 8:12 pm

"How are the health of the PFT and the future of public education related"

OK, I'll bite.

The attack on unions is coming from forces that are hostile to public education and are promoting an agenda of privatization and austerity.   Breaking them will clear the way to rapidly implement this agenda.   The Boston Consulting Group in its report, in addition to its much discussed plan for contracting out the management of the District, also called for what it characterized as "collective bargaining reform" which  the District is now pursing at the bargaining table.   

The main argument for why public education advocates should support unions is that teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.   For example, before the coming of union class size was 40.   The union gradually negotiated it down.   Prep time and relief from yard and lunch room duties enabled teachers to be better prepared and more effective.

Secondly, competitive salaries and benefits, due process, and decent working conditions, things that unions traditionally fight for, are critical to attracting and retaining teachers.   

Politically the union is a major part of the lobby that supports more funding for public education as well as other reforms.

All that said, there are issues on which unions and and some advocates don't see eye to eye and not all union members see everything the same way as well.   But, overall, there is a pretty clear correlation between unionization and the quality of public schools.   Think Mississippi versus New York.  

 

 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:04 pm
How are the health of the PFT and the future of public education related? I'm not trolling. I'd actually like to see a clear argument for the connection that address the quality of education.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:12 pm
Ron, Thank you for your response. I totally agree that the terms in the "School District Proposals to the PFT" are an attempt to bust the union. It doesn't take much reading between the lines to come to that conclusion. I have an additional question about the Health and Welfare Fund. I understand that the District wants to reduce the cost of benefits. However, why would they want to do away with vision, dental, and prescription drug benefits? Offering high-quality health care benefits is an important way for a company or organization to attract and retain the best professionals. I don't like to assume, but my guess is that the District offers the optical, dental, and RX benefits to central office employees, other non-union employees, and principals. How can the District expect to retain stable, high-quality teachers without competitive benefits? The District won't be able to retain stable, high-quality teachers at even its best schools (the ones that are least likely to become Renaissance Schools) without full health care benefits. The only answer I can come to is that the District is trying to self-destruct.... EGS
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:04 pm
EGS--The Privateers are pulling the strings and the puppets like the SRC are spewing the lies. Uncle Mike is part of it too as is Obama who has done nothing to help people of color and the working class in general. The austerity program is nothing more than a cover as they perpetrate a fraud on Philly citizens. Busting unions and livable wages is exactly what the corporations are always about. If we allow this, the inner cities will be wastelands, kinda like giant Wal Marts. ALL LABOR NEEDS TO ORGANIZE AGAINST THIS HOSTILE TAKEOVER. If the teacher's union is diminished or dissolved, other unions will be next and before too long, the corporations will have turned back the clock 100 years. DON'T THINK IT COULDN'T HAPPEN.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:19 pm
EGS--The Privateers are pulling the strings and the puppets like the SRC are spewing the lies. Uncle Mike is part of it too as is Obama who has done nothing to help people of color and the working class in general. The austerity program is nothing more than a cover as they perpetrate a fraud on Philly citizens. Busting unions and livable wages is exactly what the corporations are always about. If we allow this, the inner cities will be wastelands, kinda like giant Wal Marts. ALL LABOR NEEDS TO ORGANIZE AGAINST THIS HOSTILE TAKEOVER. If the teacher's union is diminished or dissolved, other unions will be next and before too long, the corporations will have turned back the clock 100 years. DON'T THINK IT COULDN'T HAPPEN.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:04 pm
Education grad student I love your posts, but your last statement is reflective of somebody outside the system. The answer is NO the people who draft such stuff do not care about students in any way shape or form or those that teach them. As to the overtime that's self explanatory, and if we had coverage thru the District we'd have none at all.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:01 am
this announcement is like eagles running back bryce brown carrying the ball, it may get some yardage, but it's gonna end with a fumble. the teaching profession is not over-paid and the district is not broke because of teacher salaries. this problem is about poor management and the inability to jettison lousy employees. there is nothing appealing about this proposal and it has produced a red herring. this incorrectly looks at salaries when it is more a work rules problem with the teachers. and it totally ignores the abundance of teamster principals and worthless administrators at 440. while I know that there are problems, organizationally and financially with the teachers contract, let's be serious. even of the teachers worked for nothing, the biggest problem in the district is management.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on February 27, 2013 10:55 am
Yes it's ludicrous that savings is looked for in the line item "Instructional Staff" which is less than 5% of the "Total Instruction" expenditure... 13% of this only equals 1.2 million. Try asking for 13% from "Administration" which is more than twice this - you will get 2.4 million. To put your most important asset at risk to save very little is, just "dum". It's definitely not good business practice.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:57 pm
Ms. Cheng, Where did you find the information that Instructional Staff is less than 5% of the Total Instruction expenditures? It surprises men that the cost would only be 5% because salaries and benefits are the largest expenses for any school district. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:10 am
Obviously Knudsen has been busy!
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:44 am
Look the district needs some help. But this demand is an outrage and if it is forced upon us we must strike. If we accept this without a strike we all become the impotent pussies you feared that you would end up as in your childhood nightmares, Raises based upon student performance??? Why doesn't the district just say we want to spend money on the schools with good kids and involved parents and damn the teachers and students in the rest of the system. Educational Apartheid foisted upon the district by African American leadership. Who would have thunk it??
Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:43 am
If you want to keep the best teachers, why are you making it impossible to work here? I can't justify paying money for the privilege of working for the SDP. They want to avoid layoffs by forcing a mass exodus. But where are all the teachers lined up outside 440 just dying to get in and work in this district?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 10:23 am
They will have enough teachers. They just will have little experience. They will be poorly educated. They will either have higher burnout rates or they will learn the defense mechanisms that some teachers have of learning not to care and do the minimum to not be fired. The city can go either way. It can try to pay as little as possible to teachers, get mediocre teachers, fail to retain good ones, and have a system which shortchanges the poor and causes the middle class to flee or it can adequately fund the system, try to improve its poor performing schools through building up teachers and communities and continue success in its best schools. Obviously the funding is a federal, state, and city issue. It's almost like there's a concerted effort to make the city (for families) and its schools the last resort--only for those who cannot go elsewhere.
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on February 27, 2013 10:35 am
One think that should be alarming to the public is that Paul Khin, well-paid at tax-payer expense is so utterly deceptive in his logic. How can you retain the most effective teachers by asking them to take drastic reductions in salary and benefits? Khin is also lying when he says that changes will lead to innovative teaching. I know for a fact that it takes years of careful study to teach in ways that are truly innovative, methodologically sound, culturally responsive and appropriate for helping students continuing on to high education. In many cases this means resisting district-authorized practices. There is research that suggests that it takes over 10 years for teachers to become truly effective, and that even the best require sustained professional development in order meet our student's ever-changing needs. Khin and his ilk claim that they want to "professionalize" teaching, yet they don't want to reward those who achieve advanced degrees, etc. Why do they wish to treat us with such contempt? As for those who say that some concessions are necessary, remember this: The situation has been consistently deteriorating since the REPUBLICAN-led takeover. Corbett and the SRC are responsibly for the deficits - NOT teachers. To suggest anything else is a filthy lie.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 11:05 am
The sad truth of the matter is that many teachers won't strike and if the union does strike they will cross the picket line. They can't afford to lose their certification or to lose a paycheck. Most are living paycheck to paycheck as it is, with mortgage payments, student loan payments, and a novel concept I know....food. Some of the things on the list don't bother me....i.e the longer work day, it won't make much difference to most teachers since they arrive early or stay late anyway (at least the good one's do). The teachers lounge? Most of the schools I have been in the teachers lounge's are never used. Teachers eat in their classrooms or gather as a group in another's classroom. $160/day temination pay - I think that's pretty darn good The sabbatical? If you need that Kind of time after 20 years, maybe you should just retire at that point. Now the rest of it??? IS JUST RIDICULOUS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:41 pm
Don't forget too write a few words to Arne and the Prez who are rough and ready to get Americorps" "teachers" into the mix. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is a "Republican move" only. None of this is coincidental and we'd be shortsighted to think it is.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:09 pm
Yes, Obama pandered for votes when he needed them but he's been a massive disappointment, a fraud really in my eyes. Much like Uncle Mike Nutter, he knows he has vast numbers of folks in his pocket and that ain't good. Obama has done zilch for people of color and the working class in general and all thinking people know it. He might even be a bigger fraud then Uncle Mike.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:50 pm
Obama is not pro teachers' union, but he gets their money and votes. I give him credit for many things but education is not one of them.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:05 pm
Just curious, for what do you give Obama credit??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:24 pm
As a former teacher, would our Superintendent, William Hite accept these cuts? If he were in a classroom now, would this be acceptable to him? I spend tons of money a year on supplies for my students. The irony is that parents would rather have their children come to school with a "state of the art" cell phone than the necessary supplies to function at school. Would Hite tolerate favoritism if he were the one who was not in the "in crowd"? How would Hite like to work for someone who only saw his worth in how much he was LIKED???? How can Hite say that things cannot go on the way they are for another year and justify outrageous salary increases for his staff at 440? Will their salaries be slashed as those of the teachers? I seriously doubt it. I cannot afford a 10k cut in salary, pay for health care and buy supplies for my room in order for my classroom to function. The Promise Academies are a joke and a huge waste of money! If we are talking about the "bottom line" here, then let's call it what it is! I already work over 8 hours a day PLUS WEEKENDS preparing lessons, grading papers and buying materials for my class. ENOUGH ALREADY FOLKS BE AT THE RALLY---or the whole district will end up being riddled with charter schools and populated with TFA-ers who have no teaching experience at all.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:11 pm
PLEASE stop the whining- and asking about HIte. He will never have to accept the cuts he's seeking. It's like saying why aren't Boehner and McConnell working for min wage.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 12:15 pm
The battle has begun? I dare say that Erik Fleming knew the battle had begun having facilitated so many teacher terminations through the union. The PFT record on fighting teminations of qualified teachers has been dismal of late- very disappointing to us. Why is that?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 1:03 pm
My concern is how much of this is true, and how much if PFT trying to incite fear. During the last negotiation, the PFT kept saying how much the District was going to slash, but the final contract was basically just a renewal of the prior contract. I really lost a lot of my respect for the PFT then, because I felt like I couldn't actually trust them when they claimed what the District was trying to do. The only major "concession" was Promise Academies, which actually were very good for PFT members in the schools, as it was a chance to make 20% more money. I'm sure the District is trying to get concessions. My fear is that the PFT is greatly exaggerating them, rather than having a serious debate about what's necessary to provide teachers what they need to be excellent professional educators. (Also, when the PFT starts taking serious action to enforce the provisions of the contract that require adequate supplies, etc., I'll take them more seriously when they send out e-mails like this. I've never seen the PFT lift a finger on anything besides making sure seniority was faithfully followed.)
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 2:41 pm

The PFT is reporting what the District's contract propsals are.   In a normal situation we can expect that these will be moderated substanially in the course of bargaining.   But these are not normal times.   Look at the District's 5 year budget.  5 years of draconian cuts.     Last contract was negotiated in a very different fiscal context.   What the District is proposing is, in fact, what they will seek to get, using there power under Act 46 to impose an agreement.

If the District was serious about a fair contract they would be fighting for more funding, but the only lobbying they have done in Harrisburg to get the legislature to pass a more punitive law that would allow them to bypass collective bargaining entirely.

Have no illusions.   This is bad business.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:07 pm
Bad Business indeed. For 3 years, I've been warning of this day and was scolded from pillar to post for being too extreme. "They wouldn't do that," was the common refrain over and over. Who's being too extreme now? It's way past time to start to fight back and yes, The Chicago Teachers are the gold standard from which to copy. I am still not even remotely confident with Jordan in charge and have questioned his motives face to face a number of times. Any friend of Randi Weingarten is a questionable friend of Public Ed. However, he is the President of the PFT and the only one we have so he needs to lead and we, follow. Yes, this "austere" financial climate is a cover to perpetrate a fraud on Philly Schools.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:07 pm
Bad Business indeed. For 3 years, I've been warning of this day and was scolded from pillar to post for being too extreme. "They wouldn't do that," was the common refrain over and over. Who's being too extreme now? It's way past time to start to fight back and yes, The Chicago Teachers are the gold standard from which to copy. I am still not even remotely confident with Jordan in charge and have questioned his motives face to face a number of times. Any friend of Randi Weingarten is a questionable friend of Public Ed. However, he is the President of the PFT and the only one we have so he needs to lead and we, follow. Yes, this "austere" financial climate is a cover to perpetrate a fraud on Philly Schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:13 pm
"My fear is that the PFT is greatly exaggerating them. . ." Are you serious, can't you READ. The PFT didn't make this proposal up, it was given to us by the District!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 1:31 pm
Does this really go over with anyone anymore? While declining to comment on the District's negotiating stance, Kihn said that the District's "overall goal is to create ... an environment that attracts and keeps teachers as our most important employees along with principals. We’re really commited to the teaching profession and to teachers, and we're working hard to create the working conditions, educational arrangements"...
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:50 pm
Nobody past the age of 5 believes any of that statement. By the way, Fernando Gallard's nose must be dragging on the ground from all the lies he's spewed over these many years.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 2:25 pm
Out of curiosity, how many non-teachers out there have a lounge with a water fountain in it as part of their contract?
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 3:04 pm

Before becoming a teacher I worked in an auto factory and a clothing shop, both unionized, and the facilities were much better than what I saw as a teacher.  The suggestion here that teachers are priveleged because they have a place where they can eat their lunch a talk for a few minutes with colleagues is absurd.   Perhaps the District could save money by having teachers share use the boys and girls room and congregate in the student lunchroom.  Cram your race to the bottom logic.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:50 pm
Hi Ron, Why is it that so many teachers on this blog keep posting that they can replace 10,000 teachers and impose ACT 46. Personally, I find it hard to believe that they would be able to replace that many teachers. Where would they get them from? Some teachers who complain need to make a stand. This is the real deal. And if I am correct, if the contract expires, then the teachers can strike right?
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 4:57 pm

Under Act 46 teachers cannot legally strike anytime and are subject to the loss of their certification if they do.   This District has never used its powers under this law and the union could strike and challenge the law in the court.

If there was a strike the District could try to keep schools open using administrators and scabs as they've done in the past.   If need be they could simply run schools on a reduced schedule until they could hire enough scabs.  They could suspend the school code provisions around certification and hire anyone with a college degree.   Lots of unemployed folks out there.

As I said earlier, look at the PATCO strike.   Here were stragegically placed workers with the power to shut down the country's air transporatation system.   They were confident they could win because they couldn/t be replaced.   Regan fired them all, decertified the union and Labor suffered one of the greatest defeat's in modern history.

Don't get me wrong.   I think the union needs to be prepared to strike.   But there shouldn't be any illusions about what's needed and what we are up against.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:01 pm
It wouldn't shock me to see the District offer the older, more expensive teachers a buyout of some sort similar to the 18 months paid insurance to leave. I disagree with you about their firing 10,000 teachers and getting away with it. There would be civil unrest and well deserved civil unrest as in violence. They need to be stopped and by committing that level of abuse, the folks would pick up the pitchforks and torches and come after the varmints.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 8:54 pm

Joe.   I'm not saying they will do this only that can't be ruled out.   There certailnly would be a price to pay if they followed such a course.   I hope the pitchforks and torches are kept in readiness.  

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:09 pm
My pitchforks and torches are always ready and more than willing to engage. In fact, I walk around with them just in case. Beeber has a big rally Friday to keep the school open at 3: 30.
Submitted by Ron Whitehorne on February 27, 2013 8:09 pm

I know.  I'll be there.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:57 pm
I shall also. I'll be easy to identify with the ink black and camouflage outfit and blackjacks of varying sizes.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 11:26 pm
Ron, Wouldn't it behoove the PFT to challenge ACT 46 as unconstitutional? Especially now with all that is going on? Think the PFT legal team will make the move? I think it would be a good move to make considering what's at stake. I hope they consider it and do it soon and not wait.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 28, 2013 7:43 am
Either Jordan is the fox laying in wait or the snake in the grass.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on February 28, 2013 7:30 am
The PFT has tried to challenge Act 46 several times. The courts will not hear it because "no one has yet been harmed". The provisions of Act 46 would have to be enacted on Philadelphia (teachers strike and are fired, etc...) before the courts will agree to hear it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 28, 2013 3:32 pm
Then I say we let the District implement it on the teachers then fight it in court.
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 28, 2013 5:05 pm
As Churchill said, "We shall fight in the fields and hills, and streets. We shall never surrender."
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on February 28, 2013 12:19 am
who are the older people?...if you started at 21-25 years old and have 20 -25 years in you are not OLD enough to do anything but keep on working to pay your bills, school loans for the additional education you spent time aquirien and of course if you dare have a family then they too need your salery to keep on living.................add to the fact that your bills have increased with the depression in the economy and someone wants you to take 5 to 13 percent LESS? please define older so I can decide if that student loan for my doctorate shoud or should not be paid back to SALLIE MAE
Submitted by Joe (not verified) on February 28, 2013 7:41 am
Don't be fresh, Linda!!!!! Yes, it's time to fight for our civil and yes, our human rights. In fact, it's far past time and that's why they're being so bold. We all know what bullies need and it ain't silence.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:54 pm
I have never worked in a school with a staff room AND water fountain. Most staff rooms are classrooms - nothing more. In high school and the beginning of college I worked at a grocery store. We had a staff room with a water fountain, refrigerator and space to eat. At a secretarial job I had after college, we had a very nice staff room. Why it is ridiculous to expect a school to set aside a space for people to eat lunch? We only have 30 minutes to eat - not enough time to go anywhere.
Submitted by Annony (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:15 pm
We have one working water fountain in the school. It is for all staff and students.
Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:16 pm
The contract stipulates water fountains on each floor of the school. Not in teacher lounges. I have had some pretty crappy low-paying hourly jobs. There was ALWAYS an employee break room. Breaks are mandated by federal law for all hourly employees. I guess if you have your own office, you wouldn't need that-- I wouldn't know, never had one. Out of curiosity, how many non-teachers out there are expected to make hundreds of copies a week at Kinko's out of their own pocket on their own time?
Submitted by Joan Taylor on February 27, 2013 5:35 pm
I've been in four school buildings; not one had a water fountain in the teachers' lounge. I'm delighted when the water fountains in the hall work.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:43 pm
I would never drink out of school water fountain. When I was a Gratz the line to the water machine tested off the charts for lead. District solution disconnect it but never tell all the people who drank from of the problem. No organization does that crap any more. If it were the suburbs there would outrage and testing. In Philadelphia who cares about the students and teachers. Not the SRC.
Submitted by Christa (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:39 pm
Uh you must have read something wrong...it doesn't mean drinking fountains in the teacher's lounge..it would be drinking fountains in the school building period!
Submitted by Tower (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:44 pm
I wonder how many non-teachers would NEED a lounge with a water fountain in their contract. Probably, um, none. It's the same when people complain every summer when the schools are shut down early because of the ungodly heat. These are people who work in air conditioned buildings.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:44 pm
Jerry Jordan leaked this proposal for 2 reasons: 1. To scare older and higher paid teachers into retirement and allow newer lower paid teachers to take their positions. This will save the district millions and so the remaining PFTers will not have to give back as much. 2. This sets where Jordan has to negotiate a better contract from. The goal posts now only require a chip shot to do better than the proposal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 3:57 pm
I find your comment interesting because I don't remember such specific things being publicized so early in contract negotiations.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:13 pm
Yes. Unions do this as a matter of practice. They issue a scary doomsday scenario so that it looks like they "saved" the teachers when it turns out okay. That way we all thank them and keep paying our dues. However, this time, the SDP probably does actually plan to do some of these things (though not all). I would venture that a few of the issues in the contract are the ones that the District really wants, and the rest are thrown in so that whatever emerges looks better than the worst-case scenario. I hate this system of negotiation, but it's not really either the SDP or PFT's fault. It's the American system of bargaining: you aren't negotiating in "good faith" if you don't give up things. This basically requires both sides to start from extreme positions, because if you start less extreme than the other side, when you meet in the middle (which essentially always happens), you are worse off. My biggest objection is that the PFT doesn't really do much to protect the "adequacy" parts of the contract in general, so it comes off as a little ironic to be trotting those things out there now as egregious. The conditions, with respect to supplies and facilities, in most schools are inadequate right now, but the PFT doesn't do much abou it. Those are the parts of the contract I would be very excited to support efforts to enforce, but they basically pay lipservice to them. Mess with seniority or prep time, though, and the PFT jumps on it instantly. It makes fairly clear where the PFT's core interest is: protecting the job security and benefits of teachers. If this "trickles down" to better education, great. The PFT isn't against good education. But I'm not convinced their interests are any more connected to providing a good education than the District's. If they would litigate over inadequate materials, etc., then I might have a different view.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:44 pm
I read that proposal twice and it does indeed look like an April Fool's type joke. Never has all this stuff been up for discussion (at once) in language as crude as that. Something is not right with this.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:46 pm
Since when are supplies more important than seniority, prep time, and benefits? A teacher's union does not exist to promote better education per se, it's duties are basically to serve it's members. However as we know good working condittions make for a much better teaching and working environment. The union in conjunction with the SD set class sizes and workplace condiditons which directly impact students. Basic supplies should be there, it's a shame that that clause has to BE in a contract but it does.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:34 pm
RIght. But why doesn't the PFT actively enforce this clause? I actually agree with you that the union doesn't exist to promote better education, per se. However, to get public support, the union basically claims to do so. You don't see union marches with signs that say "Striking for a larger paycheck, a longer lunch, ironclad job protection, and better benefits." All of the rhetoric around strikes, etc. implicates fighting for education because that's the only way to get public support for union tactics. I'm not arguing that teachers shouldn't get more pay, a better work schedule (I think it should be focused more on pragmatics. Your number of prep periods should be related to how much preparation you do. At the high school level, teaching 5 periods, with three different course is legal, but six period of the same class isn't, even though the former is far more work), and better conditions. The conditions of the Philly schools are a pretty bad. Teachers should probably get paid substantially more, have more resources, and better conditions. But they should also have a more consistent system of professional development (neither the SDP nor PFT does this well), feedback, coaching, and, yes, evaluation. My frustration is when the union doesn't openly admit that it's members are it's #1 concern. It uses "better education" as a way to get public support for measures that, in some cases, are mostly about a better financial/benefit deal for teachers.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 4:23 pm
With public perception (mostly faulty) of teacher's unions that exists you cannot come out anymore and say that your chief aim is representing your constutuents. For some odd reason people consider that selfish and still feel that teaching should come "from the heart" and not be seen as a profession or job with needs and standards. Teacher's unions in th past few years (and with sucess in Chicago) have sought to mobilize parents in their struggles which is a good and necessary thing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:54 pm
I agree Joe, this is the School District's idea of a sequester and it's a hysteria driven coverup for what's really going on."We have NO money, employees will have to give back, the public schools are failing, so we must remedy this awful sitiation by privatizing." (my emphasis). Don't worry though because the Walton famly and Gates Foundation will pick up the tab. This so transparent but it's also very real and snowballing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 6:24 pm
"How are the health of the PFT and the future of public education related? " >> That's a loaded question designed to disrupt.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:46 pm
The older teachers have to give notice by April 15th that is the main reason this was leaked so early. If the PFT let those older teachers continue after that date and they wanted to get out before if any of this nonsense listing of proposals actually took place then the PFT might get sued. If the PFT gets any smaller, your dues may become 2%. I wonder what the Governor promised Pedro Ramos or Ken Trujillo his law partner. We know what Sylvia Simms got. A job at Comcast. Now you know what your cable bill increases really support. Right, David Cohen?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:07 pm
Not necessarily "older" teachers, those who want to retire or resign.
Submitted by Shellie (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:16 pm
I am a PROUD Head Start teacher: a prekindergarten teacher, certified Elementary, Early Childhood, Middle Level Math, and Middle Level Science. I've worked for the district as a CERTIFIED TEACHER for more than 8 years, and many of my colleagues have done the same for 20, 30, even more years. Today, I learned that we, the PreKindergarten Head Start teachers, are proposed to be SEPARATED from the Teachers' Bargaining Unit and placed in a new bargaining unit with secretaries, non-teaching assistants, and paraprofessional staff. That being said, we would NO LONGER have the same rights as "professional teachers". I fear that, next, we will be paid as such. I am livid over all of the proposed changes, the atrocities they planning to subject my fellow teachers to. But to separate us from our colleagues, that is unacceptable. We need this information OUT THERE! PLEASE, do the research, tell everyone. SOLIDARITY!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 7:21 pm
I think that the proposed contract is so blatantly unfair and disrespectful to us all. I've been in the district for 10 years + and have multiple certifications resulting in a Masters +30. I've also been pursuing National Board Certification. I love my job and I'm passionate about urban children receiving a quality education. As it stands if I stay with the district I would take home 20,000 less and receive no bonus or reimbursement for national board certification. It seems to me that the purpose and design is to weed out the highly experienced and educated teachers in order to save payroll expenditures. What saddens me is that our students will suffer the most. Unilaterally across the country school districts value and pay for an educated teaching staff. Everyplace in America but Philadelphia. It's a disgrace. Act 46 is unconstitutional and it should be taken to the PA Supreme Court. I hope that as PFT members we will stand strong in solidarity. They are trying to privatize ,charter and subcontract all of our jobs. It's already happening within the Head Start Program with over 40% being closed and auctioned off to private providers at the end of this school year. The proposed contract also eliminates prep time for Head Start teachers and doesn't even detail termination pay rates. This is not the time to sit back and be passive. Let your voices be heard. This contract proposal is so fundamentally wrong the district and the SRC should be ashamed for proposing it.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:06 pm
Shellie, The proposed contract eliminates the prep period on Friday for Head Start teachers. I think that you are absolutely right that by seperating Head Start teachers from K-12 is totally unacceptable and demeaning. It also does not detail the termination pay rate for Head Start teachers. I'm certified in multiple areas as well and I'm alarmed at the exclusion from the main contract proposal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 8:44 pm
If you are a teacher then you are NOT a para,secretary, NTA or anything else but a teacher. This railroading has to stop. I'm curirous about the Preseident's stanceon universal Pre K as it relates to teachers. What, no outrage from the Dept of Education on moves like this? Of course not.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:00 pm
Renee Queen Jackson the Deputy Chief of Early Childhood was quoted in The Inquirer in January stating that children perform the same in day care center head start programs run by private providers. Seems to me that Head Start teachers were thrown under the bus then and now they're lumped with non professional staff. It was already written on the wall. The district can keep the 80 million dollar Head Start grant and subcontract teaching jobs to private day care providers. If it can happen to Head Start teachers it can happen to K-12 and it is already through charters and this new proposed contract.
Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:09 pm
I'm upset that so many are buying in here. The Wharton/Broad Foundation grads at 440 are much better than us at bargaining. They've decided to open with an INSANE "offer" that they know nobody will accept under any circumstances. Their goals are 1) To get as many people as possible to quit/retire and 2) To get us to accept things that are still ridiculous but comparatively better. If you have any sense at all, you will treat this as it is; an opening offer meant to lower the bar. They've just decided to go completely insane with it, because none of us have proven to have any sense.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:04 pm
I think you're right :)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:13 pm
I totally agree with this. That's why I said it looked "unreal." Very well put.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:34 pm
Bingo, Pseudonymous! You hit the nail on the head!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on February 28, 2013 2:06 pm
Sorta, kinda in a roundabout way, you are semi right. The PFT under Jordan has not proved it has any...............well, you know. PFT MEMBERS better all grow a pair and now. They want a war and they think we're as incompetent or as complicit in our own demise as Jordan. They will find out they are dead wrong because if they don't, then we are dead. I'd prefer they be dead, not we.
Submitted by g (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:31 pm
Well-teacher morale is destroyed for the remainder of the year! How incredibly insulting these proposals are! Years ago-my older teacher friends warned me not to teach in Philly. I was young and idealistic and wanted to teach in the city in which I grew up. I wanted to "make a difference". The kids are needy and often difficult-but that is not a reason to regret teaching in the city. It IS possible to make a difference.However, I so regret not listening to my friends. Who needs to spend their career being blamed for all the ills of society-treated like an incompetent,lazy,moron? NOW we don't even deserve our salary? To work so hard and to be so disrespected is intolerable. Not only do we need to strike-We need to do it NOW and refuse to negotiate AT ALL until Hite and every member of the SRC is replaced.
Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:05 pm
With regard to Jerry Jordan's comments that "My teachers have been here, they’ve been working hard trying to improve the outcomes of the kids. I have teachers spending $2,000 a year for basic supplies...," why doesn't the PFT take this seriously? Teachers shouldn't have to buy supplies, especially basic supplies like paper, pencils, crayons, etc. I can understand if a teacher buys a pocket chart or posters because the teacher can take these if she/he moves schools or goes to a different district. However, money essential supplies like paper, pencils, notebooks, erasers, and such should come from the District. Ask the parents to send it wipes and hand sanitizer and tissues. But its ridiculous that teachers have to spend so much out of pocket.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 27, 2013 9:31 pm
Are you kidding? The parents are too busy buying expensive cell phones for their kids so that they can play with them in class instead of getting a quality education. Are you kidding? Paper and materials are not important. It sickens me to have to buy these supplies and hear how "overpaid" teachers are. I work more than 8 hours a day now. Plenty of work gets taken home. The perception of education is tragic. We as a country have "lowered our standards" to a grave level.
Submitted by Linda K. (not verified) on February 28, 2013 12:48 am
AMEN!!! buy a box of colored pencils for your art room $36-$46 dollars, buy a box of majic markers [that don't have the cheap release end] $56-65 dollars, buy both even with a coupon and some reward points and you are still out of almost $100.......yet somehow you are suposed to teach 800 kids with what?....hope that all the parents have the time and money to get supplies?
Submitted by Pseudonymous (not verified) on February 28, 2013 10:34 am
I had to buy my own textbooks this year already. Soon enough, I guess they'll be expecting us to volunteer for the district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 28, 2013 11:50 am
Master Charter is already having its teachers put textbook requests for classes they are currently teaching up on Donors Coose...
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on March 2, 2013 9:57 am
Actually , Khin and Hite would have us pay for the privilege.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 28, 2013 2:37 am
The PFT is walking into a trap if it thinks it the public will support a strike. Taxpayers are fed up with the city. Look at this map- all the people who have 100% or 400% tax increases mostly to fund the school district. On top of increases over the last two years highest wage tax in the country. Yet somehow it is never enough. http://apps.axisphilly.org/avi-map/#/13/39.938/-75.160 Most of these people in red areas are social liberals. But they aren't so down with the Philly machine and its union interest group sponsors (unless they are beneficiaries). And with life-changing tax increases, most of them will vote against any candidate who wants to increase taxes even further so the PFT can continue on as is. Yes, it's not teachers fault. But it is the fault of all the city unions collectively. Police and fire who always get big raises from their sham "arbitration" process (even if Nutter is fighting the Fire). AFSCME whose work rules prevent any layoffs of an incredibly bloated city bureaucracy. The SEIU and their $80k a year bus drivers whose work rules make them 50% as productive as bus drivers almost everywhere else in the US. Philly already has sky high taxes and still multibillion pension deficits and demands by employees for more. It is never enough. Given how monolithic Philly is, and how conservative the rest of the state is, Corbett only needs to turn a small minority of these people getting the 100% plus tax increases. So even if 70% of the city supports a strike (highly doubtful), you will still guaranty Corbett's election if you make that election about your strike. Your only hope is that the SRC way overplays their hand like trying to force this offer. But if you want to stand on making no concessions and then strike you have another thing coming. Get ready to follow in Patco's footsteps.

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