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SRC listens to pleas from students, but approves stripped-down budget

By Dale Mezzacappa on May 30, 2013 05:00 PM
Photo: Amy Yeboah

Protesters rallying against "catastrophic" budget cuts gathered outside School District headquarters before the meeting of the School Reform Commission.

After listening to hours of impassioned testimony and not a few lectures from students and others that they were shirking their responsibility, the School Reform Commission adopted a stripped-down budget by a vote of 4-1 Thursday night that its own members called unconstitutional and inadequate.

The $2.39 billion operating budget eliminates nearly everything from schools except a principal and a minimal number of classroom teachers. Counselors, librarians, sports, secretaries, support staff, music and art? All gone.

Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky voted no, declaring that he was not confident that the SRC had done everything it could to avoid passing such a budget and that its passage would send a message that it was somehow doable and acceptable.

"I’m forced to consider what are components to school being a school, and this budget eviscerates ... some of the things essential to schools being school," Dworetzky said. "Wherever the line falls between a school and not a school, what's being proposed here is very close to the line."

The other commissioners voted yes, saying it was their legal obligation to pass a budget before May 31. SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos reiterated that it would be irresponsible to assume revenue that the District wasn't guaranteed while expressing hope, if not confidence, that it would get more revenue before school opens in September.

"In no public-sector budget I was ever involved in other than the School District would a public body assume revenue that hasn’t been proposed by its funders," Ramos said. "You don’t budget according to what you wish you had."

All the commissioners except Sylvia Simms commented about the budget before voting. Dworetzky, who joined the meeting via phone, said that he thought it was reasonable to assume some additional funding would be forthcoming and some savings achieved. "I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume nothing will come of requests," he said, for more money from the city and state and labor concessions.

Commissioner Feather Houstoun said she was "hopeful" that additional funding would come through, but cautioned that the grim assumptions underlying the District's budget could also potentially get worse. She said that the SRC had to avoid the "temptation" of approving a budget that assumes more revenue than it actually has. 

"Everyone is terribly unhappy with the situation we are in," she said, "and whatever any of us feel, it is nothing compared to what people in our schools and children in our schools must feel." 

Commissioner Wendell Pritchett said that he was voting yes on the budget "only because we are constitutionally mandated, not because I think it's constitutional." He said that one of his children had been involved in the protest outside District headquarters.

"We must all work together to demand that the state and city provide adequate resources," Pritchett said. "If that does not happen, we are certainly going to need to pursue many other avenues before schools open in September."

What those avenues might be is unclear. As commissioners voted, several activists who had remained for the entire four-hour SRC meeting shouted down the commissioners with words like "shame."

The budget includes more than $670 million for charter schools and $280 million for debt service -- the consequence of not just borrowing for capital expenses but interest on a $300 million loan necessary to balance the budget during the current school year. The interest on that is $22 million annually for the next 20 years.

In addition to its operating budget, the District has said it anticipates receiving roughly $430 million in grants and other funding next year, pushing its total anticipated spending to $2.8 billion. But that total figure represents about a 13 percent reduction from the current year, partly a result of sharp reductions in federal aid. 

Hundreds protested outside and inside District headquarters before and during the meeting as the SRC prepared to consider the budget that Superintendent William Hite has repeatedly described as “catastrophic” and woefully inadequate to provide what students and schools need.

Photo: Amy Yeboah


Hite said that the SRC had no choice because it is committed to only spending the money that it has in hand. He stressed, though, that he fully expected the budget to be amended after the city and the state pass their budgets at the end of June.

“This is where we find ourselves when faced with the situation that many of the revenue decisions are yet to be made,” Hite said.

Still, there has been little positive movement so far on the District’s requests for $120 million from the state and $60 million from the city. Mayor Nutter has proposed a package that would bring in $95 million more for the schools – enacting a $2-per-pack cigarette tax, increasing the liquor-by-the-drink tax, and more aggressive tax collection. But most of it requires enabling legislation from Harrisburg, which has yet to gain traction in the General Assembly. And the liquor-by-the-drink proposal did not make it out of City Council committee yesterday.

The SRC is also seeking $133 million in concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and while negotiations are ongoing, the union's contract doesn’t expire until Aug. 31.

The budget slashes school budgets to the bare basics – a principal and enough teachers to meet contractual class-size mandates, school police, custodial staff, and a smaller number of nurses. Gone are support staff, teachers for art and music, librarians, counselors, money for books and supplies, and extracurricular activities.

Hite said that, nevertheless, he remained optimistic that the budget approved Thursday would not be what sets the parameters for the next school year.

If it does, though, that would require a reduction-in-force of about 3,000 employees on top of cutbacks made to the District’s central office and school staffs over the last several years.

At the beginning of the public testimony, 4th graders at Taggart Elementary School started off a long list of speakers by begging the SRC not to eliminate their music lessons. 

Photo: Harvey Finkle

“Please don’t take away our instrumental music because it is important to us,” said Laura Grauer. “Now we will play for you to show you how much we care and how far we’ve come.”

They then played “Can Can,” drawing a standing ovation.

Nearly 60 speakers were on the agenda, most speaking about what they will lose -- not just music, but counselors, sports, noontime aides, librarians, and books. They challenged the SRC to do better.

"People are already going above and beyond," said Daphne Weinstein, a student at Central High School. "We are already doing a lot with less."

Other students, many from Science Leadership Academy, spoke of the importance of school counselors in helping them shape their futures. A few students and teachers lectured the SRC members that they were not doing their job.

“What have we done wrong as students, teachers, and counselors to be the target of these budget cuts?" asked SLA student Nikki Adeli. "My job is to be a student, and these budgets are putting my job and my learning at risk.”

SLA counselor Karina Hirshfield called the budget “unethical” and said “it does not honor the public social contract that is public education. It is tragic that children are growing up in a society with the clear message that education is not valued,” while institutions like prisons and casinos thrive in the city.

"Greasing the pipeline to poverty … that will be the outcome of this plan," she said. "You should responsibly manage the District and make policymakers adequately fund the schools." 

School nurse Eileen Duffey, her anger rising, decried the "corporate education reform movement" as destructive, "ripping this country apart." She accused the SRC and Hite, a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, of being complicit.

When her microphone was cut off, Duffey kept talking.

"We will eventually prevail against your efforts to use public money to create educational apartheid," she said, before striding out of the room to cheers from many in the crowd.

Penn Alexander and CAPA parent Terrilyn McCormick urged the SRC to oppose the budget as an act of “civil disobedience by saying no … to a budget that doesn’t give us schools,” but rather just a place where students and adults come together for several hours.

Parent and activist Helen Gym went beyond that, accusing the SRC of "frittering away" millions on charter expansion while deprioritizing its own schools.

She said that the SRC "made its point" with the doomsday budget by riling up the public. If it intends to amend the budget next month in any case, it should pass a reasonable budget now instead of triggering all the instability that will follow due to layoffs and the resultant churn of teachers, she said.

The budget, she said, is an embarrassment that "strips away the basic elements of teaching and learning" and is an "immoral act against the city of Philadelphia and its children. The vote, she said, "should be your last as a formal governing body."

In voting no, Dworetzky said that "the way charter schools are funded in Pennsylvania has been brutal" to the District.


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Comments (67)

Submitted by TeacherinPhilly (not verified) on May 30, 2013 7:35 pm
. “Now we will play for you to show you how much we care and how far we’ve come.” Moving stuff.
Submitted by Mayday (not verified) on May 30, 2013 7:46 pm
The children presenting the $158 they earned through lemonade sales broke my heart. Hope the SRC puppets and their little lamb, Hite, sleep well tonight.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 30, 2013 8:27 pm
The Notebook wouldn't post my first comment so I'll try again. Only the dopiest of the dopiest of the dopes are falling for any of this. We all know the real agenda and it's not even close.
Submitted by QuiddityRox (not verified) on May 30, 2013 7:10 pm
Nightline on ABC-TV is showcasing Strawberry Mansion on Thursday 10:00pm. I wonder if they will embarrass the SRC in this programming.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 10:13 pm
Linda Wayman stated the she volunteered to go to Strawberry Mansion we all know that is a lie and she should be ashamed of herself.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:54 am
Yes, she should but her most egregious fault is accepting a Master's while learning nothing about the English Language. A pox on St. Joe's too for issuing her that Master's.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 5:41 am
That is why she was crying in the documentary.. She is a little Ackerman, or a wanna be Ackerman. Voluntarily, yeah right, either take this or you're out. Just like every other former Assistant Superintendent, they were all removed.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 30, 2013 7:24 pm
Go ahead. Why not pass a budget that requires the teachers pay $50 a day to get into their schools?? Just as realistic as this fake piece of excrement they are passing today. These guys just like city council and mayor are fake posers. They don't care. They don't have a plan. They don't want to lay off Knudsen and all the corrupt jobs for the boyz. Best thing that can happen for Philadelphia is for this whole thing to blow up in the face of our leaders exposing their corruption and incompetence. You know what will happen next??? The people of Philadelphia will re-elect them because they are even dumber than their leaders!!! This City deserves this mess.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 8:27 pm
The PFT leadership, and the school district management don't seem upset by this budget. What do they know that will happen later? I think the state will kick in money because the charter schools don't want to take the same cuts in 14-15 that the SDP will have to take in 13-14. The charters are always a year behind. Relax people.
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on May 30, 2013 8:01 pm
It is all phony. But there ain't no sugar daddy at the end. the state is not kicking in more money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 8:05 pm
EXCUSE ME?! Were you even at the Rally and listened to Jerry Jordan and Ted Kirsch? Or did you just not understand the English Language they spoke?
Submitted by anon (not verified) on May 30, 2013 9:24 pm
Awww, you actually believe the words Jerry Jordan spews? Poor thing. Grow up.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 8:55 pm
If only we'd genuinely learn from others...
Submitted by Jennifer (not verified) on May 30, 2013 9:30 pm
if the SRC was put into place by the State than they should be first in line everyday in Harrisburg telling the Governor that they can't do the job they were hired to do! They approved Ackerman and her budget and they approved all the hires that the district did, so why aren't their feet being held to the fire. Why are the teachers and staff and students being punished? this is horrible and by the time it affects the charter schools it will be too late, because although they are a year behind us in budget cuts I rarely hear of any charter schools lamented the losses of staff like the district schools these last 3 years. Having the ability to get outside private backers gives them leeway, and the freedom to use their budgeted money anyway they like helps them. They aren't hamstung like district principals when it comes budget time and having strings attatched to every move they make.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:10 am
Jennifer--You mention strings so I will go there. The SRC have puppet strings attached to them, leading back to Corbett. Nutter is so close to Corbett that they can't tell who's in whose shoes. Yes, it is all corruption and the inner city kids and other folks, are collateral damage for the corporate types. To make matters even more egregious, is anybody out there still dumb enough to think that the charter schools will be destroyed along with the real Public ones?? They think we're dumb and weak. Are they right, Jerry??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 9:05 pm
Houston and Ramos are in power because of Corbett. They need to go to Corbett and demand adequate funding.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 9:52 pm
Despite all of my qualms and issues with my union, the PFT, I attended the rally today at 440 and watched part of the SRC meeting in the lobby, then watched the end of the meeting at home. Given the dire situation, THE TURNOUT WAS PATHETIC!!! JERRY JORDAN, for the love of God, FIRE UP THE CROWD!!! (Joe, I didn't see you with your pitchfork either....) The rally was tame. Some people were on the side having their own conversations. Someone, PULL A KAREN LEWIS AND FIRE UP THE CROWD! The crowd couldn't hold a chant for more than 10 seconds. There are communities marching around Chicago protesting school closings and this is what the PFT and Philadelphians can muster for a rally? It's PATHETIC! Was every noon-time aide at the rally? Was every secretary there? Was every building rep there? Was every school counselor there? These are rhetorical questions because I know the answer to each question was NO. Where were all the PFT members who are retiring? Now that your jobs aren't on the line, do you sit on the sidelines? Or do you go to the rally to help fire up the younger people so that they will mobilize? Do you care about public education and children or do you just care about your jobs? Not only is the District trying to get rid of senior teachers because they are more expensive, but also because many veteran teachers are more forceful members of the union. There was a nice turnout from high school students, although it would have been nice to see more students of all ages. IF YOU DIDN'T SHOW UP AT THE RALLY, THEN DON'T COMPLAIN NEXT YEAR IF THERE IS NO SCHOOL COUNSELOR, LESS NURSING SERVICES, AND LARGER CLASS SIZES! EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 30, 2013 10:21 pm
EGS, I feel the same way. I was at the rally with our building rep and another teacher (a pathetic turnout for our building.) The same few attend most of the rallies. The others always seems to have something else to do. Our union needs to become more relevant. Like others, I'm waiting for our own 'Karen Lewis.' I hope that s/he reveals her/himself soon, before it's too late.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 11:31 pm
Anonymous, My building rep wasn't even there. I didn't see anyone else from my building there and I was looking for people. Hardly anyone was talking about the rally at school today. There were no posters or anything to inform/remind students or parents. At my school, it was just another day at the office, as they say. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 7:47 am
EGS is right.
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on May 30, 2013 10:01 pm
EGS: I have twenty years of teaching experience and have attended many PFT rallies during that time. I could not not attend this gathering because I have a well attended after-school club involving multiple grants and partners. I made a choice to stay at school, yet reserve the right to "complain" next year and the year after after that. Please make a better effort to mind your manners. It is getting tiresome. You need to talk less and listen more.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 8:37 am
I think that EGS is right. Too many PFT members made the wrong decision and opted not to attend. How exactly do you think your after school program will run next year in a school without any resources or adequate staffing?
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:19 am
Maybe there weren't enough people, but some of us made a tough choice. I'm sure that my program will not run without funding or resources, but I still chose to help my students meet established deadlines. My point is that I don't need EGS to disparage everyone who could not attend the rally. It is judgmental and counterproductive.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 31, 2013 5:51 pm
Geoffrey, I apologize because my comment was not nuanced enough. There certainly are PFT members like yourself who are active and who had legitimate reasons to miss the rally. You put your students first, as you should, and I apologize that you felt I disparaged. I was frustrated and let it get the best of me, and didn't think through what I was saying. That said, this was a major event and PFT members needed to SHOW UP. It's a couple of hours out of an afternoon. I understand that some members have been showing up for meetings for months which were related to school closings and have put a lot of time into fighting the school closures. At the same time, this is an event that's been on the calendar for a while. I hear people in my building talk about how they feel beat down, they don't have enough support, the charter schools are getting all of the money, they don't have enough supplies, and so on. Yet, when it comes time to show up, those who are ABLE to show up at the rally don't show up. This is one of, if not the most important PFT rally of the year and yet the turnout was what it was yesterday? That's my frustration. I just don't get it. For those who could show up and didn't, if the threat of having nothing but the principal, teachers, the custodians, and the people in charge of lunch doesn't motivate you to rally, what will? EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:19 am
EGS, I agree with Geoffrey. I have been a teacher in the district for 5 years and I am out in the picket line at my school and have worn my red shirt every Friday, and follow all of the problems with public schools being starved so that charter schools can make money for the cronies in government and their friends. I was unable to attend yesterday because of my kid's baseball game. If you had children maybe you would understand that you cherish every opportunity to support them in their endeavours. I reserve the right to complain until the cows come home or we get proper funding for our public schools in philly (I think the cows will come home first.) The Notebook is all about people expressing their views so pipe it down a notch!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 1, 2013 3:34 pm
Maybe you should protest phillys legislative delegation who oppose giving the city powers to collect taxes. Apparently protecting deadbeat voters who pay no taxes is more important than funding schools. These are the same people your union funds btw. Why should anyone in the rest of the state send a dime if that is our legislators priority.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:20 am
EGS, I agree with Geoffrey. I have been a teacher in the district for 5 years and I am out in the picket line at my school and have worn my red shirt every Friday, and follow all of the problems with public schools being starved so that charter schools can make money for the cronies in government and their friends. I was unable to attend yesterday because of my kid's baseball game. If you had children maybe you would understand that you cherish every opportunity to support them in their endeavours. I reserve the right to complain until the cows come home or we get proper funding for our public schools in philly (I think the cows will come home first.) The Notebook is all about people expressing their views so pipe it down a notch!
Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on May 30, 2013 11:44 pm
lol...wait, pull a Karen Lewis and fire up the crowd?? Do I really do that? Or is a reference to a term I am not familiar with?? Or how did you know I was a cheerleader back in the day? Sorry, just as I was reading this, I was like what EGS?? But Ms. Gym was on point as usual!! Thank you Ms Gym, on behalf of my son and my students!
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 11:26 pm
MBA to M'Ed, I'm not sure if you understood my point, but by "pull a Karen Lewis" I meant that someone (e.g., Jerry Jordan) should fire up the crowd and get everyone engaged in the protest. I've seen footage of some of her speeches and she's fiery. We need more of that. Helen was great, as usual. She spoke at the beginning, though. I felt like her firepower would have been great to have at or near the end of the rally when there were more people. EGS
Submitted by MBA to M'Ed mom (not verified) on May 30, 2013 11:32 pm
: ) I did EGS, it just so happens that is also my, and after googling your comment, I realized you might have been referring to the Karen Lewis who is president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and is a bit outspoken?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 11:39 pm
I picked up on what you were saying too. :)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 12:02 am
I was there wondering the same thing.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:03 am
I was there too. I look like Johnny Depp, only more handsome. I was the one wearing the pirate hat. Yes, Jerry is..............well, you already know.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:38 am
I think he was pulling something but not a Karen Lewis.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 5:59 am
EGS. Do you go home to a family? Are you responsible for cooking dinner, helping with homework, or changing diapers? Do you work a second job to pay back student loans or maintain a mortgage? I didn't go yesterday because I choose to invest my time in a interview to get out of this hell hole. Then I went home to cook dinner, do hw etc... I agree the union is weak but the fact that it needs to be strong is the problem. I have to fight to be respected and treated fairly? I have to fight to prove that other kids deserve basic education? i have to fight to educate the parents who dont seem to care that their future is being ruined? i have to fight public perception that teachers are lazy with bloated salaries? i have to fight to convince harrisburg to tie school funding to lung cancer? (absurd in my mind..."sorry kids, since weve done a good job educating you on the dangers of smoking and less of you do, we cant teach you art or music anymore. If you want to run track, go tell your froends to light up"). I have to fight for all this while I'm fighting for my own family too? Maybe I'm ignorant but I have no interest in that for the next 30 years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:03 am
If you characterize where you work as a hell hole I think its a great idea that you are seeking other employment. All these excuses are sooooooo pathetic. Everyone has a life and commitments. For all of you that EGS struck a nerve with I say good.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 11:21 am
You are absolutley right and so I'm making the effort to leave. In the meantime I'm at work at 7am and still pouring my heart, soul, and money into the kids because they are not the problem. The adults are. Colleagues included. 3 buildings in 3 years and not one building rep ever introduced themselves or shook my hand. Calls to PFT are met with attitude, or no return calls. The PFT has not done anything to make me better or more secure at my job. These aren't excuses and I'm doing right by my kids (yes I'm on prep right now). I came to this career because I love working with kids and all I seem to do is fight adults. I wish I wasn't looking to leave and I hope this whole nation can reprioritize and fix these injustices. In the meantime I need to do right by my family and will continue to support education through volunteer efforts. I appreciate your judgement and concern
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 7:33 am
The worst part of the evening for me was watching the SRC members actually clap for the music students. Lisa Haver
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 8:07 am
The best/worst part of the evening for me was watching the universal and mastery proponents verbally fight with each other with complaints of corruption on each side over schools in grays ferry. The traditional public school advocates got to watch. Of course the SRC did not know how to control the mess. This is going to get very interesting, but not in a good way. And when all the players tire, and it occurs to the players to take their ball and go home, there will be no public school system to go home to. And then we start over again....
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 9:02 pm
Dale, I have a question about the title of this article. The title is "SRC listens to pleas from students, but approves stripped-down budget," yet the SRC didn't approve the budget until 8:30-ish. The time of posting of this article was 6 pm. Can you explain why ehe articles's title suggests that the SRC had approved the budget at the time that you posted the article even though you wrote the article before they approved the budget? Thanks. EGS
Submitted by TeacherinPhilly (not verified) on May 30, 2013 10:03 pm
The article was first posted at 6 but was continuously updated.
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on May 30, 2013 10:12 pm
The headline is misleading. "To listen" indicates one has paid attention and/or given thoughtful attention. The SRC, other than Dworetsky, might have heard the students' pleas but they did not listen. The SRC members are appointed by the Mayor and Governor - they should be using their appointments to ensure fully funded School District schools. Instead, Ramos rambles excuses, Houstoun parrots "yes" and Prichett guzzles water and reminds us that he is a lawyer. Under the Ramos regime, charter "seats" have expanded exponentially while he sanctioned the Boston Consulting Group/Philadelphia School Partnership take over of the District. No, the SRC (other than Dworetsky) did not "listen." They did the opposite - they ignored and disregarded the students, families, staff and communities that asked them to listen.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 30, 2013 11:39 pm
PPT, I hear you! Ramos went on his little rant at the end, talking about how the budget was a mess under the previous SRC and the previous administration. Blah blah blah. The SRC under his watch has not played enough hardball with the charters. The SRC knew what was coming last year, yet still approved charter expansion and big contracts. Had the SRC not approved charter expansion last year, they wouldn't have had to borrow $300 million for this year and pay $20 million each year for the next 20 (?) years to pay off that loan. He's pathetic. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous on May 30, 2013 11:30 pm
Perhaps the turnout from teachers might have been greater if the PFT had given us more than two days' notice that they expected 15,000 members to show up. Maybe if we weren't already exhausted from working all day in an overcrowded, stiflingly hot classroom, staying up half the night creating pointless artifacts to meet the demands of principals who have clearly been instructed to wear the teachers out doing ANYTHING but educating the students or advocating for their futures -- maybe, just maybe, we might have had the energy to march/rally in the blazing heat. It isn't like we could have stopped the SRC. By law, they had to pass a budget. They didn't like it any more than anyone else, but without miracle money, what can they do? Now, a well-organized march on Harrisburg might have an impact. Decarcerate PA is on its way there now, but again, the word didn't reach very many people. Back in the 60s, before Twitter, Facebook, texting, etc., it seems that people still managed to get out the word a lot better.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 1:24 am
The word was out there. It's been on the PFT website, Building Reps were told to spread the word in their buildings, members have been plastering it on the FB pages, spreading it through twitter etc. The info was out there, some people just don't want to see it or pay any attention to it. They prefer to sit and complain about anything and everything. You want to save your job and do what's right for the kids, you might have to make an effort (even in blazing hot sun after a long day at work), poor baby. Glad Martin Luther King and his generation didn't feel this way back in the 60's. "Sorry Martin, sorry Rosa Parks, but it's too hot, my feet hurt and I am tired"
Submitted by TeacherinPhilly (not verified) on May 31, 2013 5:44 am
The word didn't get out. Please. Do you get the emails and the texts?? The word was out by last Thursday. It was hot. Poor baby. Do you want a job or not? Can you afford a 10% or more cut in what you make now? Thank you to all the staff, parents, and community members that did show up. The last two rallies have had the biggest crowds I've seen in a long time, but we need more. Stay informed. Get involved. Fight for what our students deserve because this isn't it!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 6:52 am
I am so tired of excuses!!! These are our jobs... if you sit back and let it happen you are part of the problem!!!!!
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 31, 2013 5:54 pm
TeacherinPhilly, I agree with others that the PFT could have given more notice. However, I also received the texts and emails that were coming last week. It wasn't just 2 days notice. Yes, the PFT leadership could have done more. The PFT could have built momentum leading up to this rally. There was a little bit of that the past couple of weeks with the picketing outside of the school. Yes, there should have been more momentum. But look what happened in Chicago. CTU members weren't satisfied with their leadership so there was a grassroots effort that created change and put Karen Lewis in power, a leader who is fiery and uniting the CTU at a time when so many forces are trying to turn teachers against each other. Are people going to take part in the in-fighting and take the beat down, or are people going to rise up and make a statement? Where do you stand when the going gets rough? EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:46 am
Exactly. I was there yesterday and didnt see one water hose or police dogs. Just to think how so many people fought and died for civil rights and equality and PFT members are afraid of the sun.
Submitted by Peg D (not verified) on May 31, 2013 12:02 am
Commissioner Joseph Dworetzky seems to be the only member of the SRC with a conscience.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on May 31, 2013 12:41 am
I feel the exact same way, Peg!
Submitted by Abhishek Gupta (not verified) on May 31, 2013 6:56 am
Very nice lengthy article.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:29 am
This tweet from our esteemed leader Dr. Hite- disingenous as usual: "I plan to continue my advocacy with the City and State for more revenue to support the needs of our students." HInt: the word "continue" should tip you off to the sincerity and veracity of the tweet!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:49 am
We should close all charter schools and put the money back into public schools. While we are at it, we should close all cyber charters and all other fake educational institutions of so-called learning that waste public money.
Submitted by Eileen DiFranco (not verified) on May 31, 2013 10:50 am
I think it is time to be truthful. And the truth is that the mayor, the governor, and the SRC don't care about children. If they did, we would not be where we are. About 20 years ago, business people began saying that they could do a better job running our schools. And so, what was the school board and what became the SRC began hiring messianic superintendents like Hornbeck, Vallas, and Ackerman who rode into the city on their white horses promising the transformation of education. All failed miserably to accomplish their goals, as will Hite. All ran up massive deficits by engaging in unproven educational practices, like charter schools. You don't create by destroying. You don't build up by breaking down. You don't increase by decreasing. It is a failure in logic to believe this. But then, our leaders are not logical. The so-called austerity movement has been proven to be a fraud, and yet our elected officials refuse to abandon their slash and burn practices. What has occurred borders on evil b/c we are dealing with little children and not widgets - although the SRC likes to refer to children as "seats" and "portfolios." As I watched the Masterman playing for their lives yesterday, I thought there is, indeed, to describe the budget. The word is "evil."
Submitted by tom-104 on May 31, 2013 10:13 am
Make no mistake, Nutter, Corbett, and the SRC know that eventually there is going to be massive opposition to this gutting of the Philadelphia School District and their push for privatization of public schools. During the meeting they had dozens (about 40) of uniformed police in the meeting (5), on the first floor of 440 and outside. Only people who left early saw this. After the vote when it was clear there was only vocal opposition, they left. If there is no opposition, the cuts and work rule changes are going to be massive.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:45 pm
We all know the kind of action that is necessary and well deserved. You're right they expected opposition and got none. Even from gutless wonders like Jerry, they expected "something." Never underestimate our cowardice. Any thoughts, Jerry??
Submitted by James Lytle (not verified) on May 31, 2013 10:00 am
Keep in mind that the SRC members and superintendent had other options: refuse to pass a budget that would not provide a "free and appropriate education" for all public school students, or resign because they could not in good conscience be associated with a budget that would eviscerate the City's schools. Either choice would have sent a powerful message. But apparently staying in office precedes doing the right thing.
Submitted by Eileen DiFranco (not verified) on May 31, 2013 11:58 am
Great point. What a message the resignation of the SRC would have made! That is what honorable people would have done. Honorable people do not participate in evil. However, we are not dealing with honorable men and women. We are dealing with company drones.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 1:09 pm
Thank you. Desperate times call for desperate measures. What--were they afraid of being arrested? And what is all this garbage about "continuing" to try to get money? Some of asked Hite at the community meetings to go to Harrisburg MONTHS ago. Did I not get the papers the day he went? How about giving the people who on the losing end of this tragedy a little more face time than the PSP and the Great School Compact--the very people who make sure the kids in the city get screwed?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 4:34 pm
Forgot to sign. (Thank you.....) Lisa
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on May 31, 2013 7:45 pm
Lisa---Not all the kids are being screwed, only those in the real Public Schools. You and I know the charter folks will have everything they need as long as the wink and nod agreement continues. We know what kind of ACTION is needed.
Submitted by Sir Frederick Mercury (not verified) on May 31, 2013 11:12 pm
A moving portrait of Strawberry Mansion: Bono: Good evening and welcome to World News Tonight. A few weeks ago we heard about America’s foremost Pipeline to Prison, Raspberry Plantation High School in Philadelphia. This is the uplifting story of how one woman, and one woman alone, can run a school populated by thugs, rapscallions, masters of hijinks, hoodlums and other assorted sundry other unsavory characters. Plantation, is home to fewer than 500 students, yet it is patrolled by over 90 cameras, a small UN Peace-Keeping Force, and one brave soul, the woman who wanted the job no one else could do, Mother Theresa. In order to learn about this story of good vs. evil we sent our intrepid reporter, Sir Frederick Mercury. SFM: Hey Boner you look delicious in that blonde wig and stylish goggles. Bono: Curing AIDS has elevated me to the status of Princess Diane Sawyer. I strive to emulate her. Fashion is always my first point of departure. So what did you learn at Raspberry Plantation High School, Sir Frederick? SFM: First, that there is no greater American Hero than Mother Theresa, Let’s take a look: SFM: Every day at Raspberry Plantation begins with prayer. Three UN Peacekeepers stand in a circle, holding hands. UN Peacekeepers: Please, Lord, let us get the hell out of here alive so that we can return to our lofts in Amsterdamn and smoke legal marijuana and go window-shopping in the Red Light District. Amen. SFM: Raspberry Plantation High School in Philadelphia is the world’s most dangerous school, yet that did not frighten one woman, the only woman chosen by The Spirit of Arlene Ackerman, to run this school. Mother Theresa: I could not find not find anyone to run this school, so I’m running it myself. SFM: I can’t believe you took a leave of absence from heaven, baby, just to run this ratchet daycare. Why, delectable? Mother Theresa: I believe in poverty. I believe in suffering. I believe that poverty and suffering are a gift and now you are sharing my gift with the world. Mother Theresa and SFM proceed to the security room where they face a wall of monitors. Mother Theresa: We have over 90 cameras and we need more. The monitors reveal sights commonly found in every American high school: kids smoking weed, gambling, smooching, fighting and reading the collected poems of Sylvia Plath. SFM spots two derelicts sitting in a graffiti-scarred stairwell reading Plato. SFM: Excuse you, Mother. Look at this! Mother Theresa: Those bastards! Security! Security! SFM watches as security guard, Mama Gail, approaches the two villains. Mama Gail whips out a blowtorch and sets the book on fire. SFM: May I give these cheeky something-or-others a spanking? Mother Theresa: This is the final straw! I am going to send them to Thinker’s Anonymous where they will submit to a seven-step plan. SFM: Who? The kids? Mother Theresa: Of course not, Dairy Queen. I’m talking about the teachers who gave them these books.
Submitted by start charging for public schooling (not verified) on May 31, 2013 10:13 am
you been had,hoodwinked,bamboozled led astray,run amok.jerry jordon is a poser.weak ,weak man.your all in truble.............
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on May 31, 2013 3:48 pm
Submitted by TeacherinPhilly (not verified) on May 31, 2013 9:41 pm
YOU LOSE ALL CREDIBILITY WHEN YOU WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE THIS!!!!! It makes me wonder how many of these anonymous negative nancies are actually PFT members. Some of these are pretty dubious. Solidarity. Forever. Not infighting now. Take that passion for whatever mythical fantasy land you wanted this rally and your union to be and do something real. Write some emails. Make some phone calls. Get after people to get out the next time. Quit whining, move forward, and fight!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 3, 2013 10:35 am
If we are going to have public schools, they should at least all be funded well enough that cutting every single extracurricular activity is not a worry. Compared to the spending in other sectors of government, this should not be an issue.

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