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Down to the wire, PSP wants state funds tied to PFT contract changes

By the Notebook on Jun 29, 2013 09:08 PM

by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks

As the state legislature approaches a critical deadline with little progress toward a funding solution for Philadelphia schools, a local nonprofit is shopping legislation linking any extra state funding to work-rules changes for public school teachers.

The Philadelphia School Partnership has been urging lawmakers for weeks to impose three conditions on additional state funding for the school district, which faces a $304 million budget gap next year.

Under the proposal, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers' contract would have to provide that any vacant positions be filled through site selection, not seniority. Principals, either acting alone or with a special committee of designated teachers, would choose teachers.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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Comments (125)

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 29, 2013 10:23 pm
The so-called "Philadelphia School Partnership" is once again running the School District. A private organization should have NO ROLE in contract negotiations between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the School District.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 9:38 pm
PPT, I completely agree with you and have said before that no one should have a say in what is happening with the SDP-PFT negotiations. If contracts and contract negotiations with companies like Pearson and charter schools are not available to the public, then how can anyone demand that the contract negotiations with the PFT to be different? In fact, the PFT's contract is available online, open to the public. I've never seen a charter school contract or contract between the PSP and a school or organization which is public. Mark Gleason is a privileged white male who wants different for "other people's children"---children of color---than his own children (if he has them). He is a business man and has no background in education. Instead of standing up and being an advocate for children, demanding that the Commonwealth sufficiently fund public education in this city, Gleason is capitulating to the interests of Republicans who don't give a flying fuzz about children in Philadelphia for the simple reason that most of the children who attend SDP-run schools will grow up to vote for Democrats. It's a power play. He's sickening. And one day, he will have his own downfall, and we can all laugh at him. In the mean time, he's a dangerous, dangerous man who has no regard for democracy. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2013 11:11 pm
Let me add that the Philadelphia School Partnership is a misnomer. This group is not a true partnership of Philadelphia schools. Their goal is to end unions while privatizing education. Just a few months ago, the PSP gave a almost $3,500,000 to two charter schools. They have given very little of their millions to public schools.
Submitted by Concerned Phila. (not verified) on June 29, 2013 11:45 pm
Agreed. The so-called "Partnership" is the equivalent of turning the State Dept of Education over to the Walton Fd., Broad Fd. and the Gates Fd. Private organizations are creating education policy and holding their billions over the public's head. The so-called "Partnership" has determined which public schools expand (e.g. Hill-Freeman, SLA), which schools open (e.g. The "Workshop") while spending the vast majority of its millions on charter and parochial schools. There is NO public input NOR accountability. The so-called "Partnership" is leading the charge against public education and community public schools. Anyone who drinks with this devil is poisoning public education. The "Workshop" even has the so-called "Partnership" emblem on its web site. SLA / Chris Lehmann, a alleged supporter of public education, is once again protecting his turf while trampling with the so-called "Partnership" on other public schools. Shame!!! A public school system will not survive when individual schools like SLA, and the newly created so-called "Workshop," put their individual interests above the interests of ALL public schools by aligning themselves with a destroyer of public education like the so-called "Partnership."
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 3:36 am
So funny all the complaints when a group of citizens organizes to provide some input into improving public education. Obviously none of you complainers had any problem with the last four decades when education policy was dictated by insiders, pseudo academics, and the union. Someone needed to speak up and fight this self-serving failure of an establishment. Most people look at this four decades of control and aren't impressed. Why should they be? I never hear a defense of how you (the urban ed establishment) have collectively done a good job. Only excuses, blame shifting and now vilifying, slandering, impugning the motives of anyone with an opposing opinion. Then you have the nerve to pretend like you are defenders of democracy... Funny, but also a bit sad.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 30, 2013 8:46 am
What's sad is you have no clue what you are talking about. You obviously have never set foot in a Philadelphia public school classroom. Your whole worldview is shaped by your TeeVee.
Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on June 30, 2013 8:44 am
So funny? Complainers? Obvious? None of us? "We" had NO problems? Insiders? Pseudo? "Someone" needed to speak up? Your broad sweeping judgments are akin to the bullying behavior we abhor in schools. Your sneering at democracy suggest you find the above comments to be fair game in public dialogue. When citizens recognize that this is a new agreed upon acceptable response to dealing with critical issues in our city and state, perhaps then they will begin to come out of the shadows and respond to this takeover of our city and our rights to govern our schools. Mr/Ms anonymous, there is nothing funny about what is happening. (So like a bully to hide behind anonymity)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 7:20 pm
Yes, it is funny to watch you self righteously complain about how other peoples money is corrupting democracy while overlooking how you spend over $300 million each election. And have been doing that for decades with zero accountability. That's BILLIONS you've spent buying politicians wholesale. Only recently in the last decade have others organized. Many of them liberals. And only because for four decades this self-interested monopoly did an unquestionably rubbish job running Philadelphia's (and other urban districts) schools. But we know, there's always an excuse. Look in the mirror. The real bullies don't post on a blog. They force people who disagree with them to fund their agenda, much of it unrelated to education, and fire those who don't pay up. They vilify anyone who disagrees with them.
Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:15 am
I agree with much of what you said. I will withhold judgment on Chris Lehmann for now. I have always respected Chris. My gut tells me that making an enemy of Chris at this point is a grave mistake. It is one the PSP is happy to see happen as they will then have Chris (our Chris) in their camp and we will be left, in their eyes, in the camp of the losers. You know, all those "cesspooly" complainers who rout for equitable public schools. One thing is for certain, anyone of character who is a beneficiary of this divide and conquer strategy to privatize our schools, whether the Penn Alexander folks, or the Meredith folks, or the Chris Lehmanns, or the myriad temporary winners is needed in this fight. I believe many of them want a solid public school system that reaches all our students. We are one city and we need to have the courage to speak up for all our kids. It is unconscionable that those at the bottom and those teaching them be labeled failures and left in the dust.
Submitted by concerned citizen (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:24 am
Now is not the time to make enemies in our fight for public education.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2013 2:35 pm
I agree. If you read the Newsworks article through, it appears the PSP is trying to get Republican support for increased State funding for the SDP...i.e. get this to actually happen. What they are urging is not uniquely their viewpoint. I thought teachers supported site selection, and greater pay for more difficult assignments. They don't?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 10:23 pm
At some schools, teachers can vote for Full Site Selection. At other schools, FSS is forced upon the schools and the building committee may or may not have a say in the hiring of new teachers. Much of it depends on the principal. Also, senior teachers, regardless of how good they are, have a disadvantage with the FSS process because they are more expensive than less experienced teachers. My principal explained it to me this way. In the schools with traditional vacancies, half of the vacancies come from the "seniority" pool---the pool of teachers who have been transferred voluntarily or involuntarily---and half of vacancies are filled via site selection. I don't know how much input the building committee has with regard to these site selection vacancies or if it's strictly the principal's call. EGS
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on July 1, 2013 10:12 pm
As the contract stands now, each teacher (whether brand new or a 30 year veteran) costs the same in the SCHOOL-based budget. Therefore, this frees up principals and site-selection committees to hire the best person for the job. Of course, the more experienced teachers cost the district more, but this does not impact decisions at a school level. This is how it should be. In my school, for example, the site-selection committee conducts interviews with the principal--we are doing that this week. Contractually, the principal and Building Committee must choose a site-selection committee that has teachers and one parent rep on it (and a student rep in high schools). This is how site-selection is supposed to be done.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 10:54 pm
Kristin, Thank you for the clarification. Various people who comment on this website and with whom I have spoken personally have clearly been misinformed about the availability of salary information to principals. Absolutely, the teacher's salary shouldn't be visible to the principal or influence the school-based budget. And my understanding of FSS is exactly as you have described it. I don't know if it happens faithfully in this manner, but the site selection process, with the involvement of teachers, a parent, and in some cases, a student, is a good process. My question is, if there is deadlock, does the principal have the final say? Is it easy to manipulate the site selection process to give the principal more power? Are these potentially reasons why making all openings FSS has so much opposition from PFT members? EGS
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2013 10:02 pm
Some principals - maybe most - certainly use their power with site selection. Most have the final say. It is also probably rare to have a parent or student on the committee. The reality it site selection is often a "who know who" situation. Principals talk with each other. Teachers may recommend a friend. Trying to keep it professional is sometimes difficult. There is no seniority involved - the same with appointment of principals. There are principals appointed who have no experience as administrators.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on July 1, 2013 10:58 pm
Contractually, yes, the principal is the "tie-breaker". This is why it is so crucial that we have competent principals who truly trust and value their staff members and their opinions. The need for truly professional principals is great in the SDP. Historically, I think the PFT has been somewhat resistant to full site-selection because the principals have not always acted in the best interests of their schools and students.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 11:02 pm
The PFT SHOULD be resistant to FSS because of the politics involved. In my brief time in the District, at 2 schools, I have seen that the quality of principals is very inconsistent. One school had a principal who was highly competent, cared about the students, and treated teachers with enormous respect. The other school had a principal who was fair and friendly toward teachers and PFT, but was a poor manager, provided little support with behavior problems, and was not particularly visible to many of the school's students. Obviously, many others have far more experience in the District than I have and can provide even better examples of the incompetent principals who work/have worked at schools around the District. But even in my short time, I have seen that the quality of the principals varies a great deal. As others have pointed out, principals are the weak link in the District. Being a principal is a very difficult job and I can see why it's hard to recruit good principals. At the same time, the nepotism and turnover at 440 doesn't help either. The new pipeline of principals, which has PSP's support, will only make the District a more hostile place for teachers. I can only imagine that these business-minded principals, who may not even have teaching experience in the District, will further usurp the site selection process if given the opportunity to site select personnel. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 11:34 am
The PFT has been "resistant" because site selection erodes the seniority system. Site selection was a concession made by the PFT and I'm hoping this clause will remain in the contract : that schools have to vote EVERY YEAR whether they want to be full SS or not. It seems to be growing, but I personally have never been in one, nor have ever voted to have full SS. Partial is enough, giving principals too much power is a huge mistake. The reason for the yearly vote makes sense to me as faculties do not remain static.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 12:35 pm
Not true. If a school is deemed "high needs", it is automatically placed on the full site selection list.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 8:26 pm
With regard to eroding seniority, I don't completely buy that. Most suburban districts in this area have seniority but also hire via a full site selection process. Teachers go through a multi-step hiring process. There is the screening interview, then a more in-depth interview, then a demonstration lesson. This is standard practice, yet these districts still have seniority. Getting hired in most suburban districts has a lot to do with "who you know." Some call it networking, others call it nepotism. It seems to be two different sides of the same coin. I suppose that the difference between suburban districts and the SDP is in the competency of the principals. My understanding is that principals in many suburban districts must go through a rigorous hiring process which involves community input. (Rich Migliore has written about this.) I student taught at a school with full site selection and teachers voted on it every year. Teachers should vote on it every year. I am also curious as to what constitutes a "high needs school"? One thing that is interesting is that there are even more schools which are now considered high needs and, thus, FSS. The school I work at was previously traditional, half seniority and half site selection. Not it is "high needs" and FSS. Why was it not high needs in previous years? "High needs" seems like such an arbitrary determination. Who is determining which schools are "high needs" and which are not? EGS
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on July 2, 2013 8:13 pm
High needs schools have recently been in "empowerment" status (what an example of newspeak that is) or corrective action.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 9:39 pm
Thank you for the clarification, Kristin. It's still arbitrary, in my mind. But that's because I don't think AYP is a valid measure of school quality. More than anything, it's a proxy for socioeconomic status of the students, funding, and leadership. And the bar for meeting AYP was really high this year so a lot of schools are now "high needs" if "high needs" is based on corrective action.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 8:45 am
Absolutely, the teacher's salary shouldn't be visible to the principal or influence the school-based budget >EGS Shes' right about how it shows on the budget however the principal knows who the teacher is and how many years of service they have in. They call anyone they want to get information they want, so it is far from a pure process. They cannot do that with seniority although they can call around and ask after you've been assigned. As far I I know they cannot use past information against you, although some try. Prinicpals are simply not like they used to be, as the new ones are hired from outside the district. The SDP doesn't want to many insiders if you get my drift.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:25 am
HOLY COW EGS!! Please read the contract.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:23 am
I thought teachers supported site selection, and greater pay for more difficult assignments. They don't? >Ms Cheng Are you accustomed to making up your own information becasue it's obvious that you're not familiar with how the process works or what actual employees are thinking. The current process in the contract, but indiviidual members have their own feelings about it.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 11:54 am
I asked a question. You have answered it partially. Perhaps you could answer it further. How would site selection put a senior teacher at a disadvantage?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 11:10 am
As a veteran teacher, I am fine with school based site selection. It enables a school to put together a team of teachers assuming more than the principal is involved in the selection process. That said, I support District seniority. If the PFT gives up all seniority, then it loses. It will be too easy for the District to get rid of veteran teachers because we cost more. It will also put far too much power in the hands of principals. While there are some veteran teachers who do not go above and beyond, the same is true of some new(er) teachers - including TFA. I've worked with a TFA teacher who is out the door and will only do anything extra if paid. So, one can not generalize. I'd like to think my experience, advanced degrees, hundreds of hours of workshops (not sponsored by the School District), time spent reflecting on lessons and developing unit plans, etc. give my students an edge. I also stay after school nearly every day to tutor - without expecting compensation. But, if the District cuts senior staff, I'll probably be on the chopping block.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 12:30 pm
Thank you for your answer, I appreciate it. EGS had a suggestion in one of her/his comments worth considering. Keep District seniority and base it on more than just time of hire. For example, add things such as advanced degrees, volunteer time spent with students or writing grants, and peer and principal nominations for excellence in determining seniority. This might satisfy the critics of seniority while still providing protection for service rendered.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 3:32 pm
Unions should not have to adjust critera to "placate the public" Ms Cheng. Are you aware of what collective bargaining means? A contract is serious business not frivolity based on whims of the public. Teachers get compensated for their degrees, certifications, years of service (steps), and extra curricular activites (if there are any hours to pay for), but "commendations" from the principal are unacceptable in a contract. Volunteering is just that, it's up to a teacher and it's opitional. Although not always followed the way it should be contract language is specific for a reason. If you were an employee you'd undersand this, They'd want you to do everything for nothing and things you shouldn't be doing out of your category. This is what the public doesn't know or see, people are not employed to pick up the principals' dry cleaning, and be subject to reprimand if they decline to do so. That is what a personal assistant does for the boss in the private sector, and the idea of forcing private sector practices on pubic sector workers raises justified objections.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 5:11 pm
I don't think the objection to seniority is frivolous. Even if there are only a few examples where more qualified teachers have less seniority, they do exist. If public perception is enough to drive enrollment, then you can not dismiss it, even if it is not perfect. That does not mean you have to "bow" to it, but you should work to correct it. If there is no way to account for "going the extra mile" in the specific language of a contract, well I guess that's a loss for those that might do that. If that is not protected or valued, that is a loss for everyone. In the private sector, the more qualified or motivated employee has a better chance of being retained, because the competitiveness of the business depends on how well the employees do their job. I have yet to see any employee expected to pick up the boss's dry cleaning, even in the service level jobs I have worked. My husband, who faces uncertainty in his work every day, has yet to give me examples of this practice as well.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 6:53 pm
"Qualified" is not determined (nor should it be) by the pubilc and the focus on "going the extra mile" is puzzling. It's bad enough that money is so scarce and teachers are devalued, but the pubic "lynching" is not necessary. I don't believe you are in a positon to know if anyone doing errands for the principal. I don't know what to make of this- a volunteer is not a staff member.
Submitted by garmin nuvi 2595Lmt user guide (not verified) on August 21, 2013 2:17 pm
Highly descriptive article, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 8:15 pm
"If public perception is enough to drive enrollment, then you can not dismiss it, even if it is not perfect. That does not mean you have to "bow" to it, but you should work to correct it." Ms. Cheng, you are so right when you said the above. It's not about bowing to public pressure, its about making adjustments. With regard to "going the extra mile," teaching is a profession in which there is so much work that can be done outside of the classroom. I don't know first hand, but I suspect that there has been a history of District administrators taking advantage of teachers and making ridiculous demands on them in the name of "going the extra mile." What constitutes "going the extra mile"? "Going the extra mile" can often be the expectation in some workplaces. Having spent time at Mastery, the expectation of going the extra mile can often mean not having much of a life outside of teaching at Mastery. Work life balance is important. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:59 pm
EGS, it is about communication. If I perceive as a parent that the teacher my child loves and is learning well from has been swapped for one that my child does not do as well with, and I find out that it is because of seniority; well of course I would protest this policy. Tell me why this senior teacher/policy is better for my child in the end. On "going the extra mile": I didn't mean that teachers should be made/pressured to "go the extra mile", but that doing so is of great value to their students, and should be recognized as such when it is done. If society has a debt to teachers, then it has a greater debt to those who do give up some of their life outside of teaching.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 10:59 pm
I understand your perspective on seniority. It's a tough balancing act. I agree with your points about "going the extra mile" and merely wanted to clarify about them. Teaching involves "going the extra mile" in many instances. This is particularly true in Philadelphia, where there are quite a few students who are high needs, including those who are not receiving proper care or nurturing at home. I agree that "going the extra mile" deserves recognition. I'm not sure that I would tie this to an evaluation, but certainly, recognizing it at a faculty meeting or with a non-monetary award seems appropriate. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:24 pm
You may request that your chlid be transferred to anther classroom but basically seniorty is not your province to complain about. You really shouldn't be privvy to this information at all.. I realize that I sound very tough but i'm just amazed at the chutzpah of ppl who should be focusing on how their child is doing, comparing schools or funding for education. When my child tested for kindergarten years ago I had the choice of 2 teachers, I listened to them both and chose one (I made a good decision based on my gut feeling) but never would I ask about their senioirty or internal workings, nor were they required to answer.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:16 pm
My comment was for Mrs. Cheng, not EGS whose comment was very thoughtful. EGS you're seeing and learning a lot in a short amount of time. It really does take time to get to know the ways of schools and the SDP in general but that's changing at an alarming pace, way too fast and in the wrong direction . This is why it's so important to get a decent contract and have a strong union to fight these draconian changes. Don't sweat all the small stuff, keep your persepctive and look at the big picture.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 3, 2013 12:05 am
Really, I shouldn't be privy? If it affects who my child will be taught by, I have no right to know? Wow, what kind of authoritarian system do you really represent? You don't believe in an educated public, but an obedient one. So let's reign in the "free thinkers" cause they're pretty threatening. Well, I was not given a choice of teachers for each grade, so rather than let my child be "taught" by the 6th grade teacher that liked to show feature length movies as classroom instruction, I "chutzpah'd" to a Cyber charter. Lo and behold, my child improved immensely in his vocabulary. I should have had a lot more "chutzpah" and a lot sooner it seems.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 7:04 am
If more parents demanded the best, the principals would get off their backside and monitor the teachers who need to be monitored. I had a teacher who taught "history on film" (versus "history of film") and called it a history course. While most teachers actually plan and prepare, there are teachers (young to old) that need to go. Unfortunately, principals do not do their job.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 3, 2013 9:27 am
I could not even get my principal to abide by what was written in the District's Principal's Manual (published online for the "unqualified" public). He liked to blame the PFT for what he could or couldn't do... go figure. Parents granted, are a mixed bag. Some were "all in a huff" about the "hutzpah" of (one of the better teachers) when she dared give their child a serious writing assignment. Needless to say, I had to pinch myself (dated expression which means, "Is this for real, or am I dreaming?")
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 9:45 am
" I chutzpah'd" to a Cyber charter. Lo and behold, my child improved >Ms Cheng That's wonderful, so why can't you let go?. Why create such public antipathy toward SDP people with each post? I'm getting the distinct impression that whatever school your child was enrolled in never heard the end of it , and you're still carrying on. I doubt your bad experience had as much to do with your child as it did wtih you. You're right about one thing but for different reasons than you think, the "educated' parents as you call them are the toughest to deal with. There was a devastating incident that occured because of a parent (a doctor no less) who felt her child didn't need his meds anymore and he subsquently beat the wits out of his TSS worker.The feeling of relief when that parent was gone was immeasurable,and ha nothig to do with the child.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 3, 2013 10:55 am
I'm not that parent. I brought up that instance about the 6th grade teacher to defend my right to know about the teachers, and the processes behind their choice, e.g. seniority, teaching my children. The Chess club that I cofounded with the Special Ed teacher, helped a lot of children. I still volunteer, but with an organization that helps children from all District schools, so I still see children and parents who need and have every right to make educated choices. Defensive teachers do nothing to further their cause. Especially when it is obvious they are only looking to pull together whatever they can to discredit a person, and don't even understand the post they are looking to "erase".
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 5:36 pm
"Defensive teachers do nothing to further their cause. Especially when it is obvious they are ONLY looking to pull together whatever they can to discredit a person, and don't even understand the post they are looking to "erase". >Ms. Cheng Hmm... there it is again " furthering your cause" with the public. Obtaining a contract for ourselves does not hinge on every disgtuntled onlooker, and a savvy person sees what you're attempting to do. You can only instill guilt in those who know no better. "Educated choices" does not necesarily mean you have to know everything about employees. My entry date is between me, the District, and the school. You also feel that it's your right to know why a teacher has made the choice to teach where they do? I would ordinarily say you cant be serious, but I see that you are. I'll use gobsmacked, chutzpah is already taken.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 9:45 pm
Tell me why this senior teacher/policy is better for my child in the end.>Ms Cheng The seniority process is determined by the SDP and the PFT and is unrelated to the students. Although a lot of what teacher's unions advocate for beneifits the kids, it's not a children's union, That's what you're not quite getting,and you may have to come to terms with the fact that you can't control everything that is teacher related.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on July 3, 2013 10:35 pm
In general, if your child was having major, difficult surgery would you choose the doctor who was fresh out of training or would you pick the doctor who had years of successful experience doing the procedure your child needed? Or, if we had "Doctor for America" would you pick the one with the five week summer institute?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 11:03 pm
"Having spent time at Mastery, the expectation of going the extra mile can often mean not having much of a life outside of teaching at Mastery. Work life balance is important." Bingo- and they can do that because of the type of unchecked practices they have, so this is where your union is very important. Teachers are required to come to a specified # of evening meeitngs but no more. IF they want a para to come they have to be compensated, Can U imagine if this wasnt in writing, so when ppl say principals should have more power, be careful what you wish for.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 10:24 am
The system of going the extra mile generally worked at the Mastery school at which I spent time because there was buy-in on the part of the staff. Regarding meetings, there was a consistent schedule for them. There was a supportive culture among the staff, and a highly competent principal. The principal led by example as well as with words. The system worked at this Mastery school because of the competent principal and trust. However, I believe that in the years to come, as Mastery continues to grow, there will be demands for a more reasonable schedule if teachers begin to age with Mastery and want more work-life balance. It will be interesting to see what happens at Mastery as they have increasing personnel costs due to having more veteran teachers and what happens to these more veteran teachers. I'm not sure how much the top teachers are paid at Mastery. I thought I read somewhere that it was in the $70,000 range, which is low, but I'm not sure. If anyone has information about Mastery's pay scale, please post a link. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 1:52 pm
While I agree with most of your comment the phrase "out the door" is misleading. Many HS teachers take their work home and others may have appointments/ remaining in the building is not necessarily an indication of dedication.The work has to be done at some point or it falls on the teacher.The District is not going to come out and say they are cutting senior teachers they do it by making conditions unacceptable. With seniority you shouldn't BE on the chopping block, so allowing full SS is not the best way to go.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 30, 2013 10:04 am
Not making enemies of friends goes for the "Workshop" at West Philly High. The Sustainability Workshop has gained national recognition for its outstanding program and is one of the last remaining examples of what Philadelphia public schools can give if given equitable funding. Unfortunately, they are struggling for funding. Since it fits their agenda to swallow up anything that is working in Philadelphia public schools, the Philadelphia School Partnership has galloped in like the White Knights they are, and provided funding. Be warned Sustainability Workshop, the PSP is an octopus which will embrace you with its many arms in order to smother you and swallow you for its corporate reform agenda.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:04 am
Tom and Eileen, as you both know vey well, it is all part of the games these people play. Both the Sustainability Workshop and SLA are great programs started by Philadelphia School District educators which should be expanded. However, the playbook of PSP and the privatizers is to help such programs so it makes them look good, and takes eyes off of their underlying motives and agenda as they play their money and power games behind closed doors. I, like Eileen, have had nothing but respect for Chris through the years and have never heard a negative word about him before. I had a conversation with Chris about the very issues Eileen raises, and this is what I believe. Chris believes his program at SLA should be expanded to accommodate more students. So do I. SLA is a great school. But, like others, I do not like the way it went down, especially since it signifies the end of Beeber as we know it. That is part of Mark Gleason's game. However, I would also advocate taking the money and using it as best they can for the students who they serve. Just be aware of who you are taking it from and the issues that are involved and do not allow yourselves to be used as pawns in this game PSP is playing. I just ask Chris and the Sustainability Workshop to focus on the students whose interests we all are ethically and morally bound to serve. Remember, there is no "I" in TEAM. In every championship team I have ever played on, we all sacrificed ourselves for the bigger picture -- The Team.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:06 am
I would have more respect for SLA and The Workshop is they took any student. Both have admission requirements - SLA's are very stiff. (Just look at how many students from private K-8 schools go to SLA... same with Masterman and Central.) This fits into the PSP / Gleason mantra of "high performing seats." Of course the students do better academically - they don't get into SLA and The Workshop (which to date has only had seniors) unless they are "high performing." Fund SLA (including the support from the Home and School and Franklin Inst.) and the million The Workshop had for two years and put it in a neighborhood high school. Then, we can determine if their model is beneficial to all students.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:49 am
The Workshop was funded for two years with a million in grants/ corporate funding. This paid for 4 staff for The Workshop and for 27 - 28 students each year. The success of the program is still up in the air. The Workshop selected "high performing" senior from a few neighborhood high schools. These students were already headed to college. The Workshop again is allowed to select its students who "fit" (Hauger's language) with their program. Why didn't The Workshop stay at West Philly High and take anyone?
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 30, 2013 2:18 pm
tom-104, your comment here makes sense to me. By expanding SLA, Sustainability Workshop, Hill Freedman seats, there are that many less parents looking at charters. Two main factors for the drastic budget crisis are the lack of accounting for the exodus of families, and the popularity of the charters, including with families who could no longer afford private schools. SDP supporters are not doing themselves any favors by alienating the special admit schools. These schools have kept families from leaving the City. If their seats are expanded, per stated objective of "increasing high performing seats", there will be an increased ability to meet student needs WITHIN the SDP, without introducing charters.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 10:38 pm
Ms. Cheng, I much prefer an increase in special admit/magnet schools than charter schools. However, it is important to recognize that a large number of students, maybe 25% or so, still need to attend neighborhood high schools and middle schools because they cannot gain admission to anything selective. Some of these students are students receiving special ed services who have no other place to go except the neighborhood middle and high schools. There needs to be balance between the special admit and neighborhood schools. I like the idea of co-locating special admit schools in neighborhood high school buildings. In some of these schools, there are ways to arrange the buildings so that the schools can be separate, alleviating potential safety concerns and allowing for a feeling of separate school. At the same time, the District can provide common janitorial and building engineer services, nutrition services, and buildings retain high utilization while keeping leasing costs to a minimum. EGS
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2013 10:30 pm
So it is okay to have very high concentrations of students with an IEP in neighborhood high schools but hardly any in magnet schools? (Central has less than 1% of students with an IEP - they are students who still score very high on standardized tests.) This means neighborhood schools will never meet AYP and will be labeled "low performing." Why do you think neighborhood high schools were shut this year?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 10:25 pm
No, I actually have an issue with the proliferation of magnet schools precisely because they don't take high-need students. However, realistically speaking, the magnet schools are important and are very popular. Central and Masterman are here to stay, no matter how elitist they are. They are too popular. They also keep families in the city. I have an issue with gifted students being isolated with other high-functioning students while students with disabilities cannot be isolated without a high level of evidence supporting such exclusion (e.g. medical conditions). It's a double standard that doesn't sit well with me. That said, I have to be pragmatic and realistic. By co-locating magnet schools in neighborhood high school or middle school buildings, the neighborhood school buildings can maintain high utilization while also providing more diverse programs. This benefits the neighborhood schools in a number of ways. Imagine if Germantown HS had filled some of its space with a magnet school. It might not be closing. Magnet schools work. There is no need for any more charter high schools. It's much easier to co-located a District-run magnet school in a neighborhood school than to co-locate a charter school in a neighborhood school. Magnet schools are a better system of school choice for the health of the District and the PFT than having more charter schools. EGS
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2013 10:40 pm
Northeast and Washington High Schools have internal magnet programs. Students are able to participate in the sports, music, etc. programs of the school. (Yes, this is assuming any sports, music, etc. still exist.) There were magnet programs in neighborhood high schools until Vallas. Vallas created many small magnet / special admit schools which stripped neighborhood high schools of the programs. This obviously hurt neighborhood schools. Instead of maintaining all the buildings - and extra principals - magnet and neighborhood schools could co-locate. Why not put SLA into Ben Franklin? Palumbo combine with Furness? Hill-Freeman combine with Martin Luther King? "The Workshop" with West Philly HS? If it is "good enough" for Northeast HS, it is "good enough" for other schools. (The reality is the magnet school principals, staff and families do not want to "mix." There would be no need for so many principals and teachers would have to teach a variety of students. Imagine a teacher from Masterman or Central having to work with a student who struggles with reading!)
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 2:42 am
I would answer "yes" to your question. I spent over 2 years with the same misconception about "equal status", trying to "save" my neighborhood elementary and help my neighborhood high school. It didn't work, and in retrospect as well as seeing what was possible at Central, I have learned a lot, and had to change my mind. First, it is wrong to put the existence of a school above the needs of the children. The children came/come first. Schools should be built around their needs and not vice versa. AYP is about progress. If you have a group that is more similar in their needs, you can tailor a program better for that group. Neighborhood high schools were closed mainly because they were under enrolled. According to the FMP, condition/cost of upkeep of the building was the next critieria. AYP was used as the next criteria, but that was shown to be "fuzzy" by the Notebook. With district wide under enrollment, and the deficit operation, inevitably schools would need to be closed. The budget constraint is also why you would not be able to replicate the magnet programs now existing at Masterman, Hill Freedman, or Central if you split them in any way. It would be difficult for a principal to run the programs as they are done now, alongside those offered currently in a neighborhood middle or high school. You would have children working at least a year ahead, alongside children who are often at least a year behind. SLA is attempting to co-locate. We can see how this works out.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 6:18 am
The principal at Northeast HS is principal to a school of over 3000 students - about 600 are in the magnet program. This has occurred for decades. This enables students to have many more "extra curricular" activities, offer more advanced classes and a variety of classes, etc. Why can't this happen in other schools? (SLA is not co-locating - a new SLA at Beeber is co-locating. Beeber is a middle school, SLA at Beeber is a high school. They will share a building but not much else.)
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 8:31 am
How does the magnet program at Northeast compare with what is offered at Masterman, Hill Freedman, and Central? It looks like the Gifted category is 5% and the regular Special Ed about 15% there. Masterman, Central, and Hill Freedman service a higher percentage of Gifted. Masterman HS, 57%, Central HS, 32%, Hill Freedman MS, 18%. Economically Disadvantaged stats: Northeast, 84%; Masterman, 49%; Central, 62%; Hill Freedman, 83%. In terms of intellectual peers, it does matter a lot for Gifted. Those that are forced to stay behind in their age group are often alienated, drop out, and do much worse professionally as adults than those that were allowed to learn with their intellectual peers. Hill Freedman seems to really stand out. Not only does it have 83% Economically Disadvantaged but it also has 30% of its students that have regular Special Ed IEPs (not Gifted). It's test scores are comparable to Masterman's and Central's (and it didn't make the suspected cheating list). Northeast has the enrollment to support a separate "magnet" program within. What other neighborhood schools would have the same large enrollment, even if we disbanded Masterman, Central, and Hill Freedman?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 8:52 am
Schools like Central, Masterman, Girls, etc. will not be disbanded. They have a long history, alumni association, etc. School like Hill-Freeman are new. If, for example, Martin Luther King had a IB magnet program instead of expanded Hill-Freem 5 - 8, it would have the student population to offer more to all students. (MLK, by the way, was suppose to have an IB program under Vallas but it never materialized. There is an IB program at Northeast, Washington, Central, Girls and Bodine. ) Many other Philly neighborhood high schools had special admit programs until Vallas dismantled them and doubled the number of high schools (which doubled the number of principals for high schools but not teachers - neighborhood schools shrunk.) While so-called "gifted" may need their peers, obviously not all students at even the most selective schools are labeled "gifted." The small school model was championed by Gates - it did not produce "results." Gates no longer pushes small high schools. The losers to Gates was the Small Learning Community or Academy model - schools within schools. This is the trend again. This way, services, programs and supports are shared by a larger student body while there are special programs within the school. It also decreases the number of administrators which are much more expensive than teachers.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 9:04 am
Perhaps there is potential then for the larger high schools to "absorb" some of the smaller magnet schools? Seems like an idea worth bringing up to Dr. Hite. (He does not strike me as a leader able to enact real change, but it is worth a try.) Certainly it would make sense from a financial perspective. Administrators, besides being "once removed" from direct experience with students, are definitely far more expensive than teachers.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:18 am
Addendum to my first reply. I don't think putting Hill Freedman into MLK would work. Unless you experience the bullying that kids who are "nerds" get, notoriously more so in high school, you wouldn't understand. My son, the one who dropped out, got bullied at the local neighborhood high school where he was allowed to take classes while still of middle school age. There are still scars. Brings me back to what I learned by trying to "integrate all" kids "for the greater good of all". Bullying by the "ego challenged" is a fact of life. Unfortunately, economic hardship comes with some blows to the ego. Sorry for the controversial statement, but you have to experience it to understand.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:08 am
What an accurate assessment of much of what has happened in the last decade. Thank you very much. Paul Vallas destroyed many of the SLC'S and student centered magnet programs within "comprehensive high schools" and created more external magnet schools. What he did was further exasperate the "academic stratification of our schools" and minimized what we had already set up to meet student needs. He said to me when he first came into the district, "I have to do something about the 'academic segregation' in Philadelphia." Then a year later, he started creating more selective magnet schools, which further exasperated the academic stratification of our schools. The original magnet schools met specific needs of students and our community and enhanced our district. No matter how you divide the pie, half of the students will always score below the mean, and half will always score above the mean. What matters are the processes of "academic segregation" which we allow or cause to happen.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:12 am
You have to admit the neighborhoods of Philly are not "equal". The external magnet schools draw from the entire City. Yes, Masterman and Central, have lower Economically Disadvantaged. Hill Freedman is the exception, but not sure from where it draws its students. Some of this controversy is due to the equating of the words "specialized" and "stratified". As shown in Hill Freedman with over 80% Economically Disadvantaged, and 30 % regular Special Ed, these two terms are not equal. I grew up with neighborhood schools, but in the homogeneous suburbs. Until Philly is homogeneous, I'm not sure neighborhood schools are the same as "equal opportunity".
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 9:31 pm
Ms. Cheng, You have to dig deeper. You have to know more about Hill-Freedman's special ed population. Hill-Freedman has over 50 of the students with disabilities in Autistic Support or Life Skills Support (see The school's total enrollment was 241 for 2012-13. Almost all of these students in AS or LSS classes will take the PASA and PASA scores don't count toward AYP. If the school's enrollment was 241 and 30% of students were receiving special ed services, over half of the special ed students were in low incidence programs. Just knowing the percentages of students with disabilities doesn't tell you anything. Students with disabilities are so diverse and you have to know how many are receiving which kind of services: Learning Support, Emotional Support, Life Skills Support, Autistic Support, or Multiple Handicaps Life Skills Support (Multiple Disabilities Support). And even then, you can't really draw conclusions based on data or special ed placement/services, because each child is different. This is why special education students have an IEP, which is individualized, with specially designed instruction and individualized goals and objectives. Also, it's not valid to compare such a small school to larger schools like Masterman and Central. Central doesn't even have the same grades as Hill-Freedman, does it? So how can you compare the test scores? EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 9:56 pm
Again, thanks EGS for the insight. Yes, Hill Freedman is a small school. I was puzzled as to the high test scores for such a large percentage of Special Ed. Nevertheless, the fact that these Special Ed can be educated alongside kids who are able to read and learn math a year ahead (on the school's webpage) is still remarkable, wouldn't you say? You can compare the test scores then to Masterman's middle school (they are listed under Julia R. Masterman HS, broken down 5-8th PSSA). Then if we are consistent, we can't conclude that it is wrong to concentrate regular Special Ed kids with IEPs together just based on the percentage. We have to look, as you state, at what type of IEP they have. Recalling the "critical percentage" it takes, to lift others, I believe the better strategy is to increase the seats of the magnets, than to incorporate them into a larger school. In a larger school they would be overwhelmed, and likely bullied too.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 10:02 pm
Ms. Cheng, Can you clarify what you mean by "we can't conclude that it is wrong to concentrate regular Special Ed kids with IEPs together just based on the percentage"? In particular, what do you mean by "regular special ed kids"? Based on my experience as a student teacher and employee in the District, students in Life Skills Support and Autistic Support receive most instruction in self-contained classrooms. I worked in a setting for students with Low Incidence disabilities, so I am aware of how these classes function. I also student taught at a school which had classes for students with LI disabilities. I have never been to Hill-Freedman, so I can't speak about anything there specifically. However, most of the students receiving AS and LSS services will probably not be receiving reading and math instruction alongside regular ed peers. Most of these students will have an intellectual disability, including the students in the AS classes. Students with Autism who have average or above average intelligence are often mainstreamed, receiving instruction in the regular ed classroom or possibly Learning Support. At the middle school level, students in the LSS and AS classes are likely so far behind their peers and/or have different capabilities in math and reading that they would probably not learn math or reading alongside same-age peers. Also, the District has a completely separate curriculum framework for students in LI programs. Also, the PASA correlates to completely different standards than the regular ed standards: It is possible to include students with LI disabilities in regular ed academic classes, and I know that it happens in the District. How much of this inclusion in regular ed is just exposure and how much is adapted or modified instruction depends on the school and the teachers involved. I am aware of such inclusion happening mainly for the purposes of exposure and socialization. My guess is that it may be easier to include younger kids in LSS and AS classes because read-alouds are more prevalent in the younger grades. Students with LI disabilities may or may not be included in specials classes, e.g. music or art, with regular education students. They may or may not be included in recess and lunch with regular education students. Students with disabilities are SUPPOSED TO attend special classes, lunch, and recess with regular ed peers, as this is consistent with Least Restrictive Environment. However, I know from experience that such inclusion during non-academic times and specials subjects does not always happen in the SDP. It has a lot to do with who is the principal and how much the principal knows about special ed law and cares about special ed students. Again, students in LI programs don't usually take the PSSAs, so what goes on in the LI classes doesn't directly affect AYP in most instances. I've never been to Hill-Freedman so I don't know to what degree the students in the AS and LSS classes are included with regular ed students. Also, I don't know where their classrooms are in relation to the regular ed classrooms. Is there a special ed wing or are the classes mixed throughout the building? The location of the classrooms for LI students will have some impact on how much exposure they have to regular ed peers. Finally, I doubt that the students in AS and LSS classes are part of the special admission process. These programs likely exist at the school outside of the regular special admission process. As to why the programs are at a special admit school like Hill-Freedman, my best guess is that they were at the Ada Lewis MS before the District closed Ada Lewis several years ago. Given Hill-Freedman's close proximity to Ada Lewis, the District may have moved the programs to Hill-Freedman because the Lewis and Hill-Freedman buildings are so close to one another. King HS, which is right next to both Hill-Freedman and Ada Lewis, has AS and LSS programs ( Given the proximity of Hill-Freedman and King, Hill-Freedman's AS and LSS programs probably feed into King's AS and LSS programs. The District buses most students who attend AS and LSS classes. It wouldn't require much modification to bus routes to move the LI programs from Lewis to Hill-Freedman. Again, this is my best guess, but it makes a lot of sense given what I know about LI programs in the District and given the proximity of the Lewis, Hill-Freedman, and King buildings. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 3, 2013 10:49 am
EGS, one of the arguments against expanding stand-alone magnet schools is that more and more Special Ed children will get concentrated in neighborhood schools. Hill Freedman, and your clarifications show that this is not necessarily: 1. True (as in Hill Freedman (it is a magnet in which Special Ed are successfully housed)); and 2. Detrimental to test scores and thus to the overall evaluation of the school (as in LI not having to take PSSAs).
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 10:53 am
Ms. Cheng, Don't read too much into the location of students with LI disabilities at Hill-Freedmant. Hill-Freedman is the exception to the norm. HS of the Future has some LI programs. But schools like Masterman, Central, Girls HS, and Constitution HS do not. Some of the vocational tech schools have LI programs which makes sense given that some students with LI disabilities do well with vocational training. But for the most part, most LI programs are at neighborhood schools. I have no idea how successful the integration is at Hill-Freedman. Have you ever been to Hill-Freedman? I haven't, so I can't say anything about how successful/unsuccessful the integration is. As I said, it's likely that the AS and LSS programs are there because they were previously at nearby Ada Lewis MS and because these middle school AS and LSS programs feed into nearby King HS. The effect that students with disabilities have on test scores shouldn't matter. Test scores should NEVER be a reason for moving or locating special ed programs. The concern I have with regard to special ed students is that at a certain point, if students with disabilities make up a certain percentage of a school's population, e.g. 50%, they may no longer be receiving adequate exposure to the general population. The school may not longer be the LRE by virtue of having so many students with special needs. Ms. Cheng, remember this: Students with disabilities have more protections under the law than just about any other class of student. If the District were to face a lawsuit about concentrating special education students at certain schools, the rights of students with disabilities would probably take precedence over stand-alone magnet schools. For example, a court could order that various magnet programs be co-located at neighborhood schools in order to make the school a less restrictive environment for students with disabilities. This is speculation on my part, but I believe it is well-founded because there is much more protection in federal law for students with disabilities than students who attend or want to attend magnet schools. As I have said before, I believe that special ed law will be the downfall of many charter schools. Many charter schools in this city and elsewhere get away with not educating all students. In other words, they get away with violating Zero Reject. It is only a matter of time before there is a major class action lawsuit on this issue. EGS
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 3, 2013 11:12 am
EGS, thanks. Even if Hill Freedman is the exception right now, it shows it is possible to house Special Ed in a magnet school. Exposure to non-handicapped is a legitimate concern, and even more so the quality of that exposure. I would worry about bullying from the non-handicapped, which would be more easy to monitor in a small school. So perhaps a balance, and cap to percentage and size of school would work? You would know better than I on this. I have not been to the school, but I do know a grandmother and her granddaughter who went there. I also know the new Strings teacher (who hopefully will be allowed to continue teaching there). I could ask them, next time I see them.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 2, 2013 9:56 am
Regarding SLA, this is what EGS was suggesting, to better use buildings and keep neighborhood schools populated. Inevitably there will be interaction between students and families. Hopefully it will be positive.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 5:52 pm
They were shut because the SRC (the local puppet) has a list of schools on it's agenda to cut. The list is very specific and not just relegated to Philadelphia.. This why you'll see them close 10 schools for example and let one slide. It's' to placate the public.
Submitted by tom-104 on June 30, 2013 8:23 am
Two years ago Mark Gleason lived in northern New Jersey. He served as president of the South Orange-Maplewood, N.J., Board of Education from 2007-2011. He led partnership development at Christ the King Prep School, a Cristo Rey Network high school in Newark, N.J. Earlier in his career, Mark co-founded a web venture called What’s Next Media, founded and built a national magazine about books and culture called Book, led the brand launch of telecommunications firm Qwest Communications, served as editor in chief of the leading business newspaper in Cincinnati, Ohio, and helped launch a Hispanic marketing group at Procter & Gamble Co. He has a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s journalism and communications school. No one elected him. What gives him the right to play little dictator with thousands of lives in Philadelphia?!!!
Submitted by Stanley (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:59 am
What gave him the right? Being a rich, white man. They know EVERYTHING about teaching in urban schools. Just ask Tom Corbett.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:54 am
The Shot Callers anointed him, Rhees and a few others to do the dirty work for them. He's even more annoying that Michelle because as overbearing as she is, even those closest to him admit, he has a stick up his ass. In any case, as long as the silent majority remains silent as in impotent, a word I hate to use, we have no chance to overthrow this hostile takeover. Maybe, we are the punks and pansies they claim we are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 6:43 am
Maybe if you guys spent more time on lesson plans and less time ranting......
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 7:43 am
[To quote a classic rock song: School's out for summer. No need to work on lesson plans right now]. We all know by now who PSP is (thanks,tom) and what they stand for. Every new story about them just confirms their devotion not to schools, but to the right-wing corporate union-busting agenda. How do we stop them? Lisa Haver
Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 30, 2013 7:08 am
It is extremely difficult to stop the PSP (Phila. School Part.) when it has the undying support of Nutter, the SRC, Hite / Khin, PCCY and so called "progressives" who are more than willing to take the money. It is baffling that PSP is able to determine which schools expand and open based on who they fund. PSP also claims to know which schools are "high quality." Remember when PCCY, Aspira, Phila Education Fund, Congresso, and other group from the "Coalition (mispelled) for Effective Teaching" also had a list of negotiation demands - That "Coalition" was funded by PSP. Now PSP is claiming to speak on behalf of the PA Legislature to "negotiate" a union contract via the newspaper. Until "progressives" who are taking the money speak up, it looks like PSP will be able to run the School District.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 7:25 am
Agreed. Lisa
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 5:32 pm
Since when did Democrats on the take become "progressives"? there is a lot of faulty labeling going on. Rachel Maddow is a progressive who won't talk about the public ed goiings on becasue she has charter school friends. At least she knows to be quiet, and Chris Hayes got all the scoops which was fine by me.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:05 pm
I think this is about Philadelphia "progressives" - not national. The local "progressives" are taking Phila. School Partnership money since it allows their schools to expand, open up, etc. (Hill-Freeman school, a 5 - 8 magnet, will now be a 5 - 12 magnet thanks to the "Partnership." It will be the only 5 - 12 IB (International Baccalaureate) magnet in Phila. I consider IB a more progressive curricula.
Submitted by High School Teacher (not verified) on June 30, 2013 1:27 pm
Lisa, one way to stop them is the new national movement created by and for teachers. They chose the name "Badass Teacher (BAT) Association. What is the Badass Teacher Association? A diverse group of families and education professionals who wish to reclaim America’s public education system. Don't be put off by the name; here's their mission statement: "This association is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning... Join Us!!" 20,000 people have already joined through Facebook and other social media. Please visit the web site, read the resource links and consider joining the Pennsylvania FaceBook page
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 10:59 pm
Thank you for the information about the BAT. The Network for Public Education is also an organization dedicated to protecting public education:
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 30, 2013 8:18 pm
There's only one way to stop them and it ain't going to be pretty. There's too much easy money to be made. I suspect Jordan is hoping the courts back the PFT's right to strike etc.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 1:48 pm
Dear Clueless, if I "spent more time on lesson plans" then what? My lesson plans have been fine (the principal reviews them every two weeks). Maybe if you had to work as a teacher, alone in your classroom with no support, you might be able to understand why we rant. Part of it is having to listen to self-appointed authorities on on education who have no experience, but know what is wrong with public schooling. Maybe you should spend a little more time on self-improvement then your posts would not come off sounding so silly?
Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:36 am
This is Organized money taking over America. No one knows where all the PSP money comes from but he makes choices for education in Philadelphia based upon a corporate agenda because our politicians are so easily bribed.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 2:40 pm
People who pay attention (not necessarily you) know where the money is coming from - Broad, Walton, Koch Bros, Gates, Murdoch etc.. This sounds simplistic but it's the corporatons against the people and the people have to say NO! *NO I'm not sending my kid to some charter, * NO I won't accept those contract terms, *NO you cannot defund public ed, you as the state have an obligation you're not meeting, * NO you cannot open school without counselors when there are so many special ed students (we will sue you in 2 seconds flat) and HS students who need post HS guidance. * NO I"m not taking a pay cut, are you crazy? You are not broke. * NO we're not disbanding seniority we have site select * NO to getting revenue from cigarettes? Give me a reason why. People will have to be clear to the union what they will and won't accept, but remember what you allow today you will *never *get back. I entered the system when there were rules and consequences, and these actions today would NEVER have been tolerated. The SRC has done nothing for the SDP and has gotten worse over time, it's time to disband and regroup locally.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 30, 2013 9:43 am
Thank you those above who have said it exactly like it is. The "shadow role" of Mark and the PSP are playing in the affairs of the school district is shocking and unethical. Mark and the PSP have an agenda to destroy public education and privatize it for profit. PSP is a front organizations just like the others to put forth the corporate attack on public schools. Mark is the Michelle Rhee of Philadelphia. From this article it is obvious Mark does not even begin to understand how, seniority works, site selection works or how the Pennsylvania Public School Code works. What he proposes is a violation of the PA School Code which governs "reductions in work force" for budgetary reasons. What Mark proposes is "illegal" as it contradicts statutory provisions of the School Code. Just like the ridiculous NCTQ report which PSP bought and paid for, Mark Gleason lacks credibility. Anyone who advocates that children should be held hostage for him to promote his self serving ideological agenda, has no moral compass and no sense of ethics. Joe, any thoughts?
Submitted by tom-104 on June 30, 2013 10:50 am
The absolutely amazing thing is that the corporate privatizers have hitched their cart to Mark Gleason to carry out their agenda. He had no classroom experience and no background in education. Would the medical field allow someone like him to walk in off the street and perform surgery??
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:19 am
Just throw scum bags into the conversation about people like Rhees and Gleason. It's just natural and too easy. However, name calling is not my style as you all know. Force is the only thing that will stop this, massive and organized and by the way, hostile or as Churchill said, "Regardless of the cost, we will fight them in the streets, in the houses, in the hills and in the valleys." OK, I paraphrased Sir Winston but his anger and resolve were palpable and so should ours. Throw bottom feeders in there too as often as you'd like.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on June 30, 2013 11:33 am
Does anyone know Gleason's salary and benefits? The budget of the Philadelphia School Partnership? Do they release their minutes? (Only the "Great Philly Schools Compact" minutes are on-line and they are very brief.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 3:07 pm
A few months ago, a group of people, including me, went to PSP HQ to find out how we could attend the next board meeting. We were told that their meetings are not open to the public. No, they do not publish their minutes; that would mean that they are not a secret organization which is not accountable to the public. We made the same request of Lori Shorr, Chair of the Great Schools Compact Committee--same answer. PSP and GSC are pretty much one entity now. Lisa
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 30, 2013 8:21 pm
And they are pretty much circumventing the Sunshine Act as they are making all of the decisions for the SRC and rolling them out to the public. Then the SRC just rubber stamps what is put for before them. That is how democracy works in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:05 pm
Rich - Over here in Pittsburgh, it's called ward politics, which is always been done in the back rooms behind closed doors. You control the ward, you control the neighborhood. I going to assume that PSP is funded by private money. Therefore, there is no Sunshine law applies here. My point is that PSP is no different than ward politics. It's been like that for 200+ years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:15 pm
PSP is an outside organization (no one on its board is from Philadelphia), not a ward, that is funded by "philanthropies" like the William Penn Foundation. They brought the Boston Consulting Group to develop this assault on Philadelphia public schools.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:34 pm
It's really cool to have a discussion friend in Pittsburg. We can compare notes. We have a Sunshine Act in Pennsylvania and it applies to our SRC. PSP can do anything it wants internally as a private organization, you are right. But when Mark Gleason, PSP's CEO, sits on the Gates Compact Committee which is supposed to be an official advisory committee to the SRC, the Sunshine Act applies. So does it matter if he acts as an inside trader to push his own agenda, which of course, he does do. The SRC members and those they place on public committees are public servants, and as you say, we have to keep a watch on them lest they go astray. I have what I call the "Haver rule." Lisa was the first to point out that the SRC often rolls out important resolutions at the very last minute so the public advocates do not have time to really understand them and comment on them before the SRC votes. That contravenes the legislative intent of the Sunshine Act. The Haver rule is that they have to put proposed resolutions out well ahead of a vote so the public has a fair opportunity to comment. I coined that name for it. I kinda like it. They do put them out a couple days ahead though now on their website, I do believe. But I do not know how faithfully they have been doing that lately. Previous SRC's put them out a week ahead of the scheduled vote. They discussed them at on open meeting one week, then voted on them the next week. They had discussion meetings and action meetings. Now they have discussion meetings, which is good, but they do not discuss pending resolutions. They discuss specific educational issues If the resolutions were put out a week ahead of time and discussed, I assure you our advocates would catch on to the shenanigans.
Submitted by ed (not verified) on June 30, 2013 1:26 pm
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 2:08 pm
Is it really a good idea, in the middle of contract negotiations, to be advertising discord in the union? Go to a membership meeting or call the union or show up at a rally and talk to a PFT rep. There are ways to express frustration with the union without giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 5:27 pm
If you are in a battle and you find out you general is inept, do you wait until after the battle to deal with leadership that endangers you?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 2:53 pm
Why do you think Jerry is not awake, because he's not screaming in caps? It's bribery: we'll "give you" money and you'll conede to a) b) c) because those are the terms. The answer is NO! I didn't want any part of RTTT either with all its strings. The unoin will present it's contract to the members and if it reeks- say NO IN NUMBERS!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 4:39 pm
Jordan and PFT leadership is not awake, otherwise he / they would have seen this coming for yearsand done something . The PFT for the last several years is too weak especially during this vital time. The PFT leaders should have all resigned and let us go back to voting actual leaders in PFT, instead of them being nominated by executive board members who, of course, are going nominate the PFT president to keep their jobs. The PFT leaders did or do nothing to fire up the rank and file. Jordan and current leaders will be torn a new- you know what -when this is all said and done.
Submitted by Christa (not verified) on June 30, 2013 10:36 pm
Can you blame Jerry for being weak when the MEMBERSHIP DOESN"T SHOW UP!!??? The last meeting on June 20 did not even fill the auditorium at Northeast High School. Jerry is weak because the membership is weak. If people would stop being lazy and selfish and show their faces to a meeting, rally, or anything, we could see a change. The PFT as a WHOLE UNIT needs to represent. We need to be loud and in peoples faces. Chicago was able to turn things around slightly because they got out there and made noise..All kinds of noise. They banded together and pounded the pavement and let the city of Chicago know that they would not stand for being trampled upon. There is so much apathy among PFT members. Everyone is content on letting other people show up to rallies and meetings. We don't have enough people to do it all. I have worked in 2 schools in Philadelphia so far. At my first school there was a large staff and only about 10 people out of approx. 100 would show up for anything PFT related. At my second school there was a staff of about 50 and 4 or 5 people would show up for stuff. If only 5-10% of building staffs are showing up for rallies and meetings, we are never going to show Jerry that we want him to fight hard, we will never show the SRC that we are a force to be reckoned with and we are not showing Dr. Hite that we are fighting for the children of Philadelphia. I am beyond sick of being disrespected by my students, other staff members, my building administrator and the City. I have gone to the PFT meetings this year. I went to a few rallies. I emailed City Council members, State Senators and State Reps. If all 15,000 PFT represented employees did the same, we would bug the crap out of everyone and at least get them to listen. If we fought for ourselves and didn't expect others to do it, we would be able to get somewhere. The membership is not doing enough. Everyone keeps having this attitude that it will all magically go away and some miracle is going to take place. The miracle that we are heading for is a huge pay cut and for the layoffs to remain intact. Unless we stand up together and FIGHT! Everyone who remains a PFT member in September needs to be prepared to fight and if a strike is authorized, everyone needs to show up and picket, because if you think it's bad now..No one will survive the aftermath of striking and not standing together in solidarity.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 9:06 pm
Christa, My building rep didn't even attend the meeting. I had a previous commitment, but I wanted to attend. However, I did attend the rally at 440 earlier in the month. I may not even be working for the District next year, but for members who will be with the District next year, it's hard to understand why so many didn't attend the meeting. You are right that there is so much apathy. From speaking with some other younger members of the PFT, I know that some of the apathy comes from the reality that the PFT encourages members to keep quiet about other PFT members' unprofessional behavior even though this behavior is detrimental to students. It's clear to many members that many PFT members are more concerned with being "collegial" and not black balling colleagues instead of doing what's best for kids. And to be fair, most adult interests in education, even those which purport to be "about the kids," often put adult interests ahead of the interests of children when it is convenient to do so. The PFT is far better than unaccountable organizations, like the Gates, Walton, and Broad Foundations, which aren't about the kids at all. The interests of children are only window dressing for them. Another reason for apathy is that some building reps do very little to mobilize their colleagues, sending emails, organizing groups to attend PFT rallies and meetings, and so on. Also, it is my understanding that the PFT cannot strike. There would have to be collective sick days. EGS
Submitted by Christa (not verified) on July 1, 2013 10:00 pm
A far as striking goes, the language of the law is not crystal clear. At least that is what members have been lead to believe in not so certain terms from PFT leadership. I may be off base, but it is my understanding that Jerry intends to bring the membership together on Labor Day evening Sept. 2 to do 1 of two things: a) ratify a contract negotiated in good faith or b) authorize a strike vote and leave the membership to decide our fate. It is believed that If the contract expires we could strike and perhaps take the district to court to overturn the state takeover or at least get legal help with our situation. None of this has been said out right because doing such while the contract is still in effect could cause a major problem. The membership is at a crossroads.... People need to either put up or shut up. Everyone wants to complain about the state of the district but not too many people are willing to rearrange their plans to show up when it matters. Some of the worst situations in history have changed because people were not afraid to fight.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 1, 2013 10:51 pm
Agreed 100%. PFT members need to stop the "B & M" in blogs likes and "Put up or Shut up" How can you teach our kids to stand up for their rights, when you won't stand up for yours?!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 10:32 am
EGS, I don't feel good about saying what I said before but you think apathy among young people comes from not being able to dime out other PFT members? Is that what you studied for? This what a union is for? Its'not always easy but union members have to stick together for a common purpose and your idea of "what's best for the children" may not be shared by somebody else. As I said if you see gross negligence that's another matter My last B Rep did emails and communicated all the time, and in that aspect you're correct, proper communication is key. I would like to think that younger PFT members will work to better the union as a whole, not pick at or tell on colleagues about what they should be doing. Peers always have opinons of other peers, but don't rate them. The PFT needs to be engaging more with its members, and members and themselves have a responsibilty to BE engaged.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 2, 2013 8:55 pm
Thank you for mentioning "gross negligence." It describes what I was referring to in my previous post, but that term didn't come to mind. Of course, PFT members should be supporting one another and sticking together. Not being able to "rat out" or "dime out" other PFT members isn't the reason for the apathy at all. (Sorry for the double negative.) Rather, it's the fact that when I saw what I and others agreed constituted "gross negligence" (and I am speaking from personal experience), I was still encouraged to keep quiet and not say anything. I witnessed, day after day, a teacher sitting in a classroom spending almost all of the instructional time doing paperwork instead of teaching. Children had very little to do and often ended up coloring, fighting, sleeping, or doing whatever. The teacher cussed at the children and threatened them with corporal punishment. Students who were particularly disruptive or defiant were sometimes locked out of the room and allowed to roam the halls without supervision. This is what I mean by "gross negligence." If this isn't gross negligence, then what is? I was so appalled by what I saw, but didn't know what I should do. As a new PFT member, I decided to consult with some more experienced people in my building and let them know what was happening. They also suspected that there was this kind of negligence occurring in the particular classroom. I was advised that I needed to conduct myself "professionally" and not "black-ball" other PFT members by speaking up. (For the record, administration in the building was PFT-friendly and not the bullying type.) Finally, after waiting for a period of time and getting to know the school a little better, I eventually did say something to the administration; part of the reason I felt okay telling the principal was because the principal was friendly toward PFT. The building rep found out (probably from the administration), met with me, and advised me that even though the principal was friendly toward PFT, I should not have said anything about what was happening in the classroom. I was told that it was a "PFT issue." In a professional way, the BR advised me that I was, in essence, too young and inexperienced to know whether or not I should report what I reported. It was disrespectful to dismiss what I was seeing simply because I was new to PFT or hadn't taught. By this same logic, complaints from parents (unless the parents aren't teachers) wouldn't be valid either. Certain aspects of teaching, school culture, and education do require a great deal of expertise. Fairly and competently evaluating teachers requires expertise. Effective classroom management requires expertise. Teaching reading requires expertise. Other things don't require expertise; they require "common sense." Seeing children sit in a classroom day after day while the teacher does paperwork and berates and swears at them falls under the "common sense" umbrella. Children are supposed to be receiving INSTRUCTION! They shouldn't be allowed to color or fall asleep day after day because it's convenient for the teacher. It's wrong. Unfortunately, even about this kind of "gross negligence," a PFT member is supposed to keep quiet. I had conversations with other younger PFT members at this same school and they shared similar sentiments about what I saw. The "gross negligence" that I saw was also taking place in at least one other classroom in the school, yet was allowed to continue. Of course, much of the blame for this rests with the administration, which was very lax. That said, by encouraging a "code of silence" about "gross negligence" occurring in schools, the PFT is doing itself no favors. Allowing gross negligence to continue by keeping quiet about it does nothing to help keep the confidence of parents or retain enrollment. Codes of silence are not healthy. The PFT cannot let gross negligence to continue at schools for the sake of maintaining "collegiality." Younger people do have a lot to learn on matters requiring expertise, but some things are "common sense." You know in your "gut" that they are wrong. With regard to engaging PFT members, older PFT members need to help younger members of PFT become more engaged. Some younger members don't have much familiarity with unions or the PFT culture. Through example and encouragement, older members must explain and teach younger members by example how to be active. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 2, 2013 9:53 pm
A piece of advice since you asked- there are ways of letting parents know what's going on without you becoming involved. I and others over the years have said to kds ; "you didn't hear this from me but"... In other words the kids can go home and tell their parents they have nothing to do in class and that they are being ignored. I have never felt that there was code of silence, there are just proper ways of doing things. When you go to talk to the principal you can say "I know it's not customary for me to say anything but can you stop by the room when you're making your rounds? I wouldn't be asking you you if it wasn't out of the norm. If you can't I know that at least I've tried." Remember, the one thing they don't want is for parents to get wind that there is malpractice in the school- it's bad publicity. Corporal punishment?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 12:02 am
I tried the "You didn't hear this from me but" tactic. It doesn't work if the principal takes the teacher's word or if the parent is a "difficult" parent. It's too easy for the teacher or principal to write off the parent as being "difficult." As far as "Can you stop by the room when you're making your rounds?", my principal didn't make rounds. The principal's main concern was making AYP. The kids in my class didn't count toward AYP (they took the PASA). All that mattered was legal cases, and even this didn't spur the principal to do much monitoring. According to my class' teacher, the principal came inside the classroom exactly twice this entire school year. (I saw the principal come into the class one of these times.) With regard to corporal punishment, that is something I did not witness. Had it occurred, I would have immediately reported it. Even the more senior colleagues with whom I consulted, the ones who advised me about "black balling," said that I should report corporal punishment to the principal if I witnessed it. Reporting shouldn't have to just occur because something is against the law, though. As for your statement that "Remember, the one thing they don't want is for parents to get wind that there is malpractice in the school- it's bad publicity," this statement reflects EXACTLY the kind of code of silence to which I refer. Instead of trying to cover up the malpractice, DEAL WITH IT!!! Deal with it and do what's right for the students. How would you feel if your child attended a school like that? If teachers are trying to cover up the malpractice or prevent parents from hearing about it, how can parents trust teachers? Allowing malpractice to continue and fester only hurts the PFT and the District in the long run. Parents and students aren't just applying for charter schools and magnet schools because of the union-busting efforts of corporate school reformers. No, parents and students have been applying to attend these other schools precisely because the adults in some District-run schools allow the malpractice and gross negligence to fester. The PFT only hurts itself by not taking the gross negligence and malpractice seriously. PFT members are free to report or speak up about staff members who belong to other unions, just not the PFT. I am a firm believer in unions and want nothing more than a strong, energized PFT. Unions are important for providing a decent standard of living. The PFT and its members need to take the issues of malpractice and gross negligence seriously. Ignoring these issues is detrimental to the union, period. EGS
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 7:35 am
Just because it is a magnet school does not mean teachers are "good." There are plenty of teachers who do the minimal amount of work at magnets. They are often friends with the administration. They are "doing" the same lesson plans they have used for years. They do not communicate with parents (e.g. don't respond to email). Some of the teachers may do their job but they have a very narrow view of students - they do not meet the needs of all students. The only thing magnet have is students with good test scores so they aren't panicking over AYP. Don't write off teachers in neighborhood high schools because of test scores.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 8:17 am
What I meant about publicity was that principals would rather know something than have it blasted on the front page of a newspaper in some other way. If they know (by whomever alerts them) you've done your part. The malpractice doesn't hurt the PFT it hurts the principal who was told and didn't do anything. It's good to care and have a concsience, but you have to know when to stop, and if things are that bad then try to transfer out. You asked for advice and if you want to survive you're going to have to pick and choose what's most important. You cannot be the moral gatekeeper for everything or you won't make it. You're making everything about the PFT. they enter the picture if A MEMBER has a beef with an administrator or if you've been wronged, they don't come in to see how the school is operating. Your principal came in twice for 2 formal observations as she's supposed to do. The staffer comes in to represent you if need be, but when they side with the adminstrator that's where the problem comes in.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 8:44 pm
Anonymous, I really do appreciate that you have engaged in this conversation with me. I was never trying to put the school on blast in a media outlet; I never considered this. Once I became aware of what I considered gross instructional negligence, I felt that I needed to report the concerns. I wanted to bring my concerns to the principal, however, when I started, I was unaware of the proper "chain of command." I didn't even know if the principal was my direct supervisor. (I'm not a teacher, but in a supporting role.) So I started by speaking to some experienced staff members in the building, members of PFT, in order to get their take on my concerns. They understood my concerns but advised me that telling the principal could be considered "black balling." So I took some time before reporting concerns. I finally did report the concerns. I told my principal what was happening. I reported my concerns because I believed that what was occurring, as I have described earlier, was completely inappropriate to be occurring in a public school. In addition, I was also afraid that if something were to happen, such as a serious fight resulting in a child being injured, I could be in trouble. (No, the principal didn't do anything, but I said my piece. If the principal didn't do anything, that was beyond my control.) The reason I bring PFT into this has nothing to do with the grievance process or anyone from the PFT office. It has to do with the advice of fellow PFT members and follow up from the building rep. After I made my report, the building rep found out and told me that I shouldn't have reported what I reported to the principal, even though, as I said, it was serious. The building rep said, in essence, that I was too young and inexperienced to know what I was talking about and that what I reported was a "PFT issue," not something that I should report to the principal. I was never trying to be the moral gatekeeper. I was simply trying to express my concerns in an appropriate manner and, as I have described, reporting my concerns was not a straightforward process. As for telling me that I need to "pick and choose what's important," are you saying that children sitting in a classroom day after day and not receiving instruction because the teacher is doing paperwork isn't important? Regarding your point that "the malpractice doesn't hurt the PFT, it hurts the principal who was told and didn't do anything," I disagree. At the administrative level, yes, the principal will take the heat for the issues. However, the parents and students don't necessarily distinguish between the principal and teachers. Rather, they can hold teachers, other staff members, and the principal accountable. I have spoken to many parents and students in various contexts about school-related issues. Parents and students mainly care that issues are addressed instead of whose issue it is. They want the adults in the building to fix the problems. Parents' and students' opinions matter because they have choices. As we know, where students go to school matters because the District looks at student enrollment as a factor in whether or not schools stay open. Caring and engaged parents care about factors such as school safety, instruction, home-school communication. If caring and engaged parents raise concerns about these issues and the issues aren't addressed, parents can send their child to a different school, be it a charter, magnet, or other neighborhood school. The end result is the same for teachers and the PFT regardless of whose responsibility it was. Enrollment decreases, schools close, layoffs happen, and so forth. Obviously, it's not just the issues at individual schools that motivate parental and student choices. There is favoritism in some media outlets toward charter schools and corporate reformers like privatization. That said, parents often SEEK OUT these other options because they aren't satisfied with the neighborhood schools (for the most part), because there are issues at these schools and these issues have not been addressed. So PFT members can turn a blind eye to issues that are festering at their school instead of addressing these issues. But don't be surprised if, due in part to a lack of responsiveness on the part of school staff members regarding issues of concern, parents and students become frustrated and opt to attend/have their child attend other schools. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 9:37 pm
So PFT members can turn a blind eye to issues that are festering at their school instead of addressing these issues. But don't be surprised if, do a lack of responsiveness on the part of school staff members, parents and students become frustrated and opt to attend/have their child attend other schools.>EGS Why is it spoken in terms of the PFT instead of the teachers at the school.? The PFT isn't responosible for a teacher who is marking papers or showing movies. (movies btw should be cleared with the principal). Another option would've been to go to the building rep first and say "a few of us have been talking about this and thought you should have a heads up before anyone else gets wind of it." At that point you have done everything you can. However one thing not to do is take the fall for the teacher. The principal or AP could conceivably say to you, I saw Johnny running the hallway, why wasn't he in class? The answer should be "he was told to leave the room," not the teacher said yada yada. Have seen it many times, "get out of the room," instead of take this note and yourself to the discipline room. The principal is allowing this.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 9:39 pm
What "AP" and "discipline room" are you referring to in your post? This is Philadelphia, both of those things are long gone now. I haven't seen a "disicpline room" in over a decade. Who is suppose to be "addressing these issues"? Building reps aren't going to do anything about another teacher's actions. They won't even intercede when the principal violates the contract. The whole emphasis is "handle it yourself" when it comes to principals supporting their teachers with discipline problems in Philadelphia schools. A parent whines about their kid being disciplined and most principals cave-in like a house of cards. They are too scared of the parent complaining to 440. This is why so much teaching time is wasted on maintaining discipline. With Hite and his do-nothing approach to discipline along with increased class sizes Philly will tip into danger mode next year. Next meeting for administrators should be a viewing of the film, "Lean On Me". "But don't be surprised if, do a lack of responsiveness on the part of school staff members. . . ." Don't be surprised if due to a lack of responsiveness on the part of school staff. . . .
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 10:03 pm
I say PFT members because not all PFT members are teachers. It's easier than listing all the other types of employees who are also PFT members. There was no discipline room at my school. The teacher simply locked kids out of the room and tell them to go somewhere else or walk around to "get rid of them." These were difficult kids, no doubt, but it's still not appropriate to lock them out without taking them to another room or telling them to go somewhere specific. As I said, I didn't know that the principal was my supervisor at first. (Neither the District nor the PFT provides much training or induction to new employees.) I did eventually find this out. Because the principal was my supervisor, I reported my concerns to the principal. Regarding your comment that I could have told the building rep and that, "At that point you have done everything you can," actually, I haven't done everything I can. I can go to the principal, and that's what I did. I felt that what I saw was that serious and needed to be addressed. I told the principal, first, because I was concerned for the students and the situation in the classroom. However, a second reason is to cover my own butt, which you mention: "However one thing not to do is take the fall for the teacher. The principal or AP could conceivably say to you, I saw Johnny running the hallway, why wasn't he in class?" I wasn't necessarily concerned for myself in this situation, of a child running out of the classroom. It happened all the time and the principal turned a blind eye to it. I only brought this up to give an example of "gross negligence" on the part of the teacher. That said, telling the building rep about my concerns wouldn't have done anything for me if the principal had concerns with me. And that's exactly why I went to the principal. Yet the building rep told me that my concerns were a "PFT issue" and shouldn't be reported to the principal. More than anything, that's what I don't get. Why is gross negligence a "PFT issue," with the building rep's words being "PFT issue"? EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2013 9:11 am
EGS- who do you think is the"boss" of the school if not the principal, should someone have to tell you this? for all the things you involve yourself in there are basics to learn first. I don't think it's fair to the kids or wise on the part of the teacher to mark papers during class (unless it's free time or something of that nature), but that's not my definition of "gross" negligence. I noticed several times an SSA who for some reason had special privileges, take errant students into a room and slam the door (meaning goodness what was happening in there). Everyone knew it and they hoped someone from the outside would come in and see this. You should be concerned for yourself because a principal can turn on a dime and say it's part of your repsonsibility to see that the kids are in the classroom and engaged. "PFT issue " means that you don't go tell the principal on another PFT member, you talk to your building rep or another prominent person in the building who has some influence.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 4, 2013 9:12 am
Plain and simply you need a discipline system in your school that is usually discussed with the faculty in the beginning of the year. Kids should not be allowed just to be put "out." In one HS school teachers woud send kids to the discipline room and the person in charge (not a teacher they stopped paying teachers years ago for this) would send them right back saying it was a "classroom management issue." The teachers complained and they took her out and placed a more competent person in the disc room. My honest take as to why the SDP did away with their discipline system is part of that larger picture to then say the school is unsafe, poorly managed and thus unattractive to parents. Lo and behold they yank their kids and send them to charters. It's a real set up.
Submitted by K.R. Luebbert on July 3, 2013 7:37 am
Let's be clear, here: the main person who DID NOT do their job here (aside from the slacking teacher) is the PRINCIPAL. It is his/her job to make sure that their teachers are working and serving the students correctly. Principals need to be taught to do what they are allowed, indeed obligated, to do to help (and if help does not work) or get rid of incompetent teachers. They have the tools, they need to use them. That being said, other teachers should talk to the teacher doing the wrong thing (where was the school-based teacher leader?) and see if they can suggest or help with a solution. Principals MUST walk the building and pop-in to classrooms to monitor learning.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 3, 2013 8:48 am
Absolutely correct K. R.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 3, 2013 8:59 pm
I totally agree that in the end, it was the principal's fault, but at the same time, the principal doesn't know everything that's happening in the building. Now obviously, they should be walking the building and popping in, but as my experience taught me, this doesn't always happen. The school based teacher was the building rep. The SBTL/building rep had no idea what was happening in the classroom but still told me that I was too young and inexperienced to know that what I was seeing was wrong/inappropriate. I talked to the counselor and Special Education Liaison and neither was helpful. They had ideas of what was happening, too, but didn't say anything. Their attitude was, more or less, that I would just have to deal with what was happening. This is why the situation was so frustrating. I'm fortunate that I've found other employment and won't have to return to this school in the fall.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 5:13 pm
I'm sure they saw it coming, but look around the country, is it easy to deal with? .What teacher's unions are dealing with now is a whole new animal . I remember when he put his foot down over Ackerman and finally (after she began negotiating all over again for the 3rd time) said "I will NOT negotiate with this woman," and we got a contract.. Even as I say all this I am not excusing the leadership, the PFT definitely needs new blood. These folks are not interested in a contract they out for total destuction, so if know anyone better to negotiate contracts I'd love to know who.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 30, 2013 8:43 pm
Ironic since Gleason's son attends a real Phila. public high school! I won't embarrass the kid and name the school.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on July 1, 2013 9:20 pm
Wow, the PSP has the audacity to request that state funding be tied to terms of the PFT contract?! Since when is it THEIR PLACE to do this!!! It really doesn't surprise me that the PSP has come out and put its 2 cents in the ring, given that the PSP does what it wants when it wants, but Gleason and company are so bold. The PSP has NO ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE PUBLIC and DOES NOT HAVE BOARD MEETINGS WHICH ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. All it has is MONEY!!! Ultimately, the lack of accountability will come back to bite the PSP. Karma is a witch and what goes around comes around. Unfortunately, the PSP may not experience its downfall until after it has inflicted damage on public education in Philadelphia. EGS
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 22, 2013 6:24 am
Worth the read.

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