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Philly teachers: We won't stop until we get fair schools funding

By the Notebook on Aug 23, 2013 09:55 AM

by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks

More than 1,000 Philadelphia teachers, parents, students and supporters marched through a rainstorm in Center City on Thursday to protest school budget cuts and thousands of layoffs.

The peaceful crowd walked from the Comcast Center to City Hall, and eventually to the School District's headquarters, waving signs and chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Corbett has got to go!"  When they arrived at their final destination, the rain finally let up. A series of School District employees, students and union leaders gave speeches outside as the School Reform Commission met inside. 

Ted Kirsch, president of the American Federation of Teachers' state chapter, had a simple message: "We have one thing to say to the people inside: Shame on you!"

The School District laid off nearly 4,000 employees earlier this year. Superintendent William Hite said he will only be able to hire back about 1,600 of those workers with the money now in hand.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said that budget cuts are cheating the city's schoolchildren.

"It is a disgrace that the SRC, the governor, the mayor are allowing this to happen," he said. "We cannot stop, we will not stop, until we get full funding and a sustainable funding formula for this school district."

The PFT is currently negotiating a new contract with the District, which is asking for pay and benefit givebacks.

After the SRC meeting, Hite told reporters that he, too, is upset about the funding cuts.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

All photos by Harvey Finkle

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Comments (51)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 1:39 pm
Sustainable school funding should go to the students. However it seems it is being redefined now to include raises for the pft members.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on August 23, 2013 1:16 pm
The PFT is not fighting for raises, only against givebacks. Where money has been lost, is wasteful and uninformed spending by the administration. Teachers, along with Home and Schools have been part of the effort to make up for this, for years. Many have already sacrificed. The only way to correct abuses of funding, as with Title I, is by better involvement of families. The only way to correct political abuses, is by decentralizing the administration, such that there are more checks and balances.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:51 pm
Altruism has its limits. Don't ask me to sink my own ship in order to raise someone else's. I doubt the general public would do so.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:14 pm
"Altruism"--Are you sure that's the word you want to use when discussing Public Education as a guaranteed right in the USA?? Passing around a hat at a little kids' softball game is altruism not fairly funding ALL kids' public schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:25 pm
Call it what it is then, funds to retain staff and raises, and not a gneralized sustainable school funding.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:51 pm
No, I think--judging from what you wrote--that in your eyes, it's altruistic of you to support ALL kids' equal rights. That's one of the huge problems here masquerading as austerity but down deep, you already know that.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:20 pm
Not laying off teachers is no raises? No, it's the same contract that has been around for four years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:09 pm
*now raises, that is.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 23, 2013 2:45 pm
Words are pesky little things aren't they?? Once you say something and worse yet, write something, it's out there for all to see. Reversing course when caught, is even more than equally pesky. Is it altruistic for YOUR kids to receive fair funding ?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 3:25 pm
You are really behaving in an immature manner. In a discussion specifically in an informal written forum such as this it may be necessary to clarify and explain your point of view in a second statement. The education of every child should be funded, the question is who is responsible. You wouldn't ask a lawyer to take a pay cut due to the costs to run a courtroom, or a doctor to take a pay cut to provide medical supplies. Teachers are simply stating that the costs to fund the public system as well as experimental charters should come from the system that sets the policies, controls the funding, and actually determines how the money is used. Not from the educated professionals who are on the ground and have earned their wages through education and experience. You want to open charters that may or may not work? You want to open public funds to for profit companies with less oversight? Do it on your own dime, with my taxes, not my salary.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 3:34 pm
Yes, I meant ALTRUISM.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 23, 2013 3:59 pm
Exactly and ALL kids should be equally treated not some more equally than other to paraphrase Orwell.
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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 1:26 pm
My kids don't receive funding. I pay for them to go to school.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on August 23, 2013 7:58 pm
I think teachers understand that with declining enrollment, there will be layoffs. What is not alright for them is that in addition to layoffs, they are expected to accept pay and benefit cuts. In the private sector, layoffs are enacted before pay cuts, because pay cuts damage morale for those who are left.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 23, 2013 3:21 pm
Bull Connor and George Wallace would agree with you.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 23, 2013 6:50 pm
They agree with Holly Otterbein? Is she being stalked by ghosts?
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on August 23, 2013 8:49 pm
Where are the lawsuits that that should be being filed by public interest lawyers? Why is there no criminal investigation of the prior SRC and SDP management? Why is the Dept of Education still investigating cheating from 2008-2009 and not focused on the fiscal mismanagement in the district? And why hasn't the SRC commissioned a study on restructuring the long term debt of the district? Why not pressure the legislature to add tax exempt status to long-term holders of such debt? The battle for school funding should be being waged in the courts not the streets. Picketing and marches at this late date will have little to no effect. We need creative, aggressive attorney's fighting for secure sustainable funding.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 1:38 am
I will write it since many don't feel comfortable writing it. No givebacks-period.Teachers should be getting a modest raise like mist districts in PA. and elsewhere. It's all about the kids right.Well, I have my own kids I need to support. Why don't you Tea Party radicals or whatever philosophy you subscribe to, realize you are being duped by all the greedy , selfish b/millionares. All they want is more money power and to control all people. What is happening to this nation?It's regressing.Do you even realize this country is being ruined by sitting passive and agreeing with the likes of these controlling Repulicans,control freaks, who can't get enough money. Some average people that should be up in arms buy into their BS.The Waltons, Koch Bros., Broad,Wall Street, bankers and many others. People don't sit by and do nothing because eventually it will affect you like a ton of bricks
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 24, 2013 9:23 am
I am MORE than willing to write it and YES, the fact that many are uncomfortable and unwilling to go there, plays right into our enemy's hands. They mean to kill off Public Ed. in Philly, point blank !!!!!!! Get Mad and fight back !!!
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on August 24, 2013 9:16 am
No givebacks. Teachers deserve a raise. That is the only equitable outcome. The people on this blog who express contempt for teachers have even greater contempt for the kids we teach.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 6:00 pm
One teacher had the guts to say: "what about MY life, my home, my mortgage, my bills, my family and my job? Predictably people are apt to say "welcome to the the real world where people get fired." Ahem- this where I say, we are here to lift people up not drag them down to an unsustainable level so that somebody can prove a point. The point is that there are people making *money* off other people's misfortune and have no qualms about it. Teachers suffer , kids suffer, parents are angry, and folks are making money off this and high fiving each other? People had better understand who the real villians are here and act appropriately
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 24, 2013 6:48 pm
I think what happens is that most people can't even imagine being so immoral as to make money on others' misfortune but some people will steal your teeth if you open your mouth. Does the word, slumlord, come to mind?? Anyhow, you are right and the sooner the people ingest this reality, the better off we shall be. This is ALL about money for the already rich and their puppets like Nutter, Hite and Corbett.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 24, 2013 10:44 am
Totally Right, Jeffrey !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 7:51 pm
Here is is in a nutshell- we've heard about how social security won't make it so "benefits will suffer and we'll have to raise the retirement age" but that was dropped, Next up teachers to be evaluated on student perfomance (which has lost some steam.) Next- the unions are getting in the way of school choice and my new fav "flexbility in staffing," and we need shared sacrifice. Tah dah- now pensions are the problem, people are going to have to sacrifice and "we can't afford these cadillac penion plans YOU people are on, it's costing the "taxpayers." The commonality of all of this is apparent to me. We the powers that be, want to wrest any vestige of control you little people have, and we will achieve it in stages, by hook or by crook (usually the latter.). The only defense is an AWARE, STRONG, UNITED PUBLIC who can see the game and resist it at every turn. Backlash can be a beautiful thing, for one thing-the Koch Bros.have backed out of negotiations for the Trubne Newspapers.
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Submitted by anon (not verified) on August 24, 2013 8:16 pm
wondering if anyone has done the math to determine the actual dollar figure pay cut hite and the src will have imposed on teachers by implementing a step increase freeze should their outrageous preemptive strike be upheld in the courts? it's a simple enough calculation if you know how many teachers are on each rung of the pay scale. i'm guessing it's a substantial percent of what they were looking to steal.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 8:05 pm
As well as the savings from all of the retiring teachers who will be replaced by teachers making substantially less. Same thing with secretaries and nurses they have retired or have not been called back in favor of workers who get paid less. With all of this they may have actually made up quite of funds.
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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 24, 2013 8:34 pm
"Fair Schools Funding" Translation: More money for the union.
Submitted by Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall (not verified) on August 25, 2013 12:50 am
Good on you guys for standing firm. But I can't help but think the growing movement you have built should be demanding that Philadelphia adopt a Land Value Tax like Pittsburgh. An LVT would permanently solve your funding problems, instead of just incurring more debt. It does so by shifting the tax burden off low and middle income residents and small business - and onto banks keeping homes vacant and real estate developers and speculators. See
Submitted by Dave M (not verified) on August 26, 2013 4:15 pm
Submitted by DavidB (not verified) on August 27, 2013 11:17 am
Isn't this a sad commentary about how a community, a city, Philadelphia feels about the state and fate of public education? Most people are too busy playing the blame game and as usual the teachers are the main target. Others are so busy trying to bust the union, treating them as some sort of criminal organization as opposed to what they really are; a collective of people vying for fair treatment and conditions for the working people. So why is the unions job to become a funding source for the schools? They are only doing the job that our teachers pay them out of pockets to do, to protect our contractual rights. Do you not agree with workers having rights? If so, then you are living in the wrong country. Perhaps we should also outsource our children's education to countries like China and India, just like commercial industry is currently doing. Perhaps all the nay say'ers and have not's should put more of their energy into establishing their own unions instead of busting the teacher's union. What's wrong with this city? This world? You? I would extend Mr. Kirsh's "Shame on you" to include all of you. No one is exempt from the problem and the crisis our city is facing with regard to public education. However, there are some who truly more blameworthy than others, our politicians for one. But, let us not forget who put them into office, we did, so we are all guilty. Do you think those politicians really care about you? Do they work for you, or for themselves? What ever happened to the notion that elected officials where elected to the serve the people? Civics and social studies is not a priority or State tested subject, so I guess we have an excuse as to being civilly ignorant. Getting back to the main point, which is what can we do to eradicate this problem once and for all, I would say vote for a person who will truly represent the peoples welfare and community's needs. That means abandon party lines and vote smart. I will share this with you all, I personally approached both the Mayor's office and Superintendent and asked for a meeting to at least hear some proposals I have that may indeed solve the current problems - now and forever, but was declined the opportunity to present them to my elected official. Closed door! Yes, I believe I can make a difference and eliminate our city's dependence on State control, but of course that mightcost the SRC and other overpaid administrators and politicians their job security (they don't need a union), so you can understand why the doors are closed to the average Joe citizen like me. But, what the hell, let's get started, we need money. First strategy, boycott Comcast,get everybody to call them tell them and tell them they will disconnect from service in 30 days unless they pay up! What to hear about more strategies? Contact me. Perhaps I should run for Mayor, what do you think?
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