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When it comes to seniority, I’m sticking with the union

By Ron Whitehorne on Sep 26, 2013 05:02 PM

If the events of the last few years make anything clear, it's that teachers need a strong union. 

The School Reform Commission -- backed by the governor, the mayor, and self-appointed civic elites -- has launched a full-scale attack on the living standards and professional status of teachers. The union, supported by significant community allies as well as other unions, is waging a campaign of resistance.   

A big target of the corporate reform agenda is the principle of seniority. I think that eliminating seniority would be the first step toward the reduction of teaching from a lifelong profession to a Peace Corps model favored by the likes of Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America.

Seniority and solidarity

The seniority principle, bedrock to the culture of  American trade unionism, protects workers from arbitrary treatment. It also protects vulnerable workers, like women and seniors. And it provides some job security in a world ruled by cutthroat market forces.

Seniority promotes solidarity among workers as opposed to individualism. It is also objective and quantifiable. This is why most workers accept it as fair even if the consequences for them may be negative. Young workers know that one day they will be old workers. Without a fair standard, workers are reduced to competing with each other to win the boss’ favor.

In most school districts, seniority also determines pay scales through “step” increases tied to longevity. But the SRC wants to put aside the Pennsylvania school code provisions that base layoffs and any subsequent recalls on seniority. The union should categorically reject these attempts.

A guiding principle, not a dogma

At the same time, seniority should not be regarded as a dogma that never can be modified. Progressive trade unionists have favored modifying seniority in industries where pervasive racial or gender discrimination demanded affirmative action, for example.

Teachers' unions, if they are to stand up for the needs of parents and students as well as their members, need to look at seniority-based practices that contribute to inequities in our schools. Historically, a transfer policy based solely on seniority is a case in point. When vacancies occur, senior teachers can exercise transfer rights to move to what they consider to be more desirable positions. Teachers tend to choose schools where they believe they will find better working conditions and more job satisfaction. Over the years, this has resulted in a high ratio of inexperienced to experienced teachers in low-performing, high-poverty schools, while magnet schools and schools in stable neighborhoods benefit.    

Universal site selection

But the answer to this situation is not universal site selection, the panacea of the reformers. With site selection, teachers with the most qualifications and experience will still tend to apply to the more successful schools with less challenging conditions. Instead, there should be more robust incentives for teachers to work in the neediest schools.

Most positions in Philadelphia are already awarded based on site selection and have been since the last contract was adopted. 

Site selection can be a positive instrument for creating a mission-driven school culture, but that prospect takes a gifted school leader who can share power and collaborate with school staff, a scarce commodity in our School District. And as far as I know, the District has done no analysis on the impact of site selection on school and student performance. Nor has it invested significantly in building up a cadre of effective school leaders.

Without the consent and active engagement of teachers and staff, site selection can become a personal employment agency of an ambitious principal. Before site selection was mandated, it was an option that the staff could both adopt and revoke. At my school, we both voted in and voted out site selection.   

Universal site selection would also mean that teachers at “turnaround” schools that are converted to Renaissance charters or Promise Academies would likely lose their jobs, not just their positions, as now is the case. Teachers at these schools who are not rehired or who choose not to apply at their old schools are treated as forced transfers and pick a new school before the voluntary transfers do so. With no seniority-based positions left, they will have no guarantee of a position. Principals may regard them as damaged goods.   

For these reasons, it makes sense for the PFT to reject universal site selection as it is now being presented. It should look at developing affirmative proposals that could increase recruitment and retention of experienced teachers at low-performing, high-poverty schools. Creating incentives in the form of extra support and increased compensation was tried in the “Restructured Schools” of a decade ago, but they were not very robust. A fresh look at this approach makes sense, but, of course, it would cost money.

The union is an ally of parents and students

The reformers characterize the defense of seniority as evidence that unions only care about their members and are indifferent to the needs of parents and students. I would argue that teacher job security should be a concern of everyone who cares about education. The downgrading of experience, academic qualifications and professional standards that is being promoted by the corporate reformers will have long-term, negative consequences for public education.  

As part of PCAPS, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has joined with parents, students and community to develop a common vision of high-quality schools for all children, to fight for a moratorium on school closings, and to demand full funding from Harrisburg and City Hall. Thousands of union members, from SEIU 32BJ and UNITE HERE!, as well as PFT, have come out in the streets in these fights. PFT members were also part of an effort to canvass neighborhoods, petitioning for funding and surveying parents' views. This is evidence that the union understands the importance of building alliances with the broader community. 

Meanwhile, the reformers lobby and write op-eds about getting rid of seniority. One more reason I’m sticking with the union.

Ron Whitehorne is a retired teacher and is on the steering committee of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS).


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

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Comments (67)

Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 26, 2013 5:16 pm
Some of our less informed PFT members simply don't understand the history and needs of unions. Of course, the so called reformers are corporate shills who DO understand and don't like anything even remotely related to unions. They want to cut costs and in general, want to ride herd on workers and worker rights. Yes, SOLIDARITY is crucial. I don't feel other unions being supportive and joining together but I TRULY hope you're right.
Submitted by Anonymously Anon (not verified) on September 26, 2013 6:51 pm
I'm not against seniority but our union has done very little for us. We didn't get our step which is a huge deal for young teachers like myself who wanted to make teaching a career. Making under $50,000 a year with no prospect of moving up is not a career and that's why I'm taking my first personal day ever in my career to interview out of town.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on September 26, 2013 7:13 pm
can't say i blame you. the non-response by union leadership to the blatant disregard for contract law exhibited by the cretins running this district is a real morale breaker for union members. get up off your ass jerry and take them to court.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 26, 2013 7:09 pm
I keep thinking Jordan knows what he's doing and I hope he does. Bottom line is the PFT MUST challenge Act 46 one way or the other; Otherwise, the PFT will become a "company union" which is useless.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:28 pm
Joe, I agree with you. I like the union, however, I feel left out in the dark. I haven't heard 1 update or information about negotiations since the September 2nd meeting. In a way, I sense us members are going to get a last minute royal screwing at a last minute rushed ratification vote. I see how at that meeting, ironically, that there were 3 members sitting right next to the podiums and rushed them to say, "I bring to the floor that we continue negotiations". Then the next person was right there to second it. I believe that Jordan had his cliques withing the PFT purposely sit right there to do this. The next meeting there should be people right there to say, "Strike". Then the motion would stand to strike. I am appalled that Jordan has not realized that the vast majority of this membership don't want a shoddy contract. If we extend a pay freeze for one year then that is 3 years without a raise. I'm spending close to a thousand dollars already on school supplies. The district should supply it!!! I also feel that Jordan et al are afraid to challenge the ACT 46 issue. Here is my solution-----Let the SRC impose what the want. Then, finally, the PA Supreme Court would here the arguments. Then, we could get ACT 46 deemed as unconstitutional. It seems pretty simple to me. I also question the motives behing Jordan and Nutter having the behind the scenes meeting over the PFT tv ads. Notice no one has heard anything about that meeting??? I am skeptical. We are the PFT!!! Sorry to say but if Jordan doesn't cut the mustard this time around then all teachers can easily sign a petition and go to the NLRB and say we lost faith in our union prez as he is misrepresenting his members. We shall see, but I see something fishy going down.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:00 pm
Im glad there are others that feel the same way I do. I am a young teacher that takes a lot of pride in being a part of urban education. I am starting to get extremely disgusted with our union however and demand some answers. But wait, nevermind, I am supposed to just sit here on my fingers and keep my mouth shut.
Submitted by Mr. Cheng (not verified) on September 27, 2013 7:51 am
I spent thousands of dollars out of pocket and achieved my master's degree this summer. I'm glad I have it and it has helped my practice, which helps my students. Like any career, education is also a tool we use in hopes of getting a higher salary. I was approved a salary upgrade and then, a week later, received a call from the district who said they were denying it because of a pay freeze. Needless to say, I contacted the union for help. It took five e-mails and three calls to get the answer that "Jerry agreed to a pay freeze." Oh, so this meant that other and I don't get the pay raise we worked for! Now, I am grateful that there has been no pay cut (this concept of gratitude for retaining the same salary for years is a bizarre one to me and my suburban counterparts...but because I live in Philadelphia and worked under Arlene Ackerman, I'm supposed to be thankful for simply have a job). But there has been no update re: the salary etc. Will we get the retro pay that should have begun with the September 13 paycheck? Will we ever get a raise? Instead, there is time and energy being spent on a book drive. Distractions. Not impressive.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 9:27 am
Welcome to the real world. You see, in the real world extra degrees may help in getting a higher salary or they may not. May times people get another degrees and end up losing their jobs because of some unrelated event. Nothing is guaranteed. Not only will you not get retro pay, but you will also get a significant pay cut. The SDP is still in the hole for $130 Million and there is no new money coming.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 27, 2013 9:50 am
Let's assume you're right and you may well be. Why are you gloating about others' misfortune? The point is WE ALL need to demand respect and worker rights from this corporate carpet bombing of human, civil and worker rights in the USA. The country isn't broke and the disparity between the top 5% and everybody else is growing alarmingly. Don't accept abuse and disrespect as "normal" and don't compound it by giddily seeking the demise of fellow workers so you have more company. You're better than that !!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 9:29 am
No one is gloating. But people are sick and tired of the entitlement mentality of public sector unions. No one should be laid off. Guaranteed pay raises. No accountability. No competition. All at a time when millions are suffering, through no fault of their own, and you want to raise their taxes so you don't have to sacrifice anything (And no, a one year pay freeze is not sacrifice). The economy goes in cycles. We are now in a down cycle. Welcome to the real world, folks.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:29 am
Stop drinking the cool aide. With your attitude, they have you right where they want you. Blame unions for all things wrong, ignore the facts, divide and conquer, kill by friendly fire. Think more, bluster less.
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:20 am
Joe K. - My family background is union although I'm not in a union. My wife is a union member, SEIU. It's clear that PFT is a WEAK union. Unions have lost their mojo, but that is another argument. You need new leadership, maybe even to disassociate PFT from AFT. AFT is more passive than NEA. The NEA plays hard ball. Good luck.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 27, 2013 11:01 am
Even though you're a no good varmint, I totally agree with you about the PFT. They're OLD and that alone, ain't good. Need younger, more energetic and PROACTIVE leadership. Ted Kirsch was much stronger than Jordan and seemed to be taken more seriously too. Ackerman treated Jordan like a no show and I wonder why !!
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on September 27, 2013 1:41 pm
Thanks Joe for the compliment. Then again, you are getting yourself in trouble with this blog. Good luck.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 27, 2013 1:10 pm
After you took it so seriously about a month ago, I've begun to believe you're a serious person though your story has changed a bit from time to time. Just sayin.
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on September 27, 2013 4:01 pm
No problem Joe. I try to understand both sides of the coin.
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 3:21 pm
Being called a no good varmint is Joe K's highest form of praise! Joe K fan club member
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 27, 2013 3:08 pm
Yes, some people can't take compliments. I know I can't.
Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:29 am
You need guys like this. Watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-piPkgAUo0w
Submitted by tom-104 on September 27, 2013 10:48 am
Right wingers always talk about how "sick and tired" they are. It is their essence.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 9:30 am
Do you have to pay money to do your job?
Submitted by Mr. Cheng (not verified) on September 27, 2013 11:44 am
Thank you for the warm welcome!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 4:10 pm
This must be Mr. Hite in above post ,so thanks for your hourly update about the alleged 130 million the District says it needs.Ask the cronies you hired over the summer to ante up.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:59 pm
Yes the PFT leaders have done very little the last few years.The is one reason they are having such a difficult time at the negotiation table. The District knew they were weak and PFT didn't fight for their members like a union should currently. Seniority already is being violated, the District has brought in brand new hires when laid off teachers with appropriate certification are still on furlough.The District uses the guise of dual certification but that is a breach of contract and state statute.The PFT officers have done hardly anything about this. The PFT has to stop throwing in our face that ACT 46 bs .Either take it before the courts or call the District out on it.Stop enabling the SDP with that over our heads all the time-it's illegal. You get unity when members feel actually represented and respected -which both are lacking now from leaders andstaff in the PFT. Jordan may be a nice guy but an awful,feeble,nonresponsive,passive,union president. Worker beware!!! Email PFT and let them know your sentiments: jjordan@pft.org akempin@pft.org bgordan@pft.oeg dphillips@pft.org lharris@pft.org jdubin@pft.org
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:49 pm
This is from my other post----Joe, I agree with you. I like the union, however, I feel left out in the dark. I haven't heard 1 update or information about negotiations since the September 2nd meeting. In a way, I sense us members are going to get a last minute royal screwing at a last minute rushed ratification vote. I see how at that meeting, ironically, that there were 3 members sitting right next to the podiums and rushed them to say, "I bring to the floor that we continue negotiations". Then the next person was right there to second it. I believe that Jordan had his cliques withing the PFT purposely sit right there to do this. The next meeting there should be people right there to say, "Strike". Then the motion would stand to strike. I am appalled that Jordan has not realized that the vast majority of this membership don't want a shoddy contract. If we extend a pay freeze for one year then that is 3 years without a raise. I'm spending close to a thousand dollars already on school supplies. The district should supply it!!! I also feel that Jordan et al are afraid to challenge the ACT 46 issue. Here is my solution-----Let the SRC impose what the want. Then, finally, the PA Supreme Court would here the arguments. Then, we could get ACT 46 deemed as unconstitutional. It seems pretty simple to me. I also question the motives behing Jordan and Nutter having the behind the scenes meeting over the PFT tv ads. Notice no one has heard anything about that meeting??? I am skeptical. We are the PFT!!! Sorry to say but if Jordan doesn't cut the mustard this time around then all teachers can easily sign a petition and go to the NLRB and say we lost faith in our union prez as he is misrepresenting his members. We shall see, but I see something fishy going down.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 28, 2013 3:50 pm
The PFT has the worst record in the last few years for grievances resolved favorably.Yet, what you expect when they have the worst grievance rep. handling them. Grievance rep. Barbara Gordon,enabled by Jerry Jordan, needs to find that exit door quickly and let's get a person in there to actual execute and win some grievances. Plus if the PFT, on the rare occassion files a grievance after twisting their arm, you will probably already retired before it goes anywhere since neither the PFT and SDP do not follow the timelime according to the contract and it takes years when it should take weeks.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 28, 2013 3:07 pm
Yes, Barbara Gordon ain't easy on your nerves and that's for sure. She gives new meaning to the word, arrogance. I contend she, like most of the big wigs there, are burned out, aged, and need to go. 75 years ago, Gordon was probably excellent but the clock stops for nobody except me.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 1, 2013 8:20 pm
Contact this Democratic State Representative who is being a sell out and tell her not to propose or support the elimination of seniority. The rep. is Vanessa Lowery Brown (D., Phila.) about the so-called - Protecting Excellent Teachers Act she is introducing. Her Numbers: (Vanessa Lowery Brown) LOCAL OFFICE: 215-879-6615, HARRISBURG OFFICE, 717-783-3822 As for the proposed state legislation, Cetel said the Protecting Excellent Teachers Act would be introduced Tuesday by State Reps. Tim Krieger (R., Westmoreland) and Vanessa Lowery Brown (D., Phila.)
Submitted by D. Grill (not verified) on September 26, 2013 6:18 pm
Eliminating seniority will not improve teacher retention. If the school district wanted to keep experienced teachers, or any teachers, for that matter in low-performing, high-poverty schools, it would make sure that teachers in those schools had the support and resources they needed to meet their students needs. Teachers leave schools out of frustration because their working conditions do not meet their students' needs. Universal site selection allows teachers to leave these schools more quickly, and, in fact, contributes to their instability. Actually, before site selection, seniority was the one factor that kept experienced teachers in highly stressful high-poverty schools.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:40 pm
If retention is a problem, then why is seniority necessary?
Submitted by Aaron (not verified) on September 26, 2013 6:36 pm
Oh, please. What is it with you people and your fear of the real world? In my 20 years working in the real world, I've never feared my industry's lack of seniority rules, and if I couldn't do my job I'd lose it. It seems that most of the effort you people put into your jobs is to make sure you can't get fired for being lousy at it. Speaking of which, since we're talking about the wonderful Philly public school teachers, what percentage of Philly public school students graduate? What percentage can read, write, or speak at - or even NEAR - their grade level? Until that number approaches something that wouldn't embarrass folks who still possess shame, you people have NO right making demands on anyone. You are lousy at your jobs, yet want to be treated like little princesses. Read that last line a few more times so it'll sink in.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 7:46 pm
Aaron, what is the real world to you? A patronage job that pays you about 100k a year? The reason kids in Philly fail to do better than the suburbs is the get more money for more resources, books technology,etc. In addition, in Phila. there is many more problems with students due to parenting, poverty, crime, violence, drugs, malnutrition, as well as other concerns. Discipline in Philly schools needs to be a lot stronger, but that's the administration deficient since they have a code of conduct they fail to enforce. It's not the teacher's fault kids come to school with all this baggage and we deal with that and the more important issue of teaching them for a better future. You are welcome to switch with me for one day. I am sure I will see you running down the hall screaming, crying you can't take it. Just like Tony Danza did, not understanding the reality of it, just what the artificial mindset of it all. Then maybe you could advise you reformer allies of the day of a Philly teacher -- in real time.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:51 am
According to the union 99.5% of tenured senior teachers are good. You have to be deaf, dumb & blind (or just completely self-interested) to actually believe that. As the district shrinks, the pure seniority rule guaranties that the teacher corps will become ever more full of lemon teachers. Funny for Ron to talk about how the union promotes "professionalism" that engenders respect for teachers when actually it generates the opposite of respect. Society had a lot more respect for teachers before the union succeeded in eliminating concepts of merit, accountability or quality from the profession. No profession has 99.5% retention and zero accountability for malpractice. A doctor that kills people will not be a doctor for long. A teacher that fails students year after year gets a step raise.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:55 pm
The sole purpose of seniority is to protect incompetent teachers who have managed to hang around long enough and to protect those who just don't care anymore. Any young, hard working teacher who believes in seniority deserves what they get. It is simply a way for the old to take advantage of the young. Look at what happened with the UAW. Rather than take a pay cut, they bankrupted GM and Chrysler and threw the young people under the bus to be laid off. Then the young got rehired at half the wages of the "senior" head light installers. For the same job!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:45 pm
You can't possibly be this stupid, at least not by accident.
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:58 pm
Are you implying that is not what happened to the young UAW members???
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:51 pm
No, but wrong is wrong and we need to avoid all attempts to destroy human, civil and worker rights. Gloating about abuse is a lot of things but none of them is healthy.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:15 pm
"Taxpayer", I am sure you can read since your post vemin here all the time.The PFT and members proposed a one - year wage freeze and to pay a part of the health care premium. We gave at least two major givebacks,what has the District gave-not a thing.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:44 pm
The district needs to close a budget gap. How does the pft's proposal solve that problem?
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on September 26, 2013 8:40 pm
A one year pay freeze is not a sacrifice. Not at a time when we have millions of people out of work and a broke government at all levels. Broke from making promises in the past that could never be kept. We need serious concessions from the PFT.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on September 26, 2013 9:30 pm
No, we need to look seriously at the money we gave back to corporations since Corbett's ascension to the throne. Then we could take a look at the 10-year tax abatements we give to the politically well-connected people who can afford to buy those properties, certainly not something one can do on a teacher's salary. Then we could look at our profit-making non-profits (Penn et al) and require them to pay their fair share. After we've done all that, we can talk about the salaries of the rank and file. This is a manufactured crisis. It is about breaking unions. It is not about education. It is about clearing the way for edu-businesses to clean up in urban areas. (No suburban district will touch these scumbags.)
Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:15 pm
No. The people have spoken. There is no more new money coming. The city is giving $155 Million more per year to the SDP. The state is giving more except for the one shot stimulus from the feds that dried up. Take it up with Obama. Otherwise, either make concessions or you will just start missing pay checks. The district can't pay you what they don't have. If you don't like it, go get a job elsewhere.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:45 pm
Oh, your right--the people will speak---when Mr. One Term Corbett gets voted out. Allyson Schwartz will take the women vote, minority vote, and the big city vote just like Rendell did and you know it!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 10:37 pm
We'll see about that. Schwartz will get Philly and Pittsburgh and Corbett will get everything in between. Especially when everyone else in the state hears that if Schwartz wins their taxes are going up to support two cities with a bunch of welfare queens and corrupt public sector unions. Lights out, Schwartz.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:34 pm
PERFECT---Especially the scumbag reference. Yes, it has ZERO to do with education and 100% about money for the rich and their minions like Nutter etc.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:01 pm
Problem=Arlene Ackerman. She created a $629 million dollar hole. And the funding issue should be balanced on the backs of the teachers???? Get real taxpayer. C'mon, even your smart enough to know the cause of this crisis.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 9:51 pm
TAXPAYER=TEA PARTY (the minority 20% of the Republican Party).
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on September 26, 2013 10:46 pm
"We need serious concessions from the PFT." ... because PFT is the reason why millions of people are out of work? PFT broke the government? You don't make any sense.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 6:09 am
Pft and other labor costs are the largest portion of the budget. So yes, teacher salaries are part of the problem
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 6:16 am
Pft and other labor costs are the largest portion of the budget. So yes, teacher salaries are part of the problem
Submitted by Mr. Cheng (not verified) on September 27, 2013 6:56 am
What percentage of the budget are salaries and labor costs?
Submitted by HS teach (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:04 pm
Yes, paying hard working professionals decent middle class wages is a huge problem. Not subsidizing billionaires (Comcast, major league teams, frackers etc), not letting bankers, hedge funds and insurance brokers feed at the public trough, not allowing corrupt politicians and their friends at charters loot public money without any oversight. I have an easy solution, then: let's staff Philly schools with volunteers. Who cares if poor inner city kids will be not get any decent education. Who cares, if 10000 people lose their purchasing power, and may be homes. Let's pay police, fire and all city workers minimal wage. This should fix our financial problems for sure. One can only imagine how the city will flourish, how local businesses will suddenly start to grow. I think, this idea could get me a Noble prize in economics.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 10:25 pm
I've been saying the same thing for years...sue the state for not providing FAPE simple as that. I am 32 years old and I can't afford to buy a house this year because I am worried about a pay cut. I didn't get my master's degree to live in low-income housing or live paycheck to paycheck.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 26, 2013 11:22 pm
Amen! Amen! Amen! I agree with you 100%.
Submitted by llineman on September 27, 2013 1:51 am
Can anyone tell me if they know of any Community Relation Liaisons were rehired or if they will be?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 7:42 am
"The union is an ally of parents and students." All I hear and read from teachers is how messed up the students and parents are. That doesn't make a healthy alliance. It may explain the woefully low amount of parent support you've received. Seniority is the bugaboo that stifles progress in the school district. End it or there will be no school district. You're giving them a reason for an all charter district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:15 am
An ally of parents. What a joke. The sort of ally that will stab you in the back when it benefits them. Not an ally of parents for the 50k that have chosen charters. Or one of the tens of thousands of others who are frozen out of seats. They oppose parental choice. They oppose any parental role in evaluating teacher quality. The union wants to close charters and send 50k kids back to their failing schools. Why? To protect their members jobs and increase the unions political power base.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 9:36 am
Taxpayer you need to stay off of these comment sections. You are too misinformed. If one does not work as a teacher within the PSD they will never get it. Corbett has the means and ways to give more money to struggling school districts, and not just to Philly. He chooses not to as he is part of the corporate mind to take over public schools for profit and to bust unions that protects it's members from the craziness they have to deal with on a day to day basis from the Philly School District and from the school Principals. PSD teachers work harder than most people I know and under extreme stress, often with terrible work environments, and with totally scary and unreasonable Principals. I don't mind giving into my health care, if I am hired back, or a pay freeze, but I don't make a big salary, why should I take a 10% pay cut? Teachers did not create this mess, that honor goes to Arkerman, Corbett, and the SRC. I think Corbett might take the PSD more seriously, if Hite and all his cronies he shipped up from Prince Georges County, who are making six figure salaries take a pay cut too. And not just a 10-13% pay cut. Why are they getting these salaries when the PSD can't get the funds it needs for it's teachers and students?? Hite makes double what Nutter and Corbett make. I think he even makes more than Obama! Why do we hire these questionable Superintendents at such high salarie rates? Shouldn't they have a probationary period where they prove themselves first? I don't care much for NJ Governor Christie but he has a reasonable statewide cap on how much his school Superintendents make-$175,000.00 per year. Why can't we do that in Pa?? The PFT supports seniority for many reasons.One reason, and the top reason they support seniority, is to protect it's PFT teachers from the PSD Principals. Unfortunately, most of the Principals in the PSD are very corrupt, crazy, and just plain bad. If they are given the power to pick whatever teacher and staff member they want most of the good teachers would leave. No one speaks of this, but it is the main reason the PFT holds onto seniority. I did work in the school district for 5 years, had to move around to 4 schools during that time, and had 7 Principals during that time. Only one of these Principals was decent and not a racist. Yesterday, I was at two Philly private schools for different reasons. There I met and spoke at length with two bright, energetic young teachers who had each worked in the PSD for 5 years.One of them worked at a neighborhood school in the Northeast and one worked at a special admission school. Both of these wonderful young teachers has left the PSD because of how they have been treated by the district and because of all the cuts being made (by Corbett) that have made it impossible for them to really teach the way students should be taught to. It is sad. The PSD is loosing great teachers, and they seem to have NO CLUE!! Do they even care about the students at all??
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:24 am
How much does Jerry Jordan make? and Weingarten?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 10:55 am
Yes, that is a good question. I have wondered about that myself. I am not saying that there is not corruption in the PFT or AFT either. I am a total cynic, believe me!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 4:03 pm
I saw both their yearly salaries before and forget exact amount but was close to 160,000 for Jordan and 350,000 for Weingarten. Both are awful union representatives and both should resign immediately and let's get on with the show of actual union representation for their members and stop this pussy-footing around that they both illustrate . Kirsch is a has-been .He needs to go too.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 12:29 pm
I get you don't like Corbett. He is a sad sack of a leader for sure. But he is not a dictator. To be fair, the Philly delegation could have cut a deal for more funding in Philly schools in return for privatizing liquor stores. But keeping a few thousand state store workers in their privileged taxpayer funded position (at the expense of PA consumers) was a much higher priority for Philly's state delegation than funding its schools. Money talks. And the Philly delegation responds only to special interests, doing nothing to help citizens here but complain.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 11:36 am
iam a seiu dristrict 1201 member,me and my union brothers and sisters feel like were paying the school dist. of philadelphia to work here.we are giving back 1000,000,000 .wtf
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 12:26 pm
Be grateful. The district could have outsourced and saved $10 million a year even after your givebacks. But city council responds well to your political pressure, so you get to keep the extra $10 million a year for now. You know some of your brothers and sisters are complete slackers. As an FYI, outside of the government people generally get paid more if they are more productive and/or contribute a good effort to an effective organization. You're bothers and sisters have decades of getting paid more for declining productivity. Of course, rather than paying the district, you could always find a better paying job in the private sector. Lol.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on September 27, 2013 2:44 pm
I don't know about Corbett being a "dictator", I do know that Corbett doesn't care about the inner city kids of Philly and giving them decent public education. Corbett is a Teapartyer who is a racist and mad that there is a black man in the Oval Office. I am saying this as someone who is white. What people who are not teachers or school counselors do not understand, we do the work we do because we like working with kids. MOST not all of us are good at it and do a good job. But teaching is like any other profession, there are people that work hard and those that don't. Of course we could "always find a better paying job in the private sector. lol" and I don't feel that this is a laugh out loud matter. No one should. It is a scary matter. If we wanted to make more money we would obviously not be teaching!! For some people it is surprisingly not all about the money!
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on September 27, 2013 5:40 pm
Couple of comments: I went to the union chapter meeting a couple of days ago. Some questions were answered (not the big ones but some...) We are on a pay and contract freeze retro active to last year so if you didn't get your step processed before June 2013 it won't happen until negotiations are completed. (How much I'd the SPD saving on this point, btw? Hmmmmm) They are taking the legal issues to court about the breach of contract and cannot discuss it further until it is settled. Possible updates later. The books for the book drive this weekend were FREE donated by First Books (or something similar) Attend the chapter meetings people! Easiest way to make our union stronger and communication better. As for seniority - until the system is fixed to weed out teachers who are just phoning it in, somehow fairly and by the arbitrary whim of a "supervisor", it's all we have to level the playing field. Is it perfect? Absolutely not BUT it is better than no check on admin hiring and firing at will. What's to stop them from firing every 24 year teacher to save on pensions? Pensions that teacher has paid into for 24 years! At 25 years the payout goes up but at 24 it is still very low. Also, if the admin followed the procedures and documented poor performance of burned out teachers then they could, at some point, be fired. This is not the fault of the rest of us 95% who actually care and do the best we can. I'm not thrilled with the choices the district and Hite and Corbett, et al have made. Especially galling was the decision to pour millions into SLA at the expense of the rest of the schools. Decisions like this that early go against a fair and equatable education for all are mind numbingly obscene! They flaunt how badly they favor those students and families who "can do" education their elitist way and say to heck with the rest of you losers!! You all go to the back of the bus. Is it 1950 again?????
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on September 28, 2013 9:48 am
Yes, it is 1950 again and it all started with the elections of 2010. I know there were issues before that with the SRC but the major green light started in 2010 when the Tea Party racists etc. came into power. NOTHING will change until the people force it to stop through solidarity and real action. All the rest of it is well intended but useless nonsense.

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