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The District's court petition and the uncertain future of collective bargaining

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 2, 2014 01:49 PM

In its petition filed last week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Philadelphia School District is asserting its right to make changes that could have the effect of casting aside nearly 50 years of collective bargaining history, during which its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has grown to govern not just salaries and benefits but minute details of daily life in schools.

To the PFT, the contract codifies protections for its members and guarantees them everything from functional water fountains to the right of senior teachers to claim positions in preferred schools. The union has long argued that its working conditions are student learning conditions and that some provisions, like limiting class size and specifying when schools must have counselors and librarians, have acted as a bulwark against the steady erosion of services while also preserving jobs.

But 13 years after the state took over the District – and after negotiating two contracts with the PFT – the School Reform Commission is now trying to invoke special powers it received through the law that declared the District “fiscally distressed” and changed its governance. That law, Act 46, “remade the collective bargaining landscape” by stripping the union of its right to strike and “cut back sharply on the scope of the School District’s duty to bargain,” according to the petition. 

District lawyers say that Act 46 exempts the District from negotiating a wide range of matters – so-called “non-mandatory” items under labor law – that, aside from wages and benefits, had long been the meat of the contract. These include staffing patterns and teacher assignments, class schedules, the academic calendar, layoffs and recall of teachers, and daily preparation time.

This petition cites six provisions of the contract. But if it prevails in its legal argument, other non-economic issues could also be affected.

Why is the SRC doing this now? It says that lack of money has forced its hand.

“During the current school year, the School District and the SRC have struggled to adjust to an unprecedented gap between actual funding levels and the amount needed to maintain prior year service levels,” the petition says. “The resulting cuts ... left the School District with what can only be described as a bare-bones workforce – one that is 20 percent smaller than the year before and 33 percent smaller than just three years ago.”

It blames these “drastically reduced staffing levels” for requiring the District “to examine its work rules and practices and implement reforms that allows it to operate more efficiently and in a way that better meets the educational needs of its students.”

For instance, in assigning, laying off, and recalling teachers, the District wants to reduce the role seniority plays. Instead, it wants to give principals and school leadership teams the power to decide not only who works in what schools, but who is laid off and who is recalled.

“The piece of this I think is interesting, it is clear they are doing this for financial reasons,” said one local attorney involved with School District legal issues who did not want to be named. “They’re not going to lay off anybody if they have adequate funds. All of this is intertwined in the inadequacy of what [the District has] funding-wise.”

Susan DeJarnatt, a law professor at Temple who has written extensively about charter schools, said that although she is not an expert in labor law, she observed that the District’s actions are based on the 2001 “declaration of distress.”

One of the legal questions, she said, is “How long is a declaration of distress good for? It is bizarre to me that the state can issue such a declaration, take over the School District, screw up the funding, and then rely on that declaration” as a rationale for taking unilateral actions.

She also wondered why the SRC went straight to the Supreme Court in this matter, but hasn’t sought to use that legal shortcut to resolve a longstanding dispute with charter schools over whether the District can limit their enrollment.

Michael Masch, a former District chief financial officer who was involved in past contract negotiations, said that although the SRC may not have been required to bargain over certain matters, “it did, repeatedly” since 2001.

“Now the District wants the Supreme Court to say that all of that bargaining didn’t matter,” he said.

For their part, District officials say that they are putting forth the economic argument to show that the District is still in “distress,” the legal trigger for exercising the powers in Act 46. They are not seeking a remedy in the form of more funds, but rather more flexibility. The contract as it stands, they say, does not allow the District to operate efficiently with the funds available.

For instance, they want school schedules to build in collaboration time for teachers – they say this is a best practice – but they are forbidden by the contract from any control over the teachers’ daily preparation periods. Although some schools buy additional “prep” periods for collaboration, they can no longer afford this, the officials say.

Although the District’s petition complains that, as an example, 40 of its schools do not have a full-time counselor on staff, it does not seek funds to restore at least one counselor to every school, but rather cites that as another example of the need to abolish contract provisions that impede its flexibility.

PFT president Jerry Jordan calls this an “end-around” good-faith bargaining and signals that the District’s real purpose is stripping teachers of their rights.

“This is not about children, this is not about money. They’ve been lying all along,” he said. 

If the District wins its argument, it could substantially gut a document that is, as much as anything, a legacy of the mistrust that has existed between the union and the District since the PFT won bargaining rights in 1965.

Take the seniority issue.

The role of seniority in assigning, laying off, and recalling teachers is one of the mainstays of the contract. Until the state takeover, the system was ironclad: All positions were filled strictly through seniority, with teachers choosing from available vacancies in order of seniority. Even brand new teachers right out of college chose their assignments in order based on scores on a certification test.

That system, designed to take human judgment out of the assignment process for fear of nepotism and favoritism, resulted in a culture that made it difficult – though not impossible if the principal was determined – to create teams of like-minded teachers in schools.  

Since 2000, however, the union has agreed to partial “site selection." For some positions, teachers must interview at schools with openings and be chosen by the principal and leadership team. And today most of the vacancies in the District are eligible to be filled through this process.

These positions include all of those in the nearly 140 “distressed” schools and all of the teacher jobs at more than 30 schools that vote each year for full site selection.

At the rest of the schools, about 50, at which there has either not been a vote or the faculty rejected it, half the jobs can be filled through site selection.

All this adds up to between 80 and 90 percent of jobs eligible to be filled through site selection, according to Arlene Kempin, general vice president of the PFT.

However, according to District records, only between 40 and 60 percent of positions over the last few years have actually been filled this way, in part because there are some openings for which no one applies.

Kempin said that this shows site selection alone hasn’t solved one of the District’s biggest problems – sending the most qualified teachers to the neediest schools. But in any case, she added, the biggest issue with seniority for the union concerns layoffs and subsequent recalls.

“There’s such a minuscule number that are not filled through site selection,” she said. “Site selection has already been negotiated, and we have so much of it.

"For us, layoffs have to be done according to seniority, and recall in the order of reverse seniority.”

For instance, last summer the District laid off all its counselors, then recalled them selectively when it pieced together new funding. Calling back the counselors in order of seniority would have triggered a musical chairs game of reassignment as each in turn claimed an open position. Instead, the District decided which schools would get full-time counselors, and mostly called back individuals who previously worked in them to fill their former jobs.

The result was that some of the most senior people who were the second or third counselors in larger schools were not called back, while some with just a few years of experience were.

The District said it needed to do this in the name of staff stability, wanting students to continue to work with counselors they knew. The union, however, filed grievances against the process, arguing that it is fundamentally unfair to its members.

"Some counselors with 20 years of seniority are still out of work, while somebody with just two years has been back since day one,” Kempin said. “That’s our stumbling block. ... Seniority is the backbone of any contract. It’s the most objective way. If you do it any other way, you are leaving open that you didn’t get the job because you were a woman or white or black or green. When you introduce subjective criteria, it raises questions and mistrust.

"If you’re certified and qualified, there is no reason you can’t choose where you want to teach.”

The PFT is expected to file its response to the District’s petition on Thursday.

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Comments (39)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 2:49 pm
We (PFT) should be on strike. Now. Let's have a membership meeting and have an actual (BALLOT, NOT VOICE) vote on it.
Submitted by Enough Already! (not verified) on April 3, 2014 12:38 pm
With the folks at 440 determined to destroy us, with a PFT frozen in inertia, with an outrageous class size of kids who are acting up and acting out like never before - and with the prospects for next year being much WORSE - I have finally had ENOUGH! An earlier post asked how the SDP thinks it can hold onto high-demand teachers in fields like Math, Science, Special Ed and Foreign Languages. I don't know the answer to this, but I DO know that the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit is hosting a recruitment fair for experienced-and-new Special Ed teachers at Abington High School from 6 PM to 8 PM on Wednesday, April 23rd - and THIS lady will be in attendance with an arm full of resumes. I intend to land a job in some functional suburban district that will respect me for my hard work, pay me what I'm worth - and put an end to this multi-year nightmare the SDP has put me through. Best wishes to all.
Submitted by Jimila (not verified) on April 3, 2014 8:45 pm
Thank you for the tip! I'll see you there!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 4, 2014 1:26 am
This is old news (below) but a reminder that Corbett can't keep his own house in order.He is such a double talking, hypocrite. Corbett has bi-racial relatives who went to Phila. traditional schools already.And another bi-racial younger grandchild of Gov. Corbett that may also in the near future.You think he would be more understanding .I heard it's a payback to his son -in-law, daughter since he didn't agree to the bi-racial marriage . Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette The son-in-law of Gov. Tom Corbett, a narcotics officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, is under investigation by the FBI and was removed from the street today, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Philadelphia Police department confirmed that a narcotics officer was taken off the street and placed on administrative leave Thursday, following the results of an FBI and Internal Affairs investigation. The department said it would not identify the officer because he had not been arrested or formally charged. The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing anonymous sources, identified the officer as Gerold Gibson, Mr. Corbett's son-in-law. Mr. Corbett, attending a Chamber of Commerce event in Philadelphia late Thursday, left without speaking to the media. Officer Gibson is married to Mr. Corbett's daughter, Katherine, who works as a deputy attorney general in the Philadelphia office making $69,700. She started in March of 2012, and as of late last year she was assigned to the office's Drug Strike Force section. Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/governors-son-in-law-sai... According to law enforcement sources, Gerald Gibson is a narcotics officer with the Philadelphia force. Sources tell us Gibson was caught on hidden camera, taking money out of a car he was told to search. What Gibson didn't know, according to sources, is that that the was money planted in the car by investigators. Gibson has been placed on administrative leave, according to sources. http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Governor-Corbett-Son-in-Law-In.... How ironic, former PA. Attorney General, now GOP Governor Tom Corbett has the woman that he appointed Attorney General, hire Corbett's daughter to work on the Drug Strike Force, but the Philly police & FBI arrest her police narcotics officer husband in a sting operation. Let's all sing another chorus of Family Values.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 2:12 pm
To PFT officials Kempin, Jordan and Harris what's the update on those grievances filed way back in Aug. 2013? Why don't you demand the District adhere to the time frame in the CBA? If they don't, by default, advance the dispute up to arbitration to get some of these settled. This would resolve many of the issues you raised in that article and with all the breaches the District does daily. It seems we never get the result of a grievance for years. Step up the process like other unions do. Not let it linger for years and years hoping the grievant either forgets, gives up or dies since so many years past until there is a resolution. That's not the way the dispute resolution process was set up, with specific time lines in the CBA. PFT officials allow it to be this way. There are other options like I mentioned to advance since the SDP refuses to give employee a due process hearing .escalate it immediately when time elapses to arbitration. I bet you would win many grievances and have less issues with the SDP since appoint was proven. We might already had a ruling on seniority. Just filing out a piece of grievance paper and not executing them does not good for member or the union as a whole. Email Jordan, Kempin and Harris, Weingarten, and Kirsch and ask when the grievances, mainly about seniority will be settled and back-pay awarded. Why do PFT / AFT officers always wait and wait until District does something first and not get aggressive .be proactive not reactive all the time. Stop the meaningless words and take action NOW. Email addresses of some of the major players in the PFT/AFT: jjordan@pft.org -PFT ,Pres. lharris@pft.org -Grievance Rep, and Asst. to Jordan akempin@pft.org - Gen.VP,PFT rweingarten@aft.org - AFT, Pres. tkirsch@aftpa.org - AFTPA ,Pres.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 2:48 pm
The last major grievance that went through quickly that I can remember was about 5 or 6 years ago. Something about a calendar quirk that gave us 27 paychecks instead of 26. For one year every bodies bi-weekly check was something like $100 lower. Even used a "forensic accountant" and the PFT hyped it up as major. We lost. Now there are MAJOR contract violations. What is going on with EVERY school getting a 1.0 counselor? Before school got out last year Jerry Jordan told the counselor like "yeah, we'll fight it" but didn't sound convincing. What's the update?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 2:37 pm
I can tell you the grievance update. The District and PFT officials use all that grievance filing paper for toilet paper at the schools to save more money on buying any toilet paper.Of course, they wouldn't use it at 440 or the PFT headquarters since they get the top grade of toilet paper-for a gentle touch .Give the schools all the rough stuff ,if anything at all. That way we can pretend we "lost" grievance or just say it wasn't worth anything anyway-just a piece of paper to wipe yourself with. We certainly do not see any grievances moving forward. When there are no consequences- problems continue and expand. Doesn't the union get that simple philosophy?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 8:19 pm
I remember that, each check was less so that the District could keep more money.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 2:42 pm
To clarify Renaissance charters. They are not "charter schools" in reality. They are schools operated by "management agreements" versus a charter grant. Since the inception of the Renaissance initiative back in 2010 many union jobs were lost to these managed schools.Jordan got sideswiped by Ackerman by allowing this. Jordan totally messed up and failed to not make sure that these "management agreements" schools were union affiliated -keeping the jobs in the PFT . The SDP did this back about a dozen years of so with management firms like Edison, Foundation and others. They were all keep union jobs , just managed by "management agreements". Jordan dropped the ball on this one by not saving many union jobs here. I doubt the push would be so forceful to open more Renaissance schools if they had to pay a decent salary and benefits. Since now they can open these schools and pay a lot less to teachers, staff, with no job security, due process, etc.they have more of an incentive to do so. More importantly , the PFT union would be more powerful with more members left in the fold and more schools represented. The "management agreements" schools should turn them over to the District when the schools reach a certain academic level ,not be in operation forever.Operate them for about five years to see if a difference is made, if not, turn them back to the District.Either case there should be a five year cap to manage them-period. The million dollar question here is- why the SDP can't do what the charters are doing ? This way they could just to keep them traditional District schools .What most of these charters do for achievement is crack down on discipline,behavior.Unlike the SDP that has a school code of conduct that isn't enforced. Basically, what Hite, Green, SRC,and Ackerman (back in her day) among many others are saying I can't run / manage these challenging District schools properly- so let's release them to charters or "management agreement" schools. That would classify the SDP leaders as being more incompetent, than there already are, and just passing the buck. That's not doing their jobs .Anyone can walk away from a challenge -to make their jobs easier. An effective person takes it head on.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on April 2, 2014 5:04 pm
You make several valid points about Ackerman and Jordan but now, The SRC is just doing whatever they want, whenever and wherever so the scope has changed in a big way. I don't understand why the PFT is allowing this to continue without striking. At least then, all would be exposed for all to see. Pretending that something isn't happening or in some other way, staying quiet while being abused, can't be the answer. I get the legal challenges piece but doing nothing else doesn't seem to be an appropriate response especially when every day, apparently all day, these cretins just ignore all sense of fair play at every level. Pretty soon, there will be nothing to fight for.
Submitted by anon (not verified) on April 2, 2014 7:46 pm
your last line bears repeating joe. "Pretty soon, there will be nothing to fight for." wake the hell up jerry. you're sleep walking through the systematic dismantling of the public education system of a city that was once considered one of the great bastions of democracy in the free world. is that going to be your epitaph? act dammit!
Submitted by tom-104 on April 2, 2014 8:46 pm
I disagree with one of your statements, "What most of these charters do for achievement is crack down on discipline,behavior.Unlike the SDP that has a school code of conduct that isn't enforced." The charters "discipline crackdown" is just to send their discipline problems back to the public schools. The public schools must take them by law. What this all comes down to is that the District has given up on the children from low income families. Bill Green said it very clearly on the day he took office: *** "In them, he envisioned a "recovery school district" model (similar to what's currently in place in Louisiana) that, in effect, would create two distinct landscapes of public education in Philadelphia. One landscape would include the district's well-performing schools, and the other would comprise the district's "failing" schools The former would be managed by a local school board appointed by the mayor; the latter would be managed by a intensive turnaround team overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Education." *** http://tinyurl.com/l4c37zr So the public schools are to continue to be underfunded and under resourced with (they hope) low paid teachers for the children from low income families and they will be little more than preparing students for the schools to prison pipeline.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:39 pm
You are correct.I should clarify that statement.The charters do crack down by getting rid of the behavior students by sending them to traditional public schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 3:06 pm
Let's see the PFT Attorney teams legal arguments tomorrow submitted to the PA State Supreme Court.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 8:09 pm
In my opinion this is correct: the District’s actions are based on the 2001 “declaration of distress.” One of the legal questions, she said, is “How long is a declaration of distress good for? It is bizarre to me that the state can issue such a declaration, take over the School District, screw up the funding, and then rely on that declaration” as a rationale for taking unilateral actions.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:19 pm
Then use that self-created and maintained "distress" to control all the educational resources (or lack there of) for our city's children for the past 13+ years. Disgusting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:25 pm
Then use that self-created and maintained "distress" to control all the educational resources (or lack there of) for our city's children for the past 13+ years. Disgusting.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 10:36 pm
It's easy to pick and choose where the PFT's successes and failures have been. The fact is, we have won more battles than we've lost, despite an unconstitutional legal and political landscape. And we're still here! Don't get caught up in the minutiae of internal squabbles and battles. At this moment in our history, stay together. It's more than a slogan: it's a winning formula. The SOLE goal here is to destroy the union and charterize the entire district to sell off to for-profits. That's the goal here and throughout the country. Hite is a disciple of Eli Broad; Green is in bed with Corbett. Both wouldn't have an original idea if it hit them. They have their orders...that's why they have their positions. Think about it. They weren't brought in to innovate and save. Only to divide and conquer. I remain optimistic: 1) We have a superb legal team; Act 46 won't stand once challenged. 2) By any yardstick the SRC past and present has been an abject failure. 3) You can run the district without 500 principals--83% of whom unconscionably gave back their raises and took to months off a year in exchange for unprecedented control. They no longer have ANY credibility within the district and public. 4) We have the overwhelming support of students and families; the SRC are seen as untrustworthy manipulators; mostly powerful outsiders telling others what they need. The one exception is the parent SRC member, who is a waste of a seat--the personification of a rubber stamp whose next thought will appear to be hear first. The ONLY thing that can hurt us is internal squabbling. Not now! Stay united. This SRC is in for the battle they never expected...
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 10:30 pm
excellent!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 10:36 pm
I don't agree that "The ONLY thing that can hurt us is internal squabbling." I don't see any "squabbling" that has hurt us. What is hurting us is inaction against the SRC. A robust debate about what to do is necessary. That is not "squabbling", that is democracy. The only way we can build a strong movement to stop this is to have democracy, not blindly follow orders without thinking or debate.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:57 pm
Exactly , well said! We need healthy debate to keep the PFT officials on their toes and perhaps give them some ideas, thoughts that might help the cause on all members behalf. Obviously, we don't agree with everything anyone does including the PFT leaders and most certainly the SDP. Many members just like to know why more action is not implemented by PFT to avoid many problems.Starting with executing grievances, to the fullest, that is in the CBA to resolve issues. Not just perform paperwork by filing them to say you did something.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:54 pm
No problem. Debate is healthy and democratic and SHOULD be apart of any organization, BUT the place for that debate is within that organization during membership meetings, Building meetings and between members. Would you air your family debates or disagreements with your child or parent here in the Public School Notebook Blog?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:16 pm
Do you go to the same PFT membership meetings that I do? The meetings I've seen shut you down when you disagree with the officers of the PFT/AFT or AFT,PA by saying you're out of order or motion was improperly done, or can't address that issue now or some other trumped - up lame excuse to not have a healthy debate. I tried numerous times to contact and discuss issues with the PFT officials and they are down right rude, by hanging up ,(even when you're polite-just didn't agree with you so would terminate call), will substantiate why the SDP violates the contract so they do not have to do anything ,will not usually return calls, emails, totally disrespecting members by ignoring their input to list a few things.Not many business would stay afloat treating members/customers like that.Yet, they get away with it because no accountability or democratic process to place them in their positions for the rest of their careers.Not stepping another foot inside the class to teach, or another staff job. I'm the first in line regarding solidarity,unity but it works both ways and you have to feel you are being treated decently.I, as well as many other members do not unfortunately get that feeling with the leaders of the PFT. Hopefully, that will change quickly. No time to waste.
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on April 3, 2014 5:36 am
I wholeheartedly agree! My contacts to the PFT have often been ignored. I did get one computer generated email 2 months after I sent mine though. We all pay our dues - we should all have a say and given time to speak.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:04 pm
No problem. Debate is healthy and democratic and SHOULD be apart of any organization, BUT the place for that debate is within that organization during membership meetings, Building meetings and between members. Would you air your family debates or disagreements with your child or parent here in the Public School Notebook Blog?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:59 pm
"I don't see any "squabbling" that has hurt us" Then you're not paying attention. It's called divide and conquer, when they see Union members arguing in blogs, in tweets and on FB pages, they see a divided (and weak) Union. The time and place for internal debates between Union members is in Union meetings, not in public, that's just common sense, especially when you are in a battle like we are in. You would air your debates with family members in public, or would YOU?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 2, 2014 11:08 pm
Our union by laws say that we are supposed to have six general membership meetings a year. When our members go over 7 months without this meeting for all, you get these debates taking place in The Notebooks, blogs, etc. If we want our members to be more active, but also handle debates internally, we need more meetings to accomplish this. I hope we have them much more regularly than what we've had in the past two school years.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2014 12:59 am
PFT Pres @jerrytjordan will join teachers and others at Steele elementary tomorrow for informational picketing. #PhlEd @PFTLocal3 Do some thinking outside the box and change it up. Instead of standing outside Steele school and picketing go picket outside Hite, Green and other SRC members houses.Just as long as it isn't on their private property ,like the street or sidewalk, etc.-there isn't nothing they can do. Show their neighbors what real a-holes they are.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2014 12:33 am
Yeah picket outside their homes as well as the homes of Corbett, state legislature reps.,(who do not fairly fund schools), Nutter , city council and Gleason -among others. Forget standing outside the schools go right to the source.Expose these creatures for what they really are.Self -serving , non caring,union busting, craping on the middle class workers, puppets for the misguided politicians and greedy rich.
Submitted by inthetrenches (not verified) on April 3, 2014 4:58 am
Yes - picket outside the houses of Green, Hite, Khin, Gleason and Nutter. It will emphasize that their decisions are haunting the schools and homes of our students and staff. (I have no idea where they live - with the exception of Nutter. I'm sure they are living in "posh" areas.)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2014 12:02 pm
I'll go. Where do they live?
Submitted by margaretB (not verified) on April 3, 2014 7:44 am
I feel bad for that. We should think for some alternatives and make a decision now since schools are important for students. Education is important as well as the values we learn. The government must do something and set aside their own motives.
Submitted by Wry (not verified) on April 3, 2014 10:01 am
I saw Jordan coming out of Hite's house. They hugged, and then Hite swatted Jordan's bottom. Jordan giggled and said, "Whatever Corbett tells us to do, Uncle Tom!" They both nodded. Hite excitedly ran to Corbett and Green to get a pat on the head when he told them they could go ahead with planning more prisons for Philadelphia's children.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 3, 2014 3:54 pm
Is that true Wry or you just making that up?
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 3, 2014 9:16 pm
“During the current school year, the School District and the SRC have struggled to adjust to an unprecedented gap between actual funding levels and the amount needed to maintain prior year service levels,” the petition says. “The resulting cuts ... left the School District with what can only be described as a bare-bones workforce – one that is 20 percent smaller than the year before and 33 percent smaller than just three years ago.” It blames these “drastically reduced staffing levels” for requiring the District “to examine its work rules and practices and implement reforms that allows it to operate more efficiently and in a way that better meets the educational needs of its students.” --- So the District's reasoning for the need to change work rules is the budget cuts? If the SRC and Dr. Hite REALLY cared about providing quality educational opportunities, they would be addressing the UNDERLYING ISSUE by trying to obtain ADDITIONAL FUNDING, BY ALL MEANS NECESSARY. This means by suing the Commonwealth. The SRC and Dr. Hite are NOT addressing this underlying issue. They are trying to make everyone adapt to budget cuts instead of fighting for more funding. Everyone better be paying attention to what Dr. Hite and the SRC are NOT doing. EGS
Submitted by gayle Robinson (not verified) on April 4, 2014 12:34 am
People keel it together, know who the enemy is SRC , puppet hite, and bill green.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 4, 2014 1:29 am
Hite Email: superintendent@philasd.org Green Email: wjgreen@philasd.org SRC Email: src@philasd.org Hite only gets paid by the District he doesn't actually work on their behalf ,nor does Green or SRC. They all sold their souls to the devils- like Corbett, Nutter, State Legislature, City Council, Gleason, and the rest of those nasty, selfish, greedy,rich creatures-that could careless about any children.To them it's all about money and power. Tell Hite, Green and the SRC what you think.Do it incognito ,if you wish-but do it. We all know they can be vinDICtive creatures. Hite Email: superintendent@philasd.org Green Email: wjgreen@philasd.org SRC Email: src@philasd.org
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on April 4, 2014 2:07 am
I am puzzled as to how seniority guarantees objectivity. Nepotism, favoritism have a hand in evaluations/getting seniority to begin with, as well. How do you factor that? Any time there is a criteria other than job capability or performance, there is discrimination. Even the nonsmoking criteria that health care worker employers are proposing is discriminatory for this reason. In the private sector, competition, and shareholders are supposed to hold employers accountable. You don't have this in the public sector... and probably never will. Site selection is not perfect, but likely as objective as seniority. Principal selection needs better accountability. Does the SDP ever "lose" bad principals?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 17, 2014 3:10 pm
This is how Mark Gleason operates. He discriminates based on his personal feelings. Read article below by Johanna Ginsberg NJJN Staff Writer 06.07.07 Gay teacher alleges bias in denial of tenure by S. Orange/Maplewood Board of Education when Mark Gleason was president. Robyn Brody-Kaplan, denied tenure at Columbia High School in Maplewood, at a May 30 hearing before the South Orange/Maplewood school board to reconsiderthe decision. Brody-Kaplan, a member of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, said she believes she may have been denied tenure based on her sexual orientation — she is gay — rather than on her classroom performance. Robyn Brody-Kaplan, a member of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, believes the board of education influenced the tenure process based on comments from "a few vocal parents" and overturned precedent by getting involved in a decision normally left to a teacher's supervisor and principal. A social studies teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood who was denied tenure and effectively fired for the next school year said the move had nothing to do with her classroom performance and everything to do with her sexual orientation. Levy reiterated Gleason's comments and added, "There's a lot of talk about what people think happened. The board gets blamed for a lot of things. That's what happened here. The administration made a decision that this teacher just wasn't right for the district." Hurley, who received tenure in the late 1990s, is the remaining openly gay teacher at the high school. She said the tenor of the township was completely different at the time she became tenured. "This district has gone backward," she said. "At that time, I was being sent to conferences to do sensitivity training for teachers around gay and lesbian issues," she said. "This district could be leading the state in progressiveness, but it doesn't." Maplewood/South Orange advertises itself, and is widely recognized, as a diverse community regarding race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. It has attracted a significant number of gay and lesbian couples who want to raise children in the community. According to the 2000 census, one in 43 couples living in Maplewood/South Orange is gay, double the average in New Jersey.

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