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PSP, PennCAN weigh in on District's move to impose contract terms

By Dale Mezzacappa on Apr 15, 2014 09:56 AM

The latest "friend of the court" brief in the legal battle over whether the School Reform Commission can impose contract terms on the teachers' union, in the face of stalled negotiations and a worsening budget scenario, is from the Philadelphia School Partnership and PennCAN.

The groups urge the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where the SRC filed its motion, to act soon. "The situation has deteriorated to the point that it requires prompt and definitive resolution," says the brief, which was prepared by the law firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young.

The two groups favor the "portfolio model" of reform adopted by the SRC and back its position that it has the right to unilaterally alter work rules regarding seniority, teacher preparation times, and other matters that traditionally have been negotiated. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has vehemently opposed the petition.

"The Partnership and PennCAN are deeply concerned that the ongoing and annually worsening city school budget crisis -- and the intractable labor disputes that always accompany it -- will continue to erode the state of public education in Philadelphia," the brief says.

"The Commission needs to be able to ... enact reforms to ensure schools can fulfill the needs of students as the Commission works through the obstacles to achieving financial stability. Every tool legitimately provided to it by the Legislature, including the ability to undertake reasonable staffing reforms, needs to be readily at its disposal." 

The state law taking over the District allows for the direct appeal in legal disputes to the Supreme Court. There is no indication of when the court will hand down a ruling.

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Comments (16)

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on April 15, 2014 11:30 am
If the court won't move expeditiously, the SRC should just impose the terms. We've had enough of this nonsense. It's time to get the SDP on a sustainable financial path. If the terms are not acceptable to some PFT members, let them go find employment elsewhere.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 15, 2014 11:50 am
Are you ready for terms to be imposed on your job...or your pension?
Submitted by Anon2 (not verified) on April 15, 2014 12:17 pm
Like most Americans, I have no pension. Saving for retriement the good old fashioned way. So, yes.
Submitted by union member (not verified) on April 15, 2014 5:24 pm
Pensions are the good old-fashioned American way. Make it a priority that those who have worked their entire lives don't have to spend their retirement wondering if they will be out on the street. No one should have to live their aging years choosing between food or heat. Everyone should have a guaranteed income. Not just CEOs who can't figure out what to to with their billions.
Submitted by Maria (not verified) on April 17, 2014 12:25 pm
Taxpayer will never answer your questions because its easier to attack!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 15, 2014 5:38 pm
Wouldst that I could! But after teaching Math for four years in Philadelphia, I find that I am now anathema to suburban districts. I have interviewed with six districts in four surrounding counties in the past several weeks, and each was greatly impressed with my educational background and my abilities - UNTIL they discovered that I'd taught for the SDP. Instantly, they lost all interest in me. Apparently, teaching in Philly is akin to stepping in a pile of dog doo - it's impossible to wipe off the "atmosphere" and the odor of it follows you everywhere. Suburban HR people sniff and turn up their noses and look at you as if you were a bag of chemical contaminant as they rush to get you the hell out of their offices. One s.o.b. assured me that I would "feel very out of place" with the students in his leafy green district, "given the sort of kids you've accustomed yourself to dealing with." This is outrageous! I went to work in Philadelphia because I wanted to share my talents with the neediest kids for a few years; I did NOT think that the move would put a permanent mark of Cain on my forehead and make me virtually ineligible for hire anywhere else! Next to the shag haircut I got in junior high and the rhinestone hoop earrings I wore to my senior prom, teaching in Philly has turned out to be one of the worst decisions I've ever made. Well, good luck to my brave and valiant colleagues who remain behind. I think you're all terrific. But I've got a nine-year-old Toyota with a full tank of gas, and come June, I'm pointing it south and I'm getting the hell out of Dodge.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 15, 2014 7:57 pm
Wow... Maybe a fews years at a charter school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 15, 2014 9:19 pm
I second it. I have same experience. Getting the hell out after 5 years.
Submitted by Education Grad ... on April 15, 2014 9:46 pm
Have you tried Radnor? Their HR manager, Dr. Vincent Citarelli, has hired teachers from Philly. I know because I went to a networking event and he stated that he's hired teachers from Philly. Yes, some districts have a bias versus SDP teachers, but not all. There are a number of posters on here who have stated that they started in the SDP and now work in the suburbs.
Submitted by WeAllPayTaxes (not verified) on April 15, 2014 11:02 pm
It was the SRC that took the Philly School District OFF the "sustainable financial path". These problems were caused by the fools from the state takeover that haven't done anything right yet, but refuse to leave. Taking money from the lowest paid teachers in the state is NOT the answer. If you can get anyone to come teach in this environment you will be lucky if they stay the year. You'll have a chance to run a classroom instead of your mouth when there is a strike if the SRC is foolish enough to impose terms.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 16, 2014 8:57 am
The district was on a shaky fiscal and academic path for decades. There are schools that have been failing for years. There needs to be real change in the district instead of complaining. We can't keep things the same and expect real improvement.
Submitted by Maria (not verified) on April 17, 2014 12:40 pm
Yes, but the changes should not come from my paycheck. There are issues that we never discuss; parenting, students and not real charter choice. Let's start talking about the real issues!!!!!
Submitted by Timeforachange (not verified) on April 17, 2014 2:15 pm
That's because politicians have used educational funds for their own uses. Why has there been a teacher led school? One where the administrative decision are handled by the teachers. Charters are suppose to be a way of finding things that work, and yet, public schools are continually denied choices charters are given. If it works in a charter then it should also be used in the public schools. It is not because most of this "reform" is about unionbusting, not educational reform.
Submitted by Aspira Steals from Taxpayers (not verified) on April 15, 2014 12:41 pm
Taxpayer needs to reeducate him or herself. You should desire a world where all professionals are paid well and have a pension. Don't be a jealous troll, try and improve the system for yourself. Do you want unskilled, inexperienced paraprofessionals teaching your children? Do you want the SRC to never hire skilled teachers because they don't pay professional salaries? Taxpayer, raise your standards for the children of Philadelphia.
Submitted by Geoffrey Winikur (not verified) on April 15, 2014 12:43 pm
Taxpayer used this blog to lie about serving in the military. This, of course, is a lie, because if s/he actually did serve this country, the s/he would call her/himself War Hero. Taxpayer would rather the Koch Brothers pay no taxes than hardworking teachers earn fair wages.
Submitted by Darryl Johns (not verified) on April 15, 2014 3:14 pm
For years the SRC has allowed the School District of Philadelphia to virtually engineer budget deficits, the worst of which were the deficits manufactured by the late Superintendent who created programs without concern for the costs or the availability of financial resources. Now the District wants to impose a contract on the PFT as if the union had some role in creating this fiasco. If the SRC/SDP wants concessions, then let the union have a seat at the table. Personally I believe that the SDP has been negotiating in bad faith for years. So any agreement with them would be suspect. Their portfolio approach is bad for education and its bad for students; it institutionalizes the underfunding of the SDP as if money doesn’t matter. It’s better to have two oversight entities: one for the SDP and another for the charters; in that structure an SDP Board of Education would be always acting in the best interest of the SDP…not in the interest of disinterested politicians.

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