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It's time for the School Reform Commission to go

By Solomon Jones for NewsWorks on Oct 9, 2014 01:18 PM

On Monday, Philadelphia public-school teachers reported to work, as they always do, in a workplace fraught with the most dangerous of all pitfalls: hope.

In the wake of budget cuts, they report to work daily with the hope that the children will be settled; that hallways will be clean; that classrooms will be equipped with luxuries like paper and chalk.

But there is one more hope they carry with them constantly — the hope that they will have a normal day.

Students take to the streets to protest termination of teachers' contract

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 8, 2014 04:24 PM

Philadelphia students refused to attend classes at two District high schools Wednesday morning to express solidarity with their teachers, who students think have been mistreated by the School Reform Commission.

On Monday, the SRC unilaterally terminated the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers contract. With the agreement out of the way, the School District says teachers will now begin paying for a share of their health care premiums, a move they say will give classrooms an additional $44 million worth of resources this year.

More details on changes to teacher health benefits

By David Limm on Oct 8, 2014 04:10 PM

In forcing the city's teachers' union to accept cuts to its members' health care benefits, the School Reform Commission said the move will allow the financially battered School District to inject $44 million back into schools this year. 

To seek clarity on the legal authority of breaking the collective bargaining agreement with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the District and the state Department of Education filed suit asking the Commonwealth Court for a declaratory judgment that affirms the SRC's right to make its unilateral move.

Discussing the teachers' contract cancellation on 'Radio Times'

By the Notebook on Oct 8, 2014 03:00 PM

On Radio Times this morning, host Marty Moss-Coane delved into the controversy surrounding the School Reform Commission's dramatic decision to cancel the contract with the city teachers' union and force health benefits changes on its members.   

Joining her on the program were WHYY/NewsWorks education reporter Kevin McCorry for an overview of the situation, new SRC member Marjorie Neff, and PFT president Jerry Jordan, with their reactions to the SRC's decision.

What are parents saying about termination of Philly teachers' contract?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Oct 7, 2014 07:28 PM

By unanimously voting to terminate the Philadelphia teachers' union contract Monday, the School Reform Commission sent shock waves throughout the city.

The move has gained bipartisan support from the likes of Democratic Mayor Nutter and Republican Gov. Corbett.

But not so from some of the very people the move is supposed to benefit.

After SRC action, groups target Gov. Corbett as face of crisis

By the Notebook on Oct 7, 2014 04:23 PM

Members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, Fight for Philly, and Pennsylvania's Working Families Party assembled outside Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office Monday afternoon to protest the School Reform Commission's decision to unilaterally impose terms on the city's teachers' union.

Series explores history of Underground Railroad in Philadelphia

By Shannon Nolan on Oct 7, 2014 03:07 PM

The history of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia will be honored throughout October with a citywide series of events presented by the Moonstone Arts Center.

Recounting the period from 1830 to 1870 in Philadelphia, the month-long series will offer programs on the Underground Railroad and highlight many individuals who fought against slavery during that time.

“There are 22 events that include screenings of 'The William Still Story' at neighborhood libraries, lectures, panel discussions, storytelling and music on various aspects of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia,” wrote John Lavin in an email. Lavin is a Moonstone Arts Center member and teacher at Kensington International Business High School.

Many express outrage in response to SRC decision to break teachers' contract

By Payne Schroeder, WHYY audio report by Kevin McCorry on Oct 6, 2014 05:57 PM

A cry of “shame” was heard from the audience as the School Reform Commission announced Monday, during a suddenly scheduled meeting, that it would break the contract with the teachers' union and unilaterally impose changes to its members’ health benefits.

After the sparsely attended morning meeting, many in the local education community attacked the SRC’s decision. There was an afternoon protest held outside Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office. But there were also statements of support for the action to reduce members' health benefits, including from the Corbett administration in Harrisburg, the Philadelphia School Partnership, and even former Gov. Edward Rendell.

Details of the health benefit changes

By Dale Mezzacappa and Paul Socolar on Oct 6, 2014 01:21 PM

The District will require all PFT members to contribute to the cost of their benefits. Those earning less than $25,000 will pay 5 percent of the plan's premiums. Those earning between $25,000 and $55,000 will pay 10 percent, and those earning over $55,000 will pay 13 percent.

The District says monthly payments for PFT members will range from $27 to $71 for single coverage and $77 to $200 per month for family coverage.

SRC revokes teachers' contract, changes health benefits, redirects $44 million to schools

By Dale Mezzacappa and Paul Socolar on Oct 6, 2014 09:30 AM

After 21 months of fruitless labor talks, the School District made a bold move Monday to unilaterally restructure teachers' health benefits and send $44 million in savings directly back to schools.

At a special meeting that was barely publicized until hours before its 9:30 a.m. start, with no public testimony before acting, the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to cancel the contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in order to rework its health-care provisions. The District also filed a legal action in Commonwealth Court to establish its right to rewrite the contract based on special powers granted to the SRC.

SRC schedules special meeting 'for general purposes' on Monday morning

By the Notebook on Oct 5, 2014 10:43 PM

A special School Reform Commission meeting will be held Monday morning at 9:30.

A small legal notice appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday edition, but the meeting was not otherwise announced. It is not on the District's website (which on Sunday night said that the next SRC meeting is Oct. 16). The newspaper ad said the meeting was for "general purposes."

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