For nearly three hours Thursday night, the School Reform Commission listened to harsh and bitter criticism of its move last week to cancel its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and unliaterally change health benefits for the union's 11,500 members.
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.
by Kim Johnson
As a veteran charter school educator and as the president of the Philadelphia Alliance of Charter School Employees (ACSE), I am appalled at the revelations in Daniel Denvir’s Aug. 29 City Paper article “Charter operator owed its school millions, but no one’s checking its books.”
Apparent fiscal mismanagement and ethical lapses by charter operators undermine well-intentioned charter schools and their hardworking staff. The time has come for all charter teachers and staff to address these issues head-on or run the risk of tarnishing the charter school movement and the dedicated educators who share our commitment to providing high-quality educational opportunities to our children and communities.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Philadelphia teachers' union said that it is putting on hold a new ad that blasts Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett over the School District's budget woes.
George Jackson, spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the union has made the decision because Nutter and PFT president Jerry Jordan have scheduled a private meeting this week.
"We think we got [Nutter's] attention," Jackson said. "In the interest of fostering a productive dialogue, for right now, we're going to suspend the ads."
[Update: The ad reportedly aired on NBC10 Wednesday after the PFT said it was pulled. Jackson said there was a "miscommunication" with the station, and that it should be off the airwaves by Thursday.]
Negotiators for the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers reached the midnight deadline without reaching agreement on a new contract.
PFT president Jerry Jordan said in an interview that the two sides "made some progress," although there were still many unresolved issues.
Asked whether the two sides were still far apart, he said, "There are a number of outstanding issues. We were not close enough to close the deal."
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Philadelphia teachers' union is taking a shot at Mayor Nutter with a new ad campaign.
The group's TV, radio, newspaper and online advertisements tie Nutter, a Democrat, to Gov. Corbett, a Republican, who has been knocked for cutting schools funding in past years.
"You've sided with Gov. Corbett, against my kids, against their teachers," says public school parent and activist Kia Hinton of Nutter in the radio ad. "You've let us down. You've been starving our kids of the education they deserve."
by Sonia Giebel
Schools are still slated to open without the hallway patrol of noontime aides, and that has community members worried.
Local members of UNITE HERE, the union that represents the aides, will be holding a rally and press conference at 4:30 p.m. today at District headquarters, 440 N. Broad St., to unveil an August lineup of demonstrations. They will be joined by parents, students, and clergy.
by Sonia Giebel
Days after the School Reform Commission approved its “doomsday” budget, about 150 people conducted a noisy protest Wednesday outside District headquarters against two of the budget's consequences: the removal of noontime aides from lunchrooms and less fresh food for students.
The UNITE HERE rally brought together the aides -- also called student safety staff -- who monitor trouble-prone hallways and lunchrooms, with students, teachers, cafeteria workers, and others. They chanted slogans like “break bread, not schools” and banged pots and pans.
“What parent wants their kid eating on a dirty table ... or coming home with a busted nose?” said Migdalia Lopez, a noontime aide at Bodine High School. The cafeteria will not be a safe environment, she said.
Superintendent William Hite, along with retired teacher and activist Ron Whitehorne and education analyst Andrew Rotherham, will discuss the pending teachers' contract on WHYY-FM's Radio Times on Tuesday morning.
The current contract is due to expire in August. The District's opening proposals -- leaked last week to the press -- include a steep salary cut, restructuring of the compensation system, an end to seniority and elimination of many provisions regarding working conditions, such as access to water fountains.
Members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), a group that includes the city’s teachers’ union, say that despite the many promising proposals in Superintendent William Hite’s newly released plan for the Philadelphia School District, the numbers don’t add up.