There have been no meaningful teachers' contract negotiations all summer because District leaders have declined to schedule any talks, union leaders told several hundred members who came to a general membership meeting Tuesday.
Teachers are returning to school this week without a contract, facing bare-bones conditions in schools but still under pressure to agree to contract changes that would save the District about $30 million.
The legal battle over whether Philadelphia's School Reform Commission has the power to unilaterally impose new work rules on the District's teachers is getting more intense with the filing of new arguments urging quick action by the Supreme Court.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) maintains that "the collective bargaining agreement ... has proven a particularly high barrier to the District effecting reforms essential to providing services in a fiscally responsible and manageable manner."
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 Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks
A group calling itself the Coalition for Effective Teaching is calling on the Philadelphia School District and the city teachers' union to think about more than dollars and cents when negotiating the next contract. They're pushing to pick teachers not just based on seniority.
The Coalition for Effective Teaching has four new members, including the Urban League and Congreso.
The Corbett rescue plan for Philadelphia's schools, forged by the likes of Comcast vice president David Cohen, Philadelphia School Partnership's Mark Gleason, and the Chamber of Commerce, sets the stage for a full-court press to wring concessions from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The corporate education reformers will press their case for concessions and for implementing a business model of school management without the impediments of a union contract. The mantra will be: City Hall and Harrisburg stepped up; now it's time for the teachers' union to do its part.
The current crisis, in the minds of the corporate reformers, is an opportunity to advance their austerity and privatization agenda. Repeatedly, we are told that everybody must pitch in to make ends meet in these difficult times. The austerity argument begins with the plea for shared sacrifice.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
The Philadelphia School District has been desperately seeking help from the city, state and labor unions in order to plug a $304 million budget gap.
The city government is pledging extra money, though part of that still requires state permission. Pennsylvania officials are also in talks about finding more cash. So what about the other part of the three-legged stool?
It seems even less certain now than the other two wobbly legs.
Superintendent William Hite has decided not to recommend any charter school expansions for next year, saying it would be irresponsible to do so given the District's financial situation.
"Given our dire financial prospects, we must ask for shared sacrifices from our partners," said Hite in a statement. "It would be irresponsible for the District to endorse charter expansion while asking our principals to do the impossible with school budgets."
A coalition of advocacy groups wants groundbreaking changes in the Philadelphia teachers' contract -- including the effective end of seniority privileges -- but is also urging the School Reform Commission to take off the table its plan for deep salary and benefit concessions.
Saying that such cuts would be demoralizing, the groups want the SRC to ask the city and the state to cough up even more than $180 million in additional funds.
by Matthew Mandel
Like language-arts educators throughout Pennsylvania, I am charged with helping my students develop and strengthen their understanding of and facility with numerous language concepts. Thankfully the School District of Philadelphia’s initial contract proposal provides fertile ground to apply what we have learned.
by Milena Velis
As the struggle for the future of public education continues in Philadelphia, this video presents the Chicago Teachers Union as an example of how to fight and win.