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December 2010 Vol. 18. No. 3 Focus on Teachers and Reform

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Talking union

The film "Waiting for 'Superman'" leveled some harsh criticisms of teacher unions. Some local teachers took time with us to share their points of view.

By Interview by Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 24, 2010 05:09 PM

The Notebook assembled six Philadelphia teachers to talk about some of the issues raised about unions in the film “Waiting for ‘Superman.’” The six are a mix of veterans and those with less than four years experience, including two who came through Teach for America. One now teaches in a charter.

All six teachers expressed philosophical support for teacher unions, and none felt that they have outlived their purpose. But they had different perspectives on what unions have done and can accomplish in the future to enhance teaching and learning.

Excerpted here are responses about areas where the teachers’ union has advanced the quality of education for children and where it has been an obstacle.

We'll have a complete transcript available soon.

Denise (Dee) Rogers: Let’s face it – my teaching conditions are your kids’ learning conditions. The temperature in my classroom is the temperature your kids have to sit in all day. If there’s 38 kids crammed in there with 30 desks, that’s your children sitting on this desk, on the radiator, anywhere. So when we’re fighting for school staff … those things benefit children. …

They’re trying new programs. … There’s a handful of districts, handful of unions throughout the country that have put into their contracts peer assistance and review. And Philadelphia is one of those districts. We are coming to the table with the administration, working together.

And when a teacher is identified as consistently performing in an unsatisfactory manner in the classroom, they’re identified, and they’re given a prescribed amount of time to be given some intense support and to improve. And if they don’t improve, then the person will be let go. But it is a program where we’re coming together and taking seriously unsatisfactory performance.

Bonnee Breese: The first thing on unions’ agenda is always to make classroom size smaller. And that helps students tremendously. Magnet schools and charter schools and other types of schools all have a smaller student-teacher ratio. However, it seems as if the union asked for it, then the union is wrong for doing so. And that’s to benefit students. …

I think that [the unions] are answering to the call that is needed [today]. I feel like public education hasn’t outgrown the industrial revolution. [Schools] haven’t changed and teachers’ unions have. And teachers’ unions are really trying to help move schools and education systems forward the best way that they know how.

Trey Smith: I come from a family of teachers. I know what it looks like to go above and beyond a union contract. And my parents never talked about what the union contract looked like because my mom was there. I was there with her on Saturdays and Sundays. …

I don’t want to malign the [District] school I was in because I worked with some wonderful, wonderful, teachers…and especially a great union rep. But if I’m organizing an event in my school, like field day, and it requires teachers to maybe come outside during lunch, the first concern is, “What does the union have to say about us losing our lunch?”

If you don’t want to lose your lunch, fine. It’s in your contract, great. But my concern was that the kids got to eat hot dogs today and got to have some fun, have face-painting. I agree that people need their lunch period, but to me, sometimes I think that the environment that’s created isn’t always in the best interest of children. And again, I work with great teachers, and I did work with great teachers. And I loved my school. And we were still able to have the field day and have lunch. But those types of questions don’t come up for me in the charter school I’m in now.

Jim Hardy: Any honest look at the problems of education…would have teachers unions as one of the only forces looking for the long-term benefit and growth of students. … The forces that tend to label unions as the enemy tend to be looking out for short-term political gain and ways to make themselves look good without actually investing in the future of education.

I think that teachers’ unions are more important now than ever. They provide an opportunity for building the kinds of schools that can make a difference in society, where the school can be part of a movement towards more equity in society, equal opportunity for all students. And if you look at what teachers’ unions are calling for these days, it’s not just the basic work protections and respect, but it’s about improving educational opportunities in every school, making sure we have public schools that meet the needs of every student, and we’re not building an education system that’s just focused on the needs of a few. …

What’s unfortunately too common in some schools is there’s such an environment where teachers are under attack. And often things roll downhill. …

And that sometimes leads to the kind of reaction from teachers of “All I have are these few rights.” And so, if you’re not respected and appreciated for all the work that you put in, and then you’re asked to oh, [give up] your lunch, then that raises the question, “Are you trying to take away the few protections that I do have?”

Kristin Luebbert: I really think 99.9 percent of the time, they’re on the side of the children. The one thing that’s happened to me in 10 years happened this year that I thought was a little unfair. ... We had an open position at our school. And it was a writing teacher. And they allowed someone who was on a long-term illness leave to pick up that position. Now I understand the seniority rights that, you know; she wanted the position. But what I don’t understand is that we still don’t have a teacher at our school. So, I feel like you shouldn’t lose your seniority if you’re out on a long-term illness leave, but neither should you take a position and say I can’t come back and there won’t be a teacher. So, that hurt the fact that we had to have subs. ...

The union does fight for nurses. … Three years ago, [the administration] tried to tell us we only needed a nurse three days a week because of the number of children. What they didn’t understand – the bean counters – the number of children had nothing to do with the fact that [some special ed] children have to be tube fed every day … by an RN. And because of the union, and the principal was on our side, they had to give us that nurse.

Jonathan Garr: I think that tenure, in many ways, does protect teachers that shouldn’t be teaching. In order to end up protecting the good teachers, you end up protecting the bad teachers, also. But I think it becomes that issue only because there isn’t a good way to be able to rate teachers. No one’s come up with a good comprehensive way to rate teacher performance. And I think that the union, in many ways, has been seen as a bogeyman because they’re really fighting against many of the ways that they’re trying to rate teacher performance. Not because it’s rating teacher performance, but because it’s doing it incorrectly. I think that the tenure piece in protecting a lot of the red tape that goes into getting bad teachers out of the room is a way that in many ways harms our students. …

In the public school system, where there is a lot of this top-down micromanagement, the union is there to kind of be that buffer and to help teachers do what it is that they need to do, which is to teach. And in a lot of charter schools, there isn’t that top-down, all that micromanagement. …

I’ve never seen somebody who’s left [for charters] because of the union. They don’t leave because they feel like the union is holding them back. They’re leaving because they feel like forces outside of the union are holding them back from being able to do what it is that they need to do.

Participants in our roundtable discussion

Denise (Dee) Rogers is a National Board Certified Teacher working for the Peer Intervention Program.  Before that she taught 2nd through 8th grades at EM Stanton, Finletter, Grover Washington, and Spruance. She is on the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) panel and is also a member of the executive board of the PFT. She is in her 15th year of teaching for the District.

Bonnie Breese is an English Language Arts teacher at Overbrook High School, where she previously taught special education. Besides 10 years at Overbrook, she taught in Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre as well as Graterford and Muncy state prisons. She is involved in the Philadelphia Writing Project and is a member of the PFT executive board.

Trey Smith is in his first year at Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School after three years teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Morrison Elementary. At Boys’ Latin, he teaches physical science and chairs the science department. A TFA alumnus, he is involved with the Philadelphia Writing Project and the National Science Teachers Association.

Jim Hardy is a fourth-year social studies teacher at Kensington Culinary Arts High School. He is an active member of the Kensington School and Community Coalition and a co-founder of both the Teacher Action Group and Education Not Incarceration – Delaware Valley. He is a PFT building rep.

Kristin Luebbert is a 7th and 8th grade literacy and social studies teacher at the Bache-Martin School and the PFT building rep. She came into Philadelphia in 2001 as a literacy intern, and has taught 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at Bache. She formerly taught at Saint Michael’s business school in Fishtown and the University of Nebraska.

Jonathan Garr is in his fifth year at Tilden Middle School. An alumnus of Teach for America, he teaches 6th grade math and is also his school’s PFT building representative. 

Comments (59)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 26, 2010 11:39 am

Most of the teachers that you interviewed sit on PFT boards or are serving as building reps. Not a good way to gauge general teacher opinion about the union.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 26, 2010 12:19 pm

Too many building reps are principal's flunkies. They are more willing to do the administration's bidding than those who pay members dues.

Submitted by Teacher (K.R. Luebbert) (not verified) on November 26, 2010 4:43 pm

Did you mean to imply that Building Reps do not pay members dues? We do. The Building Rep job is an elected position in at each school level--ANY PFT member in the building can run for it, if you are unhappy with your Reps actions you should try to unseat him or her. Many people, however, do not want to volunteer their time to be Building Rep.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 26, 2010 6:09 pm

No one said they didn't pay dues. My post was how their loyalty is often more to the principal (in exchange for favors" good observations, overlooking violations, etc.) than to the members that pay dues for the building rep. to protect them. I can only recall one rep. in two decades that actually fought for the other teachers in the building. We have tried to unseat our rep., but to some teachers the color of the rep.. is far more important than the effectiveness of that rep. Both the PFT and building reps. allow the SDP to get away with too many contract violations.

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Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on November 30, 2010 10:41 pm

Anyone who worked with Tre can't help but love the guy. He's dedicated, talented, knowledgeable, and helpful. I know that there are some building reps who become flunkies, but the one who represented the school Tre worked at was not one of them. Neither was Denise, and I know Jim has too much integrity to be anyone's flunkie. I happen to agree with almost everything that was said.
The union does have some problems, namely insuring that teachers are respected by principals, and that our working environments are conducive to learning. The union is making progress in each of these areas. It would help if more union members did more than just complain. Union members need to be involved at the local level in politics and at the district level in standing up for their contract.
Anonymous, so appropriately named, thinks building reps are flunkies!? How about the members who are to scared to stand up for themselves, who when the time comes complains to their building rep, but when the staffer comes in, chooses not push the issue.
Denise: great point about the heat. When I enter my room, it often literally takes my breathe away.
Our schools are bad because our administrators tolerate unacceptable behavior. Teaching bashing is allowable because we let it happen. Get involved!

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 1, 2010 6:42 pm

I also agree with most of those points raised. The comments about giving up lunch voluntarily shows the focus of that one school. I resent being asked to shorten my lunch over someone else's priority, I admit that, but most of us at my site would do just that if it was for the kids and not a show for someone else. I think this is true at most sites. It has more to do with the team feeling in the building than the contract issues.
More people need to be aware of the fact that things for teachers are not just for the teachers. All these issues are for the kids. Heat, lighting, fire alarms, announcements all impact on every piece of learning we can get into place. These things matter to everyone in the building. Everyone is part of this team.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on November 30, 2010 10:12 pm

opps misspelled one word sorry. How about an edit button like YPP has? We can't be having teachers post with grammatical errors. :-)

Submitted by Erika Owens (not verified) on December 1, 2010 10:44 am

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll add it to the list! I haven't researched this thoroughly, but the first thing that pops to mind is that YPP requires commenters to register and that probably allows them to appropriately set the permissions to allow you to only edit your own comments. If we did turn on that option in the future, I'm pretty sure it would only be accessible to logged in users.

Submitted by lovetoteach (not verified) on December 1, 2010 1:08 pm

It's interesting that the film Waiting for Superman bashed unions and at the same time held the Finnish school system on a pedestal but failed to mention that there are strong teachers' unions in Finland.
Waiting for Superman was political propaganda which shared only one side of a story.
I am glad, however, that the film has sparked much needed conversation; I only hope that the conversation extends beyond educators.

Submitted by GoaheadCallmecrazy (not verified) on December 1, 2010 5:41 pm

I must have been teaching in several La-La Land school districts (most recently rural NC) with very little union presence. Overall, building administrators have been quick to encourage and listen to concerns (most of the time). Only once in my 12 year career have I fathomed the need for union advocacy, but in the end, the offending administrator was shuffled off to another school. Good for our building, sad for the next victims--but at least someone responded to our concerns. The bottom line is, when I'm doing my job, I have very few worries. And what's with the lunch stuff? I've always eaten with my kids, usually at the "teacher table"--wow, tough duty.

And a parting thought--imagine students in our classrooms unionizing. What demands would they make? How would our classrooms have to change? I'm a really good teacher. Their unionizing would only complicate, not improve, my classroom.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 3, 2010 11:30 pm

Like you said, you've been teaching in la la land. In Philadelphia the administrations purpose is to fire you. Doesn't make a difference how good you are. If you can't kiss ass and cowtow, you better watch your back.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 20, 2011 2:31 pm

You haven't been teaching in la-la-land. You've just been teaching in the South. I spent ten years there as well, and there was never the need for a union.

Submitted by 1st grade parent (not verified) on December 1, 2010 9:36 pm

I VOLUNTEER regularly for Lunch duty, and I love it! And I don't resent teacher's for not doing this duty daily..(each grade of teachers take turns) and yes...teachers deserve a question..but teachers must know going into to the profession, that lunches, nights and some weekends must be given up for the kids. My childs teacher makes $94,000.00/year (1st grade/13 Years Experience...and is a wonderful teacher!!!) with 10% paid toward health this economy, let's not complain about the extra hours..we have a strike looming above us, teachers are "working to contract" , removing all hallway decorations and wearing "Union T-Shirts" in unison on certain days...I truly believe that most of the teachers are for the students...but I also believe, in PA...the Union protects the bad teachers with tenure and faulty evaluations..

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 2, 2010 2:36 pm

Honestly, if that was my base salary, I would expect a couple of more responsibilities. I would be more willing to shorten some lunches or stay a little bit later than I do now. My salary every year is much lower than that, and I work after school programs and have been here for over twenty years.

Submitted by K.R. Luebbert (not verified) on December 2, 2010 2:35 pm

Is the teacher who makes 94,000.00 per year in the Philadelphia School District or somewhere else? It does not sound like a Philly pay scale.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 3, 2010 1:30 pm

The 94K per year rate is a senior career teacher who is National Board Certified (NBC).
The unions pushes this certification perhaps in the hope that by having NBC teachers the teachers bashing so prevalent in Philly will cease.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2010 5:19 pm

And who protects bad parents that want teachers to raise their kids for them or carpetbagging charter operators who haven't taught a day of their life, but make millions off the charter con? I have never seen, heard or met a public school teacher who makes $94,000 a year. We can't strike in Philly thanks to a union that conned us out of that right. But we need to, not for extra money, but to stop the rampant corruption and bigotry that has taken over the district. When were we told that we would have to give up lunches, nights and weekends? News to me. I do lose a large part of my nights and weekends due to grading papers, making test, etcs. The stinkin' 45 minute lunch break is something I don't want to give up and need at a time when the lone 45 minute prep I am suppose to get is being taken for pointless test taking all the time. What is worse is that when teachers started holding kids for lunch detention the school district's piggie mentality took over. Why bother having accomodation rooms or lunch detention when we can stick the teachers with it on their own time? I"ve even been told that I am to have after school detention because the school doesn't want to follow their suspension policies. Even with the quack overnight suspensions kids still come back to school and the administrators wimp out every time and let them get away with it. This is the thanks we get for going the extra mile. It makes you a little jaded after a while, but I guess I should just think about those $94,000 you think most teachers are getting. By the way, I know teachers both with and without tenure that have been fired so your beliefs in that area are nonsense. They all ended up at charters too!

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 3, 2010 8:49 am

45 minutes for lunch? try again. You are only getting 30 minutes for lunch. That other 15 minutes, if you get it is recess and not promised. If the weather is bad or the kids cannot go outside for some other reason (usually not explained by anyone), you only get 30 minutes for lunch.
The world does not understand that teachers cannot even make a phone call during the day - those 30 minutes may be all you get to talk to someone on the outside, including parents. I am extremely tired of trying to explain to parents that I cannot just call when there is an issue... the phones do not work that way.
overnight suspensions ??- now I have heard it all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2010 3:50 pm

Overnight suspensions are suppose to mean that the kids is "suspended overnight" (what's the alternative, they sleep over at the school?) and then come in the morning. However, kids will take off a week and then come back only to have the administration consistantly wimp out. They let the kid back in without any parents ever showing up. The kids know this is a joke and act accordingly. Then the teachers get the blame for the "school atmosphere".

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 3, 2010 5:31 pm

The atmosphere is always our fault, along with that suspension rate, the grades, test scores and even attendance rates. It is all our fault.

Submitted by Doubro (not verified) on December 2, 2010 7:36 am

These teachers are self serving union defenders for the most part. My mom taught for 30 years & was a union rep. From what I saw, the union isn't concerned with the teachers or the students, just getting along with the admin which only cares about itself and the Union's relations.

The Union only wishes to reduce class size because it means more teachers dues. They don't fight for that as much as they do for more power in Washington to get more money from and to corrupt pols like Obama.

To say there is no way to rate teachers is absurd. Student testing works just fine.
It's testing in the subject matter the teachers are supposed to cover that works.

I agree, classes should be at normal temps , clean, quiet and safe environments, but the Unions aren't even advocating for all of that. My mom works in one of the wealthiest school districts on Long Island and STILL they do not have AC for the kids in the hot days before the summer when school is about to end. I mean if the Unions can't demand AC for the KIDS in the heart of Liberal NY... then the are completely inneffectual except for their own true interests which is collecting dues and absorbing more control over parents money and students lives,

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2010 10:35 am

Very interesting how Corbett picked PA Senator Anthony Williams (D) from Phila!!!! For those of you teachers who voted for him SHAME on you!!! Just because you are in the union does not mean you have to vote for every democrat!! He is a thorn in the PFT and teachers side and will be until he is voted out of office. PFT should call members at voting time and tell all teachers not to vote for candidates who support charter schools. These same charter schools are taking your union jobs. Make a darn stand and end this nonsense. Corbett, Dwight Evans (D) and Anthony Williams (D) COULD CARE LESS ABOUT TEACHERS AND THAT IS A FACT---THE PFT AND ITS LEADER JERRY JORDAN NEED TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE TEACHER/UNION AGENDA....PERIOD!!! If the current PFT President can't do the job then do what the unions did in Chicago---they got rid of the old and now have a tough, die hard union leader to support their cause. OTHERWISE, more Renaissance Schools and less unionized teaching positions---Its your choice teachers!!!

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 3, 2010 1:16 pm

To my knowledge the PFT did not endorse Williams

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 3, 2010 6:24 pm

Hi Keith,

The PFT has and always supports the Democratic candidates. They tell members to vote democrat.

It's funny but no one has commented on my blog. Either I struck a chord to devoted Jerry Jordan fans or democrats, however, it is the facts and the truth. Those political names I mentioned are NOT on teachers sides at all. And, Corbett loves Williams (geez, I wonder why).

A darn stand needs to be taken like in Chicago---surprised you had no other comments.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 3, 2010 11:49 pm

Williams ran in the primary and lost. In the general election I know the union supported Onorato and I believe they endorsed him in the primary as well. Onorato's education plan was written by professors at Penn. Of all the candidates out there Onorato's education plan was by far the best. He needed Philly to win and thus made the deal with Williams who failed to deliver for him, us, and the children of Pennsylvania. Additionally, sadly. Corbett beat Onorato on the home turf they share. These are the two reason why Corbett won.
Hope you're ready to stand up and fight Corbett. The union cannot do that without U.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2010 12:35 pm

I understand what you are saying Keith, however, Corbett will probably be the key of getting rid of Ackerman and Nunery (losing both would be beneficial to the PFT). I say this because Corbett specifically said he will do what Christie did as far as chopping overpriced Superintendent salaries. Christie made a point that no Superintendent should get paid more than a Governor--I agree with that. Williams got picked to be on Corbetts education team (that is not good).

What are your feelings on that and also about the teachers doing what Chicago did and got a no nonsense tough union president. A stand needs to be taken and soon. Also, if Ackerman stays, how many more Renaissance Schools will she convert to, which would cause more loss in union jobs as Renaissance schools only hire 50% of the staff back.

By the way, are you still running for office? Thanks for your input.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 4, 2010 2:16 pm

:-) No, I am not a candidate anymore nor do I expect to have an opportunity to run again.
I happen to like Jerry and believe he gets it. Look, I've been through the ringer with the district. The union stood up for me, and while we didn't win every time, we won often enough that I still have a job. The union knows our issues deal with respect, first from administration because without their respect you can't expect to have children and parents respect us.
The union is making inroads in this area but too often the membership, by taking it from principals and not uniting for each other, make the union's job more difficult.
We all gave up of our lunch for Tre willingly, but had the principal asked there is no way we would have done it for him. The principal trampled on our rights, and offered us no respect. That is why teacher of the year award winners and candidates, and people like Tre who would have at least been a Teacher of the Year candidate had he stuck around, all left that school. I can't speak for Tre but I don't feel he left because he had non-dedicated colleagues. I think he left because he had a principal who could not create improvement within the school building.

Imagine how bad some of these principals are. They inherit a school on the cusp of making AYP and turn them into cesspools of violence while watching test scores spiral down. Instead of respecting teachers, they develop a bunker mentality. I'd like to know how many of us have seen this happen.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 4, 2010 4:04 pm

Keith, I see your points, but you didn't tell me what you think about Corbett being the one who will have the power to oust Ackerman. She needs to go!!!

Also, Jerry is an intelligent guy, however, when we discuss the union remember it is the members that make the union---And on that note, he rammed the contract down the teachers throats---EVERY teacher should have been able to read the contract then vote---He rushed it way too fast and I am concerned about that.

I think it is ridiculous that teachers in the suburbs go on strike and they make a lot more money than Philly teachers. We also need to get rid of the same old 3% per year (actually now its 18 months).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 5, 2010 2:11 pm

Hopefully the power that be in Philly will fire Ackerman so it seems like it's their idea instead of waiting for Corbett to do their dirty work for them. If they wait then the whole shooting match will be up for "restructuring" come January. The Philly power structure needs to give everyone an early Christmas present and give Ackerman the boot. Every time her name comes up in a scandal it makes the city look bad too.

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Submitted by Gamal Sherif on December 2, 2010 11:39 am

Denise Rogers has it right: teacher working conditions are student learning conditions. Unions should serve as advocates for 1) effective working conditions and 2) worthwhile education.

I'd like to see a more progressive union in Philadelphia that emphasizes:
1) Teacher-lead professional development.

2) Healthier lunch choices, regardless of school size or vendor contracts.

3) Full-time nurses in each school, every day of the week. Think of the opportunities for "wellness studies" link to science, physical education, social studies and electives.

4) Re-negotiated school calendar that emphasizes time for civic engagement, family time, rest and recreation. Why in the world are children off on Election Day when their parents and teachers are working? How can we re-organize our school calendar so that families have more time to be together? And let's recognize an Indigenous People's Day.

5) Site-based decision-making with regard to hiring, budgeting and curriculum choices. Let's emphasize students' love of learning, collaborating and presenting rather than isolated content.

6) Flexible site-based scheduling that emphasizes teachers' co-planning and reflection.

What can we do to help our unions be advocates for worthwhile education?


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2010 12:53 pm

I agree with that.

Submitted by anonymous teacher (not verified) on December 2, 2010 1:02 pm

I agree, too.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 2, 2010 2:23 pm

I like that the kids are not in schools that are mostly poling places on election days - it is not safe, since there is no real way to control where polers are or to keep the kids from interacting with them.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 2, 2010 2:24 pm

I like that the kids are not in schools that are mostly poling places on election days - it is not safe, since there is no real way to control where polers are or to keep the kids from interacting with them.

Submitted by Gamal Sherif on December 4, 2010 3:22 pm


Of course student safety is important.

But how is it that election day is somehow suspect or a source of criminality? Informed participation in the electoral process is arguably the pinnacle of civic engagement. We should be looking for opportunities for children to get involved with and learn about election day.

Besides, election day(s) should run more than one day and include times when people (including teachers) can get out the vote. We should make it easier for people to participate in the electoral process, not more difficult. Election day(s) should be a national holiday.


Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 6, 2010 7:52 am

I would definitely prefer the schools totally closed. My point was that not having the children in the buildings is a good step for their safety. There is just no way to supervise all the players in election day activities and our children do seem to know when this is the case. It would only take on trying to take advantage to cause major problems.

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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 2, 2010 8:51 pm

Very interesting how Corbett picked PA Senator Anthony Williams (D) from Phila!!!! For those of you teachers who voted for him SHAME on you!!! Just because you are in the union does not mean you have to vote for every democrat!! He is a thorn in the PFT and teachers side and will be until he is voted out of office. PFT should call members at voting time and tell all teachers not to vote for candidates who support charter schools. These same charter schools are taking your union jobs. Make a darn stand and end this nonsense. Corbett, Dwight Evans (D) and Anthony Williams (D) COULD CARE LESS ABOUT TEACHERS AND THAT IS A FACT---THE PFT AND ITS LEADER JERRY JORDAN NEED TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE TEACHER/UNION AGENDA....PERIOD!!! If the current PFT President can't do the job then do what the unions did in Chicago---they got rid of the old and now have a tough, die hard union leader to support their cause. OTHERWISE, more Renaissance Schools and less unionized teaching positions---Its your choice teachers!!!

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 4, 2010 4:18 pm

You make some great points. I think Ackerman will go though Corbett will not want to offend African Americans as Ackerman will not go quietly, she never has. The diverting of funds is a serious legal entanglement and could cause the entire SRC board to fail. We will then have all voucher people to deal with it. It could become very ugly, or very pretty, as I believe we can win a debate on vouchers.
It is indeed unfair that we have the worst working conditions in terms of facilities, the most difficult working conditions in terms of the challenges we face each day, and the lowest pay. Don't expect that to change too soon.
One huge problem the union faces is a membership which is vocal but not active enough at the political level.
If more teachers took time to attend meetings on the various aspects of reform speak at them, we would receive more respectful treatment.

Submitted by Keith Newman (not verified) on December 5, 2010 2:03 pm

The investigation is underway but even they find she has to go I doubt they could agree on a new CEO in time to avoid Corbett. Rendell's record is not that good anyway. It was on his watch that she arrived.
I thought Tom Brady did a great job while he was here.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 5, 2010 7:55 pm

What did Brady do that was so great!?!? He was a fill in just like Goldsmith. Things did not get any safer, we still were hurting for supplies and the administration had no respect for its own teachers.

Submitted by franklin7 (not verified) on April 11, 2015 7:18 am
It is a great website.. The Design looks very good.. Keep working like that!.


Submitted by GoaheadCallmecrazy (not verified) on December 6, 2010 9:59 am

This mile-long conversation calls me to ponder--how, when, why did education become so politicized. The problem with education, in Philadelphia at least, is that the main thing is no longer the main thing. Administrators certainly wield power, and I'm thankful mine chooses to build up, encourage, call me to task, and make reasonable demands. Why on earth would an administrator, one who truly cares about students, do otherwise? Why aren't mean-spiritied, megalomaniacs mentioned in these posts fired? Seems THAT would be a worthy venture for the union.

Submitted by Meg (not verified) on December 6, 2010 2:39 pm

Okay, Crazy - I do not think you are so crazy. Our problem at my site is a brand new principal who does not know how to value us. He does not trust us and is causing sooooooo many problems because of this. He came in with a new classification and new staff members, so we actually feel like there are two staffs and this is very bad. We would be in much better shape with the old principal who trusted us and counted on us to be leaders in the system and in this building. We knew the headaches he had, just so we could be supportive. We knew when to put on the show and when to be really teaching and what the differences were. We knew he had our backs and we had his.
With the new classification, new reading program and the corrective reading and math, there is so much confusion right now it feels very stressful in here. Add to that the normal new principal issues of not knowing what HAS to be and what are suggestions and everyone feels ready to snap.
I wish there was a way to improve communication in the building - we have asked and asked - now we get memos frequently that have demands for that very day.
It has not helped.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 6, 2010 8:34 pm

It became "politicized" when politicians realized they could make money off of public schools. We ended with a bloated bureacracy full of their friends and money wasted on programs that benefit the manufacturers, not the students or teachers. Reasonable demands are great, but many principals have no idea of how out of line many of their requests are compared to what needs to be addressed.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2010 5:31 pm

I work in a non union state now(nc) it is terrible for teachers we haven't got raises in two years and won't even get cost of living increases anytime soon,we are asked to attend dept meetings afterschool unpaid several days a week l, can be fired without much justification,have had our medical benefits all but eliminated(dental will be eliminated next fall) class sizes increased because of teachers losing jobs due to budget cuts, a move to pay for performance in 2012 which will drop our salaries to 38k and we will have to earn our salaries back in 2k stipends given at the discretion of our principals , I could go on. It's gotten to the point that iv decided that I can no longer teach in a non union state.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on April 14, 2012 7:03 pm

A family member of mine has taught in NC for over 20 years, after serving our country he received
his teaching degree, something he always wanted to do. I asked him about teaching in a non union state and was very happy with his salary, benefits and working conditions. The only teachers that should worry he said were the ones not interested in teaching to the school curriculum. A survey was taken in the state and 89% of the teachers had no interest becoming a union and felt the interest of the children was secondary to the strength of a union.

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