The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) has an editorial out that criticizes the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers for refusing to acquiesce to the reforms Gov. Corbett has dangled before them in exchange for a cash infusion of $45 million.
and a recurring $120 million boost from a sales tax increase.* Wherever one places the blame for Philly’s current funding crisis–on the union’s intransigence or Corbett’s previous cuts to public education (or any number of other culprits)–one cannot accuse the Journal of mischaracterizing the political situation at hand.
Teachers have little reason to budge since their previous contract remains in effect and they continue to earn raises based on longevity. Thus the union will likely drag out the negotiations until after next fall’s election when they hope to elect a Democratic Governor and renegotiate a bailout without Mr. Corbett’s preconditions.
While union allies will bristle at the term “bailout,” the above scenario–thus far–indeed appears to be taking place. Same with what‘s described next.
Meantime, union leaders will whipsaw the GOP Governor for increasing corporate tax credits for private school scholarships [i.e. vouchers] that benefit low-income students in failing schools and then for not caring about Philadelphia’s poor, black kids.
The only bizarre turn comes at the very end, when the piece asks where Barack Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan are “when they really could help?” Um, like how? Without offering up an answer to that question, it seems more like a partisan cheap shot than anything else.
*The Journal suggested the $120 million was also dependent on the teachers union’s reforms. It’s not. Right now it rests in the hands of the City Council, who want the sales tax increase to help fund the city’s strapped pension fund in addition to the schools. Because all that’s missing is for Council to approve the increase, Tom Corbett’s budget chief recently floated the possibility of imbuing the state-controlled School Reform Commission with taxing power.