National Review, one of the pre-eminent magazines of American conservatism, has an article today praising Philadelphia schools Superintendent William Hite for “taking on the teachers unions” in his effort to balance the district’s budget:
Still, to be fair to Hite, he has also demanded $95 million in concessions from the city’s teachers’ union. That’s a testament to a courage that other liberals (New York City’s Mayor de Blasio, for example) lack. If Hite had been a political hack, he’d simply have called for taxes alone. Instead, since taking office in 2012, he has faced down angry parents, disgruntled teachers, powerful unions, and Mayor Michael Nutter.
As theFordham Institute explains, absent major reform to its teacher-pension system, Philadelphia’s school district is likely to collapse within the next five years. This is reality. Yet the Philadelphia teachers’ union persists in ruling out salary or health-care concessions. Pensions, of course, are their golden egg.
But there’s a heavy cost to this arrogance. If Hite can’t get his budget because the union continues to insist on inflated salaries and benefits, the average Philadelphia class size in grades 9 through 12 is likely to increase from 33 to 41.
Not sure this helps Hite. This is a Democratic town, after all: Can Hite get business done if he’s seen as just an avatar for the GOP?