After going 1,300-plus days without a new contract – and still counting – many Philadelphia teachers are pissed. So pissed that some of them raised money to hire a pilot to fly their message of displeasure over the Parkway before tonight’s NFL Draft without remorse for how bad of a look it will be for the city.
“You know what, it will be an embarrassment,” George Bezanis, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ building rep for Central High School and the man behind the airplane banner, told Philly Mag. “But what should be an embarrassment is how the city is neglecting its teachers.”
Bezanis said fellow union members are livid that the School District of Philadelphia received a $325 million infusion over the next five years but officials have shown little urgency in settling a collective-bargaining agreement with the city’s teachers that would provide some much-needed stability to schools.
Taking their frustration to the web, Bezanis and fellow teachers raised nearly $3,000 through crowdsourced donations — enough to keep the plane in the air for its maximum flight time of about four and a half hours. (The PFT itself is not involved in the project.)
To determine what message would be flying high above the Art Museum on draft night, Bezanis posed several options that the backers voted on once they hit their donation goal. “The Real Mr. Irrelevant: Philly Teachers” and “Jocks Get Paid, Teachers Get Strapped” were among those that didn’t make the cut.
Out of the 10 possible messages, perhaps the most severe won out with more than 50 percent of the vote: CITY HALL ♥ SPORTS BUT HATES OUR TEACHERS.
“We know we have many allies in City Hall who are working on our behalf, but the fact that a majority of teachers chose such a harsh slogan says a lot. Enough is enough. We need a contract and we need it now,” Bezanis said.
The plane should be arriving to the draft’s staging area around 4 p.m., where it will remain circling the skies just before sunset.
“I hate having to put this pressure on the city,” Bezanis said. “I love this city, but if it’s the only thing that works, that works for us.”
Bezanis told us that there’s still time for him to pull the plane if a good enough offer is presented to him prior to takeoff.
This post has been updated to clarify that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as an organization is not involved in the banner project.
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