23 Best Signs From the Philadelphia Teachers’ Protest

yousuck2

Thousands of teachers jammed Broad Street before a meeting of the School Reform Commission late Thursday afternoon, protesting the SRC’s unilateral cancellation of teachers’ contracts last week.

Speakers at the protest spent a few hours railing against the SRC, Bill Green, Gov. Tom Corbett, and SRC member Sylvia Simms — who students said told them they “belong in jail” at a movie screening Simms hosted Wednesday night. There were many signs supporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, Gov. Corbett’s opponent in next month’s election.

The speakers also had strong words for the counter-protesters hired by the Commonwealth Foundation, who were also demonstrating near the front of the School District building.

Read more »

Commonwealth Foundation to Demonstrate at Schools Protest

Update: Challenging the characterization of the event as a “counter-protest,” the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives confirmed it has hired a team to appear at the Philadelphia Federation for Teachers’ protest outside School District headquarters on Thursday.

The Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank in the state, says its PFTFails.com website will be up Thursday morning. Spokeswoman Cindy Hamill wrote the site would be “informing people about how Jerry Jordan and the PFT leadership are standing in the way of tens of millions of dollars going back into Philadelphia classrooms.” The Commonwealth Foundation also registered PFTFails.org and PFTFails.net earlier this week.

“Their selfish agenda fails children, fails teachers, and fails the poor,” Hamill continued. “They fail us when they put personal political scores ahead of what’s best for children, teachers and the poor.” She said the workers have not been hired to “counter-protest” but to pass out information and hold banners. “We will be there to inform, not to counter protest,” Hamill said.

ORIGINAL: A group calling itself “PFT Fails” has hired a marketing team to hire counter-protesters for Thursday’s Philadelphia Federation of Teachers protest, Philly blog The Declaration reported last night.

Read more »

School Boards, Elections, and Philadelphia’s Utterly Failed Democracy

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Maybe democracy in Philadelphia isn’t working so well.

That’s not a novel observation, I realize, but it takes on new urgency with the growing campaign to dissolve the School Reform Commission. What would replace it? Maybe a mayoral-appointed panel — not too different from the SRC, but with more local accountability — but maybe, maybe an elected school board.

You know: One accountable directly to the voters and taxpayers of Philadelphia.

Read more »

Crowdfunding Has Consequences

shutterstock_LOUVRE-940x540

Over two weeks this past summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge poured millions of gallons of frigid water over people’s heads and millions of dollars into the ALS Association’s coffers. (“Coffers”: one of those words used only in writing, never in conversation.) The combination gag phenomenon/act of charity caused a social media tsunami and quadrupled the foundation’s usual fund-raising take, drawing 70,000 new donors to the cause.

I thought about the Ice Bucket Challenge when I read in the New York Times about the “Table of Peace,” a nifty little jewel-bedecked item of 18th-century French furniture (see close-ups here) that made a guest appearance in Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. (Fancy!) The table was in the Times because it’s the latest item the august Louvre is attempting to buy through crowdfunding. Turns out the French government has had to downsize financial support for cultural institutions for two years straight, so the museum launched a campaign to raise a million euros of the $12.5 million euro price tag set by the current owners, the family of the Baron de Breteuil, from the people. (Let them eat cake off of that, amirite?)

Read more »

Philly Schools Shedding Students Faster Than Expected

Philly classrooms aren't quite this empty this fall, but they're shedding students more quickly than expected.

Philly classrooms aren’t quite this empty this fall, but they’re shedding students more quickly than expected.

Philadelphia officials expected there would be fewer students in public schools this fall — but even then they underestimated just how quickly the district would shed students.

“Total enrollment now tallies just under 128,000 instead of the 130,000 officials had been projecting,” The Notebook reports. “That’s a loss of 4,300 students compared to last school year.”

As a result, The Notebook reports, the district is cutting 24 teaching positions immediately — just days after the School Reform Commission canceled its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and imposed terms that requires teachers to contribute payments for their own health care plans.

Read more »

A California Ruling Is More Bad News For Philly Teachers

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Being a Philadelphia school district teacher is not an easy job. And this past week it just got harder. Not only because of yesterday’s decision by the School Reform Commission to terminate the district’s agreement with the teachers union and require teachers to now pay in for their health insurance. It’s also because of a ruling in California.

Per Breitbart last Friday:

In what will be a devastating blow to California public employee unions, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy of the City of Stockton that pensions managed by the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, can be cut in bankruptcy “like any other garden variety” unsecured debt. He rejected the unions’ argument that the world’s largest pension fund is an “arm of the state” and that public employee pensions are protected by federal and state laws.

Read more »

What They’re Saying About the School Reform Commission

Protestors demonstrate against the school district's sudden decision to cancel teachers and others contract and force them to pay health care premiums, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. The decision Monday by the School Reform Commission follows nearly two years of stalled negotiations between the district and union.

Protestors demonstrate against the school district’s sudden decision to cancel teachers and others contract and force them to pay health care premiums, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia. The decision Monday by the School Reform Commission follows nearly two years of stalled negotiations between the district and union.

A day after the School Reform Commission abruptly and unilaterally ended its contract with the 15,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, there is still plenty being said — a lot of anger, but some support, for the action. An overview:
Read more »

School District Sues Ex-Webmaster Christopher Akers for Fraud, Theft

christopher-akers-lawsuit-school-district-linkedinBack in 2008, just a few months after Arlene Ackerman’s reign as Queen Bee of School District of Philadelphia began, Christopher Akers, seen here in his LinkedIn profile, was hired as the district’s full-time webmaster at a salary of just under $50,000. Well, six years later, Ackerman is gone (as in literally gone: she died in 2013) and Akers is being hauled into Philadelphia’s Federal Court by the cash-strapped district, which is alleging that he spent his taxpayer-funded time there developing apps for his own business. Read more »

« Older Posts