Can Lawyers Save Philly’s Schools? Bill Fedullo Thinks So.

william-fedulloBill Fedullo isn’t necessarily anybody’s idea to be the savior of Philly schools. He’s an attorney, one of the city’s best-known and most-powerful — and in January, he was inaugurated as chancellor of the 13,0000-member Philadelphia Bar Association. But it’s from that perch that he’s made saving city schools a priority.

He talked with Philly Mag recently about why he has undertaken the crusade and what lawyers can do to support public schools.

When you were inaugurated as the chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, you immediately announced that you want the perpetual funding crisis facing Philly schools to be a top priority. That’s not the usual purview of the bar association. Why do you think it should get involved?

Well, there were a couple reasons. This year was the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education and I realized that I want to celebrate that case, to reflect on what it meant. As I was doing that, I realized that the promise of equal education was not being fulfilled. And in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia in particular, the finding was such that you saw ads in the paper that the schools needed things like paper, tissues, and No. 2 pencils, basic things. I felt if we as a bar association really need to do something about that. I was trying to think of ways in which we can do that. One was to advocate for full-funding of schools, through government. A dedicated source of funding.

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District: Seniority No Longer Decides Teacher Staffing

The Philadelphia School District said Monday it will minimize the use of seniority in making teacher assignments — a move that will likely trigger a legal showdown with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. 

“While the process will continue to include seniority as a factor for some staffing decisions, it will end the practice of using seniority as the only factor in any decisions,” the district said in a press release. That decision is “consistent” with a deal finalized last week with the district’s principals — negotiations with the PFT had been at a stalemate.

“The school district and the SRC have chosen to forsake negotiating in good faith in favor of a legal end-around to avoid meaningful contract talks with the PFT,” PFT President Jerry Jordan responded. “The members of the PFT are partners in public education, not indentured servants. Today’s action by the school district belittles every PFT member, and signals an unwillingness to reach a fair contract with the city’s educators.

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How to Thank Philadelphia Principals for Their Pay Cut? Let Them Do Their Jobs.

Philadelphia School District Building

This week, and by an overwhelming 83% margin, the union representing Philadelphia’s high school principals agreed to enormous pay cuts, a 10-month work year, and to contribute more toward their health insurance. We are grateful. We thank you.

“There’s not a cavalry coming,” union president Robert McGrogan said. “With a new fiscal year on our doorstep, we needed to do something to help right the district. We’ve ratified a contract, but we’re hardly celebrating.”

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Philly Principals Agree to Pay Cut

The Inquirer’s Kristen Graham reports that the union representing Philly’s public school principals has agreed to take a steep pay cut, and for members to start contributing to their health insurance plans.

Under the terms of the new contract, the average assistant principal or principal would take a pay cut of 12 to 17 percent. Principals now make between $124,000 and $149,000, and that will change to $97,000 to $124,000. Assistant principals are now paid between $106,000 and $133,000, and that will be reduced to between $88,000 and $110,000.

 The year-round employees will also be on 10-month contracts going forward. The school district must still come to agreement with — or decide to impose a contract up — the union representing district teachers. Officials are looking for a total of $130 million in givebacks from the unions.

STARR Restaurants Launches School Fundraising Initiative

support-our-schools-starrToday, Stephen Starr and STARR Restaurants launched a “Support Our Schools” fundraising and awareness effort with The School District of Philadelphia. The month-long initiative will request that patrons to all of Starr’s Philadelphia restaurants to add a donation to the schools, right onto their checks.

Starr says “the School District’s needs are at historical proportions, we simply can’t turn our backs on it and wait for others to try to fix it; we all have to do our part.”

Areas that will benefit »

Stephen Starr Will Ask Patrons to Donate to Philly Schools

Nice news this morning:

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The Philadelphia School District’s Unfortunate Hashtag: #phled

philadelphia school district hashtag phled

In a city that has smart parents fleeing in droves to the better, safer schools of the suburbs, this hashtag used by the School District of Philadelphia is probably ill-advised. Ah, homophony.

Meet the Guy Teaching Yoga to Philadelphia Public School Kids

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Theodore

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Theodore

Christopher Theodore has been teaching yoga in Philadelphia public schools for the past 14 years. Surprised? There’s more: Christopher—or Mr. Coach Theo, as his younger students call him—has a whole curriculum he’s built for his P.E. classes that carves out time for yoga, plus optional after-school classes for kids who want to deepen their practice. Cool, right?

I chatted with Christopher last week to hear more about what he’s doing, how he’s doing it, and why he thinks yoga is important for kids in Philadelphia.

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