23 Best Signs From the Philadelphia Teachers’ Protest

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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.

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Students: School Reform Commission Member Told Us ‘You Belong in Jail’

Philadelphia School Reform Commission member Sylvia Simms lashed out at student protesters at a movie screening last night. As seen in the above video posted to YouTube by Waleed Shahid, students clapped and interrupted the screening with chants of “Philly is a union town” and “The SRC has got to go.”

The students — part of Philly Students Union, a student-led group advocating for better school conditions — disrupted a film screening hosted by Simms. Those students say Simms told them “y’all probably go to failing schools.” Al Dia reports she also said, “You belong in jail.”

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Labor Leaders Contemplated Citywide Strike to Protest SRC

The School Reform Commission’s decision to unilaterally end its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers nearly caused a shutdown of the entire city, the Inquirer reports this morning — labor leaders briefly contemplated a “general strike” that would have featured members of all area unions walking off the job to protest the decision.

They held off for two reasons: PFT president Jerry Jordan wanted to pursue legal action first. And members wanted to wait the outcome of the November 4th gubernatorial election.

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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.

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Hughes: Let Governor Abolish SRC

State Sen. Vincent Hughes is pushing a bill in Harrisburg that would give the governor the power to dissolve the School Reform Commission. Under current law, the SRC has the power to dissolve itself — but nobody else has that power over the SRC.
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Are We Really Ready to Boot the SRC?

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So the folks who want a public vote on dissolving the School Reform Commission are one step closer to their goal. (Though as the Inquirer pointed out Sunday, any vote is likely to take place in May, not November.)

One’s first instinct is to throw in with the anti-SRC activists: It’s hard to point to gains made under the state’s stewardship of Philly schools since the takeover.

Still, there’s never much point to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. So here’s three questions for the anti-SRC activists:

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Morning Headlines: SRC to Sell 11 Schools for $2 Million Net

"Germantown HS Philly" by Smallbones - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Germantown HS Philly by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons.

The School Reform Commission approving the sale of 11 Philadelphia schools is big news this morning, punctuated with some pretty big numbers. The Daily News’s Solomon Leach has details on how the sales will break down.

The two biggest parcels are each going for $6.8 million. Germantown High, Carroll High, Fulton Elementary, Walter Smith Elementary and Abigail Vare Elementary are all going to the Concordia Group. Two of the elementary schools – Vare and Smith – are slated to become residential buildings.

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Green Gets Raucous Crowd at First SRC Meeting

As expected, Bill Green’s first meeting was a grand display of all the pugnacious activism that Philly can muster, with protesters chanting “Save Our Schools!” and hollering as Supt. William Hite tried to lay out his agenda for the coming year. “I want to save our schools that’s why I’m here. I agree completely.  We may not agree on the means but we certainly agree on the end,” Green said. Green and Hite have said they may impose new work rules on the teachers union to begin repairs to the district. (CBS Philly) 

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