SRC Unilaterally Cancels PFT Contract (With Updates)

4 p.m. protest planned at Gov. Corbett's Philadelphia office.

bill green

SRC Chairman Bill Green says it’s time for teachers to make a sacrifice for the students.

See below for updates:

The Inquirer reports that the School Reform Commission today unilaterally canceled its contract with the 15,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

The move came at a morning meeting scheduled with “minimal notice,” the Inky said. The PFT includes teachers, counselors, nurses, secretaries and other school workers.

Teachers aren’t expected to take pay cuts under the SRC’s move — however, they will be required to pay 10 to 13 percent of the cost of their medical insurance going forward: They paid nothing previously.

“Every single stakeholder has stepped up to help the district close its structural deficit — the principals, our blue-collar workers,” said SRC Chairman Bill Green. “Families and children have, too, through the loss of resources, increased class sizes, and lack of materials. It is time for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to share in the sacrifice.”

PFT president Jerry Jordan was expected to respond after noon. A legal challenge is expected. Gov.. Corbett says teachers have to make a sacrifice; teachers say they’re already sacrificing a lot.

[Update] Reactions are flowing in from around Twitter:

More to come.

[Update 1:13 pm] Democratic candidate Tom Wolf released this statement:

“This is just one more situation that has been forced by Gov. Corbett’s $1 billion cut to education in Pennsylvania and his chronic neglect of the Philadelphia public schools and schools throughout Pennsylvania.

“All stakeholders have to work together to ensure the best results for students in Philadelphia. Unilateral action undermines the collaboration that we need in order to develop a long term solution for schools in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania.

“Under Governor Corbett, 27,000 educators have been laid off, property taxes have skyrocketed, class sizes have increased, and valuable programs have been eliminated across the state. It’s just simply unacceptable.

“As governor, I will work to fund our schools by implementing a 5 percent severance tax, implementing charter school reform, and creating a fair funding formula that takes each district’s unique needs into account.”

So did the Philadelphia Student Union:

Last year Hite eliminated teacher seniority and now the District has taken the ultimate step of eliminating the teachers’ contract. Despite their assurances that this move is only about health insurance and that they are still willing to bargain in good faith, we have seen time and again that we cannot trust what they say.

We see this as the continued effort by Dr. Hite and the SRC to implement the Boston Consulting Group’s plan of closing schools, privatizing services, and breaking the teachers’ union. Our fight back against this blatant dismantling of our school system will have to be bigger than ever before.

The Wall Street Journal reports the district is taking the matter to court:

Also Monday, the district filed a lawsuit, along with the state Department of Education, seeking a declaratory judgment that it has the legal authority to take the unilateral steps.


“Corbett’s School Reform Commission has amped up a war on teachers and support staff,” AFT President Randi Weingarten and AFT-Pa. President Ted Kirsch said in a statement. “The commission would rather attempt to impose a contract than work with teachers to figure out what is best for Philadelphia’s kids.”

Only a few dozen people attended the surprise session Monday morning, according to parent activist Helen Gym, who said she only learned of the meeting at midnight.

“It’s a disgrace in terms of public governance and democracy,” said Gym, the co-founder of Parents United for Public Education.

[Update 3:05 p.m.] Activists announced plans to rally against the SRC decision, 4 p.m. this afternoon at Gov. Corbett’s Philadelphia office at 200 S. Broad St.

From the “Fight for Philly” press release:

Parents, students, activists, and supporters will protest outside Gov. Corbett’s Philadelphia office today at 4pm in response to the School Reform Commission’s sudden decision to unilaterally cancel the School District’s contract with district teachers and staff. At a special meeting this morning that was barely publicized and offered no public comment before the vote, the SRC unanimously voted to cancel the district’s contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and impose new terms on teachers, nurses, and other staff. This is a direct result of the governor’s continued failure to properly fund schools in Philadelphia and across PA and his disinvestment in public education.

The schools budget cannot be balanced on the backs of hard-working teachers. The community wants full funding from fair sources: a reasonable tax on shale gas extraction, a freeze on business tax cuts, and a fair tax system across the state. Unilaterally cutting benefits for teachers is unfair union busting that violates the sanctity of a contract. It also sends the worst possible message to our children: that we value tax cuts for big businesses and the wealthy more than the hard work of teachers.

The manner in which the SRC made this change also underscores the need for local control of our schools. The SRC moved with almost no transparency, no public comment, and little notice. The commission ignored the voices of teachers, parents, students, and the city. Gov. Corbett and his SRC appointees have once again completely abdicated responsibility for leading our schools.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan is speaking to reporters: