The SRC Contract Proposals are Ridiculous

Promise Academies, an explosion of charter schools and visions or grandeur when it comes to student achievement can all implode rather quickly.  All parents want the best education for their children.  Those that can afford it send their children to private schools.  The rest of us send our children to public schools and work to achieve goals within the limits of public education in Philadelphia.  I say limits because Philadelphia spends less per student than many other counties in Pennsylvania.  Unless a student can test into a magnet school, it is a tough process to get the quality education that we all covet.

The recent proposals submitted by the School Reform Commission are frightening for any unionized employees.  It was already reported in the papers that Principals will not be getting raises that they were promised.  I don't think that principals can strike and are not union.  People count on raises and work hard to earn them.  Some of the low lights of the upcoming contract negotiations are an increase in benefits payments, a decrease in salary, longer hours, no copiers and shorter notice for layoffs.  We already know about the upcoming proposed school closings.  Parent outrage has pared the list down to 29 from the original 37.  I worry about the quality of education with these proposals.

Any teacher that makes over $55k will have to take a 13% pay cut in addition to contributing 13% more towards benefits.  Any teacher or employee making $25k or less will have to take a 5% pay cut.  Payment for a spouse or partner will cost an extra $70.00 a paycheck.  The one aspect that is disturbing is that fact that with all of the pay cuts, the SRC wants teachers to work a longer day and take on additional duties.  Meeting with parents, outside of regular hours, will be unpaid.  I can see and exodus of qualified teachers and a general I don't care attitude from the teachers that remain.

Parents protest the School Reform Commission's plan to close 29 Philadelphia public schools. (Credit: Mike DeNardo)

The experiment with Dr. Arlene Ackerman did not work.  May she rest in peace.  I feel like she had the students in mind with many of her proposals.  The fact that Dwight Evans, formerly the last man standing, tried to sabotage some of her decisions, hastened her exit.  Dr. Lee Nunery could have been a suitable replacement but the meeting with Bob Archie and Dwight concerning Mosaica and the Renaissance team was one to regret.  I know Dr. Nunery and politics notwithstanding, he would have been an excellent replacement for Arlene.  I wonder what kind of parachute was negotiated for Dr. Hite?  He will probably need it.

The final proposal for school closings will be submitted next week.  One of the most confusing statements I heard during the protests was that $24 million is not as lot of money in the scheme of the overall budget for the ailing school district.  Please tell that again to homeowners who are biting the bullet from increased sales taxes and property taxes to support the School District.  I will be at peace with whatever is decided on.  We will really have to establish safe corridors for our students who might have longer walks to schools.  The real fireworks will come during the upcoming teacher negotiations.  My over/under is that their contract will be completed before those of DC 33 and 47 but the fall out will be terrible.  Good Luck.

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