Today, the School Reform Commission of the School District of Philadelphia decided to honor the A.S.A.P. Debate League with an award. As the Debate Coach at Central High School and the Site Organizer of the entire league, I was also included in these honors.
Later on in the meeting, I decided to speak to the SRC - the nervous first time I have ever done so - inspired by my many fellow coworkers, colleagues, and friends in the PFT's Caucus of Working Educators who have had the courage to speak out at numerous other SRC Meetings before me.
You are my muses.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the SRC,
I appeared in front of you earlier in this meeting as a teacher, Debate Coach and Site Organizer for the entire A.S.A.P. League matches at Central High School. I posed for a photograph and accepted your award.
I am also a proud member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the PFT’s Caucus of Working Educators, a public school parent, and a locally elected Democratic committeeperson in the 63rd Ward. These many hats shouldn’t come as a surprise though. We all wear them…
Whether we have never spent a day as a public educator but, instead, run charities for millionaires in the Wyncote Foundation and are appointed by a Republican governor who never dared step foot in a Philadelphia school…
Whether we say we advocate for children, but in the meantime collect a paycheck from Comcast while yelling at students that they “Must attend failing schools!”
Whether we claim to be an objective member of an unelected school board, but must recuse ourselves from every other vote because our husband’s law firm has ties to charter schools throughout the district…
Whether we dream of being mayor like our father, and just see this as another political stepping stone…
Whether we’re the only person on this mockery of a democratic institution who has actually worked in a classroom and, as a result, voted NO on every charter authorization vote. Thank you, Marge!
And finally, whether you are yet another Eli Broad Academy superintendent seeking to “narrow the achievement gap” by shutting down schools. A superintendent who takes a 10% pay cut but then secretly reinstates it one year later.
Do you know how much my pay cut was last year? I didn’t get paid for running the Debate program, but continued to do so (free of charge) because I had to look my students in the eyes – not you. As we approach yet another September without a contract, my total lost step and degree wages are now approaching $15,000.
Meanwhile, this body votes in new charters it can’t afford, continues to hire 6-figure employees, extend contracts to Teach For America, and refuses to lobby for PILOT payments, abatement reform, or “interest rate swap” renegotiation.
Instead, you say that the PFT needs to give back. Don’t pretend to thank teachers like myself by giving them awards at the beginning of an SRC meeting, and then secretly voting to take away my contract.
If you really want to thank teachers like me, forget the cheap photo-op and
Get back to the negotiating table!
Give us a fair contract!
Then, hopefully, you can
Vote to dissolve this sham of a school board!