Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
A friend sent me this great article that discusses the positive effects of including teacher input when making decisions on school reform. I recommend reading the article. Just click on the link and scroll down to page 16.
Let’s face it; this is the exact opposite of what is happening here in Philadelphia. Instead of including dedicated and committed educators in the decision process teachers are being treated as the villains and often pointed to as the main problem in our schools. I really believe that until multiple parties can sit down together and discuss what needs to be done to change the climate of “failing” schools all these reforms are going to not only be a failure, but a catastrophic waste of hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars.
Stay posted. In the next couple days I am going to post some direct steps educators can take to make sure their voices are heard amid all this change.
“The third- grade teacher has seen a noticeable and positive change since her district began to collect and analyze classroom teachers’ views on the conditions of teaching and learning.” (American Teacher, page 16)
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Charters and EMO’s will be hiring their own staff:
"If selected as a teacher for a Renaissance charter school, the employees will have the option to either request a leave of absence from the School District of Philadelphia for up to five years, or resign from the District and then accept the new position at the Charter School. If selected as a teacher for a Renaissance contract school, the employees will no longer be an employee of the School District of Philadelphia and will need to resign and accept the new position with the contract organization." -Philadelphia Notebook
We were told by Jerry Jordan that the employees of reconstituted schools would remain district employees! Yes, our backs are up against a wall as a union, but folks deserve to know the truth and should be given time to make a calculated decision. We weren’t given that opportunity.
You can’t tell me that Jerry Jordan didn’t know this. I am not here to bash our Union. Yet at the same time I can’t help but feel that the teachers were misled. So where do we go from here? I don’t merely want to be a complainer. Instead, I think we as teachers who care for our students need to make a stand and do the job our Union hasn’t been able to do. If we don’t organize now these sweeping and insulting “reforms” will occur without any real input from the people who have spent tens of thousands of hours serving kids.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Evelyn Oates-Samples and downtown administration continues to insult us as professionals. In the paper she said teachers may not understand the new model. We are professionals who can read! We understand the model because we took the time to figure it out for ourselves. The district didn’t take the time to explain it and the Union officials were hoping we wouldn’t so they could pass the contract through with no ruffles. We realize the potential negative ramifications these turnaround schools may have on already struggling communities that need our support not our experimentation.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
What is a Renaissance School (Skip this paragraph if you know)? As I understand it (based on the Philadelphia teachers contract and news reports) a Renaissance will be a reconstituted school. Schools that have been persistently failing are eligible. I recently heard this is 95 Philadelphia schools including every neighborhood high school. The first step in the process will be the initial clearing out of all staff and administration. The school building will then be handed over to some outside manager; charter or for profit Educational Management Organization. The new administration can re-hire up to 50% of the former staff of the school, if those teachers decide to re-apply for their former positions. Teachers at these new Renaissance schools will work an extra hour a day at school, two Saturdays a month, and from my understanding there will be an option to work in July.
So why am I against these Renaissance schools? In some ways it sounds good, right, more time equals more results. If I only believed that would be true in these new schools, then I would adamantly support them. The new Renaissance schools don’t deal with the issues that persistently plague our city schools; lack of quality resources, overcrowded classrooms, serious discipline issues (i.e. South Philly High), truancy, and a lack of sufficient staff. Adding more time to the day and year isn’t going to be the silver bullet politicians are hoping for. In many cases it will likely exacerbate these issues.
Many of the best teachers are going to leave! Shouldn’t this concern us? There are teachers who are the very fabric holding many of these schools together, barely yes, but still together. Quality teachers want to be treated like professionals and under this contract it is not happening. People are human, if they can work one-third less the time and make more money elsewhere they are going to do it. Not to mention many teachers don’t want to sacrifice their home and family life for the ten thousand extra dollars a teacher might be able to earn in the Renaissance model. I have talked to many good teachers who said they will go if their school become Renaissance.
So when the good teachers leave what will happen? I believe you will be left with a very young, and overworked group of people. These are teachers who might last one or two years at the school. The rest of the teachers will be people either in it for the money or folks who could not find jobs anywhere else. Please remember every year Philadelphia has a shortage of over one hundred teachers, often more. People aren’t going to be lining up to teach in these schools that are not sustainable.
Who suffers? The kids, the kids, the kids!!! Yet again, they will feel the blow of another political experiment. They will lose many of the teachers who care deeply for them. For many of our students school is one of the few places that offers stability and now that will be taken as well. The issues that hold back their schools will continue to go unaddressed. When I think about this I get sad and angry. People tout themselves as reformers and advocates for these children. The children they claim to help, they will hurt!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
My name is John Smith. I recently spoke at the PFT meeting last Thursday. I expressed my opinion, and I believe the opinion of many others, that these new Renaissance schools will not be in the best interest of our students. I do not feel that our Union represented those of us who felt this way. The media seems to have only heard reports praising our new contract. I truly believe these Renaissance schools will drive away many of the teachers our students need the most. I also believe they will create schools that have a revolving teaching staff of very young teachers who will not last. How can this be in the best interest of our students?
I would like to make our voice heard! I would like to make a public response to let parents know what the implications of these new Renaissance schools will likely be. Please join me in marching this Tuesday outside of 440 N. Broad to let out opinion be heard. For those of you who wish to march join me at Broad and Spring Garden at 3:30, marching will being around 4:00 and go until 5:30. Come bringing signs and posters expressing frustration with the school district’s new plan! For questions or a confirmation email just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will hit reply as a confirmation.
Ps- Please pass this along to as many other teachers as you know within the district as well as parents who may be concerned as to the impact these Renaissance schools may have on their own children.