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Philly Teachers Quit Days Before School Starts


There are some things that just make you go "huh?"

According to this AP story, a whole bunch of teachers in Philadelphia are quitting or planning not to show up for their first week of school. More than 110 resigned this week; others have put in for long-term sick leave.

District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is not happy, calling the missing-in-action behavior "very unprofessional."

Teachers' union President Jerry Jordan said that it's not unusual for teachers to choose among different job offers before school begins.

Part of me thinks this must have something to do with Ackerman's intentions to overhaul hiring and seniority practices in the school district, as colleague Lesli Maxwell reported.

But on the other hand, have you heard of this happening in other fields? I can only imagine my editor's reaction if I were to tell her I was missing a deadline because I had an interview with some other education pub.


Why don't you go "huh?" when teachers are cut a week before school starts in Philly? This is what the current system breeds. No trust. No professional community. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

You ain't seen nothing yet.

During NCLB I teachers quietly retired or changed professions. I hope the backlash against the RttT approach sends a message.

If NCLB II is not noticably better, I hope we see widespread civil disobedience by teachers. We would not be risking our lives by refusing to participate in standardized testing. But if we are not willing to risk our careers, we don't deserve jobs in the classroom - positions that I see as virtually sacred.

I just hope we don't have to
"monkeywrench" the "reforms" sponsored by the president who I expect to be the greatest in my lifetime.

And regarding Philly, I don't know the details but here is my take. In the Spring when we renew our contracts, teachers have a reasonable expectation of why the position will entail. If school leaders want to play fast-and-loose and unilaterally redefine the profession then THAT is unethical. I'm more afraid we're seeiing more of the social engineering mentality of the Broad Foundation and "reformers" who do not have enough respect for the principles of public education and democracy and the integrity of contracts and the rule of law.

Philly teacher you're joking right? No one gets canned before school starts, they get "reassigned." Either to another school, or even better, to no school, but still receive a paycheck.

In order for the profession to be taken seriously we need to act as such - in the face of both praise and adversity. Quitting days before a new school year starts, regardless of reasons, is both unprofessional and illogical considering the true nature of teaching - a love for children and educating them.

Mass people do not quit jobs because they "feel" like it. There is something wrong.

Also, stop bringing up the love for children as a reason to ignore working conditions. I am tired of hearing this statement. This statement makes teachers feel guilty for wanting to be treated with respect and professionalism.

Too bad that teacher unions are holding education hostage to reform and innovation. Nonsensical strikes, walkouts, sickouts, and other attempts at political coercion are hurting our kids.

I expect that the NEA will finally destroy public education just like other labor unions have destroyed US industry.

Teachers have always been willing to sacrifice reasonable pay for job security. Now, security is not even a "selling point" for the "profession."

Its time the public stop relying upon and abusing our heartstrings and that teachers finally start playing the free market. It is quite likely, the teachers in Philly have done nothing in violation of their contracts, that is, if they have them. If the school boards and administrators want to use insecurity as a professional tactic, well then, turnabout is fair play... AND... that's the way of the "professional" world.

There is no logical argument against the fact that until teachers earn the equivalent of their peers in other professions of public service (including medical professionals) than the public is getting exactly that for which it is NOT paying. The tuition for our education costs as much as everyone else's. We deserve to live in the same neighborhoods as our dctors and dentists.

We've got it. If the public wants it for their children, then its time to pay up.

IF the people in greater Philadelphia are willing to financially support a bunch of big, overgrown crybabies, half of whom probably have criminal records and who play kids' games for a living, then going to school should be a catered affair, complete with gift bags, paparazzi (SP), and a red carpet rolled out for us each and every day.

I don't hear a public outcry against professional athletes who are tagged as "holdouts."

And Steve, one more thing, an abusive editor wouldn't like it but it would be predictable if you didn't explain fully why you will be somewhere else. And like it or not, the Market plays a role. The question is whether you can get better teachers and better reporters by destroying their job security.

And in education, the question is why why can't "reformers" look at a map? Urban schools have teacher quality problems for the same reasons that they have so many educational challenges - the outmigration to the suburbs and exurbs. If "reformers" try to move teachers arond like chess pieces, the top teachers and many others will exercize their options in the suburbs.

And we all know that there's another issue below the surface. Too many of this generation of "reformers" want to drive out Baby Boomers. They want to socialize younger, and less expensive, teachers into a system where there is only one answer to the order to Jump!

Hopefully this is just the beginning of another period of a huge teacher shortage. Gosh, I hope so. Maybe that will end the current trend of teacher bashing.

I worked in the S.D. of Phila. for four years. When I was applying for jobs I was told again and again that the wait for Philly to hire would be very long due to the fact that the district takes so long to "handle" (?!) transfered and reassigned teachers. It seems that while other districts tend to do that done quickly, Philly can't get it together. (In there defense, SDP is much larger than any of the surrounding districts. Even so... it's no excuse.) In my first year, a few teachers who had, in the spring, requested district trasnfers were finally granted them in August, with less than a week to prepare. Some only had the weekend! Other teachers who want to transfer know the district is slow, so while they might apply for an in-district transfer, they're also savvy enough to apply to suburban districts. Suburban districts tend to be more efficient, but even they have been known to hire teachers at the last minute.

I'm with the commenter, "In Support of Philly Teachers." With this sort of treatment, why would we expect teachers to act as anything other than free agents? And why should they? Why must dedication to students be equated with being a pawn in the system? Both principals I worked under in Philly decried teachers who left at the last minute as "not caring for the students." (And by these comments were made in front of the rest of the faculty!) Teachers have a right to seek out employment in schools they want to teach in, and they are right to feel frustrated at a slow-moving system that keeps them in limbo.

Teachers who move last minute do not have a problem with their dedication to students, they can be dedicated to students at ANY school. It seems the problem is with a school system that doesn't see stability as important to students - or perhaps that's just another problem that the teachers are supposed to fix. It seems to me that no one else will.

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