First I want to apologize for misleading anyone: the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has played an active role in the Philadelphia Coalition for Advancing Public Schools (PCAPS). They attend meetings and have used their voice to help influence policy and requests from that group.
That being said, it is important to note that I had to be reminded of that fact by others, which harkens a different problem: public relations. The PFT should be a support network and resource for its 15,000 members and - to a certain extent - it is. But when it comes to providing specific suggestions from the headquarters at 1816 Chestnut Street, there is often little fanfare.
I was recently pointed to the testimony Jerry Jordan gave at the City Council meeting last week and told that this was a good indication of what the Union is proposing. While I agree on many (if not all) of the points presented in this testimony, I find it hard to call it a true proposition.
In the fifth paragraph, Jerry states,
"To be clear—there are many specific things in the Boston Consulting Group’s plan that we disagree with. But the real
problem with the plan is the process under which it was developed and presented to decision makers and residents of
While I agree completely with this statement, it still does not point out anything specific that the Union supports. The testimony continues to provide numerous examples of problems with the process and specific considerations that the PFT disagrees with. At the end of the piece we finally see two (mostly) concrete suggestions (emphasis added):
- No system can thrive under the years of consistent disinvestment that our public schools have been subjected to. Our parents, teachers and students are doing all they can with limited resources. We need Harrisburg to take more ownership in the success of our schools by devoting the resources our district needs to be competitive with neighboring counties, who spend nearly twice as much per pupil, resulting in significantly higher student performance.
- We are calling for a school funding strategy that combines adequate levels of state, local and federal investments to ensure that our schools are providing the high quality academic resources, programs, materials and services to every child.
Now these suggestions I can completely get behind. I just wish the PFT would bring them up earlier and start advertising them to its membership (me) in a more conducive manner. If that happened, I think there would be more active meetings in schools across the District and more people attending general meetings.