â€œWhile itâ€™s no surprise Gov. Tom Corbettâ€™s Dept. of Education would publicly agree to any argument made by his School Reform Commission, the filing of the PDEâ€™s amicus brief in support of the SRCâ€™s Supreme Court petition is still outrageous,â€ charges PFT President Jerry Jordan.
â€œOne of the most-ridiculous assertions made by the PDEâ€™s brief is the SRC needs the freedom to impose working conditions in schools because of the districtâ€™s financial distress â€“ crisis that was created by the very administration the SRC represents!
â€œOf course, the PDEâ€™s argument with regard to the districtâ€™s budget deficit is utter nonsense. These rule changes wonâ€™t save the district a dime. We challenge the SRC, the district and the Corbett administration to explain how their proposed changes would benefit the district financially.
â€œThe entire legal maneuver demonstrates either a startling hubris on the part of the SRC, the Corbett administration and the School District; or a disturbing ignorance about the real needs of our schoolchildren.â€
In a reply brief filed this week, the School District of Philadelphia and School Reform Commission explained, â€œWhen the General Assembly passed the Distressed School District law, it intended to provide the School District with additional flexibility in organizing its schools to provide better opportunities for students and gave the District the necessary tools to do so. Recognizing the stakes for students and schools, the General Assembly designated the Supreme Court as the body most able to expeditiously resolve disputes concerning these matters. The School District and SRC believe it is critical that the Supreme Court resolve these issues of public importance now.â€
â€œPeople understand the issues at stake here are urgent,â€ said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., SDP superintendent. â€œI have heard from parents, principals, and numerous teachers who support the changes we are making. They know how important it is for every student to have the right teacher with the right skill set, right now.â€
UNIONS URGED TO BATTLE CORBETT
Pennsylvaniaâ€™s labor community received a strong message at the state AFL-CIOâ€™s convention in Pittsburgh when Lee Saunders, national president of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees called on the gathering to show the extremists that those â€˜Welcome to Pennsylvaniaâ€™ signs are not for them.
â€œWe have got to beat them. We must make a statement in solidarity, through our community support and our work. Right to Work is not going to happen in Pennsylvania,â€ urged Saunders. He meant a controversial pair of bills labeled â€œpaycheck protectionâ€ that could, if passed, force public unions to begin collecting their own dues and political contributions. That task is currently done by state and local government entities.
To create their own collection systems could cost these unions millions annually, a cost now subsidized by taxpayers.