- The US educational system is broken. Core standards, NCLB, and other educational initiatives at the national level are NOT working! Yet, because of wealthy interests in this country, school districts and teachers are required to follow the mandates of high-stakes testing.
- In Pennsylvania, our extremely large and ineffective legislature cannot come to a budget agreement. The state’s basic education formula needs upward revision. As a reminder it was the Rendell administration that pushed Federal ARRA funds into basic education. When those monies went away, the basic subsidy was reduced by some $1 billion. Political situations like this financially affected local school districts in a very negative way. Basic subsidy MUST be increased.
- At the local level, Scranton School District is being operated inefficiently. Audit reports are full of internal control weaknesses. Especially troubling is an unbid bus contract by which the SSD is paying significantly higher rates than provided by the department of education. Their answer to this audit weakness does not include any inclination to bid this service. Politics as usual it seems.
- Teachers are being asked for contract concessions while at the same time, PATRONAGE hiring practices continue.
- Teachers are PROFESSIONALS who have the difficult task of educating students who are along the entire spectrum of abilities to learn. Teachers are also dealing with enumerable outside mandates that allow very little room for them to do their actual job. They are required to find creative ways to teach to a standardized test. Tests are standardized; human beings are not!
- Many people feel that teachers should be paid less because they work 190 days per year. In actuality, teaching in a public school requires continuous professional development generally done in the summer. Teachers spend 180 days in the classroom with students, but many hours are spent in preparation for that classroom time.
The US school system is ranked low among other developed countries. In most cases, these countries think of teachers as professionals and pay them commensurately. We need to do the same throughout all states.
All of this being said, I would implore the SFT teachers to ACT PROFESSIONALLY during this strike. Please DO NOT involve yourselves in personal attacks on administrators and school board members. TAKE THE HIGH ROAD!
My sincere hope is that both sides can come to a fair and equitable contract.