I started this blog just before the new contract was signed with the Philadelphia teacher’s union. At the time, I was supportive of the contract and the innovative/proactive changes to the traditional structure of the contract. It also seemed like public and media reaction was generally positive.
Now that the new contract is off of the front pages, however, there is a vocal group of teachers who seem to be quite unhappy with the new contract. Reading several Philly teacher blogs and news articles out there, it is clear that teachers are experiencing a wide range of emotions–fear in some cases, distress or jitteryness. Yesterday, this blog received an anonymous submission which I will not publish for two reasons. Though we welcome submissions and I will post submissions anonymously, I won’t post things that are anonymous to me. I need to know who I am posting from. Secondly, this is a blog designed to be a voice for parents. Though the submission was anonymous, I was able to determine that the message was sent from a computer on the Philadelphia School District’s network–presumably a teacher, not a parent. The writer was clearly writing this article in a heightened emotional state and went on for almost 1,000 words. The author used the phrase “you reap what you sow” and criticized parents, schools, and district leadership (specifically Superintendant Aleen Ackerman by name). The author also criticized the Renaisannce Schools plan, remarking that “New lingo with a new agency – sure sounds good, but don’t expect anything but the same results and wasted time and money.”
I sympathize with the author and teachers in the district. My impression is that they are a dedicated group who are overworked and underpaid. Sure, there are certainly some bad apples that need to be dealt with like in any profession, but I am sure that the problems in the Renaissance schools have more to do with lack of resources, lack of leadership in those schools, and poverty. Since I have the luxury of choice, I will certainly not be choosing a Renaissance School, which is presumably where the most teacher anger and anxiety exists. But I wonder how broadly pervasive those feelings are?