Plan for schools coming to a head

PHILADELPHIA. The School District of Philadelphia today will lay out the process to fix the worst performing schools, but many teachers are still not on board with the controversial plan.

Under the contract approved by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers last week, Renaissance Schools will have longer hours, possible bi-monthly Saturday classes and mandatory summer school. All teachers at those schools will be forced to transfer at the end of the school year, while only up to 50 percent could be re-hired.

“If you’re going to add 25 percent to a school [budget], throw that 25 percent and give me 25 percent more teachers,” said Tom Juhas, a teacher at George Washington High School, as he protested yesterday outside the district’s headquarters with a handful of other educators.

“By turning over the staff, you’re hurting these kids that are so used to teachers being put in for a week, and being pulled out and sent to another school,” added a teacher at Hartranft Elementary School who asked to remain anonymous. “There’s too much teacher turnover. That’s why we’re not seeing results.”

PFT President Jerry Jordan acknowledged frustration by some members over Renaissance Schools last week, but largely applauded the changes.

“[Teachers] will be able to let the district know by April if they want to opt out of summer school,” he noted. “The bottom line is that the children will be getting an extra month’s instruction in high needs schools.”

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