Letter: Enjoy summer vacation, Dr. Hite. Philadelphia teachers can't.
The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.
ATTN: Dr. Hite, members of the SRC, city and state elected officials, and members of the community
I am a School District of Philadelphia TEACHER. I am a surrogate mom, a nurse, a psychologist, a disciplinarian, a counselor, a problem solver. I am a supplier of notebooks, crayons, glue, folders, scissors, pencils, copy paper, tissues, wipes, hand sanitizer — for without me, some would not be prepared for school.
I bring clothes, toys, and food — so some do not go without when they leave the classroom. It would be a horrible thing if Santa didn't visit.
I teach math, reading, science, social studies, health, writing, social skills, accepting responsibility for ones actions, how to be a "good" person, anger management, study skills, time management. Did I mention I teach how to be responsible for turning in homework? Yes, that matters.
I teach my children so many things because I want them to have the best possible education so they can succeed in the world one day. I am no different from any other Philadelphia school teacher.
Yet you think my job is not important. Most of you make the big money, while I am underpaid by approximately 30 percent less than my suburban counterparts. You think I can afford to give up $20,000 to $30,000 of my salary. Would you? You certainly can afford it more than I can. Many of my colleagues are now faced with no income, and those of us who still have jobs are worried keeping our house or our car, or even paying our bills. I hope you're enjoying your summer vacation — because that's what is weighing down ours.
I know there's no money, but a week before layoffs the district had enough to hire a new CFO for $175,000.00. I know Dr. Hite is working overtime. Perhaps we should pay him above and beyond his designated salary — oh wait, when teachers take work home, come in early, or stay late, can they get above-and-beyond compensation too?
The SRC should be ashamed of themselves! The state took over this district to better manage the funds. Instead, it is in worse disarray than before the take over. How do our politicians across Pennsylvania allow the SRC to continue to have blind control? Why have our elected officials not demanded the SRC be held accountable for the financial demise of the district? I am a teacher. It was your job to manage the budget. I have done my job — have you?
Now you want the employees to sacrifice their time and money — work more hours, less pay, fewer benefits. I'm sorry I won't be able to. I need to get another job, or two, so maybe I can keep my house. The city was asked for $60 million. The state, $120 million. The employees who directly impact the lives of our children, the ones our children rely on and need the most — well, you have asked us for $133 million!
Again, I ask: How much of a pay cut will you be taking Dr. Hite? How about your new CFO?
I hope that our community members understand what the teachers in this district are facing with a new contract due in September. You need to contact your elected officials and demand answers. Gov. Corbett, if you want assurance this will not happen again, perhaps you should look at the people who were supposed to make sure it didn't happen this time.
I hope any elected officials who may read this start asking the SRC how this happened under their watch. I also hope you support teachers across this state. Without teachers, you wouldn't be where you are today.