by Silence Dogood
According to a story in today’s Inquirer, “District lags in filling teacher vacancies,” a month into the new school year, the Philadelphia School District had 144 unfilled teaching jobs. This is troubling to district officials, because big urban cities like New York, Chicago and Boston all opened with no vacancies.
Teacher recruitment experts, along with district CEO Arlene Ackerman and Michael Masch, the district’s chief business officer and temporary head of human resources, have been working hard to solve this problem.
After much analysis and investigation, the district believes the reason for the teacher vacancies lies with their hiring process (it’s too complex and not streamlined enough), and that the current teacher contract “sets up a system where some teaching candidates cannot be interviewed until two weeks before school starts.”
PFT President Jerry Jordan denied that the contract had anything to do with hiring. He blamed the district for their lack of organization (might Ackerman be laying the groundwork for trying to strip teacher seniority?).
Other reasons given for the teacher shortage were the turnover of district brass, a national teacher shortage in certain subjects, and a lack of recruiting.
Now that the district and the “teacher recruitment experts” have given us their opinions, allow me to cut through all their educational rhetoric and political posturing and tell the world the top 10 reasons why there are 144 vacancies in Philadelphia public schools:
10. The Philadelphia School District is one of the lowest paying districts in the five-county Greater Philadelphia Area.
9. The Philadelphia School District does not offer its teachers tuition reimbursement.
8. Class sizes in Philadelphia are the highest in the State.
7. On any given day, 12,000 Philadelphia school students skip school.
6. Parents of Philadelphia school children rarely get in involved with their child’s education.
5. Philadelphia school teachers get punched in the face by their students.
4. Many neighborhoods and communities in Philadelphia are not welcoming to teachers.
3. When it comes to money and resources, the district is a penny wise and a pound foolish (they spend $1.8 million on the executive staff when certain schools don’t have books, counselors, music programs or libraries).
2. The district demoralizes its teachers.
1. The SRC is only currently offering its teachers a one-year contract.
Yes, the Philadelphia School District sounds so inviting to new teachers. If only they could straighten out their human resource problems (and rewrite that gosh-darn teacher contract!), I’m sure there would be a line of eager, highly qualified teachers circling around 440 N. Broad Street with their resumes in their hands.