Sharpton, Gingrich and Duncan: Rebuilding America’s Schools, Brick by Brick


 by Silence Dogood

The official word is in: There is hope for education!  This encouraging conclusion was drawn by Al Sharpton, the race-hustling, anti-Semitic demagogue who in 1983 was caught on FBI surveillance tape discussing a cocaine deal; Newt Gingrich, the draft dodger and serial adulterer who admitted to cheating on his wife while leading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton; and Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education who has zero experience teaching in a public school classroom and possesses no instructional certificate of any kind! 


After bestowing their greatness on the students and faculty at Mastery Charter School’s Shoemaker Campus and McDaniel Elementary in Philadelphia, these education gurus graced the public with their expert opinion: Schools can actually work!  Kids can actually learn!         


“After visiting these two schools today, I am more inspired and encouraged than I have been,” Sharpton said. “It’s a breakthrough moment.”


“You realize what is possible for all American children,” Gingrich said regarding his trip to the schools.


Philadelphia, I think, is really at a fork in the road,” Duncan said. “Philadelphia has a chance to lead the national conversation in education.”


It’s good to know Philadelphia public schools have passed the Sharpton-Gingrich-Duncan litmus test.  With these guys at the helm, it’s only a matter of time before America’s public schools are the world’s best and brightest.      


The Top 10 Reasons Why Philly Lacks Teachers

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.