Councilmember Helen Gym Responds to Tentative PFT Contract Announcement
PHILADELPHIA—June 16, 2017— Councilmember Helen Gym (At Large) released the following statement in response to the announcement of a tentative contract agreement between the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) and the School District of Philadelphia:
“The announcement of a tentative contract agreement between the PFT and the School District signals the long-awaited start of a new chapter of respect and improved relations for public education in our city.
“For the last five years our school staff worked without a contract or raises at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. The thousands of teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals, and other PFT members should be commended for their persistence and their unflagging dedication during some of the worst times in District history. I thank them for seeing the District through with their passion, advocacy and leadership, and I look forward to partnering with and supporting them as long as I’m in office.
“At its heart, the PFT contract is more than just a labor negotiation. It is also a vehicle for addressing the needs of children and parents. It sets a standard for fundamental learning conditions such as the maximum allowable class size, guaranteed staffing levels, and school safety. And in moments of crisis, the PFT contract requirements have served as the last line of defense against cuts to schools and basic services for our students. That’s why settling the contract is a matter of celebration not only for PFT members but also for school communities and the city as a whole.
“As we look ahead, we cannot claim to value teachers and uplift our schools without changing the flawed system for funding education in Pennsylvania, in which the schools and districts with the greatest needs have the fewest resources. Over the last five years, while Philadelphia City Council has expanded its investment in the Philadelphia School District, the Pennsylvania legislature has failed to meet the standard of adequate and equitable support for Philadelphia schools, or for any of the desperately underfunded school districts in the state. This settlement must pave the way for us to unify forces across the state to fix Pennsylvania’s inadequate public education funding system once and for all.
“I commend Jerry Jordan and his team, Dr. Hite and SRC Chair Joyce Wilkerson, the finance team of the School District, and Rich Lazer for the hard work they put into hammering out this agreement. I thank Mayor Kenney and Council President Clarke for their stalwart support of Philadelphia’s teachers and a commitment to quality public schools in the city.
“To our PFT members: I know that no words can sufficiently thank you for the sacrifices you have made for our students and schools over the past four years. I understand that there is no easy fix to restore the morale and trust that has been weakened during unprecedented attacks on public education during your tenure. I stand with you. I look forward to opening the next chapter of renewed investment into our schools as we build a public education system that works for all of us.”
Contact: Ian Gavigan ([email protected])