Good Evening Dr. Hite and Commissioners, Parents, Colleagues, and Community Members, my name is Kristin Luebbert—I am a teacher, proud PFT member, and a founding member of the Caucus of Working Educators. I have come here tonight to talk about my colleagues and the love, care, and intellect I see them pour in to their work with our Philadelphia children every day.
Over these last years, my caucus work, union work, and educational endeavors have taken me to many schools in this city and put me in contact with many of my colleagues. Every time I spend time with fellow educators, whether it be at a trauma awareness class, University Museum PD, or organizing event, I come away grateful and amazed at the passion and dedication I encounter. My brother and sister school workers are spending the better part of their lives working for the good of our cities’ children.
What I see in my own life and practice is that my colleagues are spending their own time and money every day to do the best job they can. We are doing this because we believe in our calling and mission—we are certainly not doing it for the great pay scale.
I bring this up because one of our SRC commissioners likes to paint our Philadelphia public school teachers as uncommitted to their jobs. This commissioner has publicly stated that the PFT actively discourages teachers from working extra time. This assertion is absurd. In my over sixteen years as a union worker and union advocate I have never once heard a union rep call on a teacher or school staff to leave the building exactly at 3:15.
There are, however, many reasons teachers leave at 3:15 (which is, by the way, the legal end of our day)—I thought I would list a few to help the commissioners understand:
- Their room is either 100 degrees or 50 degrees, and they must go home to plan and grade papers in a somewhat bearable climate.
- They need to make parent phone calls, there are only a few outside phone lines in the school, and teachers are banned from using most of them.
- They are early risers and have been in the building working since 6:30 AM
- They must tend to their own children, and then will commence schoolwork again after the little ones are in bed.
- They are they only person available to take an elderly parent to a medical appointment.
- They had to beg their own doctor to give them a 3:30 appointment because the doctor’s “last appointment” is usually at 3:00 PM.
- They are on their way to another school or office for a professional development class.
- THEY HAVE TO GO TO THEIR SECOND JOB because having pay, steps, and lanes frozen for 4 years does not give then enough money to support their family.
- OR, their official work day is OVER, and they want to go home!
Teachers routinely work many more hours than we are paid for, and we do it with love for our students and schools. It is not productive or necessary for the unelected, unaccountable SRC members (MOST OF WHOM EARN SIX FIGURES) to repeatedly and deliberately denigrate the teachers of Philadelphia public schools.