Nicole Lepore-Jackson testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of April 20, 2017

Nichole Lapore-Jackson
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Good Evening Dr. Hite and School Reform Commissioners,

I am here again tonight to speak with all of you about the lack of a teachers’ contract. More importantly, I am here tonight to show my students and all of the students in the city of Philadelphia that their voice is important. Everyday that the teachers go without a fair and equitable contract our voices and the voices of our students are being silenced. For over 1,300 days the teachers in the city of Philadelphia have worked without a contract, which means that for over 1,300 days the children in the city of Philadelphia have gone without a legal document that protects them and provides for a safe and appropriate learning environment.

Everyday teachers have the awesome responsibility of educating the future of our society and it is our responsibility to make all of our students know that they are important and worthy of a quality education. So when Lee Whack, a district spokesperson, is quoted as saying “Dedicating all of the city money to a PFT contract would leave “no money for educational investments for children,” in an Inquirer article from April 4th, what does he consider an educational investment? And more importantly, what does the school district consider to be an educational investment for children. Because the greatest educational investment a school district can make is recruiting and retaining exceptionally qualified, dedicated, highly credentialed teachers.

Commissioner Green, I would like to remind you and your fellow commissioners of statements that you made at the SRC Meeting on March 23rd. You said and I quote “We want you to have a contract.” “And I’m sorry we can’t afford to do more, and without additional resources from our funders it’s really hard to do that” “I wish we had money to do more”. Well, your wish has come true! Amazingly, the city has reassessed commercial property values and found an additional $65 million a year to be dedicated solely to schools. All that we are asking, is for you make it a priority to create a fair and equitable contract that serves the children of the city of Philadelphia and their families. Our children can not wait any longer for our city officials to invest in them and their future. If the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are ever going to create a contract that serves the children of our great city, the time is now !

I would like to conclude by reading from a Letter from Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding, cosigned by a number of other labor leaders, urging the School District to settle a fair contract with the PFT. It states:

It is without question the additional 65 million in revenue must be utilized for settlement of a fair contract for PFT members.

Quite simply, investing in a fair contract for educators is an investment in kids. It is no coincidence that the teachers contract covers items like functional water fountains, school counselors, and class size limits. Our brothers and sisters in the PFT are in it for the kids, and any suggestion otherwise is simply absurd.