Unions First, Teachers & Students Last

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) might take legal action against the School District of Philadelphia for … wait for it … hiring back teachers.

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) decided to suspend parts of the Pennsylvania School Code in order to rehire recently laid-off staff based on merit, rather than simply based on seniority. 

Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools William R. Hite Jr. said the move to hire back school staff based on need instead of seniority was necessary in order to open schools on time in September. This common sense concept outraged the PFT, which complained that the SRC (Philadelphia’s version of your local school board) lacked the authority to make such decisions. The idea that rehiring based on need might be beneficial for students appeared to be last on union leaders’ minds.

Given the fact that many Philadelphia schools are violent and failing, one would think the union would be open to changing the way the district operates. Instead, union bosses are content with reaching into your pocket to temporarily “solve” the problems they are largely responsible for. And next year, when the same problems return, they’ll be back for more.  

Thankfully, there is an alternative to the union-dominated education model.  It includes giving parents and students the option to escape the failed system and choose their own school. And there is strong evidence that suggests school choice improves educational outcomes.

So, who should have first priority when it comes to public education: unions or teachers and students?