Estelle Richman, appointed by Gov. Wolf to Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission (SRC), was unanimously confirmed to the position today by Pennsylvania’s Senate. The SRC is tasked with overseeing Philadelphia’s public schools, and Richman’s confirmation fills out the five-member body.
One of Richman's primary duties will be to help hammer out a new labor deal with district's teacher union. Negotiations thus far have been contentious. Given Philadelphia’s well-documented financial problems, it is troubling the district is plagued by ghost teaching.
Labor contracts in many Pennsylvania school districts, including Philadelphia, permit employees to leave the classroom and perform union work while receiving taxpayer-funded salaries, retaining pension benefits, and accruing seniority. Most of Philadelphia's ghost teachers work for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, including the union’s president, Jerry Jordan, who has been on leave as a ghost teacher for three decades.
So, what does the newest SRC member think about ghost teaching? At a Senate Education hearing in March, Richman was explicitly clear about what should happen to Philadelphia’s ghost teachers: “Get them back in the classroom…or get them out of the system…where they belong.”
The full video:
It’s encouraging that the newest SRC member is taking a stand against ghost teaching. Teachers are paid to teach, and students in Philadelphia deserve nothing less than high quality teachers in every classroom.
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