Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Should the PFT contract be public?

Tonight, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will vote on a new three-year contract with the School District of Philadelphia. The agreement will impact more than 17,000 employees, close to 200,000 students, and have major implications for city taxpayers, who foot the bill for public education through property taxes.

Should the PFT contract be public?

Tonight, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers will vote on a new three-year contract with the School District of Philadelphia. The agreement will impact more than 17,000 employees, close to 200,000 students, and have major implications for city taxpayers, who foot the bill for public education through property taxes.

Despite the importance of the contract, very little information is available about it -- both the union and the School District have refused to provide specifics. Given how critical this document is to taxpayers, we got to wondering if it's fair that the details are being kept secret. Why shouldn't the public know what's being decided behind closed doors?

The School District did not respond immediately to a request for comment. According to a spokeswoman for the union, teachers need to vote on the agreement before the public learns the terms.

“The PFT-District contract is a lengthy and complex legal document that has taken nearly two years to negotiate,” says Barbara Goodman, communications director for the union. “Even after a tentative agreement is reached, it takes time to arrive at the final wording and requires explanation to put new provisions into context for the members who ultimately will work under it.”

What do you think? Should the public know what's in the contract proposal when the members do? Or should we have to wait until after the vote?

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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