Philly teachers, staff sound off on layoffs

Although the layoffs of 1,500 Philadelphia School District teachers are still on hold, it’s still pretty clear to everyone involved that come July 1, some teachers will not have jobs.

The only question is which 1,500 teachers will get laid off — the district and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers are fighting in Common Pleas Court and now, possibly in the state Supreme Court, over the exemption of about 200 Promise Academy teachers from the layoff.  (It's complicated.)

I can’t imagine what the upheaval has done to teachers (and counselors, and nurses, and support staff) vulnerable to layoff. Actually, I can, because many called and e-mailed me in the days after notices first went out.

Here’s a sampling:

A teacher at Overbrook High told me about how disruptive the threat of layoffs have been all year.

“The biggest effect from all this has been the teachers who have already pursued teaching jobs in other schools and districts because they didn't want to wait to hear about layoffs or just wanted to get out of the district,” the teacher said.“We have lost some of most motivated and creative teachers.”

A district counselor who was hired two years ago under Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman’s Imagine 2014 plan said she was braced for the pink slip that was delivered last week.

But “I feel bad for the kids,” the counselor said. “There are about 560 in my school, and with one full-time and one part-time counselor, I don’t think they will be supported.”

A teacher who works in a West Philadelphia elementary school wrote that his head is spinning over the twists and turns, and he’s still not sure if he’s got a job in the district next year.  

This teacher has little seniority but has signed a contract to teach at one of the new Promise Academies for next year, though “who knows what that means now?” he wrote me.

His layoff notice came on Monday, and he’s worried.

“I think the district is going to be in a lot of trouble if they get rid of these 1,500 teachers and the kids are going to be the ones to suffer,” the teacher said.

Remember, a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Common Pleas court on whether the layoffs can go forward and the 200 Promise Academy teachers should be exempted from pink slips, but it's not clear whether that will happen because of the possible Supreme Court action.  (Told you it was complicated.)

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