Scranton school system forces teachers to strike – people’s world

AFT President Randi Weingarten says the Scranton school district is among the poorest in the country and the needs of teachers, children and parents cannot be ignored. Photo AP / Owen Cliff

SCRANTON, Pa. – After years without a contract, and school board demands for steep increases by teachers in health care costs, teachers and staff in the Scranton, Pa., School district, members of Local 1147 Teachers (AFT) were forced to strike on 3 November.

“See us on the picket lines. The educators, parents and students of Scranton have sacrificed and sacrificed, and we are tired of holding the bag for the mismanagement of the district. It’s bad for teachers and bad for kids, ”Scranton Federation of Teachers President Rosemary Boland said the day before. Pickets were erected at 16 sites across the city during school hours, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Our children’s future hangs in the balance as state bureaucrats and our school board make cut after cut to schools in Scranton,” the website said.

The school board and a state “salvage agent”, Dr Candis Finan, have combined to cut short the kids and teachers, the website says. Things are going so badly that teachers in Scranton have not had a raise since 2017 and are 10-26% behind teachers in other “recovering” districts.

The GOP-led, GOP-led state legislature has imposed such stimulus plans on school districts in Pennsylvania, just as a similar state czar named GOP did in Detroit. There, the Tsar literally fired all the teachers and then tried to rehire only his favorites. The Detroit Federation of Teachers fought this successfully in court. Philadelphia AFT Local 1776 also mingled with state lawmakers.

“First they did away with preschool, then libraries, music and learning aids for special education students. They have cut the bus lines. They shut down Bancroft Elementary. They froze teachers’ salaries, while giving central office administrators huge increases “of 25%, the website says. He also notes that in a city that is 6% black and 11% Spanish-speaking, there are two black teachers.

“In retaliation against educators for speaking out, they canceled health care coverage effective November 3. Now they want to cut an additional $ 7 million from the education of our children, even though the $ 58 million in federal aid to Scranton would fund our schools. at no cost to taxpayers, ”the website adds.

Help, of course, comes from the American Recovery Act, which Congress passed earlier this year and which Democratic President Joe Biden, the country’s best-known Scranton native, has signed.

The school board and Finan say any new “contract must be” cost-free, “with all costs of the new contract being paid for through reductions in staff, pay and benefits, the website adds.

The union says the clawback bill money could help fill the 112 vacant teaching places, one in eight, at schools in Scranton. This is the number of people who have left in recent years. The local is also proposing to accept higher co-payments and deductibles for health care for its members, but not as much as the board wants them to give up.

“Scranton’s public schools are in crisis, and instead of dealing with the problem fairly – using new funds available from federal bailout and stimulus programs – the district and the state-appointed chief financial officer just want teachers to continue to sacrifice, ”Boland said.

“The great exodus of teachers and staff from the city can be attributed to local and state officials and a long-standing austerity program that deprived schools and educators of what they were supposed to teach.”

“Educators have had enough. We are on strike to fight for our students and our community, ”the website says.

“Educators haven’t created this mess, but they are asked year after year to pay for the district’s long-term tax problems,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “Scranton is one of the poorest districts in the state, one of the reasons we need more public money for education. You can’t recruit teachers and support staff when you ask them to take below state average salaries and cut healthcare costs.

“I can’t understand why principals would rather hurt teachers and punish children with devastating cuts to kindergarten, libraries and other essential programs than to use millions of federal dollars earmarked for it. education flowing into the city. “


Marc Gruenberg

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