Times Tribune BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD / PUBLISHED: JUNE 6, 2017
One of the oddities of this week's public employee pensions debate is how so many of the state's major public sector unions are sitting it out. They have, after all, reliably opposed most pension reform measures since passage of Act 120 in 2010. Until now, the combined forces of their Democratic and Republican allies in the state House have been just enough to stop other bills in their tracks. This time? No pitchforks. Just crickets. And that, so far at least, is giving more labor-sensitive Republicans and some Democrats license to support the current bill, which passed the state Senate on a 40-9 vote Monday afternoon. Later Monday, the bail passed a preliminary vote in the House State Government Committee, keeping on course for a final passage vote in that chamber on Thursday. Major public-sector unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union (both state workers) and the Pennsylvania State Education Association (school teachers), have all agreed to stand silent on this bill. Only one major union is singing in a different key - the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which sent a letter opposing the bill to lawmakers last Friday. There appear to be two major reasons for this mass stand-down by organized labor, according to sources familiar with the discussions:
Speakers at the rally ranged in passions from environmental protection in coal regions, to rights for home care workers. But all of them stood together in the Rotunda chanting for a "fair budget."
Tweet from Mayor's Office of Ed @PHL_MOE June 5, 2017
How did things become so polarized?
Education Week By Daarel Burnette II May 30, 2017
Teacher evaluations—both their role and the mechanics of carrying them out—are a politically fraught subject, and the Every Student Succeeds Act has kicked the dust up once again as states wrestle with how to comply with teacher-quality sections of the new law. ESSA, which goes into effect this fall, does away with the "highly qualified teacher" mandates under its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act. It also bans the U.S. secretary of education from dictating the ways in which states grade their teachers, a sore spot under the NCLB law. At the same time, ESSA requires states to provide a single definition of "ineffective teachers" in the plans they submit to the federal government and then describe how they will ensure that poor and minority students aren't being taught by a disproportionate number of them. This shift in policy has reignited battles over who should stand in front of America's classrooms, whether state or local leaders should make those decisions, and what information about teachers' performance should be reported.
Thomas Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools, a project of the Alliance for Excellent Education
Kristen Swanson, Director of Learning at Slack and one of the founding members of the Edcamp movement
*Leadership for Learning
*Professional and Community Leadership