Today's post is from our student intern, Zoe Cina-Sklar.
On the 5th of January, members of the teachers' union in Chester Upland School District voted to work for no pay because of their district's payroll deficit. They had already had a tough job: the area's graduation rate was only 44.8 percent in 2010, the average class size was over over 40 students, and student body was impoverished. The loss of $900 million dollars in federal funding last August further worsened the district's situation as 40 percent of professional staff and nearly 50 percent of support staff were laid off. Yet, even when they had far too few resources, they continued to work. And they plan to continue now, forgoing any monetary compensation for the sake of their students' continued education.
"I am not going to make any commitments to the teachers union to do anything until they do something that's other than in their own self- interest. And everything they have done so far is in their self-interests, and that's it." -Governor Chris Christie
Are these the unionized teachers who Christie claims act only in their self-interest? The ones who take from the state? Certainly not.
Across Pennsylvania and the entire United States, these public sector employees face increased class sizes, furlough days, pay freezes, lay offs, and, as in the case of Chester Upland School District, even a lack of pay all together. Yet, they continue their work (unless the have already been forced from their jobs). This is unfair and unsustainable. Soon, if no federal stimulus arrives in places like Chester Upland, the teachers will leave out of necessity in order to support their own families. And without these teachers, how will children get the education they need to be successful and a force of change for the better in this inequality-ridden world?