Teacher Quality in Philadelphia is a Broken System

Hello, my name is Finesse Davis and I am representing the Overbrook chapter of the Philadelphia Student Union. As a senior, I’ve experienced the issue of teacher quality in Philadelphia public schools. This is an issue that not only affects students in school but their lives after school as well. Teacher contracts are now under negotiation, but how are the students’ interests being considered in these negotiations? Personally, I feel that if more people worked for the quality of education for students rather than the quantity of pay for teachers, school would be more engaging for students and more fulfilling for teachers.

I saw the statistics for Highly Qualified teachers in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia; I was highly upset. Then I saw the statistics for teachers in Corrective Action 2 schools and I became even more upset! The percentage of Highly Qualified teachers in Pennsylvania is 98% but Philadelphia’s percentage is only 86%. The difference in these numbers might sound small, but the effect is traumatic for students. And if the "No Child Left Behind" Act is supposed to "correct" the issue of school achievement, then why is the number of highly qualified teachers in Corrective Action 2 schools like Overbrook half of what it is at schools like Masterman?! Of the 22 high-schools in CA2, 9 have been in CA2 for more than 5 years. How can these schools succeed if they don’t have qualified teachers?

As a student in Overbrook high school, I have witnessed first hand the low quality of teachers in my school. I’ve seen students cut class and come to my classroom to avoid bad teachers. Earlier this year, I’ve had a teacher miss two weeks of school due to sickness. In that time, my class had a string of subs who had no sense of work. We did more cross word puzzles and watched "Hancock" than actual class work. Now my science class is 2 weeks behind every other science class in school.

Teacher quality in Philadelphia is a broken system. It’s a broken system that punishes the students. And as students we demand that the teachers and District officials fix this system at the negotiating table. If this can’t be done by the deadline at the end of this month, then we support the one-year contract to continue negotiations. I can’t afford to be 2 weeks behind in my science class and no student can afford to be in a school where only half of the teachers are qualified to teach.


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