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The double-edged sword

Today teachers in the Penn Hills School District went on strike. I have followed the Pittsburgh Business Times Western PA Guide to the Schools since 2005. Unfortunately, since then, Penn Hills' rank has dropped from 91 to 98 out of 105 (ranking is based on PSAA scores). And since 2002, school taxes have increased 25 percent. I don't necessarily have a problem with increased taxes (even though I don't use public schools), when there is positive correlation. After all, we, as a community, should feel some responsibility for producing productive, educated citizens. But how can PH justify ever-increasing taxes when scores keep dropping?

But, alas, it is never cut-and-dried. I have no doubt that most of the PH teachers work very hard, probably harder than most teachers in the "good" school districts, considering the number of PH students (and parents too, I bet) who really don't care about school and are discipline issues, as compared to those in more affluent areas. How can it not be easier to teach a class when most of the students want to be there, as compared to classes full of kids who could not care less? Yes, I am generalizing, but I bet I am not so far off. Statistically, the more economically disadvantaged students there are, the poorer the students do.

PH teachers probably deserve a raise or other increased benefits, but there is just no money for it, and even if there were, too many people are tired of paying more and more when they seem to be seeing less and less. I assume the "bad" students (and by that I mean ones who don't want to be there, are disruptive, etc.) bring the rankings down, although I am unsure if everyone takes the PSAA, so maybe that is not a valid argument. Anyone know?

All that notwithstanding, in these tough times, you have to just be glad you have a job. So I implore both sides to work through this as quickly as possible. The children are the ones who will really suffer.


Anonymous said…
I have no doubt a good many teachers in that district try hard to do a good job. However, not sure you can justify in this economy a 6% raise (after starting negotiations at 15% raise) along with paying as little for their medical insurance as they do. School vouchers seems to be a good solution but the teacher's union is so powerful it doesn't seem to be a possibility any time soon. So even though test scores are low and population in the district is getting lower, the teachers go on strike looking to get blood from a stone.

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