PHILADELPHIA – It doesn’t happen very often, but on Thursday the educational needs of Philadelphia’s school children trumped the political interests of the city’s teachers union.
Philly.com reports that officials at Abraham Lincoln High School in Northeast Philadelphia stopped American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten from touring the school while class was in session.
The school principal told Weingarten the tour would be disruptive to the learning process, and invited her to come back after the dismissal bell rang at 2:55 p.m., the news site reports.
That wasn’t good enough for Weingarten, who used the snub as a convenient reason to attack Philadelphia school officials.
“Obviously they said no today because they don’t want us to see the condition,” Weingarten said to the TV cameras that just happened to be on hand. “I’m just astounded … I have never been denied access to a public school where our members are working.”
Considering that Weingarten’s motives for the tour were self-serving and nakedly political, perhaps the union boss should be routinely denied access to schools while class is in session.
As Philly.com notes, “Weingarten was visiting the city on the fourth day of the school year to try and rally public opinion against the Corbett administration’s demand that the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) agree to concessions, such as wage and benefit cuts and work-rule changes, in exchange for $45 million in state money for the city’s (nearly bankrupt) schools.”
Weingarten wanted to use the tour to highlight the school’s crowded classrooms and supply shortages, which would help advance the union narrative that Gov. Tom Corbett and city leaders are heartless budget cutters who are hurting children.
The union needs those type of media stories to counter the growing realization that the PFT has depleted the district’s bank account over the years with its irresponsible wage and benefit demands.
We salute Philly school officials for outfoxing Weingarten on Thursday. Union leaders should never be allowed to disrupt student learning in order to stage cheap publicity-seeking stunts.