Demonstrating exactly why Philadelphia teachers and parents might have problems with how he's handled the funding crisis in the city's schools, Mayor Michael Nutter's response to a teachers union ad urging him to do better was to spout a bunch of anti-union, anti-teacher talking points:
"It's a part of a planned distraction campaign that gets all of you talking about that and not talking about how we select teachers to be in classrooms, how we fill vacancies and how folks should pay something for their health care," Nutter told reporters. "I'm not getting distracted by that. I'm focused on what's in the best interest of children."Translation: Philadelphia teachers, already paid 19 percent less than teachers in nearby suburbs and 8 percent less than teachers in Pittsburgh, should take cuts to their health benefits, and seniority rules should be set aside, allowing administrators to keep or call back the lowest-paid or most compliant teachers in making layoff decisions.
This is a mayor whose response to a funding crisis created when his state's Republican governor targeted his city's schools has been to point a finger at teachers rather than at the governor. So it's no surprise that his answer to teachers and parents fighting back is to once again blame teachers. But that's the distraction here. As a Republican city council member detailed in an open letter to Gov. Tom Corbett, it was Corbett who created the funding crisis in Philadelphia's schools. There can be no doubt Corbett did that on purpose. But Nutter doesn't have to accept Corbett's story about what's going on by joining him in putting blame on teachers and demanding massive concessions.