Across the city, some public-school teachers are making a point: for one week, doing exactly what their contract requires, and nothing more.

That means no before-school playground duty, tutoring on lunch breaks, nor waiting with students whose parents are late to pick them up. No buying copier paper or textbooks.

"For too long, we've been disrespected by not receiving the proper compensation for the work we do," said Jackie Monaghan, a sixth-grade teacher at Kearny Elementary in Northern Liberties. She and others are also furious with Philadelphia School District officials for moves to close some schools and give others to charter companies.

The work-to-rule actions, happening this week, dovetail with a protest Wednesday at Cooke Elementary, one of the struggling schools that the district plans to give to a charter operator. That announcement was made last week by Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., who said he had to act to get more city children into strong schools.

Many members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said they saw another motive in Hite's announcement - further privatizing public education.

"We don't have teachers in classrooms some years, and then they tell us that we failed," Cooke teacher Christine Kolenut told dozens of protesters gathered outside the school after dismissal.

Kolenut said she was especially suspicious of the district's method of turning schools over to charters.

Last year, it allowed parents at two schools to vote whether they wanted their children's schools to become charters; both rejected the charters soundly. This year, Hite is taking the decision out of schools' hands.

"They are trying to divide our community, not give parents the full story and not give parents a vote," Kolenut said.

PFT officials brought a sheet cake and reams of paper to the event, billed as an "anniversary party," a nod to the School Reform Commission's vote last October to cancel the teachers' contract, an action whose legality is now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Paper, the traditional first-anniversary gift, is a commodity at cash-strapped city schools.

Union president Jerry Jordan said the PFT will stand in the way of the push to charterize Cooke, Huey Elementary in West Philadelphia, and John Wister Elementary in Germantown just as vigorously as it has opposed other changes.

"We have fought this battle many times, and we will fight this battle once more," Jordan said. "There's a right way and a wrong way to improve education. You all know the right way."

At Kearny, Monaghan said the teachers' protest sends a message: Stop dismantling the district, stop trying to fight teachers, recognize all they do to keep schools going.

Because of the work-to-rule push this week, "we're not able to give the children the extras that they desperately need," she said - from tutoring to buying books in classes that don't have them, or even cleaning supplies, which the school also lacks. "Many of the teachers do tutoring before or after school, because many of the children need help, and this week, we are just not willing to do that."

kgraham@phillynews.com

215-854-5146@newskag

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