ON DEC. 1, the Daily News published a provocative political cartoon that reflected an incredible disdain for educators in Philadelphia ("Where are teacher's union heads on the proposed contract?"). Philadelphia's teachers have worked for four years without a contract, have had no step increases, and the School Reform Commission illegally canceled the contract in a backdoor meeting in 2014. We and our students have seen increasing class sizes, closure of more than 30 of our buildings and a failure to fill all vacant teaching positions since the contract expired in 2013. No librarians, no counselors, and no secretaries means that all of us are doing three or more jobs.
The false dichotomy you present is that taxpayers and educators are different groups. Educators are taxpaying citizens. These attitudes have begotten policies that starve our classrooms and jobs of funding, resources and autonomy to create schools our students and teachers deserve. Your cartoon is irresponsible - adding fuel to a fire that is the reason that our system is failing students and educators in the first place. It paints a picture of greed on the part of educators when a thirst for cash lies in selfish funding policies and tax breaks for the rich.
Next time, do your citizens justice, and tell them the real story.
Caucus of Working Educators of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
So, many people of color have been murdered by the people who are supposed to protect and serve. How many times will the judicial system allow our people to be murdered by the police with no charges brought against these so-called officers of the law? When a white man or woman commits a crime or shoots at police officers, they talk to them like they are the victims instead of the criminals. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, just to name a few, but no white police officer has been tried and convicted of these crimes against black individuals, whether they're children or adults. Tamir Rice was 12 years old, and within two seconds, Tamir was shot; when his sister went to his aid, she was assaulted by the same officer who murdered her brother.
Too often, a white police officer plants weapons on a victim and then lies about his actions, with everything on camera, and still is found not guilty because he claimed he feared for his life. In all actually, it is because of the color of our skin that they supposedly fear, and they use a ruse to murder our people. A man with his hands up, a man with a broken taillight, missing license plates, jaywalking down the street or a woman going for a job interview - all black - end up dead at the hands of the police. And the system will not prosecute them, even though the evidence shows that these people of color are "lynched." We are living in the new Jim Crow era.
I confess to having mixed emotions when I learned of Philadelphia Energy Solutions' CEO Phil Rinaldi's retirement. I'm happy for Phil and his family that they can soon enjoy the fruits of a well-earned retirement, but I'm saddened that Philadelphia is losing a business leader of his creativity and drive.
Rinaldi is largely responsible for giving South Philadelphia's Sunoco refinery a second life.
Through a strategic alliance with the Carlyle Group, Rinaldi revived the refinery with a $700 million investment that saved 1,000 family-sustaining jobs. I'm heartened to know that Rinaldi is remaining on the board for another year to ensure a smart transition. He's also staying on as chair of the Chamber of Commerce's Energy Action Team, where he'll continue to champion a direct connection for the city and the state's Marcellus Shale region. Philadelphia is well-positioned for growth as a major energy hub thanks in large measure to the efforts of Phil Rinaldi.
John J. Dougherty, business manager
Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council
In responding to the big news that Ben Carson is Donald Trump's pick to lead The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department, the time is now!
I, too grew up in public housing. In the late 1960s, my single mother and I moved from our small efficiency apartment located at 9th and Kaighn Avenue in my hometown to a project complex across town. Living in the projects isn't what distorted me or my quality of life. It was the abandonment of owned property that fostered the long going decay of my hometown.
Carson, himself, like me, who has grown up and lived in the projects, is the high-spirited choice to lead this department.