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Philadelphia Catholic High Schools Close Doors Amid Teacher Strike

PHILADELPHIA, Pa (CBS)- Back-and-forth negotiations and no agreement has shut the doors of Philadelphia-area Catholic high schools indefinitely on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, parents were notified that classes were cancelled until an agreement was reached. Parents are frustrated, wanting the two parties to settle the strike so their children can get back to school.

During the day Tuesday, the teachers union requested a mediator be in the room when negotiations were taking place, but the archdiocese did not agree. The teachers union and the archdiocese exchanged many proposals until late Tuesday night, but both parties could not reach an agreement.

All schools were closed Wednesday as a result, with the exception of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, Bucks County, which remained open Wednesday for freshman and sophomore testing. Those tests were scheduled to be completed last week, but due to inclement weather the school closed that day.

The archdiocese, in an earlier statement, claims the union is still seeking a 14.5% raise over three years and the teachers haven’t addressed what the archdiocese calls “educational reform issue.” The union claims it’s a job security issue, because the archdiocese wants to hire part-time teachers for “elevated classes,” saying they will be left without jobs. (see related story…)

Approximately 700 lay teachers have been on strike since last Tuesday affecting 16,000 students in the five-county Philadelphia area. Schools had been open during the walkout, with classes conducted by religious staffers. For now, those doors are closed until further notice. (see related story…)

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  • Debbie Howell

    Do you people have any idea the sacrifice these Catholic School Teachers make working in the system? They can make double the money in the public system. They CHOOSE to teach in the Catholic Schools because they believe in a Catholic Education and all that it implies. They are grossly underpaid, overworked, and not appreciated by the Archdiocese and, by reading some of these comments, by the public.
    I am the parent of a Catholic High School student and stand in support of the teachers in their efforts to gain equity with the senority system, to keep the on-line grading system within reasonable management, keeping the school day manageable and respecting full-time status. Yes, they realize that we are in a difficult economy and, yes, they are hurting with this strike. I am CONFIDENT that the last thing these dedicated teachers want to do is hurt the children.

  • Cynic

    What would Jesus do?

    • willie

      Jesus woul;d have formed a union or moved on up to Bethlehem.

    • Debbie Howell

      He would say “shame on the Archdiocese!”

  • Diana

    that’s why economy is the way it is!! the teachers should get back in class!! they in no way care because if they did they would have not went on strike. you were offered a raise but refused what they offered. with all these computers taking over you better watch your jobs. i hope a bright new computer takes over your job then that will give you something to stamp your feet

  • whitman

    Pahlease…. They aren’t their mothers or nannies. They provide a service for the community, so they should be paid workers not societies slaves. You Love your child, they Help your child. They have chosen a profession that they could enjoy that will also pay their bills. That’s is what most professionals do, so don’t emotionally blackmail them for not allowing them to be treated well in the work force.

  • Mary

    If you don’t like it -> there’s the door. They should start replacing these people. Hope the online home schooling picks up.

  • Barry Doucette

    ATTENTION: Job seekers well paying teaching jobs are available in Philadelphia. No need for joining union or other socialist groups. Only teachers willing to work for a good wage need apply.

  • Willow

    They offered to go in as long as the OCE agreed to have a mediator come but they refused. Don’t blame the teachers they want to be doing their job just as much as you want your kid in class.

  • nkg0515

    And the children continue to be the victims. How can they call themselves teachers and claim to be there for the students and still do this. Sad.

    • Tzedekh

      “How can they call themselves teachers and claim to be there for the students and still do this.”

      Simple. They can’t live on good wishes for the students. It’s a professional career, and not a high-paying one. But it has traditionally had job security (in the form of seniority and tenure). The teachers are fighting to hold onto what they have — they really aren’t asking for much more than that.

      The archdiocese, on the other hand, is trying to lengthen the workday by about 20% (not including mandatory afterschool faculty meetings) without additional compensation — and yet it balks at a salary increase of 15% over 3 years. It also wants the power to unilaterally implement changes to working conditions that are now covered by the contract — in effect ending collective bargaining. And it wants to effectively end seniority and tenure. Without reasonable job security, teachers can’t “be there for the students.”

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