Teacher furloughs 'mourned' at vigil
On the last day of classes for Pittsburgh Public Schools, teachers, parents and students gathered in Oakland on Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil to "mourn" the planned furlough of more than 200 teachers.
"Our kids need their teachers in the classroom, not on the unemployment line," said Jessie Ramey, 43, of Point Breeze, whose two children, Caldwell, 11, and, Ian, 8, attend Colfax Elementary School in Squirrel Hill.
District officials last month sent furlough notices to 285 teachers to help address a budget deficit that is expected to grow from $21.7 million this year to $30.5 million by 2015 because of declining enrollment, the uncertainty of federal and state funding, rising costs and the impact of charter schools.
Organizers of the vigil outside district offices on South Bellefield Avenue said about 160 people were on hand to carry candles and placards bearing the number "285" and other sentiments of support for teachers.
Colfax teacher Kaela Filipek, 27, who is among those being furloughed, said she is "very sad and angered" about losing her job and the affect the loss of so many teachers will have on education.
"'I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade, and now I'll be out looking for another job," said Filipek of Greenfield, who attended Colfax as a child. "And the fact that there could be 30 children in a classroom next year means the children will not have the same opportunities."
Isabel Segel, 12, of Squirrel Hill, a seventh-grader studying music at the school for Creative and Performing Arts, Downtown, said good teachers will lose their jobs.
"So many of the new teachers are really great, but they're getting laid off, so they won't have a chance to grow as teachers," she said.
Arina Prakapenka, 12, of Greenfield, who studies visual arts at CAPA, said knowing some of her teachers will not be returning in the fall turned the last day of school from a happy moment into a sad occasion.
Segel and Prakapenka also said they are unhappy that seniority is the only factor being used to determine furloughs.
The layoffs "should be based on teacher effectiveness," Segel said.
By law, seniority is the only factor the district can use to determine furloughs unless the union agrees to other factors, which it has declined to support.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Owner of Penn Hills tombstone business pleads guilty to swindling the bereaved
- Carnegie Mellon University’s Speck device monitors indoor pollution
- New Castle-area racino remains in limbo
- ‘Swing Night’ has feel of Prohibition-era dance hall
- Shortfalls sabotage promise of union retirees’ pensions
- 17 Pennsylvania veterans inducted into Hall of Valor
- Mt. Lebanon native, Iraq war hero’s action goes unrewarded
- Pa. woman charged with forging docs to claim she was an attorney
- School choice tax credit expansion bill touted
- Scaife additions to elevate status of two museums
- Newsmaker: Sharna Olfman