Schoolteachers launch website to show budget cuts’ impact

Philly Teachers Sound The Alarm.
Philly Teachers Sound the Alarm.

They showed the city their faces, and now they’re showing their classrooms — post budget cuts.

Science Leadership Academy English teacher Larissa Pahomov designed the FacesoftheLayoffs.org, which launched last June, to catalog the mugs and stories of laid-off public school employees.

Her new venture, Philly Teachers Sound the Alarm, catalogues the consequences of the budget cuts on the students and teachers that the public doesn’t see.

Pahomov said the website was the brainchild of a new teachers union group: the Caucus of Working Educators. The 100-member organization formed in mid-March, and the website launched on April 7.

The caucus formed shortly before the school district petitioned the state supreme court for permission to impose work rules on teachers.

They grievances are told with pictures: the textbook that considers the Soviet Union alive and well; the key attached to a long chain to unlock the bathrooms closed for lack of hall monitors; constantly out-of-order water fountains.

“Talking about budgets is very esoteric for people,” said Amy Roat, English as a second language teacher and union representative at Feltonville School of Arts and Science. ”It’s very hard to put your finger on it, so we said, ‘Why don’t we explain in very simple terms how are the budget cuts affecting you.’”

“These stories are horrible,” Pahomov said, “but people feel empowered finally to have a venue where they can share what’s really going on with each other and with the general public.”

Lock the doors

Pahomov said the bathrooms at Abraham Lincoln High School in Mayfair are locked all day.

“So the kids can’t use the bathroom, and so they go to the nurse’s office to use it,” she said.

The policy, she said, is to keep the bathrooms locked during passing periods to encourage kids to go straight to class. “That’s their policy, that’s fine, but then they don’t have the staff to unlock the bathrooms between periods.”

And the nurse says explicity in her writeup that the doors are also locked to prevent the bathrooms from becoming havens for drug use.

A representative from the school district did not immediately return a call for comment.

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