Larissa Pahomov may teach 10th- and 11th-graders at the Science and Leadership Academy, but on Wednesday it was her senior teaching assistants who drove her to tears.
Several of them joined students demonstrating outside the Center City high school protesting in their teachers' honors.
"But from the sidewalk outside the school they emailed me and said, 'Hey, I'm out here protesting for you, but let me know if you need me. I will come into the building.'"
"They are so kind and thoughtful and they don't even realize how extraordinary that is," she said. "I teared up."
On Monday the SRC —the board that governs the School District of Philadelphia — announced that it canceled its contract with the teachers' union and mandated that teachers pay toward their health benefits. The SRC also canceled benefits for retired district workers.
While district officials touted that no salaries would be cut, healthcare coverage would cost between $71 and $200 a month per family and it would be deducted from the employee's paycheck. Retired workers lost their dental, vision and prescription plans. These changes go into effect on Dec. 15.School officials said the overhaul annually would save the cash-strapped district about $44 million this year and potentially $70 million per year in the future.
Of the students from the Leadership Academy who stood up for their teachers Wednesday, Pahomov saidmanydidn't run out of the building or break any rules. Many had their parents call them out for an excused absence. Several other students came to class to turn in homework before returning outside to protest.
"They took it upon themselves today to defend me because they feel that the teachers at our school and all across the city are being attacked," said Pahomov."At the end of the day, the point isn't that I feel better. Yes, obviously they felt motivated because of their personal relationships with their teachers, but they also felt motivated because they see their own education crumbling before their eyes. ... It's more than just a Hallmark card."
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