Half the teaching staff at one Philadelphia high school and three-quarters at a city elementary school are skipping work today in honor of “A Day Without a Woman.”
And it’s not just female teachers — many of their Y-chromosomed counterparts are joining them.
Teachers at the Science Leadership Academy and Bayard Taylor Elementary School will use personal days to account for their absences, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
SLA teacher Larissa Pahomov, who assisted in organizing the “one-day strike,” said her colleagues will join in on the “informational picket” in the morning hours, then spend the afternoon “lobbying City Council members on education issues.”
Pahomov also noted that teachers have talked to students about today’s events “on an individual basis.”
“We agreed that it was important to personally share why we were involved,” she said. “We expect our students to attend school that day, but they’re welcome if they want to join us on the picket.”
Ah … nothing like open politicking in the classroom. Lovely.
Even more melodramatic is one of Pahomov’s male colleagues:
The SLA faculty expects that substitute teachers will cover some vacancies but not all.
History teacher Dan Symonds said that men see their role as “holding down the fort” — he and others will pick up more class coverage. But the biggest gap, he said, will be going without what the school’s female teachers bring to the table.
“We’ll be missing the bulk of our teaching experience, the bulk of our pedagogical wisdom,” said Symonds. “We are bound to miss certain student needs that our female colleagues for various reasons can meet. We’re lucky that this is a one-day action, just to demonstrate the centrality of female staff in our school and every other school.”
Aggression toward teachers — and toward traditional public schools — must be fought back, Symonds said.
“We want to make the point that attacks on public schools are very specifically attacks on women, gendered attacks on what is historically a female profession,” Symonds said.
Taylor Elementary teacher Michelle Gainer added that teachers are underpaid, and “that wouldn’t happen in a male-dominated profession.”
“Teachers deserve to make more,” she said. “Philadelphia teachers deserve to make more. If our children are going to get the best possible education, we need to attract and retain the best teachers.”