Philadelphia High Schoolers Skip Class to Protest Canceling of Teacher Contracts

A group of Philadelphia students walked out of class and stayed out of school all morning Wednesday to protest the termination of teacher’s contracts in the cash-strapped district.

Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) students organized the action -- an event they called a “strike” -- outside their school at Broad and Christian Streets in South Philadelphia.

It was estimated that a couple hundred of the school’s students held signs, played music and chanted on the sidewalk outside the school. The students remained peaceful and lively while showing solidarity for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Earlier this week the teachers union, with about 15,000 members, accused the state-led School Reform Commission of ratcheting up its "war on teachers."

On Monday morning the SRC called a last-minute meeting where they announced the termination of teachers’ contracts over an ongoing dispute over health insurance contributions.

The teachers vowed to fight a sudden move by the district that forces them to start paying health premiums of as much as $140 a month.

"Requiring teachers and other employees to contribute to their health care costs is a change and a sacrifice, but contributing to health care benefits is the reality of today's workplace," said Superintendent William Hite in a letter to parents.

The district, one of the nation's largest with 135,000 students, perennially struggles with a structural deficit caused by rising pension and health care costs and payments to charter schools, which serve an additional 65,000 students.

The students said they planned to remain outside the school throughout the school day (a scheduled half day with dismissal at noon).

Organizers said that similar #StudentsforTeachers rallies were planned for other school including Ben Franklin High but when NBC10 stopped by the school Spring Garden section school Wednesday morning there were no signs of a walkout however photos posted to Twitter did show a similar rally at the Science Leadership Academy in Center City.

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