Philly Teachers Fly Banner Over NFL Draft Shaming City for Contract Impasse

"I really don’t want to shame the city, but the longer that the contract goes unsettled, the worse it is for students," said George Bezanis, a Central High teacher who organized the effort.

City Hall loves sports but hates our teachers.

It's the message that floated over the sprawling 2017 NFL Draft Experience which opened Thursday along Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Towed by a prop plane, the banner was the latest effort by frustrated teachers and parents poking politicans to end a long saga that has left educators without a contract for four years.

"I really don’t want to shame the city, but the longer that the contract goes unsettled, the worse it is for students," said George Bezanis, a teacher at Central High School who organized the banner effort.

Bezanis said the lack of pay raises and instablity has forced quality teachers to leave the School District of Philadelphia.

He called on Mayor Jim Kenney to get more hands on in the negotiations.

"I wish [Mayor Jim Kenney] had as much enthusiasm for getting teachers a contract as he does for getting the NFL Draft,” Bezanis said.

Lauren Hitt, Kenney's spokeswoman, said the mayor has been involved in the negotiations since he entered office last year.

Hitt pointed out that the state controls the district through the School Reform Commission and despite that the city has committed nearly $400 million annually in additional funding to the school system and is supporting community schools through the soda tax.

"We want financial stability too...but the state continues to fail to live up to their constitutional responsibility to equitably fund our schools," Hitt said.

"This individual is wasting his time trying to shame us into action - we're already all in, both financially and at the negotiating table."

A request for comment from the School District of Philadelphia was not immediatley returned.

Philly Teachers NFL Draft Contract Banner
This banner was flown over Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway Thursday afternoon attacking the city for not doing enough to help end a four-year contract dispute in the school district. The city said they are involved and pointed blame at the state, which controls the district.

The four hour, $2,500 aerial banner rental was paid through a crowdfunding effort, Bezanis said. The message was chosen through an online poll.

The message was supposed to read "Let's Draft Philly Teachers" but was changed to a more pointed statement after teachers learned the district had no plans to use a $65 million influx in cash to help resolve the contract dispute, according to Bezanis.

This is the second time Bezanis has used advertising to hit the city over the protracted contract negotiations.

In March, he rented a billboard along Interstate 95 in Northern Liberties that carried a similar message: "Welcome to Philadelphia, where we don't value our public school children."

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