Central High School teacher George Bezanis is getting more creative in drawing attention to the fact that the city has not had a contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in over four years.
In February, it was a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,000 for a billboard along the I-95 corridor, with the intention of shaming city officials as they head into budget season. That billboard, which was up for over a month, read: “Welcome to Philadelphia, where we don’t value our public school children. 5+ years without a raise for our teachers.”
Now, Bezanis has launched a $2,000 fundraising campaign in order to commission an airplane to fly one of the following messages down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the upcoming NFL Draft on Thursday, April 27:
LET'S DRAFT A CONTRACT FOR PHILLY TEACHERS
THE REAL MR IRRELEVANT: PHILLY TEACHERS
PHILLY TEACHERS SHOULD ALWAYS BE #1 PICK
ROUGHING THE TEACHER: 1334 DAYS NO CONTRACT
STOP STIFF-ARMING PFT.ORG FAIR CONTRACT NOW
JOCKS GET PAID TEACHERS GET STRAPPED PFT.ORG
OUR #1 PICK: CONTRACT FOR PHILLY TEACHERS
CITY HALL ❤ SPORTS BUT HATES OUR TEACHERS
4TH & 1334 DAYS PFT.ORG WITHOUT CONTRACT
CAN YOU READ THIS? GIVE PFT.ORG A CONTRACT!
KIDS LOSE YARDAGE WHEN PFT TEACHERS LEAVE
Donors can vote on a slogan for the banner, which will be flown during an expected crowd of 200,000 visitors at the event. Bezanis said he got the idea from the NFL Draft banner that currently adorns City Hall.
"I hate that I have to shame the city and the district into getting us a contract but it's really them who should be ashamed," he told PW. "It's been more than 1,300 days without a contract."
Bezanis also noted in a press release that the School District of Philadelphia recently received a $325 million commitment for the next five years, but has "yet to settle a collective bargaining agreement that would provide stability and contractually guaranteed resources for over 100,000 Philadelphia students."
If a contract is reached before the NFL Draft date, Bezanis, who is acting on his own without PFT's official support, said he'll call off the airplane banner. Since the campaign launched Saturday, it has raised more than $700.
Responding to the campaign, Kenney spokesperson Lauren Hitt said that the administration has been actively trying to achieve a contract between the District and PFT since the mayor took office in 2016.
"They have another sit-down scheduled imminently," Hitt said of the negotiations. "Additionally, despite the fact that it is the state, not the city, who controls the District, the City has increased its funding to the District by $400 million over the last five years, most recently with a tax increase in 2015 to raise $70 million in additional funding for the District."
Updated at 7:40 a.m. on April 18 to include comment from the Mayor's office.