Central High School teacher George Bezanis is trying to send a message to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, the School Reform Commission, and District Superintendent William Hite Jr.
A $5,000 message, to be exact.
Over a week ago, Bezanis launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise that much money for a billboard along the I-95 corridor, with the intention of shaming city officials as they head into budget season.
The billboard would spread the message that the city has not reached a contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in nearly four years, and that teachers have gone more than five years without a raise. (The billboard is not endorsed by the teacher’s union; Bezanis is the sole force behind it.)
“This job insecurity has also resulted in an unprecedented amount of teachers leaving Philadelphia for other districts or other careers,” Bezanis said. “It is the over 100,000 children in the district, however, who suffer the most because of this lack of a stable workforce.”
On Saturday, just five days after launching the GoFundMe page, the campaign surpassed its goal by fundraising $5,265.
Bezanis told PW that the billboard is slated to go up on Feb. 27 between Girard and the Center City exit adjacent to the southbound lane.
Since Bezanis launched his campaign, the targeted city agencies have issued statements in response, including Otis Hackney, Kenney's chief education officer, who countered Bezanis’ claim that Kenney was weak on education.