by Pete Mazzaccaro

Chestnut Hill artists start young. And the Local likes to give young artists an early start on finding a place to display their best work in our annual Kids Edition. At the end of the month, we’ll gather the best artwork and stories from local children and publish them. So it’s time to submit.

First, all submissions should be clearly labeled “Kids Edition” on either the envelope in which they are sent or in the subject line if it is emailed as a jpg attachment. Send physical copies to the Chestnut Hill Local, Kids Edition, 8434 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia PA 19118. Email submissions go to Remember to put Kids Edition in the subject line.

As in the past, we’re looking for drawings, paintings, creative photos and sketches. We’re also looking for stories and poems, but they must be short. Stories and poems must be a page or less in length. Visual arts must also be no bigger than one 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper unless it is emailed.

We always get a lot of submissions and do our best to run as much as we can, but space is limited.

Send them in by Thursday, Oct. 30. The edition will be published on Nov. 6.

Pay teachers more

The School Reform Commission – the state-controlled board that controls the Philadelphia School District – shocked many by voiding teacher contracts on the morning of Oct. 6.

The move, SRC members argued, was aimed squarely at controlling the costs of teacher benefits. Savings from getting teachers to contribute to their health plans were estimated to be in the vicinity of $70 million – an amount school district officials promised would immediately be sent to principals across the district to help fund many things that have suffered under recent budget constraints.

In one story on about the move, comments unsurprisingly gave voice to many who welcomed the cut and felt any amount of investment in the city schools was a waste of taxpayer dollars. One commentator went so far as to say that even if the city had 1,000 parks, he’d rather see his tax dollars go towards the 1,001st than into the school district.

While I can appreciate the SRC’s strategy on its face – bring Philadelphia teachers in line with the rest of the state where paying a portion of benefits is not unheard of – I don’t think it amounts to much more than a tweak. Every year, there’s a hole in the funding dam that needs to be plugged with a finger.

And teachers in Philadelphia, one could argue, deserve more pay than their peers. Not less. Nearly every Philadelphia teacher I have ever spoken to can tell stories of issues they’ve faced at schools that would send a chill up your spine.

Yes. There are bad teachers. There are teachers who don’t pull their weight. But tweaking their compensation is a short term fix for a problem that will likely reappear next year. But consider what you might be able to accomplish by offering better pay – much better pay – to teachers as an incentive to teach in city schools. And what if you made the hiring process more rigorous than it is now?

Sure. We’ll save $70 million tomorrow, but we’re going to continue losing people in the long run.