By Steve Gunn

PHILADELPHIA – As president of the American Federation of Teachers, Rhonda Weingarten is a politically powerful individual.

handcuffsBut that doesn’t give her the right to block other citizens from entering government meetings, or trying to stop a school board from conducting business.

Just who does this woman think she is?

Weingarten, along with 18 other activists, were arrested Thursday for allegedly trying to block the entrance to the room where the Philadelphia School Reform Commission was scheduled to meet.

The board met anyway and voted to close 23 schools in the district in an effort to save millions of crucial dollars. Four schools on the tentative closing list were spared by the board.

The union protesters were angry about the proposed school closings. That’s not surprising, because closing schools will probably mean fewer teachers will be needed, and laid off teachers don’t pay union dues.

“When you’ve exhausted all the legal remedies and none of the powers that be will listen to you, then you’re forced to take actions which may lead to an arrest,” Weingarten wrote in a text message that went out to supporters.

Since when is someone “forced” to interfere with a legally scheduled school board meeting, or the rights of other citizens to peacefully enter that meeting? Weingarten obviously decided that getting arrested would make her appear dedicated to local union members and their cause.

But to civilized people her actions appear tacky, thuggish and disrespectful.

Weingarten obviously needs to learn some manners.

The Philadelphia school district is deeply in debt. Months ago it had to borrow $300,000 to make it through the current school year. Meanwhile the district has 53,000 empty seats in dozens of underutilized schools. School leaders say closing many of those schools is the only logical way to save money.

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