Last month, teachers in Chester, Pennsylvania were hailed as heroes when they pledged to work for free after their school district ran out of the funds to make payroll. The leader of the teacher movement, Sara Ferguson, sat in Michelle Obama's box at the State of the Union address, and appeared as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show yesterday to discuss the experience.
"Many times we speak about our beliefs and our values and our convictions, but here in Chester Upland, we were put to the test," Ferguson, a third-generation teacher in the district, told DeGeneres.
The segment, which you can see above, included footage of the district's impoverished students and evidence of how budget cuts have gutted the schools. DeGeneres was visibly moved by the scenes from the school. And thanks to her new partnership with JCPenney, she presented Ferguson with some surprises, including a $100,000 check for her school.
Of course, neither that donation, nor the $3.2 million a federal judge ordered the state to pay the district so it can keep its doors open through the end of February, are long term solutions. As long as Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett continues to refuse to help Chester Upland, even Ferguson's dedication may not provide an answer to the district's uncertain future.