From Oaxaca to Filadelfia: Envisioning the Society Our Students Deserve

In 2006, Oaxaca’s section of the educator union (CNTE Local 22) led a months-long occupation of their city to create a society that respected the needs of students, workers, and indigenous people. 10 years later, the same educators and union members in Oaxaca and many other regions are again at the front of a movement to create the society our students deserve.

This time, they are fighting corporate education reforms pushing standardized teacher evaluations, mass layoffs, and the end of free education for all. They have been joined by workers across the country demanding policies that serve the interest of working people, including 200,000 doctors and nurses opposed to similar corporate health care policies.

Their challenge to the government’s attempts to create a society based on exploitation, profit, and trade union busting has sparked massive repression, including the widely-reported deaths of 12 union members when police opened fire on protesters blocking a road, and the abduction and imprisonment of many labor and movement leaders.  

These Mexican educators are at the front of a battle for a better society that U.S. teachers and unions are only starting to express. They are standing up against the government’s plan that “education, health, indigenous and campesino territories, and even peace and security are a commodity for whoever can pay for them, that rights are not rights but rather products and services to be snatched away" (EZLN and Congreso Nacional Indigena).

In Philadelphia, our students’ right to a quality education, families’ rights to thriving neighborhoods without fear of deportation or displacement, and workers’ rights to dignified wages and treatment continue to be stripped away via a "death by a thousand cuts". Mexico’s educators and rank-and-file workers are showing us how to fight for just society against a system that wants to turn our communities into commodities.

Local 22 has spent the last few years crafting a counterproposal to the Mexican government’s education reforms. Among the points in the counter proposal are a curriculum based in the diverse, indigenous, and multicultural context of Oaxaca, teaching practices based in critical pedagogy, and the elimination of standardized testing to evaluate either students or teachers.

From Chile to El Salvador to Colombia, Latin America has always served as the United States’ testing ground for market-driven and union-busting policies. Their struggle is our struggle. We send our rage, tears, and admiration to these education workers who have demonstrated time and again that educators and unions have a key role in articulating a vision of the society we deserve.

While the attacks on public education, workers, and unions continue to escalate in the U.S. and across the world, we pledge to fight alongside the educators of Oaxaca and around the world for a society in which education, health, housing, and dignity are rights that every student and worker deserves.

To show our solidarity, please join us for a Oaxacan-style Barricada Cultural on Monday Night in front of Philadelphia’s Mexican Consulate at 8pm. If you would like to contribute financially, members of the Chicago Teachers Union have set up a grassroots fundraiser to support Oaxacan and CNTE educators.

If you would like to learn more or discuss the role of the U.S. in political and economic destabilization in Latin America, please join our summer book club on “Illegal People” by David Bacon (or one of the 14 other book clubs exploring racial justice, culturally relevant teaching, labor history, and many other topics).

Statement written by Max Rosen-Long, Edwin Mayorga, and Jennifer Cox.

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(Milwaukee educators, students, and community members show support for Oaxacan teachers at their Mexican Consulate) 

 

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SRC Testimony: May 26th, 2016

At the SRC meeting on Thursday, May 26th, Caucus Members and Franklin Learning Center teachers Catie Khella and Jessica Way spoke their minds about the current state of the teachers contract and morale in their profession. See their testimony below.

Our union is strongest when the rank and file step up and speak truth to power! As we move past the 1,000-day mark of our canceled contract, keep sharing your story with your friends, family, communities, and higher-ups as well. The entire city needs to know the reality of our schools. 

Jessica Way SRC testimony May 26, 2016 from Defend Public Education! on Vimeo.

Catherine Khella SRC testimony - May 26, 2016 from Defend Public Education! on Vimeo.

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Building a Movement by Reading Together: Sign up for a Summer Book Club Today!

In 2014, when the Caucus of Working Educators was just a few months old, WE teamed with TAG-Philly to offer 9 book groups with about 85 participants for the purpose of bringing people together and learning about social justice unionism, threats to public education, and racial justice struggles in Philadelphia. Last year, WE and TAG sponsored twelve groups with 170 participants with a focus on racial justice.

This year, based on survey results, WE and TAG are excited to announce 15 book groups for 2016!

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Want to meet other people committed to educational justice struggles and other social movements in Philadelphia? Want to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, organizing, feminism, gender & sexuality in education, or another topic? Want to read a classic by bell hooks or Paulo Freire or a New York Times best seller by Ta-Nehisi Coates? Want to be part of a strong and growing movement of educators and allies committed to public education?

Sign up for a book (or five) today!

And come to the Summer Kick-Off Happy Hour on June 2 at Frankford Hall from 4-7pm to find out more about the books and talk to other participants!

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This summer, we continue the tradition of bringing together people from all walks of life and all parts of the city- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!                       

Want to learn more about past book clubs and how they started? Read this article on the Summer Reading Series in Perspectives on Urban Education by WE supporting member Kathleen Riley.

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1,000+ DAYS: NO CONTRACT...still here for Philly students!

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Next Friday, May 27, 2016 marks 1,000 days since the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers contract with the School District of Philadelphia ran out. Since then, instead of attempting to negotiate a fair contract, the School Reform Commission and Superintendent Hite have chosen to act to make it harder for Philly students to learn and teachers to teach—and, frankly, to live comfortably and productively.

They have attempted to cancel our status quo contract and impose terms on teachers. They have cheapened the teaching profession by botching contracts for filling substitute positions. They have spent millions to battle lawsuits brought to demand proper services and compensation. They are unwilling and unable to manage the health, counseling, and environmental needs of their schools' climate. They have funneled three-quarters of a billion dollars to unproven and unaccountable charter school operators.

The district and city residents need constant reminders that not only is a fair contract for Philadelphia teachers a huge step toward addressing these issues, but we are continuing to do our jobs even while Hite and the SRC are not. With inspiration from our colleagues in the Harrisburg Education Association, this #1000Days graphic was made by PFT members for PFT members for social media, and for a limited number of buttons to be distributed to PFT members and our supporters.

You are welcome to wear and share these as you see fit, even now, but we hope everyone will publicly show off our message in full force beginning Friday, May 27, and every day until the PFT wins a new, fair contract. Remind District leaders that we stand in solidarity, and remind our city that we stand for and with its children.

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WE Summer Kick-Off! Thursday, June 2nd

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Put aside your lesson plans and paperwork for the afternoon, and please join fellow educators, parents, and allies to celebrate the end of another school year, and share your skills and ideas to keep fighting for our schools, students, and profession. PLUS, sign up for a summer book club to get informed and learn together!

Happy hour food and drink specials! // Free street parking! // Children's area!

-Meet like-minded educators and public education supporters.
-Celebrate the end of a challenging school year.
-Reflect together on how to keep growing in our schools and classrooms.
-Share ideas to strengthen our union and keep fighting for the schools Philly deserves.
-Learn about the books for our 3rd Annual Education Summer Book Clubs, meet the facilitators, and sign up for one!

Thursday, June 2nd
4:00-7:00pm
Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Ave (just above Girard)
Philadelphia, PA 19125

RSVP on our website or on facebook

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What books do you want to read this summer?

It's time to vote for your favorite books for the 3rd annual Summer Reading Series jointly sponsored by the Caucus of Working  Educators and the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia (TAG).

For information on last year's book groups, check out the 2015 Summer Reading Series Blog.
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Take the electronic survey by Friday, May 6, 2016 to help choose this year’s books. 

On May 24, the final list of books will be announced (along with exact meeting dates, times & locations) and registration will begin.

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Spread the word to educators, parents, community members, activists, and allies across Philadelphia and beyond!

To take the survey, please click on the link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SR5NT5W

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THURSDAY: March in defense of North Philly communities and students

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The Caucus of Working Educators just signed on to endorse Stadium Stompers - a movement of students, communities members, and allies that have come together to stop the Temple stadium. 

Temple University has proposed a plan for a $100 million football stadium in the heart of historic North Philadelphia. Why should Temple be stopped, and why should WE join the fight?

  • The stadium will push a largely Black community out of their homes- including many of our students, families, and coworkers.
  • Temple is choosing to prioritize their own bottom-line over education.
  • Even Mayor Kenney has criticized the stadium as being a bad deal for the city. Our schools and communities deserve true investment, autonomy, and stability.
  • The Stadium Stompers will be marching alongside a simultaneous marches in support of the fight for $15 Minimum Wage and an end to stop-and-frisk and police brutality.

In the School District of Philadelphia we are familiar with bad, backroom deals in the name of education- but which do nothing to help students or our city while raising profits for a small group of business interests.  

Joining this movement is about more than signing on as endorsers. WE have to show up:

  • On Thursday, April 14, Stadium Stompers will meet from 2:00-3:30 at Broad and Cecil B. Moore by the Bell Tower to demand that Temple STOP the stadium.
  • At 3:30, Stadium Stompers will march down Broad to join the simultaneous #Fightfor15 March at city hall.
  • If you can't make it to Broad and Cecil B Moore by 3:30, you can head directly to City Hall to meet us.
  • Invite all your friends on facebook, and share widely!

Show up the whole time or show up for ten minutes- but be there! We must say NO to the stadium, NO to displacement and gentrification, and YES to education!

 

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April 26th: Collaboration of Educators!

Want to get professional development from your colleagues that really makes a difference? Ask your administrators now for permission to register for...

Philly Collaboration of Educators

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 (PD Day)

At McCall School (K-8)

and Central High School (9-12)

The sixth annual Collaboration of Educators is the outcome of the collective knowledge and creativity of Philadelphia educators. This is a grassroots, staff-led day of relevant and useful workshops.

View the Draft Agendas (workshops and tables added daily):

Propose a Workshop!

Register to Attend!

  • School District of Philadelphia employees must log in and register on PhilaSD.org > SchoolNet >PD Planner for Act 48 credit.

  • Non-school district employees register here.

Participants will choose their workshops on the day of the event.

Join the Facebook Event and Twitter #PhillyEdCollab for updates and discussions.

For more information contact Tom Quinn: taquinn@philasd.org

 

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How To Turn Around The "Turnaround" Plan

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The packed house at Munoz-Marin school on Thursday night.

Last Friday, four district schools got word that they were targeted to become “turnaround” schools, and that all staff would be laid off from the building, with no more than 50% allowed to return.

Yesterday, in a major reversal, Superintendent Hite made a statement to the press that the staffing requirements for these turnarounds are “flexible.”

So how did this turnaround language get turned around?

It’s simple: 

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Solidarity

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The vote tally is complete -- the Collective Bargaining Team took the majority. We congratulate Jerry Jordan and all of the candidates elected to the next term of leadership.

Thanks also to everyone who voted in and volunteered for our campaign. As a caucus that has not yet turned two, we have already accomplished so much. We look forward to our continued work together!

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