On Wednesday, May 15, the school district announced that more than 20 new buildings will be getting updated cooling systems. After over a year of organizing to improve building conditions in Philly schools, the Caucus of Working Educators is proud to celebrate this victory with all the staff, students, and community members who fought for air conditioning in every school building.
This year, rank-and-file members of the PFT organized to demand an end to toxic conditions in our schools. The petition below represents thousands of face-to-face conversations with rank-and-file PFT members. Over 2,500 members signed the petition demanding air conditioning in every learning space. Extreme heat in school buildings was a cause of several school closures last summer as well as a major asthma trigger. Asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in Philly schools. The petition also demands lead remediation and robust pest control in every Philadelphia public school.
This past year we have witnessed thousands of teachers across the country regain their voice in the fight to save public education. Teachers have started using some of the strongest tools we have to regain power: striking, media campaigns, and of course, running for office.
Not only are teachers running for office in record numbers- they are winning. The public trusts teachers to make strong decisions that will better both our schools and our communities.
In the Democratic Primary next Tuesday May 21st, we have the chance to vote a teacher, PFT member, and education activist into Philadelphia city politics: Luigi Borda, a middle school history teacher and WE member, is running for Philly City Commissioner.
Push Button #37 on May 21st to Vote for Luigi Borda for City Commissioner!
What is the Philly City Commissioner? Commissioners make the elections happen, ensure that they are fair, and support voter turnout. Luigi Borda has spent the last ten years demonstrating a single minded determination to increase Philadelphia voter turn-out. How? Just a few of Luigi's strategies include:
- Educate and energize students and voters of all ages, races and parts of the city to turn Philadelphia into a voting Powerhouse
- Bombard our schools with resources to get young people to vote. He wants to visit every neighborhood block party this summer with a mobile “voting van” to teach everyone the process of how to register, understand a ballot, and vote.
- Make sure that every local ward leader has the machines, people and energy they need to increase their own local turn-out, and he plans to hold them accountable for their numbers.
Politicians and the public must see that teachers are serious about doing whatever it takes to save public education in Philadelphia. They must see that we are a powerful voting bloc, and we will come together to put our strongest advocates into office. We hope you will join Luigi’s teacher’s campaign by doing the following four things:Read more
- Wednesday, May 1st // 4:30 - 6:30 PM // Kensington CAPA (1901 N. Front St.)
- Saturday, May 4th // 9AM - 11AM // Rittenhouse Political Partners (151 S. Broad St.)
(These are repeat sessions, you can pick either one!)
Are you a new member of your school's Building Committee, or a veteran who wants to share your skills? How do you run a great PFT chapter meeting? How do you get people to come to your meeting? How do you organize to solve problems and effectively deal with administration?
Get answers to these questions and more at this event, which is organized by veteran PFT Building Reps. This event is focused on Building Committee Members and Building Reps, but everyone is welcome who wants to help strengthen your school.
Schools that send three or more members of their BC to the event will be granted a $25 Dunkin Donuts gift card to support their first PFT chapter meeting as a newly elected group!
NEW Date and Location:
Saturday, May 11th
9AM - 11:30AM
First United Methodist Church of Germantown (6001 Germantown Ave.)
This event is specifically organized for district paraprofessionals, who are required to regularly renew their Red Cross CPR certification at their own expense. The training typically costs $80-100, but we have organized a group rate and will offer it for just $30 (or less, depending on our registration numbers).
Please reach out to the Paraprofessionals and SSAs in your building to see if they would benefit from this program. Click here to RSVP now!
Thursday, May 23rd // 4:30 - 6PM // Kensington CAPA (1901 N. Front St.)
Have you maximized your salary as a school district employee? At this workshop, we will share the most effective ways to earn graduate credits online in order to shift to a better salary schedule, as well as how to navigate the district process of submitting the paperwork. Anybody who has not yet earned any graduate credits on top of their Bachelor's or Master's degree should be at this event. See the flyer above for more info, and click here to RSVP Now!
On Monday, 4/15 we are bringing 3000+ PFT and community signatures to City Council during their annual budget hearings!
Will you join us at City Hall at 4:30pm on Monday, 4/15?
Over 100 PFT members and allies will be delivering our "Heal Our Schools" Petition, and several educators will be testifying on the deteriorating conditions where we work and students learn every day. In order to restore the funding our schools need, we will demand an end to the tax abatements that could bring tens of millions to Philadelphia public schools. Click here to RSVP.
When We Fight We Win: Join UTLA At Our 5th Annual Convention!
For nearly two years, 35,000 educators in more than 900 schools in Los Angeles organized to fight for a fair contract. In January 2019 they went on strike for the schools Los Angeles students and families deserve - and won .
How do we make Philly #UTLAStrong?
Join Georgia Flowers-Lee and Gillian Russom from UTLA, Maurice Weeks from Bargaining for the Common Good , and PFT members, parents, and allies, on April 6, 2019 for a day of workshops to learn how the UTLA rank and file are transforming their union, building power, demanding a fair contract, fighting for racial and economic justice in LA - and winning!
Flowers-Lee and Russom are both members of the UTLA executive board, classroom teachers, and regional organizers of the recent strike. Get to know Flowers-Lee on the picket line and listen to Russom in this interview on day 2 of the strike.
UTLA leaders have served as mentors for the Caucus for years, including hosting 10 of us in Los Angeles in August 2017 at a conference designed to support Working Educators and like-minded caucuses. (UTLA is currently led by the Union Power caucus, a sister caucus of WE.)
SAVE THE DATE: WE Annual Convention on Saturday, April 6th.
Make sure you register yourself and members from your school on this form! http://bit.ly/MakePhillyUTLAStrong
And, you can donate here to support making this organizing happen!
Here is our agenda. We can't wait to see you.
Sat. April 6, 2019 (9:30-3:30pm), Temple University,
Tuttleman Bldg, 809 N 13th St, Phila 19122
9:30 AM - Registration & Breakfast
9:45 - 10:15 AM - Putting Racial Justice At the Center
10:15 - 11:15 AM - Keynote 1 - Maurice Weeks (Bargaining For the Common Good)
11:30AM - 12:15PM - Breakout 1 - Contract Issue Groups
12:15PM - Tax Abatement Action
12:15 - 1:15 PM - Lunch
1:15 - 2:00 PM - Keynote 2 - Georgia Flowers Lee and Gillian Russom (UTLA)
2:15 - 3:00PM - Breakout 2 - Building Contract Action Teams
3:15- 3:30 PM - Closing
6:30-8:00 PM - Organizing for the Common Good (Calvary Center, 801 S. 48th St)
On Thursday, March 28, the Caucus delivered a petition signed by nearly one quarter of the entire Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, demanding that the School District of Philadelphia abate the toxic building conditions in our schools.
The demands are:
- Make a plan to remediate all lead, mold, and asbestos - in all of our schools - NOW
- Make a plan to treat all rodent infestations in all of our schools - no
- Make a plan to overhaul all heating and cooling systems in our schools - now
- Fund this repair with an end to the 10-year tax abatements on large property owners in Philadelphia and collecting Payments in Lieu of Taxes from universities like UPenn.
The petition was signed by over 3,300 educators, parents, students and community members, the majority of whom were PFT members. The petition has signatures from over 100 schools in the District -- representing nearly half of the schools in the District. This is a huge victory for our rank and file, in our fight for racial and economic justice, and in the fight against dispossession of public education in Philadelphia.
One hundred educators were present at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. The petition was delivered via email after the Board of Education went into recess after student protests on the vote for mandatory metal detectors.
WE will deliver the petition to City Council members on Monday, April 15th at 4:30PM on the 4th floor of City Hall -- RSVP HERE! WE will also present the petition in person at the April Board of Education meeting.
At the School Board Meeting this Thursday, WE members took a stand against top down policies that interfere with educator autonomy and the retaliation that takes place when they questions these unreasonable policies.
When educators in one area of the city started receiving demands to complete overly extensive and uncontractual lesson plans and reports, they worked together to ask questions and fight back. They wrote a public letter signed by over 150 educators from more than 10 different schools. They set up meetings with administrators. And when one of the educators was bullied by an administrator with unfair retaliation, they spoke out about these issues at the school board.
Instead of giving in to these fear tactics, their testimony was so well received by the board that Dr. Hite immediately approached them and asked to speak further on the matter. He stated to the room that, "this is policing and it will end now!". Additionally, a few board members along with Dr. Hite asked follow up questions to testimonies, asking about the extent of administration retaliation and to be put in touch with the specific teachers mentioned. Dr. Hite was observed a few times shaking his head in disgust, hearing about the unnecessary obstacles we are facing.
When we work together to fight for our schools and students, we can overcome fear and win! Watch their testimony below, along with the community letter.
(Photo: Victorious educators from the affected network after the school board meeting!)