How WE Will Lead: Tasha Russell, Associate Secretary

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for Associate Secretary, Tasha Russell:

My message for every member of the PFT is that when you receive your ballots on February 4th, you vote for WE. Because your voice matters.  

Tasha.jpgTASHA RUSSELL has been teaching in the school district for 20 years. She has taught at Kinsey Elementary, Stetson Middle School, Lowell Elementary, Roosevelt Middle School, and currently Wagner Middle School. She currently holds certifications in Physically and Mentally Handicapped, BCIT (Technology), and Educational Administration. ALong with being a member of the Caucus of Working Educators. she is involved with the Philadelphia Writing Project,  and Teachers Lead Philly.

 

Tasha in the news:

Examiner: Why is race important to the Caucus of Working Educators?

Philly Tribune: New Crop of Teacher Union Leaders Could Change Old Ways

Newsworks: 'Working educators' caucus challenges status quo in Philadelphia teachers union

Northeast Times: Taking a Stand: The Caucus of Working Educators mounts a historic challenge to the longtime leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

The Notebook: Caucus of Working Educators Reveal Slate for Union Election

Raging Chicken Press: Is Social Justice Unionism Going to Save Public Education in Philadelphia?

Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about Tasha and Working Educators! 

 

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Why I switched from CB to WE

By Peg Devine RN CSN, Lincoln High SchoolIMG_0967.JPG

At-Large Executive Board Candidate on the WE Slate

I have been an active member of the PFT since I was hired as a nurse in 1992. In 2009, I was asked by Jerry Jordan to serve on the PFT Executive Board.

For those who don’t know -- and most members have no idea -- the PFT Executive Board (EB) usually meets twice a month. During the meeting the board votes on PFT business including approving political endorsements, campaign donations, and treasurer reports. We hear a President’s report at every meeting including information about national educational and political concerns.

When I agreed to become an EB member, it was my hope to serve as the voice of my fellow nurses and other non-teaching professional PFT members. Unfortunately, as the years went on, it became clear to me that these Executive Board meetings are actually the opposite of what a representative democracy should be.

Here's a few illustrative examples: 

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How WE Will Lead: Ismael Jimenez, VP of High Schools

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for Vice President of High Schools, Ismael Jimenez:

"There is a necessity for our union to the the strong force that it should be. With the numbers that we represent as the largest public union in Philadelphia, and the second largest in the state, there's no reason our power isn't being utilized. And that inspires me, because there's no better time than now."


Ismael.jpgISMAEL JIMENEZ has worked with students ranging from preschool to high school  in Philadelphia for 10 years.  Ismael worked as a Secondary Social Studies teacher at Germantown High School until it was closed. Currently, he teaches African-American History at Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School. He has been an active member of the building committee. Ismael has also facilitated several professional developments at the school district on issues ranging from structural racism to bridging the knowledge gap of students that manifests between high schools and postsecondary institutions.

 

Ismael in the news:

Labor Notes: Philly Teachers Go For It

Examiner: Why is race important to the Caucus of Working Educators? 

The Notebook: Thorny Issues Explored at Summer Institute for Teachers

Urban Journal of Education: Reading for Change: Social Justice Unionism Book Groups as Organizing Tools

Raging Chicken Press: Is Social Justice Unionism Going to Save Public Education in Philadelphia?

WE Convention Closing Remarks, 11/14/15: We are about to embark on a journey...

Philadelphia Tribune: Contested Races Next Year for Teachers' Union Offices

The Notebook: Teacher Advocacy Group Challenges PFT Leadership

Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about Ismael and Working Educators! 

 

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Recognizing the Power and Struggle of Our School Counselors

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School counselors play a critical role in the educational process that enables all Philadelphia students to meet their full potentials. In honor of National School Counselor Week, the Caucus of Working Educators wants to recognize the amazing work that our counselors do -- and honor their struggles by highlighting a vision for how our union can support them.

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How WE Will Lead: The Working Educators Executive Board

The Working Educators team is ready to bring a renewed purpose to the PFT Executive Board. These members will work hard to represent the educators who share their bargaining units and professional categories. It is time to have an Executive Board that operates transparently and inclusively.

We can't wait for you to get to know our whole teamHere's Working Educators Slate for Executive Board Representatives:

HIGH SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVES

Screenshot_2016-02-03_at_7.26.38_PM.pngADAM BLYWEISS has spent seven years teaching in career and technical education (CTE) programs for commercial and advertising art at the High School for Creative and Performing Arts, Germantown High School, and Martin Luther King High School. He earned a Master of Education degree in Industrial Education from Temple University. Before joining the district, Adam worked in print production, software development, publication management, and nonprofit advising.

KRISTIN COMBS is in her sixth year teaching at Penn Treaty School after being forced out of Vaux High School in 2013 due to the SRC closures. She recently ended a strong grassroots campaign for a minority seat on city council. Kristin hopes to use the political and activist connections that she built during this campaign and during her past three years as a leader in independent left politics to serve you as on executive board.

TECHNICAL/SKILL CENTER REPRESENTATIVE

JULIE STEINER is a 20-year teaching veteran who currently teaches English and serves as the PFT Building Representative at WB Saul HS for Agricultural Sciences. Julie holds a National Board Adolescent and Young Adult English/Language Arts certification. She is also a 2013 Lindback Award winner and the 2012 College Board-recognized Outstanding AP teacher in the Middle States region.  

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVES

CARLOS FREDERICK has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia  for the past six years. His time has been spent working  at Audrenreid, Germantown High School, and currently at Woodrow Wilson  Middle School as a History teacher.  He earned a master’s degree in Liberal Arts. Additionally, Carlos holds a certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Kean University and a certificate in African-American Studies from Ramapo College.

KRISTIN LUEBBERT has been teaching since 2001. She is a 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Bache-Martin. Kristin has been a PFT Building Committee Member and is a long-time Building Representative.  Kristin has also served  as an AFT delegate numerous times. She  has been active in PFT actions and protests and is a member of Teacher Action Group Philly and a founding member of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT.

 

RAYMOND PORECCA has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia for seven years. He was a special appointment at Austin Meehan for one year before moving to Feltonville Arts & Sciences where he has served as a member of the building committee, baseball coach and SEL.  He holds certificates in Special Education (N-12) and Middle Years English.

 

ELEMENTARY REPRESENTATIVES

MICHAEL BERSTEIN has been teaching for the School District of Philadelphia for 10 years. Mike  is  a Computer Technology teacher and a  TTL.  He has been a member of the Building Committee and has also served as a Building Representative. Mike has been an AFT delegate and a workshop facilitator  at several PFT Health and Welfare Conferences.


LISA HANTMAN is a Master level teacher with Education and Reading certificates. She has been teaching for 35 years, 27 in the School District of Philadelphia (Pre-K - 6). Lisa received a Fulbright Scholarship and taught in England. Currently, she teaches at McCall School. Lisa is involved in many professional teachers’ groups, including The Philadelphia Learning Cooperative, Philadelphia Writing Project, and Need In Deed, and was a planner of the ECET2 Convening.

TAMIKO MITCHELL has been with the School District of Philadelphia for seven years. She had the privilege of teaching at James J. Sullivan Elementary School and is currently teaching at Potter Thomas Promise Academy.  Tamiko earned a bachelor’s in elementary/special education and a master’s degree in curriculum/instruction and administration/supervision. She currently holds dual Level Two Pennsylvania certifications in Special Education and Elementary Education and has been a member of the Building Committee for three years.

  

SPECIAL EDUCATION REPRESENTATIVE

BETH MENASION has been a Learning Support teacher in the district for 10 years, both at Welsh (K-8) and at Science Leadership Academy.  She also worked as a preschool teacher in the Parent Infant Center’s “Pre-K Counts” classroom.  She has been a building rep for 3 years, and was a founding member of West Philly Coalition for Neighborhood Schools. 

 

PARAPROFESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

BREANNA MITCHELL has been working in the School District of Philadelphia for three years. She works at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences as a Special Education Classroom Assistant.  She is a graduate of Community College of Philadelphia and is currently attending La Salle University with an expected graduation date of May 2016.  Her goal is to become a Middle Years Math and Science teacher.

 

SECRETARY REPRESENTATIVE

LISETTE RIVERA currently works at The U School as the Founding Bilingual Secretary.  Lisette started working at Olney High School as a Noon-Time Aide in 1999. In 2000, she became a Bilingual Secretary and a Twilight Secretary, which then became EOP. Lisette has also worked at Frankford High School, Frankford EOP, and H.A Brown.  She aspires to become a high school counselor.

 

NTA REPRESENTATIVE

GEORGE DAVID RUVARAC is one of only three Non-Teaching Assistants left in the entire district. He was an Agriculture teacher at Saul High School for three years and was force-transferred last year due to staff cuts. As a result of his Agriculture teaching certificate, there were no other district jobs to be force-transferred to.  George was later  rehired as a Saul High School NTA farmer, one who cares for the farm and works with agriculture teachers who use the farm as their “classroom.” He understands the challenges created by district job insecurity and will continue the PFT’s fight to restore NTA’s across the district. 

 

READING ASSISTANT/SSA REPRESENTATIVE

MARGARET ROLON began her career with the School District of Philadelphia as a bilingual ESOL tutor in 1999.  She has been both an ESOL tutor and an SSA for the last two years.  Margaret is a Paraprofessional who works primarily with English Language Learners in the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences where she is also a long-time member of the Building Committee.    

 

 

PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL REPRESENTATIVE

PATRICIA ECKERT has been with the School District of Philadelphia for 23 years. She started her career in the district after serving 10 years as a parent volunteer. Patricia is currently a Budget Technical Assistant. Previously, she has served the district as an SSA, School Community Coordinator, and School Operations Officer. She has been a member of the Building Committee.

 

 

HEAD START REPRESENTATIVE

ALICE CAVALLI has been a PFT member for 15 years.  She is the Head Start Building Representative at Taggart Elementary School. Alice has also been on the Building Committee. She wants Head Start to return to every school in order to provide a smooth continuum to Kindergarten.

 

PER DIEM SUBSTITUTE REPRESENTATIVE

CHRISTINE MARTIN is a retired Certified School Nurse with 23 years of service. She worked at Stoddart Fleisher Middle School for 17 years and Constitution High School for six. Christine earned a Diploma in Nursing from the Albert Einstein School of Nursing, a bachelor’s degree from Philadelphia University, and a master’s degree from St. Joseph University.

 

FOOD SERVICE MANAGER REPRESENTATIVE

SHARON HANDZUS has been a Food Service Manager with the district for 13 years.  At Saul High School, she works with both the food science faculty and the on-site vegetable farm to introduce more fresh food options for Saul’s students.  Sharon wants to stop district conversions of real school kitchens to satellite kitchens, make sure that kitchen machinery is regularly serviced to keep kitchen staff safe, and fight to protect Food Service Manager jobs throughout the district.

 

PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT REPRESENTATIVE

TATIANA OLMEDO has worked for the School District of Philadelphia for the past 15 years as a bilingual school counselor (Spanish). She currently works at Central High School where she also serves on the Building Committee. Tatiana is a member of the PFT’s Counselors steering committee, the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association, and a founding member of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT and serves on the steering committee. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

AT LARGE REPRESENTATIVES

JOE ALBERTI has taught in the district for 11 years.  He taught at Andrew Hamilton School, Lewis Elkin School, and has been at Samuel Powel Elementary for nine years.  He is certified in Elementary Education,  Middle Years English, and holds a National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist. He is involved in numerous organizations across the city.

MARGARET DEVINE, RN, CSN, has been an active PFT member since 1992 and is a current member of the Executive Board. Peg has also been an AFT delegate. Currently, she is a school nurse at Abraham Lincoln High School and has received numerous awards including the PASNAP Regional School Nurse Excellence Award (2011) and the Coalition of Labor Union Women Working Women’s Awareness Award (2012). 


HERMAN DOUGLASS currently works at Bethune McLeod Bethune Elementary School and formerly at Feltonville Arts and Sciences. He has been a PFT member for seven years. He has been a Building Representative and was the Multicultural Chair of Upper Darby Education Association (NEA) from 1997 to 2004.


DAVID HENSEL has taught at Taggart Elementary for 15 years. He has been the PFT Building Representative for four years now. He has a master's degree in Elementary Education and also holds a certificate  in Early Childhood Education. David was a founding member of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT and has served on the steering and political committees.

CHARLIE MCGEEHAN teaches Humanities at The U School, a new District school designed to meet the individual needs and interests of our students. He also taught at Kensington CAPA. He is committed to strengthening our union through deep organizing work that empowers our members across the district.


DANIEL SYMONDS teaches 7th grade at Luis Muñoz Marín School, where he is the PFT Building Representative. He is looking forward to building a stronger, more organized, and united PFT. He holds a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's from Swarthmore College.


JESSICA WAY has been teaching in the School District of Philadelphia for eight years. She is a registered nurse and teaches in the Medical Assistant program at Franklin Learning Center. Before she came to the district, Jessica was a public health, labor and delivery nurse. She is a Lindback award winner and serves on her school’s Leadership Team.  




 

 

 

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How WE Will Lead: Eileen Duffey, Recording Secretary

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for Recording Secretary, Eileen Duffey:

After the layoffs of the school nurses in 2011, I helped to organize 22 weeks of consecutive rallies outside of 440. I was troubled about what was happening to our students when nurses were laid off, and they were looking for cheaper ways to provide the service we provide. At that time I met many people who supported my rallies, members of Teacher Action Group, parents, members of other unions- and that was the beginning of my involvement with the Caucus.

Eileen.jpgEILEEN DUFFEY is a fearless, relentless advocate for public schools. As a 21-year veteran school nurse, she currently works at Academy at Palumbo and Stearne Elementary, and has previously worked at Meredith, Nebinger, and Furness. She earned her B.S. and M.S. from St. Joeseph’s University, and her nursing degree from Hahnemann. She is a proud member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, and co-produced the video "Our Schools Are Not for Sale," which won the nationally-recognized Home Town Media Award. In 2011, she successfully organized and led a 22-week rally which brought national attention to Philadelphia’s layoffs of school nurses. Since then, Eileen has continued to pressure the District to resist outsourcing the work of certified school nurses. She strengthens her organizing work by cultivating relationships with church communities, educational leaders, city councilpersons, and grassroots activists. She is a member of POWER through her church. 

Eileen in the news: 

Salon: "10,000 smart, committed teachers can change the world"- A group of working Philadelphia teachers is looking to upset the status quo of the teachers union

SRC Testimony 1/21/16: "We are treated like trespassers"

Northeast Times: Taking a Stand: The Caucus of Working Educators mounts a historic challenge to the longtime leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

City Paper: Philly Teachers Hatch a Militancy Plot

Philly.com: Duncan Holds a Teacher Q & A

Media Mobilizing Project: MMPTV Update- Interview with Eileen Duffey on the School Nurses Struggle in Philly

The Notebook: From Nurse to Occupier

Philly.com: New Group Hopes to Save Philly Public Education

 Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about Eileen and Working Educators!  

 

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Dispelling Rumors, Part II

Here's another rumor we've been hearing:

Doesn't WE just want to make the PFT go on strike?
 
The answer is no. That's absurd, for several reasons. Here’s two of them.
 
First, no union leadership can "make” their membership go on strike. That’s not what a strike is. For a strike to happen, there has to first be an authorization vote, and the action can only move forward if an overwhelming majority of rank and file members are in favor. The rumor that the leadership could simply call for a strike presents a false picture of who's in charge of the union. The rank and file, and only the rank and file, can drive an effective job action, whether it's a strike or something less extreme. 
 
Second, caucus candidates and members are very much aware of the language of Act 46, which states that “the Secretary of Education may suspend the certificate of an employee who violates” the written prohibition on striking. The language does not guarantee such a suspension, but the threat is a real one—and our slate of candidates does not take that threat lightly. Neither should the general membership of the PFT.  
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How WE Will Lead: Yaasiyn Muhammad, General Vice President

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for General Vice President, Yaasiyn Muhammad:

This moment is the moment we've all been waiting for. Every single PFT member has that sense that things can be better. The Caucus of Working Educators is presenting all of us with the opportunity to bring that positive change to the PFT.

 

Yaasiyn.jpgYAASIYN MUHAMMAD  is a graduate of Temple University with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.  He previously taught at Northeast High School and currently teaches African-American History at Central High School. His work with the Caucus of Working Educators (WE) has led to increased awareness of the War on Drugs, the school-to-prison pipeline, and police brutality. He is a proud graduate of a Philadelphia Public School.

 

Yaasiyn in the news:

The Notebook: The strength of a union lies with its members, not its president, staff, and legal team

Newsworks: 'Working educators' caucus challenges status quo in Philadelphia teachers union

Northeast Times: Taking a Stand: The Caucus of Working Educators mounts a historic challenge to the longtime leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers 

Morning FeedWorking Educators talk, education justice, union representation, parent involvement and more

SRC Testimony 12/17/15: Hite's Actual Accomplishments

Philly.com: At raucous meeting, SRC votes to extend Hite's contract through 2022 

Philadelphia Tribune: Contested Races Next Year for Teachers' Union Offices

Billy Penn: Who's Next, Labor: 13 Union Leaders and Workers' Advocates Changing Philadelphia

Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about Yaasiyn and Working Educators! 

 

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How WE Will Lead: Kelley Collings, VP of Middle Schools

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for Vice President of Middle Schools, Kelley Collings:

"My vision for the PFT is that we become a beacon of hope in this city, for what is possible.  The one thing that I would love to say to every PFT member, is to have confidence in yourself, in us, to turn things around, and to create a brighter future."

 

Kelley.jpgKELLEY COLLINGS has been a Philadelphia public school teacher for 15 years. Prior to teaching, she was a community and parent organizer for over a decade in various cities across the country. She and her colleagues at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences helped fuel the local Opt Out movement against high-stakes testing in Philadelphia when they publicly organized 40% of the families at their school to opt out of testing.  Kelley is a founding member and current Co-chair of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT, as well as a leader in the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia and a member of Teachers Lead Philly and Need in Deed.

 

Kelley in the news:

Salon: "10,000 smart, committed teachers can change the world"- A group of working Philadelphia teachers is looking to upset the status quo of the teachers union

Labor Notes: Philly Teachers Go For It

Think Progress: These Education Protests Got Results in 2015

Morning FeedWorking Educators talk, education justice, union representation, parent involvement and more

Urban Journal of Education: Reading for Change: Social Justice Unionism Book Groups as Organizing Tools

Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association: Deep Organizing vs Shallow Mobilizing...Be the Union!

Philly.com: Caucus Challenges Union Leadership

Al Día: Opt-Out Movement Gaining Momentum

Philly Magazine: Many More Students Are Option Out of State Exams

Al Día: Education Activists Fast in Harrisburg, Demand Moral Budget

Philly Magazine: Will District Slap Anti-Testing Teachers?

 Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about Kelley and Working Educators! 

 

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How WE Will Lead: George Bezanis, Legislative Representative

How will Working Educators lead the PFT? Meet all 9 officer candidates for yourself, learn their vision for the future of our union, and find out why they are running for office in the 2016 PFT elections.

Here's Working Educators Candidate for Legislative Representative, George Bezanis:

"I think this union isn't just one person's ideas. There are 11,000 ideas, and we all need to have a voice in this union. That's why I joined the Caucus of Working Educators."

 

George.jpgGEORGE BEZANIS has been teaching since 2001. He became a PFT member nine years ago working as a high school Social Studies teacher and currently serving as a PFT Building Representative. He believes that fair and equitable public education, no matter what race, ethnicity, zip code or socioeconomic class one may happen to be born into, is the building block of American democracy. George is also an elected Democratic Committeeperson in the 63rd Ward.

 

George in the news:

Northeast Times: Taking a Stand: The Caucus of Working Educators mounts a historic challenge to the longtime leadership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

Examiner: Why is race important to the Caucus of Working Educators?

Philly.com: At raucous meeting, SRC votes to extend Hite's contract through 2022

SRC Testimony 12/17/15: 'Twas the night before Christmas...

Newsworks: Philly SRC Meeting Dominated by Charter Conversion Critics

SRC Testimony 10/15/15: The "D" Word and the SRC...

SRC Testimony 2/22/15: Ladies and Gentlemen of the SRC...

New Republic: Surprising Lessons from Philadelphia's African American History Course

Working Educators: A Brief Labor History of Philadelphia's Public Schools, Pt 1

 Check out our In The Press page for many more stories about George and Working Educators! 

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