On Wednesday, City Council called a special hearing regarding the increased gun violence and death in Philadelphia. Panelists ranging from D.A. Krasner to Police Commissioner Ross to the Department of Health were tasked with providing solutions to address the increasing gun violence in the city. While this hearing was billed as an opportunity for Philadelphia City Council and the community to come together, that did not happen; after three hours, despite the large showing, no citizen had been given the opportunity to speak.
The options offered by the various city departments largely revolved around increased policing and surveillance and aesthetic changes such as cleaning and securing vacant lots and buildings. While some attention was paid to the idea that job creation and increased open public facilities in the summer for teens and young adults would help, there were very few practical approaches. In fact, there didn’t even seem to be an available map of community centers with extended hours.
This hearing greatly lacked the insight of educators, community members, and others who are most impacted by poverty and the other root issues of the increased gun violence in Philadelphia. While there was passing mention of Dr. Hite, this was not attached to any actual proposal or plan to address gun violence and trauma through our city’s schools, a public institution that allows for the greatest opportunity to reach communities most impacted by these issues.
It is clear that the city does not have a plan for improved funding around education and poverty. Starting in elementary schools, students need to be receiving social and emotional education and exposure to genuine restorative justice. Schools, as stated by Councilwoman Helen Gym, need more funding to provide for counselors and social workers for all of the students who are experiencing trauma right now, this summer, because of the increased violence and death.
Educators and parents in this city have had enough. Over the next few weeks, we will continue meeting with representatives from city council and are in the process of planning a Town Hall that will bring youth, parents, community members, and educators together to discuss actual solutions to this onslaught of violence stemming from decades of poverty, racism, and disinvestment of Philadelphia’s Black and Brown communities.
If you haven’t already signed on to our statement about gun violence, it’s not too late. And you can share the statement using this link: http://bit.ly/phlgunviolence
While the response time is unclear, you can provide information if you notice increased activity in your area via telephone 215.686.TIPS (8477).
HELP US WIN $30 MILLION MORE FOR HEALTHY SCHOOLS THIS FALL!
The School District has an unplanned balance of $46 million, and alongside Councilperson Helen Gym and allies we are calling the Board of Education to demand that extra money is invested in healing our toxic school building conditions.
After demonstrating our growing people power all year —through community meetings, packing the school board and city council, and presenting our #HealOurSchools petition with over 3,300 PFT and community signatures— political leaders are taking notice that our students need safe and healthy buildings NOW. This year alone we have won more state funding for lead abatement, more money for air conditioners, and now we have the opportunity to win an additional $30 million for building conditions. Thank you Councilperson Gym for lifting up this opportunity- now let’s call the Board of Education and make it happen! #WhenWeFightWeWin
We are asking ALL educators, parents, community members, and allies in the fight for public education to call the Board of Education at 215-400-4010! Call this week, and tweet @PHLschoolboard to put the pressure on district leadership to continue the work of ending the toxic school conditions in our buildings. #HealOurSchools #FundOurSchools #EndTheLead
This week, the School District announced a plan to study building use and demographic changes in Philadelphia.
While we recognize that studies like these are necessary to guide increased investment in our schools and prevent overcrowding of our classrooms, we want to ensure that the school district centers the communities of color -who make up the majority of Philadelphia residents and students- as they move forward with this decision-making process.
These studies will provide data that will be used to make decisions that will impact Philly’s students, educators, and families for decades to come. If our goal is truly to create vibrant public schools that support all students in our city to learn and grow, the true stakeholders in every school community must have power in this process.
In order to guide the district's "Comprehensive School Planning Review", we propose the following principles:Read more
By Blair Downie
Sign up for the 2019 Summer Reading Series here!
There’s nothing quite like a middle school environment when PSSA testing has concluded and the weather is getting warmer. As the testing coordinator of my school, my brain is pretty much jello once we ship that final box back to the DRC. It was that jello brain that desperately needed a break as I was waiting for UPS, checking the PFT Facebook page, and I saw a post advertising WE’s Summer Book Clubs. The description of the Summer Book Clubs jumped out to me: “the Reading Series will be a place to deepen our relationships with each other; expand our political analysis, and inform our organizing and teaching in the upcoming year.” This sounded appealing, even to my post-PSSA jello brain. An opportunity to spend time over the summer talking about things that I cared deeply about with other people who cared deeply of those things - sign me up!
I signed up for the group that planned to discuss So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. I received an email shortly after letting me know how the book would be divided into three parts for three different meetings. I bought my copy and off I went to meet up with friends at the beach for a long weekend. While So You Want to Talk About Race may not be a traditional beach read, there I was dog-earring pages and scribbling notes in the sun. I was so excited to share my thoughts and notes at our first meeting.
As I drove down Lincoln Drive on the way to our first meeting at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, I had no idea what to expect. As somebody who struggles with being perpetually early to everything, I was, of course, one of the first people to arrive and had to walk around the building aimlessly, looking for a door. I was definitely nervous to be around a group of new people, but I’d soon learn that there was nothing to be nervous about. The first book club meeting far exceeded my expectations. Everybody was warm and welcoming and the facilitators framed the discussion with norms that made everybody a bit more comfortable. The discussions were rich, the snacks flowed freely, and two hours seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. I could never have fathomed at that moment that my first book club meeting would end up being a jumping-off point for me and so much of the work that would encompass the next year of my life. I felt like I had finally found a space that not only validated that caring about racial and social justice was vital to our role as educators but lifted up that passion in ways I could never have imagined.Read more
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.