Stand Up for Certified School Nurses

The School District of Philadelphia continues efforts to undermine the nationally recognized school health program offered for over one hundred years by seeking proposals to outsource certified school nurse positions.

Certified school nurses of Philadelphia have gained national and international attention in courageous advocacy for our students over the past three years since 100 nursing positions were eliminated.

Unlike the providers who will replace us if the district has its way

PFT certified school nurses provide:

  • Assessment and/or treatment and referral for every student, regardless of insurance status
  • Professional care with the utmost attention to privacy, coordinating care with families and primary care providers as needed
  • Evidence-based best practices, allowing students to remain in their classrooms to ensure optimal learning opportunities
  • Longstanding knowledge of our communities, families, and students
  • Stability as permanent, committed members of our school team
  • Advocacy for every child’s health and wellness        

STAND UP FOR PHILADELPHIA'S CERTIFIED SCHOOL NURSES! Share this information widely and contact eduffeybernt@gmail.com for more information and to help out.                         

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Class of 2015, Pledge to Vote Philly!

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Congratulations Seniors of Philly's Class of 2015!

Whether you stay in Philly, or you go away for work or college, your city needs your vote! A strong turnout of youth on Election Day can have a great impact on our city and the state. On November 3rd, which party will win Mayor, City Council, and the majority on the powerful Pennsylvania Supreme Court? Here's how you can decide:

1. Take the Class of 2015 Vote Philly! Pledge

We’ll keep you updated on important voting info. 

2. Register to Vote

If you will be 18 by November 3rd, download, print, and mail the completed form to:

The Philadelphia Voter Registration Office
520 N. Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19123

The deadline to register to vote is 30 days before the election (October 4th, 2015) 

3. Apply for an absentee ballot (if you will be away at college or out of town on election day)

It's recommended that you wait at least 2 weeks after you register to vote before submitting your absentee ballot application to make sure you're on file as a voter. Check your registration status here: Am I Registered to Vote?

Complete the following sections NEATLY:

    A. Enter your Ward and Division [find them here].

        Check "ABSENTEE - Absent From County" 

    B. REASON FOR ABSENCE - Enter "College" (or another reason).

        SIGNATURE/DATE - Sign an date it!

    D. Complete all lines. 

    E. MAIL BALLOT TO THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS

Enter your college mailing address. If you don't know it yet, then enter your home address and ask your parents to forward it to you in October OR wait until you have the address to complete the application.

Stamp and mail the application to the Philadelphia County Board of Elections, City Hall Room 142, 1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19107

4. Research the ballot.

Start with these nonpartisan resources:

-Committee of Seventy

-Philadelphia City Commissioners

-Ballotpedia

Then research media coverage and endorsements from organizations you trust. 

5. Election Day!

Your election official will mail you a ballot before Election Day.  Complete the ballot, sign it, and mail it back. Your ballot must be received by the Friday before Election Day (October 30th) ... OR if you live in Philly find your neighborhood polling place and show up to the polls on November 3rd! 

We are proud of your accomplishment and wish you the best of success and fun in your continued studies and careers!

Keep Philly in your heart and VOTE!

 

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Can Book Clubs Save Public Education?

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When educators and communities are isolated and devalued, every time we come together to share ideas, analyze, and build community is a radical act. That's how Kathleen Riley, Pd.D, describes last year's summer social justice reading series in her essay "Reading for Change: Book Groups as an Organizing Tool":

In participating in WE’s book groups, I could feel the educators of Philadelphia using their power and authority to better know themselves, their worlds, and their circumstances. I could see people building relationships with each other and also making connections between books, as participants in one book group shared analyses developed in other groups.

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

Sign up for a book (or five) today!

Summer scheduling is hard, so after you sign up your facilitator will be in touch to pick 3-5 meeting times over the summer that work for everyone.

We have selected 11 books for this summer that address many issues in education, from racial justice pedagogy to charter school politics to organizing lessons from the SNCC. Sign up now!

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(Action shot from last summer's book club for
"Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia")
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From a Veteran School Nurse

I am almost speechless at the District’s solution to its well-documented failure to provide safe schools for our medically fragile students.  The solution is, of course, to hand it to an outsider, not hire more school nurses and tighten up on policies.  Pray tell me:
  • Who will review the immunization data at the beginning of the school year and compile a list of students who are not vaccinated or under-vaccinated so they can be excluded if there is an outbreak?
  • Who will follow up on each under-immunized student to complete their immunizations, thus protecting the school community?
  • Who will identify the medically fragile students and plan for their care in school?
  • Who will insists on a comprehensive physical from every new student to this school? Who will read and understand that physical, once it is completed?   
  • Who will check each student’s vision every year, near and far, expresses the results in easy to understand terms, your child can see at 20 feet what the normal eye can see at 200 feet, and then refer the students for a vision evaluation? Who will periodically follow up on those failures and give them an extra push to see the specialist?
  • Who will check hearing on all the 9th graders and new students?
  • Who will advise medical input for IEP’s and 504’s?
  • Who will assess a child in a health crisis?
What is the District doing? We have cut the nurses almost in half. State law requires one Certified School Nurse for every 1500 students. We are just about there in Philly. These are impossible numbers, given the circumstances that our students come from. We need to increase school nurses, not cut more. Clinics in the school will further fragment care. Students need to be seen and followed by their PCP, not a clinic appointed by the School District. How would this look? Is there a potential or actual conflict of interest there?
 
Students should get their physicals from their medical home. That home should remain a constant in their lives. The School Health Code is meant to build on that concept, not replace the family doctor, or the pediatrician. These ideas have been tried. The more we outsource: the more we fragment. What are they thinking?
 
I’m done. 
Onnie Kelley
Agnes  Kelley is Certified School Nurse working in the Philadelphia Schools since 2000. She has practiced nursing in Pa, NY, NJ, Ill, the Virgin Islands, and England. Her last clinical post was as an emergency room nurse. She has had a varied and long nursing career, first passing her Boards and thus the title RN, in 1970.  She was trained by the Sisters of Mercy, renowned for their excellence in nursing education.
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On Keystone Testing: A Philadelphia Teacher’s Reflection

Early last week, I stripped the walls of my classroom bare. I took down the flags students had created to represent themselves, I took down the project we’d been working on since February - a Literacy through Photography project that gives a complex vision of student identities - and that has inspired considerable pride and interest in my students. I took down the maps, the art, even my calendar. I moved the desks out of the large square we normally use, into sterile rows. It’s not the end of the year, though it may feel like it. For the second time this year, it’s Keystone season.

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Classroom: Before and After

For six days spread over two weeks, our school is disrupted. From 8 to 11:30, we are in testing rooms. For the rest of the day, we run through 30-minute classes. The attitude from students is that these days don’t count - and the feeling around school is that the year is already over. It’s a shame, considering our last day of classes is June 18. It’s not an illusion for students - grades close June 9 and the Keystones aren’t fully finished until May 27 (including students being pulled for makeups).

The day before testing began, I had a circle with my students in order to give them space to express their feelings about testing. As an introductory activity, I gave each student 3 post-its, and had them write a thought or feeling about standardized testing in general and the Keystones specifically on each. Then, I had them stick their post-its on the wall on a scale of “Positive” to “Negative”. Below are the results from each of my classes.

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Student thoughts on testing. (Left side = Strongly Positive, Right side = Strongly Negative)

As you can see, the results leaned strongly negative. The most common word was “hate”, followed by “stupid”, “boring”, and “pointless”. In addition to variations on these common words, there were also words like “stressful”, “anxious”, and “scared”. And I can hear the critique: Sure, but no kid is going to love or even like a test.

From my students, though, I see something different. Through the conversation that followed this brainstorming, I got the real sense that my students believe these tests to be harmful to them - and really not supportive of their best interests or their visions of the future.

If you look at our school results, you can see that as the case. No more than 20 percent of our students passed any exam, and under 10 percent passed Biology and Algebra. For our 10th graders, this is a graduation requirement. The “project” replacement requires staff our school doesn’t have. There is a disaster looming when this test becomes a graduation requirement in two years.

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From: http://paschoolperformance.org/Profile/6830

I think it’s appropriate that we strip our walls during these days of testing (I was even told by a School District of Philadelphia observer that I needed to erase the date from the board during testing) - because testing forces me as a teacher to strip all value from my practice. I suddenly have to become more authoritarian, uncaring, robotic. These are things I try to push out of my teaching practice, but on these days I feel forced by the state to bring them back in.

Assessments, what we ask students to do, should have real value in this world. What is the value of sitting silently and filling in bubbles? I feel more like a prison guard these days - patrolling the room, unable to speak with or support kids, escorting students to the bathroom. The most meaningful words for nearly 3 hours of my day are “Be quiet”, “No talking”. Even though I’ve spent most of my time doing nothing, I feel drained.

It’s hard for me to continue to subject my students to something they hate - and not because it’s hard, but because they feel it is hurting them and not spending their time wisely. Keystone testing only deepens the disengagement of many of my students with the education system. It is certainly not a motivating factor. This morning, we have 129 students present in the building out of 479. That’s 27%.

There’s a far better way we can be spending our time - activities that empower students, enrich their lives, and make them come alive. We need to opt into opportunities for self-actualization, and opt out of this system of testing that is psychologically harmful, and isn’t preparing our students for success in their visions of their futures.

Out of fear for my job, I continue to proctor this exam. I keep quiet about my feelings on the tests in front of my students in the classroom. But, I’m not sure how much longer I can continue this way. After 6 days of testing, with my soul drained, I’ll hang the student work back on the wall, move my desks back into a square, and get back to real education.

 

Charlie McGeehan is an educator at Kensington CAPA High School, and a member of the Caucus of Working Educators. He can be found @cmcgeeiii on Twitter, and charlie.mcgeehan@gmail.com.

 

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TAG & WE Present: Summer Reading Series 2015

The results are in! Thank you for helping us choose the books for the 2015 TAG and WE Summer Reading Series. We are looking forward to spending time with you this summer to learn together and share visions for how to defend and transform our schools and city.

Take a look through the list below, and sign up for the book groups you’re interested in. We encourage everyone to join-- no education experience required, just the willingness to read good books and talk honestly about tough issues!

If you're interested in helping to facilitate any of these book groups (you don't have to have read the book!), please contact us at contact@workingeducators.org. 

Thanks for helping us make this summer's book groups amazing!

(Click here if you can't see the sign-up form below)

 

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More Outsourcing by School District-- Fight Back on Thursday for the Nurses Philly Students Deserve

Last week the School District of Philadelphia issued a request for proposals to outsource school nurse jobs. Following a decision to privatize substitute teachers last month, it is clear that no one is immune from the attack on schools and educators. Fight back with nurses this Thursday outside the SRC meeting!

School nurses have been decimated in the last few years, with many schools having a nurse only 1-2 days a week (or even less frequently). Now the SDP is banking on entrepreneurial thirst to commodify students by billing insurance companies for services provided by school nurses. 

"If the District was really concerned with improving health care for our students the first step it would take would be to recall the 100 nurses who have been laid off as a result of an austerity budget adopted three years ago" explains PCAPS in their statement on the issue.

For more information, listen to WE Member and Palumbo H.S. Nurse Eileen Duffey interviewed by Reverend Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel AME Church.

And this Thursday at 4:30pm, stand up for the nurses our students deserve!

Click here (or below) to download the flyer to print and share.

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Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Check out the first-ever issue of WE News!

Hot off the press is our May 2015 WE News- the very first Caucus of Working Educators newsletter! Come get your own copy at our 1-Year Anniversary Party this Friday, May 15th.

Issue 1 includes an explanation of our platform, FAQs, Opt Out at Feltonville, summer book groups, racial justice trainings, and more.

Download WE News Issue 1 Here

Wanna write for WE News? Looking for copies to distribute at your school? Email contact@workingeducators.org

We want to get copies of WE News into every school and teacher's lounge in the city! As well as lobbies, playgrounds, and anywhere else that parents, educators, and community members want to transform public education in our city.

With your help, we'll be newsie-ing like the pros in no time:

 

 

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Working Educators Get Out The Vote!

Screenshot_2015-05-11_at_8.50.56_PM.pngWith the Democratic Party primary election approaching fast on May 19th, Philly educators are working with their communities to help elect candidates who support pubic education. We wanted to share two examples of this with you. If you are able, we'd like you to be a part of these events. We also hope these will spark ideas about how you will plan to get out the vote in your own school neighborhoods.

The final full week of the campaign is the last chance to spend quality time talking to voters before heading into a full on Get Out the Vote operation in the last weekend before Election Day on May 19th. This is an important time to canvass, give out information, or hold neighborhood meetings to support the candidates. The school community at Stephen Girard Elementary is planning to do all three.

Caucus Member Tom Hladczuk has been working on canvassing plans with his colleagues at Girard Elementary. Those colleagues include Girard volunteer and Action United activist Wilma Frazier. Wilma reached out to her pastor at St. Barnabas church, Allen Jenkins Jr. to take part in the planning. The results were three events on three consecutive days:

  • On Monday, May 11th starting at 3:30, the Girard school community will canvass the neighborhood for James Kenney and Helen Gym. 
  • On Tuesday morning, Girard staff will be out in the neighborhood before school handing out flyers to community members inviting them to a meeting at St. Barnabas the next day.
  • Pastor Jenkins is also inviting his congregants to the meeting, where community stakeholders will discuss why James Kenney and Helen Gym are the two best candidates for their school and neighborhood and how everyone can help them win. If you'd like to attend the meeting, come to St. Barnabas Church at 1814 Wharton St. on Wednesday, May 13th, at 6 PM!

The final days of the election must be focused on Get Out the Vote operations. There are two goals. First, let as many people as possible know that election day is upon us. Second, check in with everyone you can and make sure they're voting!

WE member Tom Quinn designed a flyer for our endorsed candidates. We'll tackle the first goal by canvassing one of the largest events that weekend, the Italian Market Festival. We'll meet at noon on Sunday, May 17th. Point people will give out stacks of flyers to volunteers at 9th & Christian and 9th & Washington. We'll flyer the whole crowd and eat some incredible food afterwards. WE members and friends will also distribute the flyer in our school and home neighborhoods, as well as farmers' markets, stores, and other popular areas before Election Day. We encourage you to download the flyer, make copies, and help us spread the word!

The second goal, getting people out to vote, can best  be achieved by working with the campaigns and their GOTV operations. Our four endorsed candidates have all run terrific campaigns. They have detailed records and plans on who to reach out to, but they can't do all that they want to without much needed volunteers. Follow the links below to offer your help. There has been a lot of money thrown around in this race, but far more valuable than all those commercials are dedicated people who are motivated to make change happen. Talk with your colleagues, work with your community, reach out to the campaigns, and let's GET OUT THE VOTE! 

Volunteer for PFT Canvasses and Phone Banks

Volunteer for Jim Kenney

Volunteer for Helen Gym

Volunteer for Sherrie Cohen

Volunteer for Derek Green

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Help Select This Summer's Book Club Texts!

We are excited to announce a list of texts that WE and TAG members have suggested for the 2015 Summer Reading Series - but we need your help! 

Please select your top THREE choices in the survey below so we can take the next step in generating a final list of groups and facilitators. The poll will close on Wednesday, May 13th at 5pm. If you're interested in helping to facilitate one of these book groups, email contact@workingeducators.org for more info.

This year, groups will be reading through the lenses of organizing and racial justice as we work together to continue to build a movement together. Last year, nearly 100 people from across the city participated in ten different book clubs to explore how teachers and activists are building a movement for quality public education.

The final selections will be announced at the Caucus of Working Educators 1-Year Anniversary Party on Friday, May 15 at 7:00 pm. See you there!

Fill out the survey in this blog post below the picture, or at this link: http://goo.gl/forms/Wh1LFZKPzN
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