May Day of Advocacy for Philly Schools

A contract for teachers is a contract for the whole city

by Jessica Way, PFT Bldg Rep, Franklin Learning Center, & Ismael Jimenez, PFT Bldg Rep, Kensington CAPA


Like you, we love our students. We bend over backwards to make sure they get what they need. The same is true for our coworkers. We have seen our fellow educators raise thousands of dollars for clubs, trips and projects. We have seen them stay at school until late in the evening, uncompensated, because there are no EC funds. We have seen them repeatedly take on additional duties without compensation – roster chair, dean of students, test coordinator, teacher leader, extracurricular activity director – because “somebody has to do it.” 


1300_Days.jpgDespite years of work in under-resourced, understaffed schools, we still have no contract that ensures schools are safe, staffed, and stable. We deserve a contract that demonstrates respect for our expertise, education and compassion. As PFT Building Representatives, we have heard tragic stories that involve fellow teachers taking 2nd & 3rd jobs, defaulting on student loans, neglecting home repairs, and paying their mortgage late. 


We are fighting for our students, our schools, and our lives. On May 1st PFT members, parents and allies from across Philadelphia will be making the brave choice to stand up and speak out on behalf of our students and schools by participating in the “May Day of Advocacy for Public Schools”. At schools across the city large percentages of staffs will not go to work in order to take part in a series of protests.


The tentative schedule is as follows:

  • 7:30-8:30 am: Pickets at schools with staff, parents & community in solidarity

  • 10am: Demonstration, rally & press conference at 440 North Broad

  • March to City Hall

  • 11am: Visits to City Council members and the Mayor at City Hall.

  • 12pm: Un Día Sin Immigrant, Black & Brown Bodies rally at City Hall

  • 4pm: PFT Educator Exit Rally Lea Elementary, 4700 Locust St

  • March to Clark Park

  • 5pm: May Day Rally at Clark Park, 43rd and Baltimore

  • March to Happy Hour (across the street)

  • 7pm: Happy Hour at Clarkville, 43rd and Baltimore


Do you want to get involved and join the action?

  • Sign the Statement of Support for the "May Day of Advocacy in Philly Schools"!  Everyone -- educators, parents, community organizations, education advocates, politicians, and allies -- is invited to sign on and help spread the word.
  • Encourage friends and organizations to join in!  Members of POWER, 215PA, PASNAP, Tuesdays with Toomey and dozens of others are joining us in solidarity. Please reach out to your networks and ask them to stand with us.
  • For more information or to join the planning team, contact Jessica Way at or Tom Quinn at

  • Be creative! Help make the rally and march to City Hall truly special. Musicians, artists: we need you! Make a sign that will get the media’s attention.

  • Help make the big banner -- wide enough to cover the entire front of 440! You have to see it to believe it!  Contact Jessica at for more info.




This is a grassroots organizing effort led by rank-and-file educators at local schools*. Families will be notified in advance and invited to participate in the day of action to fight for the schools our students deserve. Staff at Taylor and SLA organized a similar day of action on International Women’s Day with no disciplinary repercussions and strong parent support.


The SDP acknowledged this as our legal right: “Absences due to participation in protests should be treated like any other request for a day off. The School District of Philadelphia respects the rights of District employees for self-expression, however, nothing must deter us from our primary objective – the education of the children of Philadelphia."

*This effort is not sponsored, organized or endorsed by the leadership of the PFT or any members of the PFT Bargaining Team. The actions of rank-and-file members have no bearing whatsoever on whether the district can declare an impasse in negotiations. Only actions taken by the PFT leadership can trigger an impasse in negotiations.



PFT Contract = Safe, Staffed & Stable Schools





Call Mayor Kenney: Add Funding for Public Education in Thursday's Budget!

Mayor Kenney is scheduled to release his budget on Thursday morning. While our schools continue to be drastically underfunded and understaffed, the educators of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers have gone without a contract since 2013-- including 5 years without raises for cost-of-living, years of experience, or advanced degrees. Students' opportunities to explore arts, music, and many extracurriculars continue to wither, and parents are forced to find new ways to give time and money to support their children's education. 

Through all of this, Philly's educators and parents continue to scrape together what little we have to buy supplies and support our chronically underfunded schools so our city’s most vulnerable children do not continue to suffer because of the inaction of our political leaders.

Mayor Kenney promised significant increases in funding for public education during his campaign, but has yet to deliver.

As he prepares to issue his second annual budget proposal to City Council this Thursday morning, those of us who have sacrificed for far too long are asking the mayor to live up to his campaign promises. It’s time to put words into action.

Call Mayor Kenney today and demand that he fully fund our schools in Thursday's budget proposal. Use the following phone script and make your voice heard:


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Regarding the Confirmation of Betsy DeVos

Duncan_Obama.jpg Trump_Devos.jpg

The Caucus of Working Educators recognizes the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as an unparalleled attack on public education. Her lack of qualifications -- or basic understanding of the position -- is widely recognized, and it is clear that she would never have been appointed were she not rich, white, and well-connected.

Simply stated, DeVos does not believe in public education. Her support for “choice” is a sham that masks the actual consequences of her agenda: the large-scale dismantling of America’s promise to provide education to all its children. As Arne Duncan showed with Race to the Top, the Secretary of Education has wide abilities to shape education policy even in areas that are supposedly left up to states. Even if she is not successful in implementing some of her more dangerous ideas, the Secretary will cause irreversible harm to students by failing to protect them from civil rights violations, neglect of legally mandated services, sexual assault, and more.

We are heartened by the show of solidarity against DeVos from across the political spectrum. The unprecedented opposition shows that the public understands that the stakes here are dire. But, while we are proud to protest this cabinet pick alongside 50 senators and hundreds of thousands of protesters, we cannot ignore a fundamental truth: DeVos is not an anomaly, but the result of a decade-long assault on public education.

We cannot forget that many of the same senators who voted against DeVos have also eagerly endorsed some of her policies. Education “reformers,” Democrats and Republicans alike, have championed anti-public school and anti-union actions disguised as “choice.” Celebrity pundits and policy hucksters have sold much of the country on the idea that public schools -- the backbone of our nation, which DeVos derides as “government schools” -- are irrevocably broken.

These ideas are not just misguided, they are actively harmful to schools, cities, and most importantly children. The policies they promote are a drain on public education, driving defunding, segregation, and disempowerment of communities.

Strong unions should be a firewall against a DeVos, but Republicans and Democrats both have worked tirelessly to make sure teachers and schools are divided, disempowered, and disillusioned.

The good news is that in Philadelphia, we’ve been dealing with reckless reformers financed by out-of-town billionaires for a long time. Here is how to take up the fight:

Step 1: Organize schools and communities

The Caucus of Working Educators has stood proudly with parents, students, and community members to resist privatization, defunding, and other flawed reforms that fail to support our students and communities. If Secretary DeVos thinks she can quietly rip the guts out of our federal protections for students in need, we will be there to raise the alarm and resist together.

Step 2: Band together in solidarity with other resisting groups

Through our Black Lives Matter week of action and support for groups such as Fight for 15, we rebuild and reaffirm the bond between labor, racial, and economic justice.

Step 3: Hold elected officials accountable, and run our people for office

The Caucus of Working Educators hit the streets and phones for candidates like Helen Gym and Governor Tom Wolf, both of whom have been strong advocates for public schools and will continue to protect our city and state in the face of potentially devastating national legislation.

Step 4: Position ourselves as leaders in the resistance against Trump

President Trump’s White Nationalist movement brought us DeVos, and will continue to hurt our kids and our schools. We must work to resist the agenda in all its forms, and thereby tap into the new wave of activism.



Education Not Deportation Actions & Events!

Screen_Shot_2017-02-01_at_10.24.06_PM.pngThere are lots of upcoming organizing events and actions for migrant rights and public schools. Click on the links below and share. If we missed any, let us know so we can update the listings.

The WE Immigration Justice Committee meets on the 1st Tuesday of every month. Please join us!

Get your inspiration here: Full Video: Student Testimony at the SRC for the School Solidarity Petition, January 19
New petition - please sign now!

Tell Mayor Kenney to Defy Trump, Defend Philly & Make Us a Real Sanctuary City

Tell Mayor Kenney and our city council to stand up to Trump and take action that both keeps our local police separate from ICE AND transforms our Philadelphia's policies to address the unjust criminal system that uses black and brown bodies to fill up jails through "broken window" policing policies, a racist cash bail system and the overuse of ankle monitors.


Love and retweet: 

#FurnessSayNoToHate student letter-writing campaign @Miss_Lorch!


Thursday, February 2nd

March Against Discrimination

6 PM - 8:30 PM at 4th & Market, Philadelphia

Join us as we march down Market Street to City Hall to protest the new administration’s racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and malicious policies, and to call on all federal, state, and local elected officials and government agencies to stand up for human rights.



Sanctuary: A Migrant Poetry Workshop call for participants

Led by Cynthia Dewi Oka
Saturdays 11 am - 1 pm, March 4 – April 1
With a public sharing on Friday, April 7
This workshop will explore questions of belonging, safety, and identity for (im)migrants in the aftermath of election 2016 and the consolidation of racist, misogynist, and xenophobic forces in the United States. 
Apply Here: Applications are due Feb. 3, 2017.


Friday, February 3rd

Save Our Schools: Down with DeVos!

3pm 8 Penn Center

1628 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Teachers and supporters of public education, LISTEN UP! We're gathering on Friday after school in front of Senator Toomey's office to make our voices heard! Betsy DeVos will be a disaster for public education! This could be our last chance to fight for our society's great equalizer! Please join me in fighting for our kids and make Toomey listen!! Toomey is on the fence, let's make him listen!! Make signs and meet in front of his office on Friday after school!


Saturday, February 4th

Stand Up, Fight Back - Training

Unite Here Philadelphia 1415 N. Broad Street, Suite 219, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122

Join us for a day of skill building, analysis and making a concrete plan for movement building organizing in 2017.
Sponsored by Reclaim Philadelphia and UNITE HERE Philly.


Saturday, February 4th

Philadelphia March for Humanity - #SanctuaryEverywhere

We will not stand by quietly after the executive order that bans refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen). We oppose the ban and any other action that harms our communities or treats people with indignity. We will march on Saturday, February 4th from 1-4pm and we invite people to create sanctuary for each other in the midst of this crisis.
Sunday, February 5th
12 PM - 5 PM, Furness High School, 1900 3rd St
VietLead invites you to our first Tet Lunar New Year Festival - “A Taste of Home/A Story of Resilience.” Our youth-led, adult-supported event aims to celebrate and share Vietnamese culture, uplift food sovereignty practices, and raise awareness of social justice issues in the Viet, Southeast Asian, and broader community. In light of the upcoming Trump presidency, and the hate it has unleashed -- vandalism and intimidation right in our South Philly neighborhoods -- it’s more important than ever for our immigrant and refugee community to be united and continue resisting in the ways we have been--and also in different ways. 
Kính mời mọi người đến dự Hội chợ Tết Nguyên Đán lần đầu tiên được tổ chức bởi VietLead nhằm chào mừng năm Đinh Dậu 2017 với chủ đề “Hương vị quê nhà/Câu chuyện về sự kiên cường”. Hội chợ sẽ được tổ chức vào ngày Chủ nhật, 5 tháng 2, 2017 từ 12 giờ trưa đến 5 giờ chiều tại Furness High School (1900 S 3rd St. Philadelphia PA, 19148). Với sự hỗ trợ của các nhân viên trong tổ chức VietLead, các em thanh thiếu niên trung học đã làm việc cật lực để lên kế hoạch cho sự kiện này nhằm ăn mừng và chia sẻ văn hoá Việt Nam, đề cao các hoạt động liên quan đến việc trồng trọt và nấu ăn của dân tộc, và nâng cao ý thức về các vấn đề xã hội tồn tại trong cộng đồng Việt Nam, Đông Nam Á, cùng các cộng đồng khác trong thành phố. Trước những chủ trương mà chính phủ mới đem lại, bao gồm sự phân biệt chủng tộc, sự chống di dân, chống phụ nữ, chống người đồng tính, chống người da màu, chống người Hồi giáo, chống người tàn tật, v.v., việc mà cộng đồng người di dân và tị nạn ta đoàn kết lại với nhau để cùng nhau chống lại những sự thù ghét này là quan trọng hơn bao giờ hết.
Sunday, February 5th
3-5 pm in the Church of Visitation, 300 E Lehigh Ave, Philadelphia 

Sunday, February 5th
 2 PM - 7 PM 
Pennsylvania State Capitol
N 3rd St, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
Rally at the PA State Capitol building in Harrisburg PA to show solidarity with our Immigrant brothers and sisters. At the present time there are families being held in detention centers around the country for people who are fleeing their war torn and crime infested countries for a better life with their children. This is an Immigrants' Rights Rally and March for Immigrants' Rights. NO PERSON IS ILLEGAL.
Wednesday, February 8th
5pm-7pm Philadelphia City Hall
On Wednesday February 8th, Muslim and Jewish youth will gather in Philadelphia to declare our uncompromising unity. 
Young Muslims and Jews, allies of faith and secular allies will show what it looks like to fight hate and fear with love and hope. We are coming together to commit to unconditional solidarity between our communities. 
Saturday, February 11th
8:30 AM - 4 PM 
Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School
1901 N Front St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
The Philadelphia Black History Collaborative is sponsoring a curriculum conference entitled “Controlling Our Narrative.” The theme of conference is focused on “Oppression, Resistance, and Accommodation: Contextualizing the Modern Black Experience 1968-2008” 
Thursday, February 16th
55 N 22nd St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
ItAG #4: Immigrant Justice and the Fight for Sanctuary Schools
ItAGs bring together educators, parents, students, and community members to focus on topics related to social justice in education, and to take action connected to what they learned. See all the ItAG descriptions and registerHERE.



Malcolm Jenkins Joins Black Lives Matter Closing Panel


We are thrilled to announce that on Saturday, January 28th, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins will take part in the closing panel discussion entitled "Next Steps: How does the work continue beyond Black Lives Matter week?" 

The event is from 4:00-5:30pm at Temple University's Tuttleman Learning Center (1809 North 13th Street).

According to Jenkins:  "If you ever want to change your environment or a system, you first have to be educated on how that system works. That’s why I am on the journey that I am now learning the inner workings of systems that have been set up to disadvantage minorities, especially black people. That’s why I am vigilant in my efforts to support and empower people of color."

Over 100 schools throughout the Philadelphia region have so far participated in Black Lives Matter week of action so far - and momentum behind the campaign is still growing. The week of action has been covered by dozens of media outlets across the country and received endorsements by over a hundred organizations and academics, including Councilwoman Helen Gym and Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania.

Join us on Saturday! 


Community Organizations Endorse BLM Week of Action


As the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action (#BLMPhlEd) kicks off tomorrow, community organizations from across the city have signed on to participate in and support events throughout the week. Please check them out to see more about the inspiring grassroots organizing that these organizations do every day.

Are you part of an organization that would like to sign on as an endorser? Click here to add your organization to the list, or email us at with any questions. 

Sponsored by:

Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee

Teacher Action Group


Endorsing Organizations:

Asian Americans United

Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania

Badass Teachers Association

Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE)

Classroom Struggle

TheFellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice

If Not Now- Philadelphia

The Mazzoni Center

Media Mobilizing Project

Neighborhood Networks

The New Teacher Roundtable (New Orleans)

Organize 2020 (North Carolina)

Parents United for Public Education

Philadelphia Black History Collaborative

Philadelphia Children’s March

The Philadelphia Writing Project

Philly Socialists

Philly Student Union

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

Soil Generation

Teachers Lead Philly

United Caucuses of Rank and File Educators (UCORE)

University Community Collaborative

Youth United for Change


Participating Organizations

The Attic Youth Center

National LGBTQ Task Force

Office of Councilwoman Helen Gym



Academics Sign Statement of Support for Black Lives Matter Week


Academics in the Philadelphia area, across Pennsylvania, and beyond are circulating a letter of support for the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action starting on Monday, 1/23.

As they state in their letter, these higher-education educators support the BLM Week of Action because "these goals are vital for educators, parents, students, and all communities in order to...

  • create a space for introspection and dialogue around the 13 guiding principles;

  • build deeper connections between educators, parents, students, and community organizations;

  • stand in support of national organizing supporting Black Lives Matter;

  • empower students and student groups to play a leading role in this week and moving forward.

The letter closes by reflecting on the role of all educators in building more a just world in our classrooms: "We are committed to teaching, learning, and culture in our classrooms that reflect these missions and goals, and to our role in building the leadership of our students to live by them.  The survival and empowerment of all communities demands this."

Over 100 academics have signed on so far! Click here to add your name.

See below for the full Statement of Support:

Read more

Black Lives Matter Week is Here: Calendar of Events

Click here to download a PDF version with functioning links. See you at one of these important events next week- and don't forget to take a photo wearing your shirts & pins on Monday! 

Want to add an event or get a shirt? Email us at

SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE! Help spread the word and build power by RSVPing and sharing the below events:



Education! Not Deportation!

Philly School Solidarity Petition to be delivered to Superintendent Hite and the SRC January 19th, 2017




Today, students from Philly public schools are speaking to the SRC about their fears and concerns for themselves, families, and friends. They are delivering a petition, decorated with love by students in Philly art classes, sponsored by 40 local organizations, and signed by 1000 Philadelphia voters, family members, school staff, and students.


Public schools must be safe places for all children. That’s why the School Reform Commission needs to join the Mayor in protecting the rights of all children and their families regardless of immigration status. We share the district’s stated policy goal “to foster knowledge about and respect for those of all races, ethnic groups, social classes, genders, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender, and transgender identities.” We call for the District to go further with policy that recognizes the intersecting needs of immigrant students and families. The district must uphold the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, privacy, and due process and refuse cooperation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the fullest extent under the law. We also call on the District to protect all children and their families who are at risk because of the climate of fear following the election of Donald Trump including people of color, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ students. It’s time to train all district employees with the knowledge and tools they need to act in solidarity with our students and families in an increasingly hostile political environment.


Read and sign the full petition here:


For a list of signers and more information:


Our City, Our Schools

Working Educators


Upcoming Events:



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Remind Mayor Kenney: Stand up to Comcast against Wage Discrimination!


Comcast has been bullying our mayor. Recently, the corporation threatened to sue if Mayor Kenney does not veto a bill that passed unanimously through City Council. The bill, which aims to prevent wage discrimination against women and minorities, would prohibit employers from asking applicants about their previous salaries.

Why is Comcast so aggressively opposing the bill? Because basing compensation on previous salaries allows companies to pay women and minorities less than their white male counterparts. Women, and especially women of color, are often paid less in their first jobs, which sets them up for a lifetime of lower pay. As a result, women are paid 80% of what men are paid on average in the United States.

In the name of economic development, Philadelphians have already sacrificed a lot in order to make Comcast feel welcome in our city. Taxpayers provided over $40 million in state grants to subsidize the Comcast Center; we give up millions in revenue each year in the form of tax abatement; and, we pay more for our cable TV than Comcast customers in other cities. Our city has bent over backwards to protect Comcast’s bottom line.

Perhaps this is why Comcast feels so comfortable telling our mayor what to do.

Now is the time for Mayor Kenney to send a clear message to his corporate bully by signing the wage discrimination bill into law. He has until January 26th to make his decision.

While Kenney has a solid history of sticking up for workers, he may need some encouragement to stand up to Comcast. We need to remind him of his responsibility to protect workers from discrimination and protect our city from corporate greed.

You can email (, tweet (@PhillyMayor), or call (215-686-2181) to let him know that teachers are paying attention and that we expect him to stand up for Philly’s workers.