In 2014, when the Caucus of Working Educators was just a few months old, WE teamed with TAG-Philly to offer 9 book groups with about 85 participants for the purpose of bringing people together and learning about social justice unionism, threats to public education, and racial justice struggles in Philadelphia. Last year, WE and TAG sponsored twelve groups with 170 participants with a focus on racial justice.
This year, based on survey results, WE and TAG are excited to announce 15 book groups for 2016!
Want to meet other people committed to educational justice struggles and other social movements in Philadelphia? Want to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, organizing, feminism, gender & sexuality in education, or another topic? Want to read a classic by bell hooks or Paulo Freire or a New York Times best seller by Ta-Nehisi Coates? Want to be part of a strong and growing movement of educators and allies committed to public education?
And come to the Summer Kick-Off Happy Hour on June 2 at Frankford Hall from 4-7pm to find out more about the books and talk to other participants!
This summer, we continue the tradition of bringing together people from all walks of life and all parts of the city- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!
It's time to vote for your favorite books for the 3rd annual Summer Reading Series jointly sponsored by the Caucus of Working Educators and the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia (TAG).
For information on last year's book groups, check out the 2015 Summer Reading Series Blog.
Take the electronic survey by Friday, May 6, 2016 to help choose this year’s books.
On May 24, the final list of books will be announced (along with exact meeting dates, times & locations) and registration will begin.
Spread the word to educators, parents, community members, activists, and allies across Philadelphia and beyond!
To take the survey, please click on the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SR5NT5W
It's full summer, and we hope you're having a chance to relax your body, mind, and soul. It's going to be an exciting year as we build a movement to fight for our schools and communities, and we all need to be well rested!
While you're relaxing on the couch or by the beach, catch up with some of the 11 different books being read as part of our summer book clubs. Each group has been posting notes, photos, and questions from their discussions-- so that you can take part even if you're far from Philly.
Take a look at some of the highlights below, and please add your own comments on the blog or on our facebook page:
Multiplication is for White People, Lisa Delpit
Essential Question: How can we teach deeply so that all students learn, while still covering content?
"The first year the district rolled out Math In Context, there was a lesson about building towers in there. I started the lesson with my class of 7th graders, and many became frustrated. Then it dawned on me, the lesson was based on squaring numbers, a concept taught in earlier grades. I had made the initial assumption that the kids would know how to do that, but they did not. So I backed it up and taught the basic skills first.
Did we achieve the grade level lesson? YES! Did it take twice as long as the Planning and Scheduling Time Line suggested? YES! Nia made the point that there is so much content to cover, we never get time to teach anything in depth. I find myself picking and choosing, what is a skill that is necessary that I can go deep with versus a skill that they may see again or is not that crucial in life that I can spend less time on (box and whisker plot, anyone?). These are the struggles many of us face on a daily basis." Read more from this book club here!
More highlights below the jump (click 'read more')Read more
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!
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!
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 email@example.com.
Thanks for helping us make this summer's book groups amazing!
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!
If you have been reading or watching any news over the past few years, you have probably heard the name ALEC. Who or what is ALEC and why are they so interested in education “reform” in Pennsylvania and across the country?
ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. This organization has an 8 million dollar annual budget that they use to write a “library” of sample bills that they want passed in as many states as they can influence. Outlets like the Center for Media and Democracy rightly call them a “corporate bill mill”.
Even if you are not quite sure what ALEC is, you have likely heard of some of their most popular legislation: “Stand Your Ground” laws, “Parent Trigger” bills, and voter ID requirements are some of ALEC’s most wide-spread and anti-democratic offerings.
These bills have been made law in many states, and some are currently rearing their ugly heads in Pennsylvania.
Education advocates believe that ALEC is now interested in the “reforming” of public education because there is much money to be made for private businesses as more schools are turned over to management companies and for-profit businesses receive tax breaks for funding private schools (through vouchers and tax credits).
The parent trigger bills, for example, allow a small part of a community to vote to turn-over its public school to a for-profit operator—most of these bills allow 180 days to undo a public institution that has served a community for many years.
Philadelphia’s own State Senator (and possible Philadelphia mayoral candidate) Anthony Hardy Williams—a charter school proponent, and also a failed charter-school operator--has sponsored just such a bill in Pennsylvania.
Another way to make sure public schools are turned over to private companies is to ease the charter school authorizing rules and regulations. In these ALEC-sponsored bills, authority to approve new charters is removed from local agencies such as school boards and school districts and given to the state itself, or other institutions such as universities. This forces districts to pay for schools they did not authorize and cannot afford and steals much-needed funding from true public schools.
Unfortunately, many Pennsylvania politicians have been taken in by ALEC’s anti-democratic agenda. Some are receiving campaign contributions from ALEC-sponsored PACs in order to bring ALEC’s agenda to our state, and some are members of ALEC or are simply sponsoring ALEC’s bills. What follows is a short list of ALEC-influenced politicians and their organizational allies in Pennsylvania. Some of these politicians have accepted tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from ALEC-affiliated groups.
- Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30)
- Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13)
- Rep. Warren Kampf (R-157)
- Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8)
- Rep. Fred Keller (R-85)
- Rep. Garth Everett (R-84)
- Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12)
- Re. Matt Baker (R-68)
- Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-34)
- Rep. Scott Perry (R-4)
Additionally, here's a list of ALEC-influenced power players in Pennsylvania:
- Charter school guru and big Corbett contributor Vahan Gureghian
- Cyber Schools (especially K-12, Inc.)
- American Federation of Children and Students First PACs
- The Commonwealth Foundation
- Susquehanna International Group
Thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy for its extensive and interesting report. We suggest you read the whole report for a comprehensive understanding of ALEC's reach in Pennsylvania.
Are you a member of the Penn community? Know somebody who is?
Spread the word about this lunchtime discussion, organized by three Caucus members who are also students and faculty members of the university. Tuesday, September 24th at noon, GSE Room 322!
This week kicked off the opening meetings for two of WE's Social Justice Unionism Summer Book Clubs, with the rest starting over the next few weeks.
It's never too late to join in with teachers, parents, and community members us to discuss some of the most pressing concerns to education, teachers, and unions. Click here for descriptions of the books we're reading this summer.
Book club times and dates are listed in the calendar below. Because many of the events are at members' homes, we have not published the locations online.
Please email us at email@example.com for exact location info.
Update: Working Educators is now an official co-sponsor of this event!
For inspiration on reigniting the labor movement today, Joe Burns believes we should look to the militant public worker strikes of the 60's and 70's. In Strike Back: Using the Militant Tactics of Labor's Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today, Burns explores how during the 1960s and 1970s hundreds of thousands of teachers, sanitation workers, and other public employees rose up to demand collective bargaining rights in one of the greatest upsurges of labor history.
Joe Burns' book "Strike Back" uncovers this history of militancy to provide tactics for a new generation of public employees facing unprecedented attacks on their collective bargaining rights.
On July 10th at the Wooden Shoe, Joe will be discussing his book and leading a conversation on how we can rebuild a powerful labor movement in Philadelphia. Working Educators will be there, and we hope you can join us too!
Strike Back: Using the Militant Tactics of Labor's Past to Reignite Public Sector Unionism Today, by Joe Burns
Thursday, July 10th at 7pm
Wooden Shoe Books
704 South St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19147