Working Educators believes in grassroots organizing to get politicians in office that will support public education. The outcome of tomorrow's election will have an enormous impact on Philadelphia's public schools, and on PFT members. Pennsylvania's future governor and state legislature will be making big decisions about our ability to organize as a union and collectively bargain. They will make decisions about school privatization and whether or not to give away precious education dollars in the form of vouchers to private schools. And most importantly, they will make decisions about school funding!
Pennsylvania is 49th in the country for the percentage of school funding that comes from the state. To make it even worse, the money that is being distributed is going at a LOWER rate to students of color across the state of Pennsylvania. We must vote for legislators who will increase funding for education and demand that ALL funding go through PA's fair funding formula. WE hope you will cast your vote for Senator Bob Casey, Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman in order to ensure more equitable funding for our schools and to protect our rights to unionize.
There are many other amazing candidates to vote for in this electoral cycle, including many new candidates that are trying to flip PA state legislative seats blue for the first time in years! The educators and parents on WE's Political Committee sat down to talk to many of them about their political beliefs concerning education, and we are happy to ask you to vote for the following candidates:
-Mike Doyle (170th Pennsylvania House District)
-Elizabeth Fiedler (184th Pennsylvania House District)
-Joe Hohenstein (177th Pennsylvania House District)
-Mary Isaacson (175th Pennsylvania House District)
-Chris Rabb (200th Pennsylvania House District)
-James Roebuck (188th Pennsylvania House District)
-Kristin Seale (168th Pennsylvania House District)
Want to see how Philly educators will be spending their time to get out the vote? Last year we encouraged PFT members and our allies to run to be committee people, the very backbone of the Philadelphia Democratic establishment. Committee people are responsible for turning out the vote, but that also means they have the power to vote for candidates that are committed to public education. And WE won big!
Here is how some of our members are flexing their newfound political muscle:
Two weeks ago, the chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party made an unsubstantiated attack on Central High School History Teacher Tom Quinn.
His claim? That Tom was attempting the "liberal indoctrination" of his students.
The evidence? A grainy single photograph of a flyer that Quinn was accused of distributing.
The district did its due diligence investigating the "incident," and now Quinn is finally free to set the record straight. In his opinion piece for the Inquirer, he sets the record straight about that supposed flyer and gets to the heart of the attack:
Philly needs to vote! Only 16.74% of eligible city residents showed up at the polls in the last election. A strong turnout of Philly youth and families on Election Day can have a great impact on our city and the state, especially during midterm and primary elections when so few people vote. On November 6th, we will cast ballots for US Congress, Governor, PA Legislators, and other offices. Teachers need to make sure every eligible senior registers to vote AND shows up to the polls. The best civics education is one that shows students they CAN make a difference!
Here's the lesson plan:
NOW - Early September: SIGN UP HERE to spearhead the registration and get-out-the-vote drive at your high school!
We'll send you instructions and voter registration forms to GET EVERY SENIOR TO VOTE!
We'll also connect you with INSPIRE U.S. to facilitate a student leader training with voting pledge cards, stickers, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) mobilizing, and the opportunity for your school to win the Governor's Award for Civic Engagement (Silver for schools that register over 65%, and Gold for over 85% of eligible seniors).
September 1st - 14th: Register High School Seniors to Vote!
Recruit a team of student leaders. Have them sign with the citywide youth voting campaign Vote That Jawn!
Download a student spreadsheet from SchoolNet and sort by birth date. See download instructions here.
If students will be 18 by November 6th, get them to register now. You can download paper registration forms, or we can pony-mail them to your school. Sign up here with the number of forms you need for your students.
OR, they can register online, but there's an extra step: If they do not have a driver's license or state ID, they must take a photo of their signature and upload it.
If students don't have a driver's license they can use the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number.
IMPORTANT: Collect the cell phone numbers of students that register. This will be critical for student-led GOTV text messages on Election Day. Bring along these Voter Pledge Cards for students to sign and record contact info. Studies have shown that making a pledge and a plan for voting dramatically increases the likelihood that a voter will turn out.
Discuss the political parties that students can choose to join (or not). A good classroom conversation starter is the I Side With quiz. Make sure students understand how their choice will affect whether they can vote in Pennsylvania's closed primary elections or not.
- Registered Republicans and Democrats can vote for their party's candidates in the primary.
- "No affiliation" or "Other" (minor party) registrants cannot vote for candidates in the primary, only ballot questions.
See if Parents and Families Need to Register too. Here are downloadable paper forms in 12 languages you can send home with students:
September 15th-October 1st: Hand Deliver or Mail Paper Registration Forms
Deadline Alert: Registration forms must be received by the Voter Registration Office by October 9th, so mail in plenty of time to get there.
Forms can be hand delivered from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday:
The Philadelphia Voter Registration Office, 520 N. Columbus Blvd, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19123
The Philadelphia County Board of Elections, Room 142 City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19107
It takes about 2 weeks for the City Commissioners office to process registrations forms. Have students confirm their voter application status to make sure their registration is complete and correct.
October: Research the ballot and candidates with your students.
Start with these nonpartisan resources:
Then research media coverage and endorsements from a range of organizations.
October 29th - November 5th: Have Students Find Their Polling Places.
If a student knows they cannot make it to their polling place, they must apply for an absentee ballot before Election Day. This is especially important for students that go away to college in the fall, but beware of the deadlines.
November 6th: Election Day - Get Out The Vote!
Remind students to get to the polls and to go as a family! One proven way to improve voter turnout is to send students a text message on election day!
First-time voters must show a photo or non-photo ID at the polling place. Acceptable forms of ID.
November 7th - Look at the election returns with your students!
Did we make a difference?
Other contacts to help with Voter Registration in Schools:
City Commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmidt will both come to schools with voting booths for nonpartisan assemblies about elections and voting. They'll even run your student council elections!
Inspire U.S. - Working in schools to develop student-led teams to register their peers and get them to vote. Participating students and schools are eligible to win the Governor's Civic Engagement Award.
State Representative Chris Rabb has offered to visit schools for nonpartisan voter advocacy. He's also proposed a voting rights bill that would allow 16 & 17 year-olds to preregister! Call or text his cell: 717-512-5310
Youth United for Change VOTA! registration campaign
Committee of Seventy Election Ambassador Corps recruits high school students to volunteer as nonpartisan poll watchers on Election Day. Students can earn community service hours and learn about the electoral process.
Do you have other ideas or resources to get the student and family vote out? Send an email to Tom Quinn.
All over Philadelphia today, educators, parents, and public education supporters are on the ballot running for local committee person positions. These positions help run elections, turn out neighbors to vote, and endorse candidates- but they often go unfilled. We vote for Committee Person every four years, and this year is one of them!
Over the last year (and more), the Caucus of Working Educators has worked alongside other organizations in the Democratize Philly Coalition to encourage and supported public education educators, parents, and supporters to run for these important local positions.
“Educators like me are getting involved in all levels of government to ensure fair and full funding for all Philadelphia public schools, and a moratorium on budget-draining charter school expansion,” explains Dan Symonds, a teacher running in South Philadelphia. “It's our turn to make decisions about the schools we all rely on." (Philadelphia Weekly)
Is there an educator or public education supporter on your ballot? Check out out list below! (This is a growing list- check back later for updates. If we missed you, please let us know ASAP!)Read more
The Caucus of Working Educators is pleased to endorse the following candidates for election on May 15th:
JOHN FETTERMAN (Lt. Governor)
KEVIN JOHNSON (3rd Congressional District)
RICH LAZER (5th Congressional District)
MIKE O’BRIEN (175th Pennsylvania House District)
ALEX DEERING (181st Pennsylvania House District)
ELIZABETH FIEDLER (184th Pennsylvania House District)
JAMES ROEBUCK (188th Pennsylvania House District)
These candidates have shown that they are not only staunch public school advocates, but are also committed to the labor movement, full funding for our schools, and societal reforms that promote social and racial justice.
WE’s Political Committee held two open Meet-the-Candidates events where all PFT members and our allies were able to conduct interviews with potential endorsees. Candidates also submitted detailed questionnaires, which can be viewed by clicking here or the links above. Finally, the Political Committee made suggestions to the WE Caucus’ Steering Committee, who voted on those final endorsement recommendations.
The Caucus of Working Educators encourages our members and allies to help elect these candidates into office. We look forward to working with them in order to ensure our shared goals are well represented both in Washington and Harrisburg.
We need as many of our allies to help volunteer get these candidates elected through phone banking, canvassing, etc. Please reach out the current WE Political Secretary, George Bezanis, at email@example.com to find out how!
Last Friday, Working Educators' Political Committee hosted the first of two "Meet the Candidates" Happy Hours. Primary Candidates from across the city were invited to come talk with educators and community members- and face the tough questions about how they will fight for our schools and communities.
Do you want a chance to talk to politicians one-on-one about the needs of Philly's public schools? This Friday, April 20th you'll have another opportunity!
All PFT Members, WE Members, and WE Supporting Members are welcome to participate in the interviews- especially if you live in the candidate's district...
Friday, April 20th 2018 / 4-6pm
St. Stephen's Green
1701 Green St, Philadelphia PA 19130
Candidates RSVP'd for this Friday: Brendan Boyle, Kevin Johnson, Michael Doyle, Malcolm Kenyatta, Alex Deering, JR Rowan, Tom Wyatt, Jeff Curry, Jim Roebuck, Mike O'Brien's Chief of Staff Mary Issacson
Candidates who attended last week's event: Michele Lawrence, Richie Lazer, Larry Arata, Nina Ahmad, Joe Hohenstein, Sean Kilkenny, Lewis Thomas, Gilberto Gonzalez, and Elizabeth Fiedler.
Want to get involved in political organizing or planning more events like this? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join WE's Political Committee. All PFT Members and WE members are welcome to join.
The Political Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators will be embarking upon its endorsement process for the upcoming May 2018 Primary Elections.
All members of the Caucus and PFT are welcome to participate in the process and sit on the interview committees, especially if they live in a candidate's respective district, in an effort to keep everything as transparent as possible.
Our two Meet-the-Candidate interview events are scheduled for April 13th and 20th (Fridays) from 4pm to 6pm at St. Stephen's Green (1701 Green St.), so please plan on attending! All are welcome!
All interested candidates should complete one of the questionnaires below (click link for survey) and RSVP for one of the dates above:Read more
Are you from outside Philadelphia County?
We need you to join the statewide movement to make sure our schools have all the money they need and to keep our local schools under our own local control.
The only way we will win full funding and local control for all of our schools is when we build a coalition of advocates across the state. As Pennsylvanians, it’s the politicians in Harrisburg who decide our children’s future. When it comes to funding, high-stakes testing, graduation requirements, teacher quality, special education, arts, music, class size, career and technical education, we are all in this together.
Working Educators will do whatever it takes to create top-notch public schools statewide, and we believe that students, families, and educators deserve far more funding, support, and opportunities than are currently provided.
What’s the big deal about schools in Pennsylvania?
Public schools in PA are criminally underfunded and under the control of anti-student politicians. Harrisburg’s neglect of PA public schools is a national embarrassment.
Pennsylvania is ranked 49th in the country when it comes to state funding for schools. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have denied students in all counties their basic right to fully-funded schools, and allowed outside companies to come into our districts and take over our public schools. Because the state refuses to pay its fair share for public schools, homeowners in PA pay more and more in local property taxes every year. The state wants us to be responsible for fully funding our own local schools, but then wants to take away our say in what happens in our own local school districts. How is that fair?
How can we fix PA schools?
Plain and simple: the PA legislature must pass legislation that guarantees full funding and genuine local control for every district in the state.
If we move just a fraction of the taxpayer money that currently pays for corporate taxbreaks and kickbacks to the 1%, Pennsylvania schools could be fully funded, providing all students with the education they deserve. We are ready to solve the Keystone educational crisis--and to push out any politician who stands in our way. There’s no time to lose.
Why should I care?
Because you love your family, your neighbors, and your public schools!
Our movement for fully funded and locally-controlled schools is non-partisan and all-policy. Strong schools help build strong economies, for everyone. A system of funded public schools is the backbone of a functional democracy that works for all. And we will win this fight--if good people like you step up and join us.
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:
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.