WE will be organizing

It has always been a mission of the Caucus of Working Educators to stand for social justice both in public education as well as the larger community.  In spite of the surprising news that came with yesterday’s election results, we remain steadfast in our mission.

organize-resist-anonymous-revolt-communism-che-guevara-acab-revolution-t-shirt-21ac8e1627049c8d0d9d0c32549adead.jpgWE will fight for the rights of unions to exist and for workers to fight for fair salaries and working conditions.  WE will continue to oppose the school-to-prison pipeline.  WE will stand with our immigrant students, and respect their rights to a decent education and livelihood.  WE will demand that our students are free from violence in their schools and in the communities where they live.  WE will fight to have our LGBTQ student population’s rights and dignity respected.  WE will ensure that students of color receive equal treatment to their white peers.

WE will continue to fight for educational and socioeconomic justice within and beyond our school walls.  WE will never tolerate anything less than what is best for our students, our city, and our profession.

No matter what comes, WE will be right here. WE will be organizing.

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Here's what "Down Ticket" Means and Why it Matters in PA

Three weeks away from election day, virtually every major poll has both the state of Pennsylvania and the country as a whole going Democrat for the presidential election.

In response to this, many potential voters and volunteers are asking: Does my effort really matter this year? This presidential election season has been exceptionally contentious. And many voters have mixed feelings about even heading to the polls after such a contentious primary season.

However, to focus exclusively on the presidential election ignores the vast majority of seats, and political realities, that will be decided on November 8th. Even though the national race grabs media attention -- it is the local races that need you to turn out and vote!  

Here are just a few “down ticket” races in around the city and state that will be decided by handfuls of votes:

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One Request of New SRC Candidates: Dissolve!

For 15 years, Philadelphia schools have been run by an unaccountable, undemocratic, unpopular, and unsuccessful administration – the School Reform Commission.

Last year, more than 75% of Philadelphia voters approved a referendum to abolish the SRC. Why? Perhaps because the SRC’s history is plagued by corruption, unconstitutional acts, disrespect for its own employees and students, and utter inefficacy. The ongoing, state-generated budget crisis should put to rest any argument that continuing to give away control of our school district will somehow increase our access to state funding.

The only legally realistic path for the abolition of the SRC is for it to vote to disband itself. The current members have been unwilling to do so. However, the pending resignations of Commissioners Neff and Houstoun, and the upcoming end of term for Commissioner Simms, creates an opportunity for Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf to appoint a majority who will vote to disband the SRC.

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When does 4 + 1 = 6?: When Combs replaces a republican on City Council

ggroup.jpgIn the November election, Philadelphia voters can choose five candidates for City Council At-Large. Five candidates will be elected from the Democratic Party. In addition, the two highest vote-getters from all other minority political parties will also be elected and take their place on City Council. Traditionally, that has always been two Republicans.

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On November 3rd, instead of using all five votes for Democrats (who are virtually certain to be elected), vote for Kristin Combs -- public school teacher running for an at-large seat on Philadelphia's City Council with the Green Party.

The goal is for one of the minority party seats to instead go to the Green Party and bring a much needed progressive agenda to City Council.  Five democrats and one green will help move Council to the left on a variety of issues affecting working people across Philadelphia.

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Combs' platform includes fully funded public schools, local school control, charter school reform, an end to school closings, restorative justice, a living wage, paid sick leave, collective bargaining rights for all workers, fully funded pensions, an end to private outsourcing of public sector jobs, and an end to corporate welfare.  For more information:

                                                                          Website - http://www.combs4citycouncil.com/

 

 

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PFT Leadership Fails to Endorse Teacher for City Council

On Tuesday, September 29th, the PFT leadership voted against the endorsement of public school teacher and PFT member, Kristin Combs, who is running for an at-large seat on city council as a Green Party candidate.  

Comb.Collings.Muhammad.jpgIn rejecting one of their own members, the PFT leadership failed to endorse the only teacher candidate running on a strong education and labor platform.Combs' platform includes fully funded public schools, local school control, charter school reform, an end to school closings, restorative justice, a living wage, paid sick leave, collective bargaining rights for all workers, fully funded pensions, an end to private outsourcing of public sector jobs, and an end to corporate welfare. The Caucus of Working Educators is outraged that such a strong teacher leader would not receive the endorsement of the current PFT leadership.

Rather than support a teacher whose campaign is dedicated to creating the schools Philadelphia’s children deserve, the PFT leadership instead voted to endorse an Independent with no labor support, as well as a Republican who pledges to maintain the SRC as-is.

The responsible thing  – both for its own members, as well as for the future of public education in Philadelphia – would have been for the PFT to endorse Combs’ candidacy.

The PFT leadership failed its members by their refusal to endorseCombs’ for city council.  As members of the PFT, the Caucus of Working Educators is organizing to enhance, not ignore, teacher leadership. We vehemently reject this decision and proudly support Kristin Combs for city council.

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Vote Philly! Public Schools Need Youth and Families to Vote! - Register to Vote Online Now!

Registering Students & Parents to VoteA 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 3rd, we will cast ballots for Mayor, City Council, and the important Pennsylvania Supreme Court seats that could decide the balance of the court and the future of public education in Pennsylvania.

1. Register High School Seniors to Vote: CLICK HERE!Pennsylvanians can now register online!!!

If students will be 18 by November 3rd, get them to register now. They can do it on a smart phones! The deadline to register to vote is always 30 days before the election (October 5th, 2015).

If you prefer to use paper registration forms, contact tquinn6935@gmail.com with the number of forms you need for your students. We will send the forms to you via school district pony mail.

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2. Research the ballot with your students.

Start with these nonpartisan resources:

-Committee of Seventy

-Philadelphia City Commissioners

-Ballotpedia

Then research media coverage and endorsements from a range of organizations. 

3. 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 to college in the fall.

4. Election Day!

Remind students to get to the polls and to go as a family!

First-time voters must show a photo ID at the polling place.

 

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Working Educators Endorse Kristin Combs, Philly Teacher, for City Council

[Update: Meet Kristin and learn more about her platform and campaign strategy at a House Party Meet & Greet in Germantown on Saturday, Oct. 3 (6-7:30pm) hosted by WE member Kelley CollingsClick here for more info & to RSVP]

IMG_20150919_125512.jpgThe Caucus of Working Educators has endorsed Kristin Combs, Green Party candidate, for Philadelphia City Council At-Large. 

An active member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and the PFT's Caucus of Working Educators, Kristin is a dedicated teacher at Penn Treaty High School.

"Working alongside Ms. Combs in a school that had a unique set of challenges, I watched how she committed to her students on both academic and personal levels. There really wasn't anything she was unwilling to do to ensure that students had all of the opportunities they needed to reach their fullest potential. Adding that she is an active participant in a variety of educator and community groups demonstrates her commitment to doing all that she can do to make the world a better place for under served populations," said Regina Hastings, a colleague of Kristin's at Penn Treaty.

Kristin motivation for running is centered in having experienced the worst of how are students have been neglected, having previously taught at Vaux High School, before it was closed by the SRC along with 23 other schools in 2013.

She has vowed to take a teacher's salary if elected and donate the rest of her salary to organizations committed to helping our public school students.

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Kristin's advocacy for her students and their families has also been apparent in her campaign being involved in many actions for raising the minimum wage and unionizing workers.

"Green Party candidate Kristin Combs is the only candidate running for City Council who has pledged to take a worker's wage and immediately introduce binding legislation for a $15 minimum wage in Philadelphia. Unchallenged one-party rule has produced the poorest large city in America. From Seattle to Philly, we need independent working class politicians willing to take on big business and Harrisburg," said Kate Goodman, lead organizer for 15 Now Philadelphia.

Another key piece of Kristin's platform is spreading awareness and strongly defending parents' right to opt out of the harm of standardized testing she has seen first hand. Kristin is leading by example and teaching everyone about the kind of well rounded education that all of our students need and deserve.

"As an educator, Kristin Combs knows standardized test scores are not a true measure of a student's intellectual ability. An advocate for engaging, challenging, student-centered teaching Kristin forged a close working relationship with Opt Out Philly over the past year. I've been impressed by Kristin's dedication to ensuring parents are aware of their legal rights to opt their children out of standardized tests. Because of Kristin's activism and her commitment to creative, innovative approaches to learning, I am proud to support her run for City Council." said Alison McDowell from the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

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In the November election, Philadelphia voters can choose five candidates for City Council At-Large. Five candidates will be elected from the Democratic Party. In addition, the two highest vote-getters from all other minority political parties will also be elected and take their place on City Council. Traditionally, that has always been two Republicans.

Instead of using all five votes for Democrats (who are virtually certain to be elected), Kristin is asking for one of your five votes on November 4th. The goal is for one of these minority party seats to instead go to the Green Party and help build a much needed third party movement in our city. 

Working Educators has already endorsed two strong education advocates for City Council At-Large in Derek Green and Helen Gym. We hope you will support a third very worthy advocate for us all by voting for and helping to elect teacher and PFT member Kristin Combs for City Council At-Large!

Connect with the Combs 4 City Council Campaign:

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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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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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Endorsements for Council At-Large

The Caucus of Working Educators is proud to endorse Sherrie Cohen, Derek Green, and Helen Gym for City Council At-Large.
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Sherrie Cohen

Caucus member Sherrie Cohen has been a very supportive and approachable presence at many WE (and TAG) events. Sherrie's parents were icons in fighting for social justice in Philly and Sherrie honors them each day. Sherrie's work as an attorney representing vulnerable tenants against exploitation from landlords has prepared her well for her legislative plans to foster development without displacement and keep families in their neighborhoods. She has a strong record of fighting for essential public services and spaces for our families, a highlight being when she successfully kept the city from closing 11 Free Libraries. As she showed on countless occasions including marching on 4/15, Sherrie has been a dedicated advocate for a living wage for all workers. Sherrie is the first out and proud LGBT candidate to be endorsed by the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. We are thrilled to help Sherrie make history and take the next step in her lifelong fight for equality for all this November.

Derek Green

As the former aide and special counsel to longtime City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Derek Green gained a lot of valuable experience working in City Hall. Derek is seeking a spot on Council to fight for the rights and careers of hardworking lifelong teachers like his retired mother Anita. Derek also experienced first hand how much our students need and deserve by teaching part time at Olney High while attending Temple Law School. Through raising their autistic son Julian with his wife Sheila, Derek has been very interested and invested in helping our students with special needs. Derek has been an important part of many civic associations and looks to continue that advocacy work by making the crucial issues around the Black Lives Matter movement a big part of his work at City Hall. We were very impressed by Derek's commitment to many issues that mattered to us most and the wide range of support his campaign is building across the city. Derek is more than ready to make an important contribution to City Council and we look forward to helping him get there. 

Helen Gym

A former public school teacher at Lowell Elementary, Helen Gym has continued to honor the work of her colleagues and the parents of her students through her own work on behalf of families in Philadelphia. An incredible communicator, there is no candidate running for any office in this primary who can make a more dynamic case for what our students and families must have than Helen. She has a deep appreciation for what public spaces like schools, libraries, parks, and Rec centers did for her growing up. As she has raised her own children in our public schools, she has been one of our city's greatest champions in fighting back against the chronic neglect of the public spaces and the absence of vital resources our students deserve. Through her tremendous organizing work with Asian Americans United and Parents United for Public Education, Helen has been an inspiring example of what coordinated, cooperative activism within our communities can do to energize and revitalize our city. We know there would be no greater advocate for our families in City Hall than Helen Gym.

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Caucus members have been very interested in the City Council primary election this year. We heard from the at-large candidates at our PFT political forum and had additional questions we wanted to personally ask the candidates. WE's Political Secretary Luigi Borda invited several of them to the first of our monthly "Teacher's Lounge" happy hours. The candidates who could be there participated in wide ranging interviews with members of the WE political committee (consisting of active and retired educators, along with parents) and spent a lot of time in between talking with the crowd of public education supporters. After much deliberation, the Political Committee decided on these three candidates.

Stay tuned for news about future events, especially as caucus members and supporters of our candidates prepare for a massive canvass of this year's Broad Street Run! 

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