Join the Caucus and TAG for the 5th Annual Summer Reading Series

It’s time again for the annual Summer Reading Series! For the fifth summer in a row, the Reading Series will be a place to deepen our relationships with each other; expand our political analysis, and inform our organizing and teaching in the upcoming year.  Education justice advocates around the country are asking about our Reading Series, and many are building their own and Rethinking Schools magazine just featured an article about this work!

 

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Philly Educators On Your Ballot: Vote for Committee Person!

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!)

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Uncuff Our Community: End Cash Bail & #FreeOurMamas this Mother's Day

Do you have $30? There are women sitting in jail in Philadelphia who can't afford their $30 bail, so they sit and wait until a trial date. This Mother's Day, help get as many mothers and caregivers home as possible. Donate today at http://www.phillybailout.com/donate/. (Don't worry, donations will still be accepted after Mother's Day too!)

By Clarice Brazas, WE Member and Philly Community Bail Fund Volunteer

In the state of Pennsylvania, over 5,000 children have a mother currently incarcerated. While the male population of Pennsylvania’s jails is decreasing, the female population is on the rise  according to the Department of Corrections. In my classroom, on almost a weekly basis I have students who share stories about a family member who was or is jailed.

While we may say “innocent until proven guilty,” in Philly, the birthplace of independence,  someone might sit in jail for several months before even having their case heard; the reason the sit and wait in jail is cash bail. The Philly Community Bail Fund knows this has to end. A third of the people in Philadelphia jails are there because of an inability to pay their bail. The intention of bail is to create a financial guarantee that a person who has been arrested will return to their court date even though there is no proven correlation between bail and court attendance. When Philadelphia’s residents are unable to pay this fee, they remain in jail until their court date. It is already known African-Americans in Philadelphia are arrested and incarcerated at higher rates than any other group. The Urban League of Philadelphia states, Black people in Philadelphia are five times more likely to be incarcerated than white people and twice as likely to be held on bail.

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On May 8th, PACK CITY COUNCIL to Demand School Funding

Philly Teachers, It’s Our Turn to Fight for Public Schools!

All over the country, teachers are in the spotlight - flooding the capital in West Virginia, sharing photos of dismal conditions in Oklahoma, walking out and shutting down twenty school districts in Kentucky. These teachers are fighting. And they’re winning-- BIG.  In Philly, we face the same problems - crumbling buildings, crowded classrooms, students with overwhelming needs, and the tired excuse that “there is no money” for our schools.

What: City Council Hearing where educators, parents, and students will PACK THE ROOM to demand funding for Philly Schools!

When & Where: May 8th, 5pm- City Council

Why:  It’s our turn! We have a plan to bring up to $300 million to the education budget - not by overtaxing working people but by demanding that corporations, developers, and big non-profits like Penn pay their fair share.

For more information on May 8th, contact contact@workingeducators.org or check out the facebook event.

Help us show City Council the conditions that Philly’s students and educators endure every day:

Submit photos and video of the conditions in your school, and we will put together a video to make it clear to City Council that our students and schools deserve better. Email photos and video to FundPhillySchools@gmail.com by Thursday, May 3rd. All educators, parents, and students are invited to submit. Click here for more info.

Download the flyer

 

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Fight for Full Funding: Submit Photos of Your School's Building Conditions

Are you tired of the excuse that “there is no money” for our schools?

On May 8th, City Council is hosting a public hearing on raising money for our city and schools- and we are going to show City Council the conditions that Philly’s students and educators endure every day!

There IS money for schools, but only if we stand together to demand it. We are inspired by the educators all over the country, who are sharing photos of dismal conditions and flooding their state capitals in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona. These teachers are fighting. And they’re winning­ BIG.

  

(Building condition photos from Oklahoma and Detroit)

Submit photos and video of the building and learning conditions in your school, such as crumbling books, packed classes, and unhealthy buildings (feel free to get creative!). We will put together a video for May 8th to make it clear to City Council that our students and schools deserve better! 

Email photos and video to FundPhillySchools@gmail.com by Friday, May 4th. We welcome all educators, parents, and students to submit, and anonymity will be respected if requested.

Then help us take the fight to City Council’s public hearing on May 8th- and demand the money our students and schools deserve! The Our City Our Schools coalition has a plan to bring up to $300 million to the education budget by demanding that corporations, developers, and big non­profits pay their fair share, instead of increasing property taxes for everyday Philadelphians.

Next: Join us to PACK CITY COUNCIL FOR SCHOOL FUNDING on May 8th

Learn more about the Our City Our Schools plan budget plan and the May 8th hearing at this link. If you are interested in testifying, you can email info@215pa.com.

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WE Endorsements for 2018 May Primaries

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 gbezanis@gmail.com to find out how!

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Meet the Public Education Candidates this Friday!

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...

Working Educators Meet-the-Candidates!

Friday, April 20th 2018 / 4-6pm

St. Stephen's Green

1701 Green St, Philadelphia PA 19130

RSVP on Facebook

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 contact@workingeducators.org to join WE's Political Committee. All PFT Members and WE members are welcome to join.

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Women Make These Schools Work!

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This year, Working Educators is taking a deep, hard look at how working conditions in our buildings are affecting women and families.  To celebrate Women’s History Month we are taking March 27th to acknowledge the sacrifices our hard-working, largely female union has made to ensure that the children of Philadelphia receive an excellent education.  

After leading a series of focus groups with PFT members about how to improve working conditions for families, the following wishes emerged:

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WE Endorsement Process for 2018 Primaries

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:

PA State Legislature

PA Lieutenant Governor

US Congress

Contact: WE Political Secretary, George Bezanis, at gbezanis@gmail.com or 267-625-0616

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When the PFT Went on Strike

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On February 11th, 1973, thousands of educators rallied outside the prison where PFT president Frank Sullivan and chief negotiator John Ryan were being held for being in contempt of court.

By Sonny Richman and John Ryan

Retired PFT Members

With today's student actions and the strike in West Virginia, memories of the PFT's history are stirred.

February 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the month of the greatest example of professionalism, courage and responsible militancy by the membership of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. They stood up to the most powerful mayor in the nation, his union-led educational team, the state and federal judiciary system – as well as opposition from editorial boards.

The PFT membership had already struck for almost the entire month of September, 1972. They went back to school to hear a fact-finding report--it was a disaster. The fact-finder declared that he could find anything he wanted to. Popular wisdom said that once members ended their strike, they would not go out again.

The membership proved this belief wrong by going on strike again on January 7, 1973. The mayor and his team pushed one court case after another. The Commonwealth Court declared the strike illegal and issued an injunction against all members. Despite this judicial threat, at the urging of PFT leadership, most teachers did not return to work. Arrests were made on the picket lines.

Trials were held for contempt of court. Members were losing money due to withheld salaries. The mayor's police force arrested, booked and jailed educators - sometimes more than a hundred at a single school.

The members continued the strike.

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