NEW Date and Location:
Saturday, May 11th
9AM - 11:30AM
First United Methodist Church of Germantown (6001 Germantown Ave.)
This event is specifically organized for district paraprofessionals, who are required to regularly renew their Red Cross CPR certification at their own expense. The training typically costs $80-100, but we have organized a group rate and will offer it for just $30 (or less, depending on our registration numbers).
Please reach out to the Paraprofessionals and SSAs in your building to see if they would benefit from this program. Click here to RSVP now!
Thursday, May 23rd // 4:30 - 6PM // Kensington CAPA (1901 N. Front St.)
Have you maximized your salary as a school district employee? At this workshop, we will share the most effective ways to earn graduate credits online in order to shift to a better salary schedule, as well as how to navigate the district process of submitting the paperwork. Anybody who has not yet earned any graduate credits on top of their Bachelor's or Master's degree should be at this event. See the flyer above for more info, and click here to RSVP Now!
On Monday, 4/15 we are bringing 3000+ PFT and community signatures to City Council during their annual budget hearings!
Will you join us at City Hall at 4:30pm on Monday, 4/15?
Over 100 PFT members and allies will be delivering our "Heal Our Schools" Petition, and several educators will be testifying on the deteriorating conditions where we work and students learn every day. In order to restore the funding our schools need, we will demand an end to the tax abatements that could bring tens of millions to Philadelphia public schools. Click here to RSVP.
When We Fight We Win: Join UTLA At Our 5th Annual Convention!
For nearly two years, 35,000 educators in more than 900 schools in Los Angeles organized to fight for a fair contract. In January 2019 they went on strike for the schools Los Angeles students and families deserve - and won .
How do we make Philly #UTLAStrong?
Join Georgia Flowers-Lee and Gillian Russom from UTLA, Maurice Weeks from Bargaining for the Common Good , and PFT members, parents, and allies, on April 6, 2019 for a day of workshops to learn how the UTLA rank and file are transforming their union, building power, demanding a fair contract, fighting for racial and economic justice in LA - and winning!
Flowers-Lee and Russom are both members of the UTLA executive board, classroom teachers, and regional organizers of the recent strike. Get to know Flowers-Lee on the picket line and listen to Russom in this interview on day 2 of the strike.
UTLA leaders have served as mentors for the Caucus for years, including hosting 10 of us in Los Angeles in August 2017 at a conference designed to support Working Educators and like-minded caucuses. (UTLA is currently led by the Union Power caucus, a sister caucus of WE.)
SAVE THE DATE: WE Annual Convention on Saturday, April 6th.
Make sure you register yourself and members from your school on this form! http://bit.ly/MakePhillyUTLAStrong
And, you can donate here to support making this organizing happen!
Here is our agenda. We can't wait to see you.
Sat. April 6, 2019 (9:30-3:30pm), Temple University,
Tuttleman Bldg, 809 N 13th St, Phila 19122
9:30 AM - Registration & Breakfast
9:45 - 10:15 AM - Putting Racial Justice At the Center
10:15 - 11:15 AM - Keynote 1 - Maurice Weeks (Bargaining For the Common Good)
11:30AM - 12:15PM - Breakout 1 - Contract Issue Groups
12:15PM - Tax Abatement Action
12:15 - 1:15 PM - Lunch
1:15 - 2:00 PM - Keynote 2 - Georgia Flowers Lee and Gillian Russom (UTLA)
2:15 - 3:00PM - Breakout 2 - Building Contract Action Teams
3:15- 3:30 PM - Closing
6:30-8:00 PM - Organizing for the Common Good (Calvary Center, 801 S. 48th St)
On Thursday, March 28, the Caucus delivered a petition signed by nearly one quarter of the entire Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, demanding that the School District of Philadelphia abate the toxic building conditions in our schools.
The demands are:
- Make a plan to remediate all lead, mold, and asbestos - in all of our schools - NOW
- Make a plan to treat all rodent infestations in all of our schools - no
- Make a plan to overhaul all heating and cooling systems in our schools - now
- Fund this repair with an end to the 10-year tax abatements on large property owners in Philadelphia and collecting Payments in Lieu of Taxes from universities like UPenn.
The petition was signed by over 3,300 educators, parents, students and community members, the majority of whom were PFT members. The petition has signatures from over 100 schools in the District -- representing nearly half of the schools in the District. This is a huge victory for our rank and file, in our fight for racial and economic justice, and in the fight against dispossession of public education in Philadelphia.
One hundred educators were present at tonight’s Board of Education meeting. The petition was delivered via email after the Board of Education went into recess after student protests on the vote for mandatory metal detectors.
WE will deliver the petition to City Council members on Monday, April 15th at 4:30PM on the 4th floor of City Hall -- RSVP HERE! WE will also present the petition in person at the April Board of Education meeting.
At the School Board Meeting this Thursday, WE members took a stand against top down policies that interfere with educator autonomy and the retaliation that takes place when they questions these unreasonable policies.
When educators in one area of the city started receiving demands to complete overly extensive and uncontractual lesson plans and reports, they worked together to ask questions and fight back. They wrote a public letter signed by over 150 educators from more than 10 different schools. They set up meetings with administrators. And when one of the educators was bullied by an administrator with unfair retaliation, they spoke out about these issues at the school board.
Instead of giving in to these fear tactics, their testimony was so well received by the board that Dr. Hite immediately approached them and asked to speak further on the matter. He stated to the room that, "this is policing and it will end now!". Additionally, a few board members along with Dr. Hite asked follow up questions to testimonies, asking about the extent of administration retaliation and to be put in touch with the specific teachers mentioned. Dr. Hite was observed a few times shaking his head in disgust, hearing about the unnecessary obstacles we are facing.
When we work together to fight for our schools and students, we can overcome fear and win! Watch their testimony below, along with the community letter.
(Photo: Victorious educators from the affected network after the school board meeting!)
On Thursday night, PFT members and leaders in the Caucus of Working Educators were fighting for our students and schools at the February meeting of the Board of Education. For several years, Caucus members in coalition with Our City Our Schools, organized to abolish the School Reform Commission and fight for local control. Last night’s testimonies from WE members took place alongside students and community members across multiple campaigns that are fighting for the schools Philly deserves. The presence of this school board and ways that we continue to collectively hold the district accountable are a continued testament to the work, leadership, and local power of students, families, and rank and file educators.
Kait McCann, Jessica Way, and Honey Polis-Bodine testified against increased busy work, top-down lesson plan policies that interfere with educator autonomy, and retaliation against PFT members who are pushing back. Board members asked follow up questions to testimonies and wanted to know what the extent of district-level administrative retaliation includes and to be put in touch with the specific teachers mentioned in their statements. Hite named publicly that this policing of PFT members and must end immediately. Read the open letter, read Kait McCann’s testimony, and watch videos from the video here.
These testimonies connected increased teacher bullying to increased attrition in our district. Proposed language in Policy 111, to be voted on by the Board in March, did NOT reflect the PFT contract. PFT members have been organizing against these top down policies all year, including circulating an open letter signed by 150 PFT members. When rank and file educators organize collectively, we can debunk fear and fight back.Read more
Brian Gallagher is a second year teacher. Brian teaches 8th grade English at McDaniel Elementary in South Philadelphia. He is also on the Building Committee.
When I was invited to write this blog post, I hesitated to accept. I realize the irony of a cisgender, heterosexual, white man talking about Black Lives Matter. This is also just my second year teaching, so I really don’t feel confident in anything I do in the classroom. But, this blog, this week, and this work are not about me. I am not a savior. I am just one person trying to play my part. Having said that…
If you have experienced public education in this city, or pay attention at all, you know that far too often, education is not what it should be. Education SHOULD NOT be about working alone in order to fill one correct bubble on a standardized test.
Education SHOULD be about teaching young people the skills and strategies to look at their world through a critical lens. It SHOULD be about affirming their identities while building self-esteem and social skills. It SHOULD be about learning to work collaboratively and creatively to solve problems without predetermined answers. It SHOULD be about helping them to develop the tools to be engaged citizens and agents of change.
The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is a perfect example of what education SHOULD be. It is about allowing our students, who are predominantly people of color, to see themselves as strong and capable, despite inequitable treatment at every level of our society.Read more
Dana Carter, a middle school teacher in Philadelphia, reflects on the impact of teaching with a focus on Black lives had on her teaching and her students.
I started back teaching in the District in February of the 2015-16 school year. My new school had a number of issues, and one major issue was student behavior. In my first three weeks at that school, I held three different positions. I ended up having to take over a K-8 Literacy prep class that looked like a miniature version of East Side High School in 1982.Read more