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.
There are lots of upcoming organizing events and actions for migrant rights and public schools. Click on the links below and share. If we missed any, let us know so we can update the listings.
The WE Immigration Justice Committee meets on the 1st Tuesday of every month. Please join us! contact@WorkingEducators.org.
Tell Mayor Kenney and our city council to stand up to Trump and take action that both keeps our local police separate from ICE AND transforms our Philadelphia's policies to address the unjust criminal system that uses black and brown bodies to fill up jails through "broken window" policing policies, a racist cash bail system and the overuse of ankle monitors.
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Thursday, February 2nd
6 PM - 8:30 PM at 4th & Market, Philadelphia
Join us as we march down Market Street to City Hall to protest the new administration’s racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and malicious policies, and to call on all federal, state, and local elected officials and government agencies to stand up for human rights.
Friday, February 3rd PRE-APPLICATION DEADLINE:
Led by Cynthia Dewi Oka
Saturdays 11 am - 1 pm, March 4 – April 1
With a public sharing on Friday, April 7
This workshop will explore questions of belonging, safety, and identity for (im)migrants in the aftermath of election 2016 and the consolidation of racist, misogynist, and xenophobic forces in the United States.
Apply Here: https://goo.gl/forms/i2uFVCE7a9DGKlUl1 Applications are due Feb. 3, 2017.
Friday, February 3rd
3pm 8 Penn Center
1628 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
Teachers and supporters of public education, LISTEN UP! We're gathering on Friday after school in front of Senator Toomey's office to make our voices heard! Betsy DeVos will be a disaster for public education! This could be our last chance to fight for our society's great equalizer! Please join me in fighting for our kids and make Toomey listen!! Toomey is on the fence, let's make him listen!! Make signs and meet in front of his office on Friday after school!
Saturday, February 4th
Unite Here Philadelphia 1415 N. Broad Street, Suite 219, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
Join us for a day of skill building, analysis and making a concrete plan for movement building organizing in 2017.
Sponsored by Reclaim Philadelphia and UNITE HERE Philly.
Saturday, February 4th
Young Muslims and Jews, allies of faith and secular allies will show what it looks like to fight hate and fear with love and hope. We are coming together to commit to unconditional solidarity between our communities.
We are thrilled to announce that on Saturday, January 28th, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins will take part in the closing panel discussion entitled "Next Steps: How does the work continue beyond Black Lives Matter week?"
The event is from 4:00-5:30pm at Temple University's Tuttleman Learning Center (1809 North 13th Street).
According to Jenkins: "If you ever want to change your environment or a system, you first have to be educated on how that system works. That’s why I am on the journey that I am now learning the inner workings of systems that have been set up to disadvantage minorities, especially black people. That’s why I am vigilant in my efforts to support and empower people of color."
Over 100 schools throughout the Philadelphia region have so far participated in Black Lives Matter week of action so far - and momentum behind the campaign is still growing. The week of action has been covered by dozens of media outlets across the country and received endorsements by over a hundred organizations and academics, including Councilwoman Helen Gym and Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania.
Join us on Saturday!
As the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action (#BLMPhlEd) kicks off tomorrow, community organizations from across the city have signed on to participate in and support events throughout the week. Please check them out to see more about the inspiring grassroots organizing that these organizations do every day.
Are you part of an organization that would like to sign on as an endorser? Click here to add your organization to the list, or email us at BLMPHLed@gmail.com with any questions.
Caucus of Working Educators Racial Justice Committee
Teacher Action Group
Asian Americans United
Black Lives Matter - Pennsylvania
Badass Teachers Association
Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE)
TheFellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice
If Not Now- Philadelphia
The Mazzoni Center
Media Mobilizing Project
The New Teacher Roundtable (New Orleans)
Organize 2020 (North Carolina)
Parents United for Public Education
Philadelphia Black History Collaborative
Philadelphia Children’s March
The Philadelphia Writing Project
Philly Student Union
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Teachers Lead Philly
United Caucuses of Rank and File Educators (UCORE)
University Community Collaborative
Youth United for Change
The Attic Youth Center
National LGBTQ Task Force
Office of Councilwoman Helen Gym
Academics in the Philadelphia area, across Pennsylvania, and beyond are circulating a letter of support for the Philly Education Black Lives Matter Week of Action starting on Monday, 1/23.
As they state in their letter, these higher-education educators support the BLM Week of Action because "these goals are vital for educators, parents, students, and all communities in order to...
create a space for introspection and dialogue around the 13 guiding principles;
build deeper connections between educators, parents, students, and community organizations;
stand in support of national organizing supporting Black Lives Matter;
empower students and student groups to play a leading role in this week and moving forward.
The letter closes by reflecting on the role of all educators in building more a just world in our classrooms: "We are committed to teaching, learning, and culture in our classrooms that reflect these missions and goals, and to our role in building the leadership of our students to live by them. The survival and empowerment of all communities demands this."
Over 100 academics have signed on so far! Click here to add your name.
See below for the full Statement of Support:Read more
Click here to download a PDF version with functioning links. See you at one of these important events next week- and don't forget to take a photo wearing your shirts & pins on Monday!
Want to add an event or get a shirt? Email us at BLMPHLed@gmail.com.
SOCIAL MEDIA UPDATE! Help spread the word and build power by RSVPing and sharing the below events:
- Tues, 1/24- Education Town Hall: Supporting Immigrant Students (Hosted by the Office of Councilwoman Helen Gym). RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1829064400639653/.
- Weds, 1/25- Bridging the Gap Between Families and Schools: Community Discussion. RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/234366720350489/.
- Thurs, 1/26- The Effects of Mass Incarceration on Black and Brown Communities: "13th" Screening and Talkback. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1514679371892834/.
- Fri, 1/27- "Demystifying Black Women and Black Girls: Misogyny, Stigma, and Power" Panel Discussion. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1923613137872852/.
- Sat, 1/28- LGBTQ Youth of Color Discuss "Moonlight and "Pariah". RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1237913592969870/.
- Sat, 1/28- Next Steps: How does the work continue beyond BLM Week? Closing Panel. RSVP- https://www.facebook.com/events/1895346544018604/.
Philly School Solidarity Petition to be delivered to Superintendent Hite and the SRC January 19th, 2017
OUR SCHOOLS HAVE NO ROOM FOR HATE.
Today, students from Philly public schools are speaking to the SRC about their fears and concerns for themselves, families, and friends. They are delivering a petition, decorated with love by students in Philly art classes, sponsored by 40 local organizations, and signed by 1000 Philadelphia voters, family members, school staff, and students.
Public schools must be safe places for all children. That’s why the School Reform Commission needs to join the Mayor in protecting the rights of all children and their families regardless of immigration status. We share the district’s stated policy goal “to foster knowledge about and respect for those of all races, ethnic groups, social classes, genders, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender, and transgender identities.” We call for the District to go further with policy that recognizes the intersecting needs of immigrant students and families. The district must uphold the US Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, privacy, and due process and refuse cooperation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the fullest extent under the law. We also call on the District to protect all children and their families who are at risk because of the climate of fear following the election of Donald Trump including people of color, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ students. It’s time to train all district employees with the knowledge and tools they need to act in solidarity with our students and families in an increasingly hostile political environment.
Read and sign the full petition here: tinyurl.com/PhillySchoolSolidarityPetition
For a list of signers and more information:
Comcast has been bullying our mayor. Recently, the corporation threatened to sue if Mayor Kenney does not veto a bill that passed unanimously through City Council. The bill, which aims to prevent wage discrimination against women and minorities, would prohibit employers from asking applicants about their previous salaries.
Why is Comcast so aggressively opposing the bill? Because basing compensation on previous salaries allows companies to pay women and minorities less than their white male counterparts. Women, and especially women of color, are often paid less in their first jobs, which sets them up for a lifetime of lower pay. As a result, women are paid 80% of what men are paid on average in the United States.
In the name of economic development, Philadelphians have already sacrificed a lot in order to make Comcast feel welcome in our city. Taxpayers provided over $40 million in state grants to subsidize the Comcast Center; we give up millions in revenue each year in the form of tax abatement; and, we pay more for our cable TV than Comcast customers in other cities. Our city has bent over backwards to protect Comcast’s bottom line.
Perhaps this is why Comcast feels so comfortable telling our mayor what to do.
Now is the time for Mayor Kenney to send a clear message to his corporate bully by signing the wage discrimination bill into law. He has until January 26th to make his decision.
While Kenney has a solid history of sticking up for workers, he may need some encouragement to stand up to Comcast. We need to remind him of his responsibility to protect workers from discrimination and protect our city from corporate greed.
You can email (firstname.lastname@example.org), tweet (@PhillyMayor), or call (215-686-2181) to let him know that teachers are paying attention and that we expect him to stand up for Philly’s workers.
In recent months, Philly educators have been coming together to discuss how we can work in our schools and communities to support our immigrant students and families. Thank you to everyone who joined us for our kick-off discussion in December, or the follow-up discussions at the Collaboration of Educators at Central and Bache-Martin on 1/3. For more advocacy and Know Your Rights information, check out PICC's Resources Page and Juntos' Community Resources Page.
This week, there are multiple important events to push forward the conversation on how support students and families- and to take a stand in resistance to Trump's anti-immigrant agenda! Check them out below, and see you there.Read more
Educators plan week of action, offer lesson resources
The Caucus of Working Educator’s Racial Justice Committee is planning a Black Lives Matter week for Philadelphia schools beginning January 23rd. The purpose of the week is girded in the 13 guiding principles that extend Black Lives Matter into a movement. Each protest must transform action into change. We are living in a pivotal time. A time when the United States has turned a mirror upon itself to reveal her true nature. This nature has reaped increased mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, constant homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare. All of these injustices exist in the intersection of race, class and gender.
As teachers, we are preparing our students to make decisions in a world that continues to spin with the aforementioned knitting together the tapestry in which we all must exist. This is why our Black Lives Matter week is a vital action. It is one that will empower each of us and our students to know that it is possible to eradicate these ills by actively engaging in the truth and never being afraid to share it, even when it is unpopular. If society continues to marginalize, murder, and devalue Black and Brown lives, then there is little hope for America to ever reach her fullest potential.
Our week of action is grounded in the 13 Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter.
Restorative Justice is the commitment to build a beloved and loving community that is sustainable and growing. Empathy is one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. Loving Engagement is the commitment to practice justice, liberation and peace. Diversity is the celebration and acknowledgment of differences and commonalities across cultures. Globalism is our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family that exists across the world in different regions. Transgender Affirming is the commitment to continue to make space for our trans brothers and sisters by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence. Queer Affirming is working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists. Collective Value means that all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location matter. Intergenerational is a space free from ageism where we can learn from each other. Black Families creates a space that is family friendly and free from patriarchal practices. Black Villages is the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other. Black Women is the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness. Unapologetically Black is the affirmation that Black Lives Matter and that our love, and desire for justice and freedom are prerequisites for wanting that for others. These principles are the blueprint for healing and do not include nor do they support ignoring or sanitizing the ugliness and discomfort that comes with dealing with race and anti-race issues.
The constant rhetoric that believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not support the Black Lives Matter movement if he were alive today is very unaware of his teachings and writings. He wrote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,” along with, “All men are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality.” In other words none of us are free if one of us is not. No law is just when it unjustly punishes some and spares others. No movement can move without individuals making tracks in the trenches until the blemishes are pushed into the light.
This week is about all of these things. It is an opportunity for us to infuse fresh understanding and critical intellect into everything we touch. In closing, I will evoke the wisdom of bell hooks, “When we only name the problem, when we state complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture.” This is the week that we name it, and this is our opportunity to build real sustainable solutions that can stretch across today and tomorrow.
For more information on the campaign view the Week of Action calendar of events, lesson resources, and FAQs page. If you are interested in organizing around the campaign at your school or with your community organization, please complete this form. To pick up t-shirts, buttons, and stickers for your school and communities, come to the kick-off Happy Hour on Wednesday, Jan.18 (4:30-6:30) at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor (600 N. Broad St. 19130). Email BLMPHLed@gmail.com for more information