Book and Study Groups

  • WE Summer Reading Series Can Lead to so Much More

    By Blair Downie 

    Sign up for the 2019 Summer Reading Series here!  

    There’s nothing quite like a middle school environment when PSSA testing has concluded and the weather is getting warmer. As the testing coordinator of my school, my brain is pretty much jello once we ship that final box back to the DRC. It was that jello brain that desperately needed a break as I  was waiting for UPS, checking the PFT Facebook page, and I saw a post advertising WE’s Summer Book Clubs. The description of the Summer Book Clubs jumped out to me: “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.” This sounded appealing, even to my post-PSSA jello brain. An opportunity to spend time over the summer talking about things that I cared deeply about with other people who cared deeply of those things - sign me up!

    I signed up for the group that planned to discuss So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. I received an email shortly after letting me know how the book would be divided into three parts for three different meetings. I bought my copy and off I went to meet up with friends at the beach for a long weekend. While So You Want to Talk About Race may not be a traditional beach read, there I was dog-earring pages and scribbling notes in the sun. I was so excited to share my thoughts and notes at our first meeting.

    As I drove down Lincoln Drive on the way to our first meeting at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, I had no idea what to expect. As somebody who struggles with being perpetually early to everything, I was, of course, one of the first people to arrive and had to walk around the building aimlessly, looking for a door. I was definitely nervous to be around a group of new people, but I’d soon learn that there was nothing to be nervous about. The first book club meeting far exceeded my expectations. Everybody was warm and welcoming and the facilitators framed the discussion with norms that made everybody a bit more comfortable. The discussions were rich, the snacks flowed freely, and two hours seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. I could never have fathomed at that moment that my first book club meeting would end up being a jumping-off point for me and so much of the work that would encompass the next year of my life. I felt like I had finally found a space that not only validated that caring about racial and social justice was vital to our role as educators but lifted up that passion in ways I could never have imagined.

  • 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!


  • Join the Caucus and TAG for the 4th Annual Summer Reading Series

    Collage_2017.jpgSince 2014, educators, students, parents, community members, and organizers have come together over the summer to participate in a summer reading series focused on racial and social justice themes.  More than 400 people have participated in more than 35 reading groups that have taken place across Philadelphia.  Our reading series builds our membership; develops our leadership ability; and fuels our organizing to build our power as a union, our work as teachers, and our relationships with each other. 

    This year, based on survey results, WE and TAG are excited to announce 15 book groups.  You can join groups organized by the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative; educators focused on ending white supremacy; members of the immigration justice ItAG and committee; and leaders in the Restorative Practices Project.  Other groups will focus on building organizing skills; reading empowering works of fiction; growing our historical and current understanding of systems and structures that form our education system.  For the first time, we have a reading group meeting in the Northeast, and groups reading books paired together around a common theme.

    This summer, we continue the tradition of bringing together people from all walks of life and all parts of the city -- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!  All are welcome!  Please sign up here!

    Screen_Shot_2017-06-02_at_10.39.05_AM.pngAnd come to the Summer Kick-Off Happy Hour on June 9, from 4:00-7:30PM at Maximum Level Lounge (5118 Sansom Street) to find out more about the reading groups, celebrate the end of the year, enter a raffle to win a copy of one of our books, and join the movement for racial, social, and education justice in Philadelphia.                   

    Want to learn more about past book clubs? Read this article on the Summer Reading Series in Perspectives on Urban Education by WE supporting member Kathleen Riley.

  • Our summer reading series is back. Vote today for your top choices!

    The Caucus of Working Educators/Teacher Action Group Summer Reading Series is back for the fourth summer of learning together!

    Every summer educators, organizers, parents, and community members meet across Philadelphia to read and discuss books. These book groups allow us to build relationships with each other, create new opportunities for leadership, and connect political education back to our organizing.

    Vote for your top choices for books today!

    The poll closes on Monday, May 22 at midnight. After we vote, we will connect selected books to facilitators and begin registration! If you are interested in facilitating a book group this summer, contact Kathleen Riley.

    Are you excited yet? If so, please join us the Summer Reading Series Kick-Off to preview the books, meet the facilitators, connect with other readers, and celebrate the end of the school year: 

    Summer Reading Series Kick-Off
    Friday, June 9, 4-8PM
    Maximum Level Lounge
    5118 Sansom Street (street parking and 2 blocks from the El)
    $1 shrimp, $5 mussels, $5 fish sandwiches, and drink specials


  • Building a Movement by Reading Together: Sign up for a Summer Book Club Today!

    In 2014, when the Caucus of Working Educators was just a few months old, WE teamed with TAG-Philly to offer 9 book groups with about 85 participants for the purpose of bringing people together and learning about social justice unionism, threats to public education, and racial justice struggles in Philadelphia. Last year, WE and TAG sponsored twelve groups with 170 participants with a focus on racial justice.

    This year, based on survey results, WE and TAG are excited to announce 15 book groups for 2016!


    Want to meet other people committed to educational justice struggles and other social movements in Philadelphia? Want to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, organizing, feminism, gender & sexuality in education, or another topic? Want to read a classic by bell hooks or Paulo Freire or a New York Times best seller by Ta-Nehisi Coates? Want to be part of a strong and growing movement of educators and allies committed to public education?

    Sign up for a book (or five) today!

    And come to the Summer Kick-Off Happy Hour on June 2 at Frankford Hall from 4-7pm to find out more about the books and talk to other participants!


    This summer, we continue the tradition of bringing together people from all walks of life and all parts of the city- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!                       

    Want to learn more about past book clubs and how they started? Read this article on the Summer Reading Series in Perspectives on Urban Education by WE supporting member Kathleen Riley.

  • What books do you want to read this summer?

    It's time to vote for your favorite books for the 3rd annual Summer Reading Series jointly sponsored by the Caucus of Working  Educators and the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia (TAG).

    For information on last year's book groups, check out the 2015 Summer Reading Series Blog.

    Take the electronic survey by Friday, May 6, 2016 to help choose this year’s books. 

    On May 24, the final list of books will be announced (along with exact meeting dates, times & locations) and registration will begin.


    Spread the word to educators, parents, community members, activists, and allies across Philadelphia and beyond!

    To take the survey, please click on the link:









  • Weekly Update: Read. Relax. Repeat.

    It's full summer, and we hope you're having a chance to relax your body, mind, and soul. It's going to be an exciting year as we build a movement to fight for our schools and communities, and we all need to be well rested!

    While you're relaxing on the couch or by the beach, catch up with some of the 11 different books being read as part of our summer book clubs. Each group has been posting notes, photos, and questions from their discussions-- so that you can take part even if you're far from Philly.

    Take a look at some of the highlights below, and please add your own comments on the blog or on our facebook page:

    51ekNA4OKyL._SY344_BO1_204_203_200_.jpgMultiplication is for White People, Lisa Delpit
    Essential Question: How can we teach deeply so that all students learn, while still covering content?

    "The first year the district rolled out Math In Context, there was a lesson about building towers in there. I started the lesson with my class of 7th graders, and many became frustrated. Then it dawned on me, the lesson was based on squaring numbers, a concept taught in earlier grades. I had made the initial assumption that the kids would know how to do that, but they did not. So I backed it up and taught the basic skills first.

    Did we achieve the grade level lesson? YES! Did it take twice as long as the Planning and Scheduling Time Line suggested? YES! Nia made the point that there is so much content to cover, we never get time to teach anything in depth. I find myself picking and choosing, what is a skill that is necessary that I can go deep with versus a skill that they may see again or is not that crucial in life that I can spend less time on (box and whisker plot, anyone?). These are the struggles many of us face on a daily basis." Read more from this book club here!

    More highlights below the jump (click 'read more')

  • Can Book Clubs Save Public Education?


    When educators and communities are isolated and devalued, every time we come together to share ideas, analyze, and build community is a radical act. That's how Kathleen Riley, Pd.D, describes last year's summer social justice reading series in her essay "Reading for Change: Book Groups as an Organizing Tool":

    In participating in WE’s book groups, I could feel the educators of Philadelphia using their power and authority to better know themselves, their worlds, and their circumstances. I could see people building relationships with each other and also making connections between books, as participants in one book group shared analyses developed in other groups.

    This summer, we hope to continue bringing together educators from all walks of life and all parts of the city- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!

    Sign up for a book (or five) today!

    Summer scheduling is hard, so after you sign up your facilitator will be in touch to pick 3-5 meeting times over the summer that work for everyone.

    We have selected 11 books for this summer that address many issues in education, from racial justice pedagogy to charter school politics to organizing lessons from the SNCC. Sign up now!


    (Action shot from last summer's book club for
    "Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia")
  • TAG & WE Present: Summer Reading Series 2015

    The results are in! Thank you for helping us choose the books for the 2015 TAG and WE Summer Reading Series. We are looking forward to spending time with you this summer to learn together and share visions for how to defend and transform our schools and city.

    Take a look through the list below, and sign up for the book groups you’re interested in. We encourage everyone to join-- no education experience required, just the willingness to read good books and talk honestly about tough issues!

    If you're interested in helping to facilitate any of these book groups (you don't have to have read the book!), please contact us at [email protected]

    Thanks for helping us make this summer's book groups amazing!

    (Click here if you can't see the sign-up form below)


  • Help Select This Summer's Book Club Texts!

    We are excited to announce a list of texts that WE and TAG members have suggested for the 2015 Summer Reading Series - but we need your help! 

    Please select your top THREE choices in the survey below so we can take the next step in generating a final list of groups and facilitators. The poll will close on Wednesday, May 13th at 5pm. If you're interested in helping to facilitate one of these book groups, email [email protected] for more info.

    This year, groups will be reading through the lenses of organizing and racial justice as we work together to continue to build a movement together. Last year, nearly 100 people from across the city participated in ten different book clubs to explore how teachers and activists are building a movement for quality public education.

    The final selections will be announced at the Caucus of Working Educators 1-Year Anniversary Party on Friday, May 15 at 7:00 pm. See you there!

    Fill out the survey in this blog post below the picture, or at this link: