Join Working Educators at Berks Family Detention Center this Sunday

Philly educators are heading to Berks Family Detention Center on Sunday 7/15! We will be joining the Shut Down Berks Coalition and Pennsylvanians from across the state to demand that Governor Wolf SHUT DOWN BERKS!

The Berks Family Detention Center in Berks County is one of 3 family detention centers in the entire country (and the only one outside of Texas), and has a proven history of abuse towards immigrants and children. Most recently, Berks has been in the news for denying a donation of bilingual children's books from a Mighty Writers summer program.

Governor Wolf has the power to issue an Emergency Removal Order and shut down the facility, but he has continued to make excuses instead of taking action. As educators and families, we cannot stand by while our state is complicit in abuses towards students and families... 

Vigil to #ShutDownBerks Family Detention Center

Sunday, July 15th 3:30pm

1040 Berks Road, Leesport, PA 19533

Many educators will be driving from the Philadelphia area, and we invite you to join us. Rides are available with educators in the area! Contact Kate ([email protected]) to arrange a ride, or for any questions. 

Can't make it Sunday? You can still support!

1. Call Governor Wolf's office ASAP at (717-787-2500) to say: "Protecting Immigrant Families is the right thing to do. You absolutely have the power Issue an Emergency Removal Order on the Berks County Detention Center. Issue the ERO now!" 

2. Follow the Shut Down Berks Coalition on facebook and twitter to support the campaign.


"The Lives of Our Students Are Not Up for Debate": Educators Respond to DACA Repeal


The Caucus of Working Educators is outraged at last week's decision by the Trump Administration to repeal DACAWe reject the repeal of DACA, along with any policy that targets our immigrant students or any of our students for their race, nationality, immigration status, class or religion, as an attack on our most fundamental values of justice, human rights, inclusion, equality, opportunity and strength in diversity.  As educators, we stand firm in the values and obligations highlighted in the recent trainings of educators by the School District to ensure that all teachers and staff in the SDP have the knowledge and tools to support our immigrant students and their families in these dangerous times.

All of our students and their families, regardless of their immigration status, race, national origin or religion, are an intrinsic part of the fabric of our schools and communities and have a right to an education, to safety, to family, to freedom from fear, and to hope for the future. We commit to work with immigrant-led organizations in our city to support and stand with our immigrant students and their families of all backgrounds and statuses - documented, DACAmented and undocumented - to ensure these rights. We see the repeal of DACA and other policies targeting immigrants as a part of a larger program of racism and white supremacy that singles out, scapegoats, vilifies and criminalizes Black and Brown immigrants, children, youth and families.

We are determined to help create schools and school communities that are empowering for students, teachers, staff and families to participate in this and all struggles for justice, human rights, real democracy and equality as we join to confront the critical issues of our time.

WE believes that those most impacted must be in the leadership and so in this moment we continue to look to and stand with immigrant leaders and immigrant-led organizations in our city and country as we respond to this and other attacks on the immigrant community. In this spirit, as the announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions was made on Tuesday, WE members joined DACAmented and other immigrant leaders from JUNTOS and other immigrant-led organizations and the larger community in a rally at the Federal building and a march to the federal prison at 7th and Arch.

The lives and futures of our students and their families are not up for debate. All our students and their families belong in our schools, our community and in our country. We will be sharing information and suggestions soon on how educators can support their immigrant students and families and connect to local immigrant-led organizing.

Want to find out more? Join us for the first WE Monthly Organizing Meeting of the school year on Tuesday, September 12th from 4:30-6:30pm at Kensington CAPA High School (1901 Front St.). If you would like to join WE's Immigration Justice Committee, email us at [email protected]

Field Trip: "Dolores" Film & Talkback with Dolores Huerta on 9/16

Rebel. Organizer. Feminist. Mother. Dolores Huerta is one of the most important organizers and visionaries behind the work of the United Farm Workers and beyond- and a new documentary opening in September tells the story of her life and work in the Labor, Feminist, and Latinx movements.

On Saturday, September 16th Dolores Huerta will be in Philly for a Q&A talkback after the 7pm show at the Landmark Ritz 5 Theater! Come learn some new organizing tricks and celebrate the work of one of the most important, but little known, women in the labor movement. Members of the Working Educators Immigration Justice Committee and Organizing Book Club will be there! 


Tickets are still available for purchase online for $10.25 per adult at this link (just make sure it's the 7pm showing on 9/16). Check out the trailer below!

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WE Makes Immigrant Rights Training a Reality


The WE Immigration Justice Committee is proud to announce that all School District of Philadelphia personnel will be trained to support the needs and rights of immigrant students and families.  

PeoplesInaug.jpgThe mandatory training was a central demand made by WE committee members during our spring organizing initiative. The District has committed to offering a 90-minute immigrant rights training to all teachers, principals, and support staff. School police officers and secretaries will also be trained at District Headquarters. 

AirportBanner.jpgThe District is looking for teachers willing to conduct the training at their schools or assist at other schools. If you care about making this program successful at your school, sign up for the training by logging on to and going into PD planner.Scroll.png

Here's how WE advocated for this program to happen:

During the fall, the WE immigration justice committee met with students, teachers, administrators, community members, and leaders from immigrant groups and immigrant rights organizations about how schools can support and protect immigrant students and families.

AirportJess.jpgThe committee then consolidated five policy recommendations in the following areas to be made to the School District:  limiting Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to schools; protecting the confidentiality around immigration status of immigrant students and families; providing language access; teaching educators awareness of immigration induced trauma; and creating hate-free schools. 

ForumWide.pngThe committee decided the best way for the District to implement these recommendations would be through a series of District-wide trainings.

In collaboration with students from the Newcomer Lerner Center, along with representatives from the Education Law Center, Juntos, the African Diaspora Global Initiative, and La Puerta Abierta organization, WE members and supporters testified before the School Reform Commission on May 18, 2017 asking that all School District personnel be trained in the five identified areas before the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. 

AiportKelley.jpgAfter the testimony, WE committee members met with School District leadership from the offices of Multilingual Family Support and Family and Community Engagement to understand how the District intends to implement the trainings.

Forum.Gym.jpgThe District has decided to host four train-the-trainer sessions in the middle of August to train educators to conduct the mandatory training in their schools. With the support of PFT and School District administrators, we are committed to disseminating the information for the train-the-trainer sessions and to recruiting educators to lead these important workshops in our schools. 

Please sign up today!

Trainers Wanted: Creating Safe and Welcoming Schools for Immigrant and Refugee Students

Please sign-up for a training AND speak to your building principal or administrator to let them know that you would like to help facilitate the training at your school. All school principals are required to provide this professional development session for all school-based staff. School principals can either deliver the session by themselves, or have a trained co-facilitator who is interested, willing, and available to assist them. The session will take 1.5 hours to complete and will be offered during the mandatory August school level professional development days (August 28, 29, 30).

PFT members with teaching experience are invited to receive training on a voluntary basis, should their school or another school leader seek a co-facilitator.

We encourage PFT members to take advantage of this opportunity to learn new ways to make sure our schools are safe spaces for EVERY child. 

The 1.5-hour train-the-trainer sessions will be held at 440 North Broad Street on the following dates:

  • August 14: 1:00 - 3:00 pm - Café 440

  • August 16: 9:00 - 11:00 am - Room 1071

  • August 21: 9:00 - 11:00 am - Room 1182

  • August 25: 9:00 - 11:00 am - Room 1080

At the end of each train-the-trainer session, the District will notify principals of who has successfully completed the training, so that principals know whom is available should they need assistance with the training.

Act 48 credits will be offered. Interested members should register using PD Planner.

For more information regarding this training opportunity, please email [email protected] or [email protected]


Education! Not Deportation!

Philly School Solidarity Petition to be delivered to Superintendent Hite and the SRC January 19th, 2017




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:


For a list of signers and more information:

[email protected]


Our City, Our Schools

Working Educators


Upcoming Events:



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4 Ways to Support Immigrant Students and Families This Week


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.

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PHLed Immigration Justice Updates


Want to support students and families, and get involved in the fight for immigration justice in Philly and beyond? Here are some opportunities and resources:

[Want to add an event, or join the Caucus of Working Educators' Immigration Justice Committee? Email us at [email protected]]

Upcoming Immigration Justice Events:

  • Philadelphia Sanctuary District Petition:

  • Sanctuary in the Streets Trainings (sponsored by New Sanctuary Movement): To sign up, email [email protected]  Sunday 1/8/17 1-5pm West Philly & 2/12 1-5pm South Philly

  • Community Forum with SDP Office of Multilingual Families: Jan 17th, 5:30 - 7:00, 440 N. Broad, Contact: [email protected]

  • City of Philadelphia Community Town Hall Supporting Philly Immigrant Students: Tues 1/24/17 6-7:30pm Community College of Philadelphia Bonnell Bldg, 1700 Spring Garden St, entrance between Spring Garden & Callowhill on N 17th); for more info contact Councilmember Helen Gym 215-686-3420

  • The People’s Inauguration (Sponsored by New Sanctuary Movement): Jan 20th, 2pm-2:30pm, location tbd

  • PHLed Black Lives Matter Week of Action: 1/23-1/27/17 Complete program available at:

  • Immigration Justice Inquiry to Action Group (ItAG): ItAG Kickoff on Feb 16th

  • Aquinas Center immigration related activities in January and February: A workshop in Bahasa Indonesia on ITIN renewals, a deportation defense training in Spanish, and an info session on a cross-cultural immersion trip to Mexico that will take place in May 2017. Contact Britt at [email protected] for specific details.

  • Philadelphia Diversity Conference: May 13th at La Salle University
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Educators and Unions Join March to End Deportations


"Not 1 more..." "DEPORTATION!" On Monday, July 25th, the first day of the DNC, local and national migrant justice groups led a march through South Philly to stop all unjust deportations and detentions. The march was led by Juntos and Not1More, and members of the PFT's Caucus of Working Educators and Philly Local UNITE HERE were there to join them.

Educators around the country have begun to join in this fight against unjust treatment of migrants, including many of our students. Teachers in North Carolina have led a nationwide campaign with support of the NEA to free undocumented high-school students, many who were picked up by immigration officers and sent to detention centers while on their way to school. 

In Philly, Working Educators have gathered migrant justice advocates through a summer book club on David Bacon's "Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants". WE has also started a Migrant Justice Group to support groups around the city and work for migrant justice in our schools. 

"Illegal People" book club member Ben Miller and his wife Cristina Martinez, co-owners of restaurant South Philly Barbacoa, provided a barbecue lunch for protestors following Tuesday's march. They will also host an unofficial migrant justice party and concert on Thursday, July 27th from 6pm-2am.

If you'd like to get involved in WE's Migrant Justice work, email us at [email protected]




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From Oaxaca to Filadelfia: Envisioning the Society Our Students Deserve

In 2006, Oaxaca’s section of the educator union (CNTE Local 22) led a months-long occupation of their city to create a society that respected the needs of students, workers, and indigenous people. 10 years later, the same educators and union members in Oaxaca and many other regions are again at the front of a movement to create the society our students deserve.

This time, they are fighting corporate education reforms pushing standardized teacher evaluations, mass layoffs, and the end of free education for all. They have been joined by workers across the country demanding policies that serve the interest of working people, including 200,000 doctors and nurses opposed to similar corporate health care policies.

Their challenge to the government’s attempts to create a society based on exploitation, profit, and trade union busting has sparked massive repression, including the widely-reported deaths of 12 union members when police opened fire on protesters blocking a road, and the abduction and imprisonment of many labor and movement leaders.  

These Mexican educators are at the front of a battle for a better society that U.S. teachers and unions are only starting to express. They are standing up against the government’s plan that “education, health, indigenous and campesino territories, and even peace and security are a commodity for whoever can pay for them, that rights are not rights but rather products and services to be snatched away" (EZLN and Congreso Nacional Indigena).

In Philadelphia, our students’ right to a quality education, families’ rights to thriving neighborhoods without fear of deportation or displacement, and workers’ rights to dignified wages and treatment continue to be stripped away via a "death by a thousand cuts". Mexico’s educators and rank-and-file workers are showing us how to fight for just society against a system that wants to turn our communities into commodities.

Local 22 has spent the last few years crafting a counterproposal to the Mexican government’s education reforms. Among the points in the counter proposal are a curriculum based in the diverse, indigenous, and multicultural context of Oaxaca, teaching practices based in critical pedagogy, and the elimination of standardized testing to evaluate either students or teachers.

From Chile to El Salvador to Colombia, Latin America has always served as the United States’ testing ground for market-driven and union-busting policies. Their struggle is our struggle. We send our rage, tears, and admiration to these education workers who have demonstrated time and again that educators and unions have a key role in articulating a vision of the society we deserve.

While the attacks on public education, workers, and unions continue to escalate in the U.S. and across the world, we pledge to fight alongside the educators of Oaxaca and around the world for a society in which education, health, housing, and dignity are rights that every student and worker deserves.

To show our solidarity, please join us for a Oaxacan-style Barricada Cultural on Monday Night in front of Philadelphia’s Mexican Consulate at 8pm. If you would like to contribute financially, members of the Chicago Teachers Union have set up a grassroots fundraiser to support Oaxacan and CNTE educators.

If you would like to learn more or discuss the role of the U.S. in political and economic destabilization in Latin America, please join our summer book club on “Illegal People” by David Bacon (or one of the 14 other book clubs exploring racial justice, culturally relevant teaching, labor history, and many other topics).

Statement written by Max Rosen-Long, Edwin Mayorga, and Jennifer Cox.


(Milwaukee educators, students, and community members show support for Oaxacan teachers at their Mexican Consulate) 


WE Welcomes Caravana 43 of Ayotzinapa Families

"As we learned that these idealistic and dedicated young people were teachers they became part of our family as well." 

This Friday, parents of the 43 teaching students who were forcibly disappeared in Mexico last year will be visiting Philadelphia for an event hosted by La Casa Latina @ UPenn.

Working Educators is proud to welcome these brave parents to our city, and founding WE member Tatiana Olmedo explains why this event will be important and powerful:

In late September 2014 we learned that 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa had disappeared in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. These student teachers clashed with local authorities and were taken into custody and never heard from again.  These student teachers came from the communities in rural Mexico that endure extreme poverty and where people live in precarious conditions. The Teachers Schools they attend were established to give the young people of these areas an opportunity to create a better society and continue to give back to their communities. Their teachers’ training is rooted in social justice and working to educate people about their rights and demanding a true democracy in Mexico.

As the world learned of this tragedy we grieved with the families. As we learned that these idealistic and dedicated young people were teachers they became part of our family as well.  Their struggle for justice and democracy is similar to our struggle for our public schools, our communities and our own democracy. Meeting parents of these young heroes and listening to their accounts of their fight with the Mexican government for justice is a great opportunity and a chance to connect the dots in relation to the neoliberal reform movement and its place within public education. 

Please join us on Friday, 4/10 at 4:30pm at Penn's Towne Heilmeier Hall Room 100 (220 South 33rd St.). Click here for more info and to RSVP.

The Caravana 43 families will be speaking at a number of other events in Philly, which you can find out about here.

644451_10206042285041470_3985077235022562007_n.jpg (Translation: "They tried to bury us, but they didn't know that we were seeds")

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