An Open Letter in Support of WE, from PFT Retirees

The below letter was written by the Caucus of Working Educators' Retiree Organizing Committee in support of WE in the upcoming PFT Election. Want to add you name? Email us at [email protected].


Dear Fellow PFT Retirees,

No doubt our experiences teaching in the Philadelphia School District have varied greatly. Our role and involvement in our union were likely just as varied. Yet we can all agree that the protections given us by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers were essential and allowed us to have a career in teaching, leading to a comfortable retirement.

The attacks on our schools by the forces of austerity are placing that security in jeopardy for our colleagues in the classroom now. The PFT is half the size it once was. Staff and student rights, support services, protections and supplies are all disappearing- or already gone.

Who would have thought that historic institutions like Olney, Germantown, William Penn and Bok High Schools would be closed? So many jobs have been lost, we cannot sit by and let the critical work of educating our children become a "little while beginner job" in charters, instead of the lifetime vocation for certified professionals that we chose for ourselves.

How did this happen? The PFT has forgotten that our power comes from our own organized members and the communities we serve, rather than relying on politicians for political favors. We cannot help but notice that a union of 11,000 has not mobilized more than a few hundreds of members into action. Our union needs to be energized. The PFT needs to have a real discussion. There needs to be a real election campaign. We need a new leadership.

Chicago is not the only place fresh winds are blowing in urban public education. Over the last few years some of us in retirement have met the leading professionals in the Working Educators Caucus. We are impressed by them. We might even be a little envious that more energetic union folks like this weren't around in our day, and would like to get behind them. They know the PFT can and will lead the fight for public education. They deserve our support in this critical election.

The Caucus of Working Educators needs the support of retired educators in many ways, from donating funds to speaking to our former colleagues who are still in the field:

Now is the time for a newly revitalized PFT that can fight for our schools, students, and profession. We look forward to joining you in supporting the Caucus of Working Educators.

In Solidarity,


Sam Mastriano, Retired Teacher, 31 years

Shoemaker MS, Bok HS, Germantown HS, William Penn HS, Olney HS, Swenson HS, South Philly HS


Diane Payne, Retired Teacher, 23 years

Mayfair, William D Kelley, Prince Hall


Harvey Chanin, Retired Teacher and Counselor

Wister, Disston, Bethune, Kearny


Betsy Wice, Retired Teacher, 40 years

Frederick Douglass, South Philadelphia HS, West Philadelphia HS, O.V. Catto School


Dina Portnoy, Retired Teacher, 29 years

Kelley, Olney HS, University City HS, Northeast HS


Debbie Bambino, Retired Teacher

George Washington, CEMS/FSAS, Lowell


Wilma de Soto, Retired ESOL Teacher, 36 years

Francis Scott Key


Lynne Yermanock Strieb, Retired Teacher, 31 years

John B. Kelly, Lingelbach, Greenfield


Mindy Noble, Retired Teacher, 18 years

Germantown HS, Parkway NW


Sharon Newman Ehrlich, Retired Teacher, 27 years

Stetson MS, Edison HS, Randolph HS


Kenneth Schamberg, Retired Teacher, 23 years

Sayre MS, Leeds MS, Conwell MS, Stetson MS, Germantown HS, Central HS, Olney HS


Madeleine Nist, Retired Teacher

Samuel Fels HS


Robert Schwier, Retired Teacher, 30 years

Bartram HS, Edison HS


Mirta B Scheffer, Retired Teacher, 22 years



Lesly Eckstein, Retired Teachers, 23 years

Edison, Barton, FSAS, CEMS


Christine Martin, Retired Certified School Nurse, 23 years

Stoddart Fleischer, Constitution


Isabell Cardonick, Retired Teacher, 34 years

Mayfair, Disston, Vaux Jr. H., Nebinger, Morrison, M.H. Stanton


Anne Tenaglia, Retired Teacher, 37 years

Penrose, Longstreth, Blankenburg