The Caucus of Working Educators is a diverse group of PFT members and their supporters who hail from every corner of Philadelphia. Below is the story of one supporter -- an ESOL content-friendly elementary educator and a veteran of the district--who chose to join.
What experiences led you to join the Caucus of Working Educators?
I see joining forces with the W.E. caucus as an extension of the community work that has been evident in my teaching career. In twenty-nine years, I’ve seen the School Board, the SRC, and the state of Pennsylvania try to decimate my profession, my values, and me as a human being. Joining the Caucus of Working Educators reaffirms my belief that every single child and teacher deserves a safe, well supplied community school.
What frustrates you about the current state of public education in Philadelphia?
The political structure in Philadelphia is ridiculous! It is a system that promotes failure and targets the poorest neighborhoods for mass destruction. As a tax-paying homeowner, it boggles my mind to see the destruction of public education. Public education is a constitutional right. Elected officials standing in the way of that right is just wrong!
As a city, state, and federal taxpayer, I support an agenda that elects a school board without politicians. One that allows working educators, fireman, police officers, clergy, and students to decide what is best for this city. As an educator for almost three decades, I’ve witnessed first -hand the erosion of public schools. Working Educators need to stop that erosion and get this city back to a healthy place!
What gives you hope for the future?
What gives me hope is that we have many student, parent, and teacher groups that stand up for what is right. Laying off teachers and assigning thirty-five to forty students in a single classroom isn’t right! We have groups that have been very outspoken and vigilant.
So here it is: basically if you don’t stand for something, you’ll stand for anything! That era of “blind” following is over. Everyone in this city needs to stand with Working Educators and the PFT.
What would you say to other teachers who are thinking about joining the caucus, but have avoided union politics in the past?
We are in the fight of our lives! If educators in the city of Philadelphia truly love their profession, then they need to stand up! Your building representatives can’t do it all. Join the caucus and start protecting your very right to teach. In this fight we have no benchwarmers and sidelined players. If you sat back on the sidelines hoping the coach would call your name, well, you’ve just gotten that call. We're calling your name now! It’s your turn to participate and become a stronger advocate for public education.
What would you say to veteran teachers who have seen it all and may not trust a brand-new union caucus?
It’s funny, this notion of “veteran teacher.” A veteran teacher gives 125% everyday! In return, we are given the most “hardened,” “emotionally unstable” students, and because we handle ourselves well and love what we do, then we get labeled as “veteran teachers.”
Here’s something you do know about veteran teachers: we will always be ready for a fight! If you dare try to take something from our students and our classrooms, you will be faced with a pitbull with an extra set of teeth! Anyone in this business for more than fifteen years loves their profession without a doubt!
I am a veteran teacher! I love my profession and encourage other veteran teachers to join the caucus. If you need a boost and want to have a continuous voice that breathes fire through the streets of Philadelphia, then join in the work!
We hope Peggy's story inspires you to join us in our work! You can also e-mail us to get more information at [email protected]