Monthly Archives: July 2013

Take Action in August: Door-Knocking Days

The TAG Summer of Action continues. You’ve done your reading, and now it’s time to reach out to your neighborhood to do some educating and organizing! As the recent Committee of 70 report put it, “this crisis is the worst we’ve ever seen” — and too many people are still in the dark about it.

If you’re a PFT Member, we encourage you to sign up for one of their Monday morning training sessions. (If you’re unsure about which week to pick, go for the training on August 19 – TAG leaders who are also PFT members will be running the training!)

Whether you train with the PFT or not — whether you’re a PFT Member or not — we invite you to participate in one (or more) of our Door-knocking Days this August. Check out the details below.

In Response to The Verdict

999041_10151814579608755_1197451166_nOn Saturday July 13th, 2013, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty on all charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin, a young Black man who was racially profiled, considered “suspicious” simply because of the color of his skin, and then murdered on the street by a neighborhood watch vigilante.  We are outraged and disgusted by this verdict. It highlights the enormous injustices of our system, indeed forcing us to question the idea that “justice” even exists within the legal system of our country.

The deep racism and historic inequality of our legal system is mirrored in the systemic inequality of our education system. It is no coincidence that the majority of schools being closed in Philadelphia, and across the country, are schools with majority Black and Brown students in low income neighborhoods. As educators, we have a responsibility to discuss, address and develop an analysis around not only this case, but also other forms of oppression and institutional racism, so that we can be prepared to have real conversations with our students.

We must talk about race. When the majority of educators in Philadelphia are white and the majority of our students are students of color, we have to be willing to talk about that dynamic. When the default in our schools is to punish, suspend, expel and arrest our students when they violate our school norms, rather than help them learn from their mistakes and repair the harm they’ve caused, we have to see this as a direct extension of how black and brown people are criminalized in all parts of society. When our state is the leader in sentencing youth, mostly youth of color, to life without the possibility of parole, we have to be willing to talk about race and the connections to the school-to-prison pipeline.  When we hear our colleagues blaming “those parents” for the dysfunction in our schools, we have to be willing to confront the implicit racism in their attitudes.

The killing of Trayvon Martin reminds us that we do not exist in a post-racial society. We must be willing to challenge ourselves and move outside of our comfort zones. As educators, we know that growth often comes from being uncomfortable.  Therefore, we have a responsibility, as educators, to push ourselves, our colleagues, and our schools to confront racism, engage in difficult and honest discussions, and help validate and heal the pain that is still too real in our students’ lives.

Talk with your colleagues about the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Talk with your colleagues about ways to discuss the pain and betrayal of Trayvon Martin’s murder with your students. Talk with your colleagues about the role race plays in the classroom. And, of course, push yourself to think deeply about your own personal beliefs and stereotypes that you may hold as a result of living in an unequal, racist society.

Trayvon Martin’s death was an atrocity. We must learn from it and push ourselves to act so that the next Trayvon Martin — one of our beloved students or a member of our own family — can walk safely home without fear of being gunned down.

One thing you can do right now is sign the NAACP’s petition requesting that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.

Additionally, here are some links to places to begin the self-education we all need to be more effective educators.

The fight continues.

Get Organized on July 17th

You know what’s at stake:

•    The Doomsday Budget is still in effect — with thousands of our colleagues laid off from our schools and essential programs still cut.
•    The School District is pretending like we can open our schools in September, even as we all know it will be impossible and dangerous with our schools stripped down to such barebones.
•    The Governor, State Legislature, and top Philly CEO’s are taking aim at our profession, forcing deep concessions from the new PFT contract, and trying to break the strength and future of the teachers union.
•    A whole new set of schools will be on the chopping block next year.

THIS IS NOT TIME FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL. We must learn how to be stronger and more effective organizers if we are going to confront the massive attack on public education, wrestle back control, and create schools that are in line with our values.

Organizer Training: Getting Skills to Save our Schools
Wednesday, July 17th
1:30 – 4:30pm
4233 Chestnut St (Media Mobilizing Project offices)
Facilitated by lead organizers from the Philly Student Union
Register Here — it’s Free!

Come learn how to:

  • Be a more effective speaker on the issues we’re facing
  • Have intentional “organizing conversations” in order to move people to get involved and take greater action
  • Build more power at your school and in your community
  • Talk to coworkers, administrators, parents, students, politicians and community members

This will also get you ready for the summer doorknocking that TAG is doing with the PFT and PCAPS.

Announcing TAG’s Summer of Action!

IMG_4770Thousands of you joined us in Harrisburg to deliver a message to our state elected officials — Philadelphia won’t stand for anything other than #fullfairfunding.

Unfortunately, the PA budget has not provided us with what we need. Our politicians are choosing to abandon public schools. No one will save us except us — so we need to take charge as teachers and community leaders and remind the public that our schools belong to everybody.

Announcing TAG’s 2013 Summer of Action!

Take Action with these four easy steps:

1. Educate Yourself. Read up, if you haven’t yet:

“The Coming Revolution in Public Education” — national perspective from The Atlantic.

“Corbett Plan for Philly Falls Short of $180 Million” — detailed breakdown of what the state (hasn’t) pledged, via the Notebook.

“The Solution to US Public Schools is Not Corporate America” – Local journalist Dan Denvir connecting Philadelphia to larger trends.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more regular posts of this kind! We also recommend the Network for Public Education’s feed for the Northeast, as well as their Facebook page.

2. Be a perpetual megaphone. Too many folks in Philadelphia — and across the country — have no idea what’s going on in our schools, or what major forces are out to dismantle public education. Make sure that your family, friends, neighbors, and especially your school community knows what’s up! Share the above articles, show people the big picture and let them know that “austerity” and “shared sacrifice” are just a cover for a bigger, deliberate political agenda.

3. Get Trained. Now that you know what you’re talking about, you need some skills in getting the word out there! Mark your calendars for our organizer training on Wednesday, July 17th from 1:30 – 4:30 PM, hosted by the experts from the Philadelphia Student Union at the offices of the Media Mobilizing Project (4223 Chestnut Street.) Register here for the training!

4. Take it to the streets. Watch your e-mail for an invitation to canvassing days across Philadelphia, organized by PCAPS. Teachers, students, and parents will be working together to raise the consciousness of our city, one household at a time.