Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our “Education Final Exam” for PA Candidates

Today, Teacher Action Group is sending out the following letter:


To all candidates running for office in Pennsylvania in 2014:

As we all know, education is a critical issue in Philadelphia — now, and always. As a city-wide coalition of teachers and education allies, Teacher Action Group represents thousands of votes and would like to know your views on education policy in Philadelphia.

To those ends, we have created a poll that we are sending to all candidates running in 2014. Your answers will be shared with the public, and could lead to an endorsement from our group.

As the voting public, we need our candidates to be crystal clear on their viewpoints and approach towards public education in Philadelphia. The future of our city depends on it.


TAG Core Members


Here are just a few of the statements we are asking candidates to agree or disagree with:

“School Districts should have a locally elected school board instead of a state appointed commission.


All elementary school students should be able to attend a school within walking distance of their home (30 minutes or less).”


Teachers and principals should have control over the curriculum and learning in their buildings.

You can download the full survey here. Here’s what you can do to support our campaign:

Email and tweet at candidates to encourage them to respond to our survey! Let them know that your vote depends on their responses. You should also attend the Candidates Forum on Saturday, November 23rd at Temple University from 4-6 PM, hosted by the Pennsylvania Working Families Party.


Flipping the Script: Still No Library

TAG is pleased to present a student voice speaking out about the ongoing lack of resources at their school.

To whom it may concern:

If you were to sweep your finger across the covers of one of the books in our school’s library, you would have a dirty hand. The dust would gather as your finger glides across the ancient covers. Covers that would be worn and torn out. Don’t look for Dan Brown or James Patterson- most of the books were published before the year 2010. However, outdated books are not the major problem. If you were to walk in our library in the first place, you wouldn’t. The library remains locked- as students, we are prohibited to enter a library. Ironically, one would consider a library a place of knowledge, silence, and a helpful location- especially for students.

Maybe a practical teenager prefers Instagram or Facebook, but believe me when I say I am not a practical teenager. I love to read books, the scent of books excites me. What is a “kindle” and a “nook”? A book is a binding of papers, and on those papers are the words, the words that create a story. I told you I am not a practical teenager, I prefer Mitch Albom to Ellen Hopkins, and I like the crisp of noise a book makes when you turn the page.

My classes are parched from the lack of textbooks. My teacher resorted to sharing the textbook online for the sake of the class. His 90 students need 90 textbooks. We only have 40.  As I read the pdf based file, my eyes strain and the pages no longer create sound. The “pages” are just white backgrounds compiled by miniscule pixels. I no longer read a textbook, but a textfile.

People write letters to high authority figures, criticizing them for not doing enough. My intention is not that; my intention is to inform you how bad conditions are. They are not the worst, but they are not the best either. We could have many situations that are far worse than books, but I hope you understand. Books are vital to me as much as libraries are. I get lost in tragedies that make my life seem better, characters are real people to me, and a “theme” is not an English 1 vocabulary word for me- they are real notions I obtain from stories.

I do only have 161 school days left, 3,864 hours, or 231,840 minutes. But to the younger kids who will soon enter themselves into a place they prepare to become adults, they have much to worry. What will they read? The textbooks that have been scribbled on? The textbooks that lost their covers? Or how about the textbooks that don’t exist? They have 724 school days to transform into open minded young adults. In my opinion, books are an essential for students. Without knowledge, action is useless.

                             Aimen Ahmed  — Senior, Northeast High School