Category Archives: Uncategorized

Toxic Schools 215: A Tale of Two Cities

TAG is launching a new media campaign: Toxic Schools 215: A Tale of Two Cities

We live in two very different cities. One is for our public school students, mostly Black, Brown, and living in poverty. It features toxic lead, leaky roofs, and unbearable temperatures in the buildings where children are trying to learn. The other is a playground for the wealthy developers who benefit from Philly’s ten-year tax abatement. They charge millions for luxurious new residences, and instead of paying their fair share to fund our schools, they walk away with the profit.

These conditions are a direct result of the racial capitalism we live under, which says our students’ education matters less than money in the pockets of these mostly white, already wealthy developers. As educators in these schools, we say no to profit over our students’ health and education. Together with The Caucus of Working Educators, we demand:

  • Ending the ten-year tax abatement for the wealthy and requiring big universities and mega non-profits to pay their fair share through PILOTS
  • Lead remediation in all schools that have toxic lead — not just the 40 schools the District has selected
  • Robust pest control and air conditioners in every learning space in order to alleviate asthma, which is a widespread cause of suffering and absenteeism among Philly children.

TAKE ACTION! 
– Do you work in a Philly public school? Send us your photos
– Are you a non-PFT member? Sign this community petition! 
– Are you a PFT member? Email kathleen.melville@gmail.com to get a hard copy of the version for PFT members and gather signatures from your school!

2019 Inquiry to Action Groups

Inquiry to Action Groups (ItAGs) are spaces co-created to advance our understanding of the political and social landscapes that affect our schools as well as share best practices for our daily work. 

Click here for our 2019 ItAG Catalog.  You will find detailed descriptions of the six ItAGs that will convene across the city in the coming months. Register here to participate.  


2019 Inquiry to Action Groups:

  • Notice: Philly
  • Building Consent Culture in Philly Schools
  • Singing for Justice with Sing, Unburied, Sing
  • Teaching for Black Lives
  • Story Circle Theatre Project
  • Critical Financial Literacy Part 2, Policy Implications and Action Steps     

Join us at 5:30 on WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 20th for a PUBLIC LAUNCH and a chance to meet the facilitators. 

Join TAG’s Story Circle Project

TAG is convening people connected to education in Philly — students, teachers, parents, community advocates — to share our stories and dreams, grow our relationships, and build our collective vision and power to transform our city.

 

Our first Story Circle event will focus on educators sharing stories about our classrooms, our practice, and our purpose.  
 
Wednesday, October 3rd
5:30-7:30pm
YouthBuild Philly School
1231 N. Broad St. 
 
These gatherings will lead toward a larger theater project that TAG is making to amplify our stories and visions for change in Philly. 
 
RSVP for the October 3rd Story Circle here.
 
Interested in finding out more?  Email: tagphilly@gmail.com

After Charlottesville: Confronting White Supremacy, September 13

After Charlottesville: Confronting White Supremacy

in Ourselves, Our Schools, and Our City

As the 2017-18 school year begins, join educators and community members as we organize to individually and collectively confront white supremacy in ourselves, our classrooms & schools, and our city. This workshop will include a historical overview of white supremacy in the United States and Philadelphia, breakout groups, sharing of resources, and planning for next steps.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

5:00-7:00pm

The U School, 2000 N. 7th St.

Street parking available, located near SEPTA routes 3 & 47 and Regional Rail

Childcare provided!                RSVP @ goo.gl/LKymbU

Building a Movement by Reading Together: Sign up for a Summer Book Club Today!

In 2014, TAG-Philly teamed up with the newly formed Caucus of Working Educators (WE) to offer 9 book groups with about 85 participants for the purpose of bringing people together and learning about social justice unionism, threats to public education, and racial justice struggles in Philadelphia. Last year, WE and TAG sponsored twelve groups with 170 participants with a focus on racial justice.

This year, based on survey results, WE and TAG are excited to announce 15 book groups for 2016!

reading groups collage

Want to meet other people committed to educational justice struggles and other social movements in Philadelphia? Want to learn about the school-to-prison pipeline, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, organizing, feminism, gender & sexuality in education, or another topic? Want to read a classic by bell hooks or Paulo Freire or a New York Times best seller by Ta-Nehisi Coates? Want to be part of a strong and growing movement of educators and allies committed to public education?

Sign up for a book (or five) today!

And come to the Caucus of Working Educators Summer Kick-Off Happy Hour on June 2 at Frankford Hall from 4-7pm to find out more about the books and talk to other participants!

reading groups 2

This summer, we continue the tradition of bringing together people from all walks of life and all parts of the city- parents, teachers, nurses, counselors, activists, community members, students, and anyone else!

Want to learn more about past book clubs and how they started? Read this article on the Summer Reading Series in Perspectives on Urban Education by Kathleen Riley.

2015 ItAG Catalogue Announced!

 
Courtesy of Teachers for Social Justice

Dear TAG community,

As we step away from schools for a few weeks, here’s something to look forward to on your return: 2015’s Inquiry to Action Groups.  Join the movement for educational equity and justice in Philadelphia.  Register now and spread the word: @TAGphilly; #ItAGs2015; #PHLed; www.facebook.com/tagphilly.

Join us to kick off TAG Philly’s 5th season of ItAGs on Thursday, February 12 at 6:30pm at Science Leadership Academy, at 22nd and Arch.

Find the complete 2015 ItAG catalogue HERE. Download a PDF of the 2015 ItAG Catalogue. Check out the group titles below:

1.  Queer Issues in Education

2.  Holding Officials Accountable: Creating an Education Report Card

3.  Standardized Testing Today: Not Everything that Counts can be Counted 

4.  Revolutionizing Education with Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR)

5.  Social Justice Unionism: How Can We Make it Happen?  

6.  Re-Imagining the “Public” in Public Education

7.  Hip Hop: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

8.  Teaching Ferguson and Beyond 

9.  Fighting Racism From Within: Inquiring Into Structural Racism in the Caucus of Working Educators

Student urges us all to pressure Gov. Corbett on the budget

TAG is  pleased to share the work of Miae Iwasaki, a middle school student in the School District of Philadelphia:   

As students in the School District of Philadelphia are learning, did it ever occur to you that they are being stripped of their decent education due to budget cuts? Governor Corbett is putting tax payers’ money toward other causes. As a result, school districts have not been, and still are not, receiving enough money to be effective. Students require good education for their future careers. Yet, Governor Corbett is making the budget cuts worse.

These budget cuts are even more unacceptable because Governor Corbett distributed them unevenly. The poorer school districts lost more money than the middle class or wealthy districts. The space separating the rich and poor expanded. In the article “Cuts That Don’t Heal,” even the advocates agree stating, “The budget is expected to scratch the wealthiest communities, cut those in the middle, and lacerate the poorest.” Learning will be harder for students in poorer districts.

What about those learning the English language, those with disabilities, and those who live in poverty? In the article “Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools,” a girl name Ming Nguyen immigrated from Vietnam to Philadelphia, assuming she would get good education and learn the English language. She did not get the help needed though, and it made her feel uneasy about her career. She had only one counselor who was a bilingual, and was between four other schools. There are about 78% of the students in the School District of Philadelphia that are learning English, have a disability, or live in poverty. Funding is important to them.

Due to budget cuts, we are not meeting expectations of a good education. Also in the article, “Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools,” a boy named Coffer said “Our classrooms are no longer centers of learning, they are just classrooms with too many distractions.” A third grade student became homeless, but the school did not have a full time guidance counselor to support him. If there was enough funding then schools would have been better. Instead, the school district of Philadelphia has lost an amount more $75,000 per class since 2010-2011. From this, it is clear that students are not doing well with school.

Therefore, Governor Corbett must stop the budget cuts. He is distributing them unevenly. Some schools cannot afford to lose anymore funding for those in need of it. Many students do not receive the education they need. For these reasons, us students and parents should fight for a better education. We should pressure Governor Corbett by sending letters to: Room 225, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, PA 17120.

Bibliography:

1. “Cuts That Don’t Heal” by Shayla Johnson from The Union Rep Newsletter.
2. “Where Has Our School Funding Gone?” by Briana Bailey from The Union Rep Newsletter.
3.  “Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools” by Regina Medina from Daily News.

“These budget cuts are ruining many students’ high school experiences.”

TAG is pleased to continue sharing student perspectives on budget cuts.  The latest letter is by Soundouss Telhaoui, a middle school student in the School District of Philadelphia:

Dear Readers,

Have you ever thought about where your education is leading or has led you? Education is what replaced your empty mind with an open one. It helped you distinguish between wrong and right. Now, students in the state of Pennsylvania are no longer getting the right education that they once received. Governor Tom Corbett made budget cuts towards the Pennsylvania school districts, which caused many educational losses for the students. These students do not deserve this grueling way of education.

One reason you should be against these budget cuts is because many students in public schools are losing proper education. For instance, many Philadelphia schools no longer have libraries or librarians. Without a library, students who are engaged in their learning have no quiet place to study and are unable to retrieve necessary books. Also, students who need computers are in a difficult situation as a result of the closure of the libraries. These changes have affected our education terribly and are continuing throughout the state.

In addition, schools have been shutting down. Therefore, students are being merged into other Pennsylvania schools. Many high school students who were merged have gone through many problems, such as not getting used to their surroundings and having different schedules. The difficulty with having a different schedule is that many high school students will have no possibility of graduating. This happened in Chester High School in Chester, Pennsylvania. There were complaints from the students that they were not getting the credits they needed to graduate at their new school. These budget cuts are ruining many students’ high school experiences.

Just as how losing proper education is affecting lives, students who need extra help are getting limited access to nurses and counselors. 78% of students in the School District of Philadelphia have a disability, are learning English, or live in poverty. These students are receiving less help from teachers and support staff. Without the help from adults in school, they will have a harder time in the future. A Vietnamese girl, in 12th grade, has been through this same situation. She cannot speak English; therefore, she needs a bilingual counselor. However, the counselor is not always available because he visits four schools per week. This can affect her education and her future.

These situations that were just stated are what the students do not deserve. Ever since the budget cuts have been placed, students are having more trouble with learning and with their environmental surroundings. These students of the state of Pennsylvania are in need of help and are trying to inform people about their horrible change in education by having walkouts. Stand next to these students in their fight for their education and influence others to stand up for what is right. Spread this word to other people, so they can help us, and hopefully, our word will change Governor Corbett’s choice of placing more budget cuts. Help out these students in need and help take our education to a better level.

Bibliography

  1. “Cuts Don’t Heal” by Shayla Johnson, in the Union Rep Newsletter.
  2. “Where Has Our School Funding Gone?” by Briana Bailey, in the Union Rep Newsletter.
  3. “Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools” by Regina Medina, in The Philadelphia Daily News.

 

How Budget Cuts Affect Students

TAG is pleased to present the work of Nasir Permenter, a 7th grade student in the School District of Philadelphia:

Ever wonder why people hate Governor Tom Corbett? Well, here’s why! Governor Tom Corbett cut school funding by millions of dollars. These cuts affect children in Philadelphia’s schools in many ways. Governor Tom Corbett should fund our school district.

As part of the budget cuts, schools are losing experienced teachers. They are being replaced with inexperienced teachers, who do not teach children properly. Experienced teachers can explain lessons better and clarify a lesson to a student who may be having a difficult time understanding life. Schools are also losing secretaries. Secretaries are being laid off because there is not enough money to pay them. Secretaries have an important job in helping the principal, teachers and parents, which means their jobs are very important. Secretaries make appointments and cancel appointments. They handle phone calls, take care of important paperwork, and if they fire all the secretaries, it will leave all these responsibilities on the principals and teachers. Students deserve experienced teachers and secretaries, because it allows them to get a better education and be successful in life.

Tom Corbett’s budget cuts have eliminated counselors’ jobs as well, which will ultimately affect multicultural students and their education. This will especially affect immigrants who do not speak English because they will not get the support they need from bilingual counselors. For example, in one article, “ Parents, Students filled 260 complaints this week with state regarding districts schools,” by Regina Medina in the Daily News Staff, a 16 year old Vietnamese girl came to Philadelphia in search of a good education. However she is not receiving a good education because she is not getting the support she needs. There was one bilingual counselor, but because of the budget cuts, the counselor is split between four different schools. She is also experiencing overcrowded classrooms, closed libraries, and a lack of nurses and counselors.

Lastly, the budget cuts affect the amount of resources schools receive. Schools can no longer afford school supplies because of the budget cuts. With less supplies students will experience a lack of textbooks, papers, library books, computers and much more. School librarians and libraries are being cut, which limits some kids’ resources even more. Libraries are essential to learning because they provide a place for students to study, read books, use computers, do research and complete projects.

Once again, Governor Tom Corbett should fund our school districts. His lack of funding our school district proves that he does not care about our education or our future. He should realize how detrimental his budget cuts are to our schools. With your help, Tom Corbett will be voted out of office in the 2014 election and our next Governor will care more about our education than he did.

Bibliography:
“ Parents, Students filled 260 complaints this week with state regarding districts schools.” By: Regina Medina, Daily News Staff Writer
“Where has our school funding gone? The inequalities of spending” From: The union rep newsletter fall, winter 2012 By: Briana Bailey
“ Cuts that don’t heal. Pennsylvania students fight back against budget cuts.” From: The union rep newsletter By: Shayla Johnson
“ http://www.whitehouse.com/issues” “http://www .teenink.com/”
“http://www .essayforum.com/undergraduate­essays­2/education­budget­cuts­significance­issue­im portant­ut­29694”

Student Message to Gov. Corbett: Stop procrastinating, start providing more money

TAG is pleased to present the following piece by Reshma Davis, a 7th grade student in the School District of Philadelphia.

Do you think your children are getting a good education? Does Governor Tom Corbett disadvantage them due to the budget cuts? The Governor is decreasing the amount of money school districts in Pennsylvania receive. Teachers and parents are worried that students are not getting the education they deserve. Governor Corbett should stop procrastinating, and start providing more money for schools.

The governor has not only underfunded wealthy school districts, but poor school districts too. For example, the budget cuts expanded the difference between the opulent and the pauper Pennsylvanian communities. In the article “Cuts That Don’t Heal” education advocates say, “The budget is expected to scratch the wealthiest communities, cut those in the middle, and lacerate the poorest.” This means that the impoverished school districts will be affected more than the prosperous school districts. These school districts already did not have sufficient money to begin with. Now there is not enough money to buy educational resources for some schools such as textbooks. Schools are defunded to such an extreme that the minimum learning materials cannot be made available, especially to the poorer school districts. In short, all the public schools in Pennsylvania are deprived of the basic supplies to learn.

In addition, the school districts have problems with the classrooms and spending. Most schools do not have enough money to spend on school libraries. There is also not enough money to employ qualified librarians. Worst of all, there are not enough qualified teachers. It is clear that without qualified teachers, the students’ behavior and education will go downhill. Everyone has to remind themselves that qualified teachers are the backbone of a superb education system.

As a result of the budget cuts, a challenging situation has risen in public schools. For instance, overcrowded schools have lead to a crisis. More students mean more distractions to students. Teachers are not able to individually assist students who need help or are educationally disadvantaged. This results in poor performance of students in standardized tests. The budget cuts have led to students not getting enough teacher attention, which leads to a decrease in learning.

It seems like Governor Corbett’s intention is to ruin public education by withholding the basic funds for public schools. We, as students, have to do something to change the ways of Governor Corbett. He has caused more budget cuts in poor areas than the wealthy school districts. Due to his budget cuts, schools have problems with classrooms and other school activities. We should all protest against this unfair treatment and get Governor Corbett to give school districts enough money to buy resources to provide a good education. Education is everyone’s right!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • “Where has our school funding gone?” in The Union Rep Newsletter
  • “Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools.” By Regina Medina
  • “Cuts that don’t heal” by Shayla Johnson