As thousands of educators and staff members, and hundreds of thousands of students walked through the doors of our schools this morning, the weight of the SRC’s vote to pass the ‘doomsday budget’ fell upon us. This is truly a disheartening day in Philadelphia.
But we have faced too many of these days already. And we cannot withstand much more in our Philadelphia public schools.
Instead, we must understand what is really at play, and then build the power we need to push through a transformed vision of education – one that is rooted in fairness, equity, and democracy.
We need to understand this as a failure of leadership to stand for our children and our city’s future. From the State’s shameful budget priorities, to the City’s unwillingness to fight for the funding our students deserve, to the SDP’s complicity in the decimation of our public schools – our leaders have failed and abandoned us. Therefore, true leadership is going to have to come from us.
We need to understand this as an extension of a privatization agenda bought and paid for by some of the richest individuals in our nation. We need to do our homework to understand who is pulling the purse strings and shaping the destruction of public education, who is getting money and favor while our majority poor children are relegated into substandard, under-resourced schools.
Lastly, 59 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, we in Philadelphia must understand that this is a continuation of the historic fight for civil rights. We must rekindle the fight for racial justice and push back against this current form of segregation and its locking-in of a tiered system of education where it is a privilege to go to functioning schools.
Teacher Action Group will continue with these understandings at the core of our work. We recognize that true leadership must come from those directly affected, and therefore, we as educators must build up the political pressure to force a different reality in Philadelphia.
In the next few months, we are going to:
- Have trainings to help develop ourselves as effective teacher leaders, organizers, and media makers
- Do community outreach and build teacher-parent unity
- Work with PCAPS – a coalition of teachers, parents, students, and workers – to push for the funding our schools deserve
- Work with Decarcerate PA – a coalition of groups focused on ending prison expansion – to shift the State’s funding priorities to schools, not prisons
- Host meet-ups for teachers to improve our practice so we can be the best we can even in the face of this ‘doomsday’
- Make media to Flip The Script about education in Philly
From Chicago to L.A. to NYC to Philly, there is a brewing movement of communities angry at the relentless disinvestment and shameful priorities around education.
At TAG-Philly, we will continue to work to help build and shape that movement. The future of our profession, our students, and our city is on the line.