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

Bring Malala’s Story into your Classroom

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration to students and teachers around the world.  As a fierce advocate of education for girls, she has reminded us that we can never take schooling for granted, and that this is a right worth fighting for.  Teacher Action Group encourages teachers to use the occasion of the award of the 2014 Liberty Medal to Malala as an opportunity to encourage students to be advocates for their own education.

“It is we who make history.  It is we who become history.”
—Malala Yousafzai, Liberty Medal acceptance speech, October 21, 2014

For ideas about teaching Malala’s story:

  • http://www.teachhumanrights.com/girls-education.html
  • http://www.aft.org/press-release/share-my-lesson-posts-common-core-aligned-lesson-plan-involving-malala
  • http://www.malala.org/
  • http://constitutioncenter.org/libertymedal/recipient_2014.html

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

Budget Cuts: Let the Truth Be Heard

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

           How are you feeling today? I am asking you because I am mad. Actually, I am furious! Governor Corbett has cut school funds and it is not okay. Gov. Corbett is taking advantage of our youth by taking away the money we deserve. As fellow students, we need to unite and stop these crazy budget cuts. It is not fair how we students are downgraded because of our age. We need to put a stop to this. If we do not, we will always be known as, “Just those kids,” meaning that young people do not have a say in what is affecting our lives. Together, we can fight this, and take a stand for what we believe in. I am tired of being locked away with tape over my mouth. We need to let the truth be heard.

Imagine this, you walk to school one day. You stop by the cafeteria to get a creamy cup of hot chocolate. After that, you head off to go to basketball practice or perhaps art class. Wouldn’t that be fun? I mean if I were you, I would want to be rewarded for all my hard work. Well, too bad. Public schools do not have the clubs or extra curricular programs as before. The clubs are being cut and this is affecting students. One reason why students work hard and try to achieve good grades is so they can go to their clubs to get a break while feeling both special and unique. Budget cuts make all the hard working students feel like they do not have a reason to go above and beyond their classwork. This budget cut is unfair. Let the truth be heard.

Whether you love them or hate them, books are an important part in our education. If you are in middle school or higher, teachers give you work that is anything but basic. Many projects require research in books. With the budget cuts, libraries are no longer in schools. Students may need a book that’s not their neighborhood library. What do you do then? Whether governor Corbett knows or not, we are all losing our proper education. I am not going to jump to conclusions, though. Let us just say that your school does have a library. There is no guarantee that the librarian is trained or qualified. The budget cuts are preventing schools from having a librarian that actually knows what he/she is doing. I want a library in my school with a great librarian. Let the truth be heard.

Fellow achievers, when you go to school, do you expect at least the basic tools of learning? It is good my school has the basic essentials I need for school, for now. Other schools, though, are not so lucky. In places such as Reading, the students were used to underfunding and not having enough resources. With the cut, Reading schools lost even more funds. Students gave familiar complaints about this issue, “Overcrowded classrooms, lack of books, no access to technology, no support from counselors and inexperienced teachers that do not engage with students.” These budget cuts are affecting your education. Let the truth be heard.

Over crowded classrooms, cut programs and unqualified librarians, is this the future you want? Stand out from the crowd and show how you feel. Just like other people, you also have a voice. How are you feeling after reading this? If you truly care, take a stand and protest against school budget cuts. Speak loud and let your voice be heard.

Bibliography

1.” Cuts that don’t heal” by Shayla Johnson

2″Daily News” by Regina Medina

3.”Where has our school funding gone?” by Briana Bailey

Inspiration and Connection at TAG’s Education for Liberation Conference

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Over one hundred students, educators, and allies of public education came out on Saturday, May 3, to connect with peers in thirteen thought-provoking workshops, and hear words of inspiration from activist Dr. Lois Weiner.  In her keynote address, Dr. Weiner spoke of the need to call a spade a spade and stop negotiating with people who want to destroy us.  She also cautioned anyone against recalling a golden age of education, since segregation accompanied the privileges of many.  And she urged us to treasure and protect our African American teachers, who can be more vulnerable than others during school turn-arounds.  Finally, she stressed that what’s right isn’t necessarily popular.

Announcing the 2014 Education for Liberation Conference!

We’re proud to announce

TAG’s 5th Annual Education for Liberation Conference! 

Featuring Keynote Speaker Lois Weiner
Saturday May 3rd, 2014
9:30AM – 3:30PM
Folk Arts and Cultural Treasures School
1023 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
Register Today!
/ Volunteers, Tablers, Workshop Proposals: Click here!

This year’s conference will build the power and impact of on-the-ground educators across Philadelphia by creating space for you to learn, connect with each other and develop the skills necessary to transform education in our city, both within classrooms and beyond those walls.

Registration (9:30-10:00)

Keynote Address (10:00-10:45)

Social Justice in Classrooms and Schools: Why We Must Transform Teachers’ Unions

Lois Weiner, author of The Future of Our Schools, is a life-long teacher union activist and educator and has been an officer of three union locals. She is internationally known for her work on urban teacher education and is a powerful voice for the possibility of teacher unions to transform public education landscapes.

Tables with curriculum resources (10:45-11:15): These will also be available throughout the day.

Morning Workshops (11:15-12:45):

  • Black Music As Rebellion
  • Removing the Blindfold from the Elephant in the Box under the Rug:  Valuing Multicultural Identities in Schools
  • Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
  • Telling Untold Stories in the Fight for Public Education
  • Freak Ladies Fight Back: How art can help us liberate our souls and liberate our peoples
  • Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project

Lunch Time Meet-Ups (1:00-1:30):

  • Social Studies
  • ELL & Bilingual
  • Charter Accountability/Organizing
  • WE Caucus
  • TAG Future Leaders

Afternoon Workshops (1:45-3:15):

  • VISUAL THINKING:  think + draw + learn
  • History Making Productions: Learning Through Media
  • The Power of Student Voice
  • Teacher Facilitated Professional Inquiry Groups
  • Listen Up!: Youth-Produced Media in the Classroom
  • School Discipline 101: Know Your Rights!
  • Caucus 101:  What is the Caucus of Working Educators?

See you there!