Monthly Archives: January 2018

2018 inquiry to action groups (ItAGs)

TAG is excited to present 2018’s Inquiry to Action Groups.  ItAGs bring together educators, parents, students, and community members to focus on topics related to social justice in education, and to take action connected to what they learned.  ItAGs create a space for us to explore, imagine, and work towards creating the schools our students deserve.

Listed below are descriptions of the NINE ItAGs that will convene across the city in the coming months.  Register for ItAGs here.

Join us at 5:30 on Thursday, FEBRUARY 22 at SCIENCE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY (55 N. 22nd Street) for a PUBLIC LAUNCH and a chance to meet the facilitators.

Spread the word!  Share the ItAGs list and registration widely, and join the movement for educational equity and justice in Philadelphia: @TAGphilly; #ItAGs2018; #PHLed;

For more information, reach out to us at

1) Addressing Islamophobia and Religious Diversity in Schools

Description: In today’s society, it’s important that educators help lead the conversation around Islamophobia and diversity within our classrooms and schools. Unfortunately, many children who are Muslim and those who look Middle Eastern face a barrage of insults and sometimes violent actions from students and teachers due to the climate of the country and the actions of a few. We must learn how to have serious and necessary conversations with the youth so that they grow into conscious and cultured adults.  In this ItAG, we will review videos, articles, and listen to personal accounts of Muslim students and teachers about the issues they face within classrooms and schools.  We will develop a lesson plan for addressing Islamophobia within the classroom, and also have weekly blogs from participants on what they’ve learned and how they will implement it into their daily lives and classrooms.

Essential Questions:  Why is it important to discuss Islamophobia within our classrooms and schools?  How should cultural sensitivity be discussed in our classrooms and schools?  Why is it important to develop knowledge on the diversity of the Islamic community?  How do we help students address issues of Islamophobia within their classrooms and school overall?

Facilitators: Keziah Ridgeway is a Philadelphia school teacher at

Northeast High School who identifies as a Black Muslim

Woman.  Contact:

Saturdays 2:00pm to 3:00pm.
3/3 Introduction to Islam/Diversity in the Classroom (Ask An Imam).
3/17 Islamophobia Pre and Post Trump (Topics include Diversity, Racism in Islam, Immigration)
3/30 Youth Panel Students Discuss Experiences and Next Steps
4/14 Create A Video Series of Muslim Youth/Series Recap


2) Building Anti-Racist White Educators

Description: This ItAG is part of the ongoing work of the Building

Anti-Racist White Educators Group. We aim to take responsibility for educating ourselves about racism, and to support and push our colleagues in the same work. Our second goal is to turn these conversations into anti-racist action in our own classrooms, schools, and districts. We commit not just to talking about race but to using these conversations to devise concrete strategies for actively impacting change at our schools.  While we welcome people of color to join and contribute their ideas and opinions to our group, this is meant to be a group that holds white educators accountable for dismantling the white-supremacy that presides within ourselves, our classrooms, our schools and our society.  Our plan is to support each other in creating individual action plans for our work in our own classrooms and to design larger concrete action we can apply to our schools and/or districts.

Facilitators: Jenn Hare is a history teacher at SLA Beeber. Charlie McGeehan is a Humanities educator at The U School.

Time/Place:   Tuesdays February 27, March 13, April 3, April 17, May 1 – 5:00-6:30pm – The U School (2000 N. 7th St., entrance 2nd door above Norris)

3) Building Understanding of Underprivileged Students’ Rights and Needs in Schools

Description: The student-led non profit UrbEd Inc. will facilitate an ItAG on building understanding of underprivileged students’ rights and needs in schools. Specifically we want to focus on the school to prison pipeline and teacher diversity because these are extremely significant factors in how unhealthy classroom environments are created. Zero tolerance policies have plagued Philadelphia classrooms for decades and have an especially negative effect on low income minority students. To work towards ending these issues we must change the environments and cultures of these schools that are doing a better job imprisoning students rather than preparing them for higher education. We would emphasize a more positive culture and environment through interactions between school faculty and students. We must address the lack of diversity in faculty. Encouraging more people of color, particularly Black males to teach in schools. We want to work to create schools that elevate instead of regulate. As students we have a unique perspective on these issues. We would be more than honored to lead a series of sessions working towards changing classroom and school culture to promote healthier relationships between students and staff.

UrbEd Website:

Facilitators:   Zoey Tweh is a junior at Science Leadership Academy who has been passionate about social justice since Trayvon Martin’s murder. She was raised in West Philadelphia by her Liberian mother and attended Penn Alexander. Since then she has joined countless organizations and clubs that have helped her grow as a budding activist fighting for a range of social justice issues.  (Zoey Tweh will be leading group, other team members will come in all bios here:

Time/Place: Science Leadership Academy, One weekday evening (TBD) at 6:00pm


4) Color Matters: It’s Deeper than Skin Tone

Description: Over the last couple of decades there has been a growing perception that our society has become more diverse and inclusive of different groups. Along with this perception, people have pointed to the changing racial demographics of our society as indicator of the inevitable transformation of how view diversity in American society. In Color Matters: Deeper than Skin Tone, participants will explore the cultural, social, economic, political ramifications, and educational implications of skin color on our changing society and determine if we have advanced in relation to bias connected to things that are only skin deep. This ItAG is meant for anyone interested in exploring this subject further and wanting to become more aware of how we are all indoctrinated to associate skin tone positively or negatively in smaller intragroup and intergroup relations.

March 8: Colorism as power construct- An overview of the ItAG and framing.
March 22: Socio-economics of colorism- Specific examples of the effects of colorism on groups economics.
April 5: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal effects of colorism- How colorism affects relations between individuals and also the impact on personal perspective of self.
April 19: Latinos and Colorism- Whiteness as a zero sum game of power and its effect on spanish speaking countries and identity

April 26: Colorism and education- Implicit bias and educators in the classroom practice relationship to colorism. Next steps

Facilitators: Angela Crawford has been an educator for 19 years, and affiliated with the School District of Philadelphia for 15. Mrs. Crawford’s work with School District of Philadelphia began in 1997 as an Instructional Reform Facilitator and English Teacher. In addition, Angela led the teacher study group in which she encouraged self reflective practices for professional pedagogy, a discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education; thus it concerns the study and practice of how best to teach.

Ismael Jimenez is a dedicated educator, who for the last twelve years has worked with Philadelphia students from preschool to high school. After working as a social studies teacher at Germantown High School until it was closed, Ismael was appointed to Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School. Along with being an active PFT member, Ismael has facilitated professional developments in the school district and at postsecondary institutions like UPenn, Penn State and Princeton on issues including structural racism and bridging the gap between high school and postsecondary institutions. Currently, Ismael is co-chair of the Caucus of Working Educators and co-founder of the Philadelphia Black History Collaborative. The philosophical orientation that guides Ismael’s teaching and activism is rooted in the theoretical educational framework developed by Paulo Freire which emphasizes the interconnected nature of education with participating in the transformation of the world.

Time/Place: Martin Luther King High School (library); March 8, March

22, April 5April 19April 26


5) Critical Financial Literacy:  Rethinking Curriculum to Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Description: This ItAG seeks to reexamine financial literacy programs found in many school and community programs. Recognizing the racial wealth gap in the US, we seek to support youth in understanding the historical and systemic context that created and maintains vast inequity and poverty. Our action will be to develop curriculum and school/community partnerships that provide basic financial literacy skills, and at the same time, challenge educators and youth to consider individual, community, and public policy solutions to help build generational wealth in marginalized communities, and to take active, ethical, and collective steps to close the racial wealth gap.

Facilitators:      Samuel Reed, III  is a U School Humanities Educator, TAG Member,  and Teacher Consultant Philadelphia Writing Project.

Tom Quinn is a Central High History Teacher and is part of the PYN WorkReady Summer Learning Team.

Nicole Newman is President/CEO of Newman Networks.


The ItAG will meet biweekly on Mondays, 5:00-6:30pm at the U-School, 2000 N. 7th Street, Room 304.
  • Monday, February 26 – (Re)Framing the Issues: The Historical and Structural Causes of the Racial Wealth Gap
  • Monday, March 12 – Public Policy Advocacy, Union Organizing, and Community Action Planning
  • Monday, March 26 – Rethinking Financial Literacy for Schools and Community Youth Programs – Part 1
  • MondayApril 9 – Rethinking Financial Literacy for Schools and Community Youth Programs – Part 2

Join the Critical Financial Literacy ItAG web forum.


6) Dropped Out or Pushed Out? Come Learn with and from Students of YouthBuild Philly

Description: Why do students in Philadelphia drop out of school?

How are students in Philadelphia pushed out of school?

What can students, teachers, principals, district officials, legislators, parents, families, community members do to engage all students in continuing their education?  The content of this ItAG will include: First hand expertise from Philadelphia students and staff, research, podcasts, and discussion.  Who should join this conversation: Students, Teachers, Administrators, Community Members, Parents

This conversation matters because the more students that drop out connects to prison theory, homelessness and other life-altering consequences. The imbalance in dropout rates between white students and students of color points to persistent systematic racism.

Facilitators: Candyce Coleman is a senior at YouthBuild Philly Charter

School, pursuing a career in Healthcare. When she’s not studying she like to explore the the city with her four-year-old son who is a pro at skeeball.

Hadiyah Brown is a senior at YouthBuild Philly Charter School, pursuing a career in Healthcare. Hadiyah is an avid reader and has started a book exchange program at YB.

Rebekah Dommel is a math teacher who never liked math. She is a member of the academic team at YouthBuild Philly Charter School.

Justine Philyaw is a native Philadelphian and the Program Operations Director at YouthBuild Philly Charter School.

Time/Place: Thursdays 4:30 – 6:00 (4 sessions, specific dates to be

negotiated by the group) YouthBuild PHiladelphia Charter School 1231 N. Broad St, 3rd Floor


7) Fair Housing and Education: Civil Rights in 2018

Description: Fair housing rights are civil rights tools that students can learn at a young age. It can be difficult to explain racism to students who attend segregated schools. For instance, a Black student whose peers are 99% African American has a hard time understanding what racism looks like. Likewise, teaching white students to un-learn racism can be futile if they’re never exposed to its impact on communities. Our challenge as educators is teaching students to identify the attitudes and practices that shape our neighborhoods on a macro level. Our ItAG will provide literary materials to teach students about housing discrimination. We will also discuss current housing issues in Philadelphia and discover their fair housing components together.

Facilitators: Joelle Tomkins, Karléh Wilson and Aurica Hurst are members of the Fair Housing Coalition of Young Professionals. Karléh is currently the Executive Assistant at the Fair Housing Rights Center and was previously a Teaching Assistant at Wissahickon Charter School. Aurica is an After-School Program Director at Overbrook High School. Joelle is a Foreclosure Coordinator at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. The three women dedicate a lot of time to understanding fair housing rights and identifying ways to stop segregation, slow down gentrification, and strengthen fair housing in Philadelphia.

Time/Place: TBD


8) Popular Education: Museums & Social Justice

Description: What role can art museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions play in facilitating education for social justice? How can they practice and promote inclusivity? Taking lessons from recent projects such as PHL Assembled, Decolonize This Place, and at land’s edge, this ItAG seeks to convene educators from schools and cultural institutions across Philadelphia to imagine strategies to leverage these community spaces and their assets to be useful for local organizers and global movements for freedom and justice.

Facilitators: Sarah Shaw has been a classroom teacher in Philadelphia public, charter, and independent schools, and is currently a member of the School and Teacher Programs team at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She coordinates the Education Resource Center at the Art Museum and leads tours and workshops for students and teachers.

Chris Rogers is a core member of Teacher Action Group Philadelphia, a former collaborator within PHL Assembled, and the Public Programs Director at the Paul Robeson House Museum. @justmaybechris

Time/Place: Wachovia Education Resource Center (Philadelphia Museum of Art);  Dates and times TBD.


9) Social Justice in the Elementary Years

Description:     Students begin to understand race, gender, culture, and sexual identity from a young age. Elementary educators interested in exploring these topics are encouraged to join our ItAG as we learn together how to infuse social justice topics and themes in a developmentally appropriate way into the elementary classroom. Possible topics will include: How to facilitate/hold tough conversations with young students; diverse book choices and diverse libraries; the early elementary social justice history curriculum; celebrations and holidays in the culturally diverse elementary classroom.

Facilitator: Kati Rutkowski is an early literacy teacher coach in a Philadelphia public school. She has participated in ItAGs in the past and is interested in exploring this topic that is targeted to the elementary years.

Aileen Haggerty is a 2nd grade teacher in a Philadelphia charter school. She is working to implement a year-long social justice curriculum with her fellow teachers at her school. She is excited to work with other elementary teachers invested in social justice work.

Time/Place: TBD