This summer, three organizations have continued to keep a vigilant focus on public education in Philadelphia and the continuous toxic reforms that starve schools into failure or closing. Today is an opportunity to become a member and be an ally in the battle to improve and empower those who truly care about the fate of public education.
The Alliance of Philadelphia Public Schools is a grassroots organization of educators, nurses, counselors, parents, and allies of public education that maintains a strong presence in the city. It is not uncommon to see many of the members attending and speaking at the School Reform Commission (SRC) meetings each month. Recently, they won a first amendment lawsuit (read more about that here) that was filed against the School District of Philadelphia and have since donated the proceeds to other grassroots education organizations. Just recently, they hosted a viewing of the film Education, Inc, a documentary that is, “told through the eyes of parent and filmmaker Brian Malone, as he travels cross-country in search of the answers and sources behind the privatizing of American public education, and what it means for his kids.” This organization also works with the Caucus of Working Educators in the Opt Out Philly movement that is now full steam ahead taking the power of data collection and testing away from the powers that be and giving it back to the parents and students. The United Opt Out National Convention: Transcending Resistance, Igniting Revolution will be at the Philadelphia Convention Center February 26-28, 2016. Additional information can be found here. Check out the Facebook page for important information and future events.
The Caucus of Working Educators (WE) and Teacher Action Group (TAG) organized their annual Summer Book Series between July and August 2015. The themes were around race, corporate greed, movements without marches, and the deep and complex connections to what is going on in public education. The following books were read:
- Educating for Insurgency by Jay Gillen
- Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other people’s children by Lisa Delpit
- A Movement Without Marches by Lisa Levenstein
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks
- Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement by Barbara Ransby
- What’s Race Got to Do With it?: How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality (Critical Multicultural Perspectives on Whiteness) Edited by Bree Picower and Edwin Mayorga
- The Teacher Wars by Dana Goldstein
- Mapping Corporate Education Reform: Power and Policy Networks in the Neoliberal State by Wayne Au and Joseph Ferrare
- Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian Haney Lopez
- Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance by Kristen Buras
The Book Series will culminate in a Happy Hour on September 3, 2015 at 3 pm at Tierra Columbiana, 4535 North 5th Street (More info here). Please come and learn more about work surrounding Opt Out, Racial Justice, Reclaiming Professional Development, School Organizing, Coalition Work and more.
Teacher Action Group-Philadelphia is gearing up for inquiry groups to begin. This is an opportunity for educators, parents, and allies of education to come together and participate in deep study about the issues that pertain to the attacks on public education. This work is always centered on Philadelphia and makes connections to other urban centers around the country. “TAG believes that education is essential to the preservation of civil and human rights and is a tool of human liberation.” Learn more about the 8-point platform here. Learn more about the iTAGS (inquiry groups) by attending the happy hour event in September. TAG and WE hosted an annual retreat on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at the Graduate School of Education, 3700 Walnut Street. The day opened with introductions. The leadership exercise allowed participants to write what leadership looks like at school, in the city/district, in the state/nation, and globally. There were similarities among seeking local control in regard to the SRC (School reform Commission) because Philadelphia is currently under state control and has been since 2001. Supporting ongoing work between educators and parents within and outside of the schools. The day ended with planning the year as a result of the in-depth work around visioning and organizing.
There is a well-organized machine determined to change the face of public education and it will not hesitate to leave chaos, mayhem, and collateral damage in its wake. Unfortunately, the rights of children and parents will be even more silenced if everyone does not continue to work together for the common good. The local media and politicians in Philadelphia have chosen a side, and it is not always the one imbued with the most truth or transparency. Grassroots organizations like the ones mentioned above are the voices that are unafraid to cause a ripple in hopes that it will become a mighty wave against the battle for fully funded public education for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or zip code. Consider membership today because this fight needs the energy of many hands, hearts, and minds.