PCAPs is a coalition of about 17 different organizations with a common goal of fighting against the current trends in the “deforming” of public education. PCAPs has organized and participated in many rallies around the city trying to shine a light on the truth of what is happening to our public schools while at the same time calling out special interest players, like PSP, who have more of a voice in city schools than teachers, parents, students and community members do.
In coming here today, I was trying to decide what to wear. I decided on this t-shirt because the message is too important. I suspect everyone here already knows, Corbett MUST GO!
We have seen such an all out brutal attack on public education in our city and across our country that it is hard to know where to even begin. For sure…one place we must begin is at the poll. We must vote….we must vote in every single election….we must get smarter in how we vote….and we must begin to educate those around us to do the same.
Teaching was a change of professions for me. I spent 16 years working for Pretrial Services Division which was the bail agency and warrant unit for the court of common pleas. After seeing the revolving door of crime in our city and the sad and hopeless lives of those involved…I decided I wanted to do work that would look and feel more positive and where better to do that than to teach and work in schools.
I then spent the next 23 years teaching kindergarten and learning and growing as an educator. I took great pride in seeing those little 5 year olds come through those doors in September as a haphazard bunch of babies and leave as such independent, functioning, capable students who were blooming as writers, readers and problem solvers. I was fortunate to work with exciting colleagues doing exciting work and my teaching blossomed as a result. If something crazy came down the pike, I always knew I could shut my door and do what I knew was best for kids. Not so much any more.
I have always had a class size of 30 children but I did live through times when basic supplies were actually available and classroom assistants were there for at least part of the day. When there was an NTA in even our elementary school building, when I could get high quality big books and “just right” student packs of books, when you could encourage parent volunteers to come in an hour a week to support your classroom (that was before they had to pay for and submit to 4 different kinds of criminal checks) and when counselors actually counseled children. Again….not so much any more.
I think it is very important that we, as concerned educators and education advocates fully understand that Philadelphia is a part of a larger picture. Across the country, there is an all out attack on public education that is well funded by wealthy corporate interests. These corporate individuals and interests form foundations with fancy names that sound altruistic but whose sole purpose is the destruction of public education, the destruction of teacher unions and the amassing of their own wealth. Our politicians have more and more either joined in this charade (money flowing into their campaign coffers or their own special interest bank accounts?) or are remaining silent. It is up to us to take back control. We can if we vote.
We have to begin to reverse the trend of voter apathy. We can do that in small ways by making sure we never miss an election. By making sure our partners, husbands, and extended family members get out to vote. By teaching our own children the importance of voting and by educating our classroom children in the same manner. In addition, we can look for ways that fit our lifestyle to step into this fight. There is no neutral party in this fight. You are either actively involved in efforts to stop the madness or you are a silent player in the “deforming” agenda.
Sign the voter pledge
Sign the petition to add referendum to November election (Phila. Registered voters)
Read education blogs because the newspaper gives little in real information
Sign petitions that come through your email on this topic
Write your own letters to politicians
Come out to rallies
Help at neighborhood canvassing efforts
Help at phone bank efforts