Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ 2022 Year In Review

OVID Response

began in much the same way as 2021 — fighting to ensure safety for all of our students and staff amidst the ongoing COVID pandemic. With a virus surge to start the year, we sought and shared feedback and report backs to the District to ensure that proper mitigation protocol were implemented. Member surveys helped inform our feedback, and we pushed for stricter mitigation measures. We secured a number of crucial safety wins:

→After our continued and collective emphasis on the critically important vaccinations, the rollout of the school-based vaccine program, led by Dr. Ala Stanford, began. This was a huge component of our demands.

→During this time, we also secured free testing kits through PFT Health & Welfare.

→Further, the District purchased KN95 masks for distribution to all staff. Further, plentiful surgical masks were provided so that students could have ready access. Our work with Councilmember Helen Gym was instrumental in securing this win.

Throughout it all, it was clear that our work was having a positive impact on safety and that parents and other stakeholders were viewing unions in a positive light.

Fairmount Fire

he start of the year also was a tragic time for the Bache-Martin Community and the entire city as we mourned the loss of nine children and three adults in the horrific Fairmount fire. I was so moved by the response of the Bache-Martin community, and even in their collective grief, how much they were there in support of all impacted.

Full Funding Budget

January closed with the start to a months-long budget process to fight for the resources our students and educators need. We joined Senator Hughes and Democratic leadership to outline an historic budget proposal for 2022.

Jerry Jordan noted that the proposal, the Full Funding Budget, was a “forward-thinking and a real blueprint for how we as a Commonwealth must show — with real investment — that we truly prioritize our young people.” Our advocacy led to the most significant investment in public education in Pennsylvania’s history.

Redistricting

he Supreme Court of Pennsylvania indicated its intent to exercise “King’s Bench” (or “Extraordinary Jurisdiction”) and overtake the redistricting process. (We worked tirelessly to secure a Democratic bench at the Supreme Court of PA in 2015!)

Ultimately, with the leadership of Leader Joanna McClinton, these new maps were fairly and expertly drawn. And with those fair maps, we were able to secure a Democratic majority in the State House in November — years of work in the making!

Governor Wolf’s Final Budget Address

overnor Wolf delivered the final budget address of his administration, one that demonstrated his commitment to public education funding:

“Our students deserve, and in fact are constitutionally (and morally) entitled to a thorough and efficient system of public education. As we continue our collective work towards a more equitable tomorrow, we commend the Governor for the steps he’s outlined today, and urge him and the entire legislature to do even more, specifically around the issue of school facilities. We will continue to advocate for the healthy and robust system of public education that our young people need to thrive.” Full statement here.

Health Advocate

PFT Health and Welfare launched a new member benefit to help meet the needs of our members and their families. Here are just some of the ways Health Advocate can help members and their families:

Direct link here.

Member Benefits

With our new contract in place, February saw the roll out of additional new member benefits, including (just to name a few!):

→Increase to the tuition reimbursement

→Paraprofessional clearance reimbursement

Paraprofessional Career Development Program

Another huge member benefit that we launched this year, after winning it in our contract, was the paraprofessional career development program!

In February, the School Board voted on two resolutions that will allow our jointly developed Paraprofessional Career Development program to move forward. One of top priorities in this contract was to provide greater support and resources for paraprofessionals. With feedback and data directly from our membership, we were able to fight for and win a new career development program.

pft.org/paraprogram

Endorsement: Shapiro for Governor

In February, the PFT Executive Board voted to endorse Josh Shapiro for Governor.

On the endorsement, PFT President Jerry T. Jordan said:

“Every time our educators and students walk in to underfunded classrooms, they are living the consequence of a political decision. It’s exactly why this union has invested both time and resources into electing leaders that recognize the moral imperative they have to fight for a more equitable system of public education. Josh Shapiro recognizes the absolute urgency of this fight, and as both State Representative and Attorney General, he has consistently advocated for increased and more equitable funding and resources.”

Legislative Platform

Throughout the winter and spring, we continued to urge elected and community partners to sign on to our platform. We used the platform as the basis of all advocacy, and will do the same in 2023.

Sample social media posts highlighting endorsers:

Responding to the War in Ukraine

pft.org/ukraine

Verdict in Murder of George Floyd

In response to the guilty verdict of three former officers for their inaction in the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, Jerry shared the following:

The verdict is an important step towards justice, and represents our ongoing fight for racial justice. This verdict, while welcome and important, is also emblematic of how much of a struggle this fight truly is. It weighs heavily on me, and also on many of you, I know. I invite you to review our principles of racial justice here. My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of George Floyd today and often.

Hydration Station Legislation

arch began with some positive news on the school facilities front. We worked with Councilmember Gym and the Fund Our Facilities Coalition to continue to pass an ordinance that will effectively eliminate the ongoing peril of lead in drinking water in our school buildings. This ordinance ultimately passed, and because of it, students and staff have guaranteed access to safe drinking water.

pft.org/hydrationstations

Fair Funding Lawsuit Conclusion

After years winding its way through the courts and a months-long trial, the Fair Funding Trail came to a conclusion. Jerry’s statement following the close of the trial reads in part:

pft.org/fundingtrial

“Throughout this case, attorneys from the Education Law Center and Public Interest Law Center have done a remarkable job illustrating, point by point, the inherent inequity in Pennsylvania’s system of school funding. Further, from parents to educators to students, witness after witness offered compelling, heart-wrenching testimony on the cost of the Commonwealth’s discriminatory funding mechanism. Shoulder to shoulder with advocates across the Commonwealth, the PFT has been an unapologetic force pushing for systemic change.

“And yet, throughout the case, the defense doubled down on their justification of a racist system. From their outrageous claims in the opening arguments that school facilities are sufficient to their overtly racist claims about the career trajectories of our young people, the defense has put forth a deeply disturbing case.

“From day one, the PFT has supported this lawsuit and in fact filed an amicus brief outlining the ways in which our students are denied their constitutional right to a thorough and efficient system of public education.

Responding to Anti LGBTQIA+ Legislation

pft.org/support

We have listed a number of important resources to help students and staff navigate the horrendous anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that is taking hold in states across the nation. The resources provide ways to support LGBTQIA+ students and staff, and to promote inclusive schools.

Paraprofessional Career Development Program

Information sessions kicked off for our paraprofessional career development program, and hundreds of members joined to learn about how this program can work for them.

POTUS Visits Muñoz-Marín

Jerry Jordan joined AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFTPA President Arthur Steinberg on a visit to Muñoz-Marín with President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Rallying for School Budgets

March closed out with our continuing to advocate for school budgets. We joined with CASA and many other partners to say NO to projected cuts.

Jerry’s remarks from the press conference right here.

Superintendent Watlington Appointed

After a months-long search, and feedback from more than 2,000 PFT members in our November 2021 survey, the School Board announced the selection of Dr. Tony Watlington as the next Superintendent. As Jerry Jordan said in his statement,

“Dr. Watlington showed a seemingly very sincere commitment to working in a truly collaborative and transparent fashion. He is hailed, in every forum I have seen, as an excellent educator. Further, he appears earnest in his commitment to working as partners with the PFT and other District unions.”

Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

pft.org/MLK2022

Jerry T. Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, reflects on the 54th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mourning the Loss of Juan Carlos Robles-Corana

Statement from Jerry Jordan:

“My heart breaks for the Duckrey school community, and especially for the family and loved ones of Juan Carlos Robles-Corana, just 15 years old, who was killed on his way home from school. Our students, our families, and our communities deserve so much more than to live with the constant fear of gun violence. I would be remiss not to include that a 13 year old boy remains in critical condition after another shooting yesterday.

“These incidents are simply devastating and while shocking, they are becoming all too common. There are no quick fixes or easy answers to the scourge of gun violence. But we do know that the cost of inaction is lives.

“We must work diligently to dismantle the racist systems that continue to shortchange primarily Black and brown communities. Yesterday, I shared with my members my reflection on the 54th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the pervasive inequities that still exist in our schools and in our society as a whole.”

Confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

In April, we celebrated the historic confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court. Jerry wrote to members:

Full statement here.

School Facilities

Our school facilities work continues. In April, Representative Elizabeth Fiedler hosted a policy committee hearing on the topic of Toxic Schools. The hearing took place at the Seafarers Union Hall in Rep. Fiedler’s 184th District.

PFT environmental scientist Jerry Roseman presented testimony on the ongoing facilities crisis. He joined Dr. Akira Drake Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design; Iggy Fletcher, Instructor, ATEI IBEW Local 98; and Edy Lai, 9th grader at Furness High School.

Read more here.

Budgets

Our advocacy continued throughout the spring, as we participated in a number of external advocacy events as well as legislative discussions and meetings, and conducted a host of ‘action alerts’ for members to connect with their elected officials.

At the state level, we fought back hard against anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, racist legislation, as well as legislation to privatize schools. These fights continued throughout the spring and are still ongoing.

Advocacy Work

Throughout March, April, and May, we were preparing for a critical primary election, Jeffrey Yass (the mainline billionaire who has for years tried to upend public education in Philadelphia, and in 2020 funded insurrection efforts) poured millions into efforts to unseat a number of our allies in the State Legislature. PFT members worked tirelessly to fight back — from phone banking to door knocking to countless mail pieces from AFTPA — we pushed back and were largely successful. You can read Jerry’s statement on the results here.

Jerry Jordan joins fellow AFT leaders that comprise the “Staff Shortage” task force after a meeting in early May

Our advocacy continued in a variety of ways throughout the year.

PFT provided in-depth testimony to City Council regarding staffing, facilities, funding, and overall allotments. The work around school staffing also continued through the work of the AFT task force on the issue, and Jerry Jordan was part of that critical work.

We joined a powerful rally at FS Key School organized by Representative Fiedler, Senator Hughes, and Senator Saval. We called attention to the $13 Billion in *extra* funds that the state has right now, and the urgent need to ‘free the funds.’

Buffalo

In May, the nation was shocked — but not surprised — by the horrific act of white supremacist terrorism that unfolded at a Buffalo supermarket.

Full statement here.

Every day, we recommit ourselves to ending the scourge of gun violence and racism in this nation, and double down on our efforts to make necessary changes.

Funding Amicus Brief

For the second time, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania (AFTPA), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief in support of the landmark school funding trial.

pft.org/amicus

Facilities Fight

As our facilities fight continues, we testified in favor of a number of critical bills before city council which ultimately passed:

pft.org/councilmay19
Read more here.

Uvalde

Eleven days after the horrendous mass shooting in Buffalo, another devastating mass shooting devastated the Robb Elementary School community and the entire nation.

Read Jerry’s member message here.

Budget Advocacy

As it usually does, June is an intense month of budget advocacy as negotiations were underway in Harrisburg. In an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jerry outlined exactly what was at stake, writing:

“The fact that our young people have been compelled into advocacy because of our continued failure to invest in their futures is profoundly shameful. Educators, students, and parents in Philadelphia and across the country have been emphatic that our young people need more, and they need it now. There is legislation proposed that does just that.”

Read the op-ed here.

Gun Safety Advocacy

Our efforts to quell the national crisis of gun violence continued throughout the year. We joined Tuesdays with Toomey, CeaseFirePA, and many more at a ‘die-in’ in June to draw attention to Pat Toomey’s inaction on needed gun reform. In his remarks, Jerry Jordan noted that we joined the event “in solidarity, in sorrow, and in rage.”

Read more about this powerful action here.

We engaged in federal advocacy urging Toomey to do the right thing:

And we engaged in state wide advocacy for a moral budget and commonsense gun reform.

All the while, the state legislature continued to ignore this crisis and instead worked to pass nefarious legislation.

In response to the Senate’s passage of these reprehensible bills, PFT members Gemayel Keyes, Kate Sundeen, and Benjamin Hover spoke powerfully at a coalition press conference hosted by District Attorney Larry Krasner outside of CAPA. Read more about this moving event here. Read Jerry’s full statement here.

AFL-CIO Convention

Jerry represented the AFT as a delegate to the AFL-CIO national convention, where he had the opportunity to join an important panel on defending democracy. Read more about the panel here.

At the convention, Parkway Northwest Building Representative Sharahn Santana delivered a phenomenal speech before a packed house of delegates — it’s a must watch!

Roe Decision

We responded and fought back against SCOTUS’ ruling to overturn decades of precedent allowing a woman right to bodily autonomy. The fight continues as we work to codify rights at local, state, and federal levels.

Full statement here.
Pictured: PFT Staff Representative LeShawna Coleman and thousands protesting the SCOTUS decision. Social media posts on the protest and the decision here, here, and here.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

June closed with heartening news, as we celebrated the swearing in of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. Jerry’s statement after Justice Brown Jackson’s confirmation.

A Tragic July 4th

July began with more tragedy and the devastation of gun violence.

Jerry shared these thoughts with members following a tragic fourth of July:

Our nation is once again reeling from the horror of a deadly mass shooting. There are no words that could possibly suffice when, amidst a celebratory parade, seven people were murdered and dozens more injured. My thoughts and my deepest sympathies are with those who suffered an unbearable loss in the mass shooting in Illinois.

Further, right here in our beloved city, two police officers were shot amidst the festivities on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I am thankful that they are recovering.

The scourge of gun violence across the nation is unbearable. In the first five days of July alone, 11 lives were stolen in Philadelphia, cut short by gun violence. In the last 72 hours alone, there have been 439 mass shootings in this nation.

PA Republican Legislature Attempts Abortion Ban

The Republican controlled PA legislature took the Roe ruling and sought to capitalize on it, engaging in a disgraceful attempt to change the state constitution to ban abortion.

Read Jerry’s legislative memo here. He writes in part:

It is a cruel form of irony to claim to protect ‘life’ while believing that this obligation begins and ends before the birth of a child. I am outraged by the General Assembly’s move to ban abortion in the Commonwealth via constitutional amendment.

Budget Passage & Attempt to Legislative by Constitutional Amendment

While these efforts were under way, the budget was finalized, with much to applaud and much work remaining.

Full statement here.

The legislature moved quickly in their eleventh hour efforts to not only ban abortion, but also to implement racist voter ID laws. Jerry’s statement on their efforts to rule by constitutional amendment:

Full statement here.

Celebrating the Passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Read about this powerful event here.

PFT President Jerry Jordan joined President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, AFT President Randi Weingarten, advocates, families & survivors at the White House following the June signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

The event, held on the South Lawn of the White House, included survivors and families of recent mass shootings in the United States, was a poignant reflection on the scourge of gun violence in this nation. The devastation wrought by gun violence permeates communities across the country, and at every level of government, our leaders can and must respond.

PFT Delegates Represent at the AFT Convention

Watch AFT President Randi Weingarten’s powerful State of the Union Address here.
See more images here.
See more images here.
Read more here.
AFT — American Federation of Teachers delegates (especially our PFT delegation!!) were thrilled to hear from Sheryl Lee Ralph this morning as she delivered an inspiring message in support of educators and our collective work!
The task force report continues to be an impactful document of recommendations that we are using widely in our advocacy work.
Read the report here.
PFT’s Dee Phillips and Rhonda Hicks were presented with “Living the Legacy” awards at the Women’s Rights Breakfast, honoring their decades of service!

Read AFT’s convention wrap-up here. Convention delegates voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram, and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus. Additionally, a full slate of Vice Presidents was elected, including PFT President Jerry Jordan and AFTPA President Arthur Steinberg.

Negotiated Raises in Effect

The year ahead included a negotiated raise for all PFT members. We updated our payscales and shared them with members here.

More information here.
Access the full contract here.

Solidarity

Labor solidarity has been so crucial this year, and we stood in solidarity with our labor siblings at 32BJ SEIU as they negotiated a new contract that brought them to a strike vote.

Jerry’s full statement here.

Student Debt Relief

The Biden-Harris Administration announced a major, historic plan to forgive student debt, and it was a welcome announcement to close out the summer.

Full statement here.

Back to School

Read Jerry’s Back to School Message to Members here.
PFT President Jerry Jordan and Councilmember Helen Gym joined the back to school festivities at Dobbins & Duckrey on the first day of school with students! Watch the video here.

Shooting Outside of Willard Elementary

August closed with more devastation from gun violence, with a shooting outside of Willard Elementary.

Full statement here.

Labor Day

September kicked off with a great Labor Day Parade, which is always such an exciting day of solidarity.

See more images from the day here.

PFT Member Emmanuel Gonzalez: My 2nd-grade students are dripping in sweat. We are being ‘forgotten.’

PFT Member Emmanuel Gonzalez, a second grade teacher at Ellwood Elementary, has an important Inquirer Op-Ed on the urgent need for safe and comfortable learning environments in every classroom of every school.

Read the full op-ed here.

Tiffany Fletcher

We mourn the loss of Tiffany Fletcher, killed by a stray bullet while working outside of Mill Creek Recreation Center, and the ongoing scourge of gun violence, PFT President Jerry Jordan issued a statement, reading in part:

We grieve for Tiffany Fletcher’s children and all of her loved ones, and for all impacted by this horrific tragedy and by the ongoing devastation of gun violence. For Ms. Fletcher’s life to be cut short because of a stray bullet while she was working at a community recreation center is just unconscionable. To Ms. Fletcher’s family, and to all that knew and loved her, I offer my deepest sympathy on behalf of the PFT.

Student Debt Clinic

In September, we co-hosted a student debt clinic with AFTPA, AFT, and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. It was a fantastic event, and we were especially thrilled that PFT Associate Secretary Trina Dean was able to share her student debt relief story!

Read more about this phenomenal event here.

Election Activities

Our political liaisons and election leads were hard at work in September organizing for the November election. The first activity, in addition to political liaison meetings, was the distribution of pledge cards. We used these cards to organize and remind members of what was at stake in November.

PMA Solidarity

Roxborough High

September closed with tragedy. In reflecting on the horror of the shooting outside of Roxborough High School, Jerry shared the following with members:

It has truly been a devastating week in Philadelphia, as we grapple with the horror that unfolded at the shooting following a football scrimmage at Roxborough High School. Fourteen year-old Nicolas Elizalde was killed, and four others were injured in broad daylight doing exactly what we tell kids to do: engage in healthy, productive activities in their school communities. The loss is profound, and the impact is truly immeasurable.

Our hearts break for Nicolas’ mom, PFT member Meredith Elizalde. Meredith recounts Nicolas as the ‘best son anyone could ask for’ and the ‘most gentle soul’ in this heart-wrenching and profoundly moving interview. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, let us all keep Meredith, Nicolas, and the entire family in our hearts and minds.

PFT Staff Representative LeShawna Coleman, who represents schools in Northwest Philadelphia, spent hours on Wednesday at both Roxborough and Saul in support of the entire school communities. There, she spent time talking with students and staff and hearing about their efforts to support one another amidst profound grief. After these visits, she spoke with a number of media outlets to ensure that the experiences she saw and heard were shared and told.

As she told Fox29 “as much as [educators] are processing their own grief, they are right in these buildings, there were no teacher absences, because they said ‘I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be than with my students today.”

In a searing portrait of the response to this tragedy in the Inquirer, LeShawna said that staff were “showing up for kids, they were putting their emotions aside, and just trying to support them.”

To NBC10, LeShawna shared “It makes the teachers wonder how they can do their job of educating kids when they aren’t even safe in our care.”

Like you, I cannot stop thinking about the persistent and pervasive devastation of gun violence. The fact that a high school football field is not a safe haven should be unthinkable. But time and again, we’ve seen the villainous reality of the crisis of gun violence.

Read more about Nicolas here.

Jeremiah Wilcox

Less than two weeks later, we mourned again for the senseless loss of another child, Jeremiah Wilcox, an eighth grader at Wagner Middle School.

Full statement here. Note: Jeremiah Wilcox was identified after the statement release.

Read more about Jeremiah here.

Election Activities

Throughout October, our teams worked to get out the vote in a major way. From pledge cards to door knocking to organizing colleagues, the teams were working day in and day out to make a huge difference in the November election. We shared information about why John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro, along with Democrats up and down the ballot, were critical wins for Pennsylvania (and the entire nation).

Over 25,000 community fliers were distributed throughout our program.

Paraprofessional Program Expansion

Watch Anna Kirkman talk about the importance of this program right here.

Chalkbeat covers the $1.7M program expansion:

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said the goal is to have a teacher workforce in Pennsylvania in 2025 that is “healthy and robust, representative of the students we serve … and ensures access to leadership and professional growth opportunities.” Read the full article here.

Election Crunch Time

We had a great GOTV rally in the days leading up to the election. Read about the PFT and labor efforts here.

UFT Volunteers came to Philadelphia multiple weekends to help with our efforts. Read more here.

GOTV Weekend

Inquirer coverage of our efforts here.
More from this great event here.

Election Results

PFT’s election efforts by the numbers:

  • Doors Canvassed: Neary 13,000
  • Texts and Calls Completed: 90,000
  • Community Fliers Distributed: Over 25,000

Jerry’s post-election message to members read in part:

What we have accomplished together in this election puts us in position to continue our collective fight for a better tomorrow. Election night was thrilling, as we celebrated the victory of Josh Shapiro (statement here) and just a short while later, the victory of John Fetterman (statement here). Both candidates defeated extremists that have no place in government. Our team at PFT knocked nearly 13,000 doors as part of the tens of thousands of doors knocked by the entire Philadelphia AFL-CIO program. And that was 100% the difference-maker!

Yesterday, we watched as PA House Democrats held a joyful press conference announcing that for the first time in over a decade, the Democrats will be in the majority in the State House. This monumental shift is borne out of years of work of so many dedicated individuals and organizations.

Think back to how hard you all worked to flip the PA Supreme Court blue in 2015. That Supreme Court oversaw the redistricting process and the implementation of new maps. Think about how many seats we have helped to flip blue, especially in Delaware County, over the past several years.

Leader Joanna McClinton led the map process for the Dems, and did a phenomenal job, and has been a phenomenal representative and leader. HDCC Chair Leanne Krueger, one of the first seats we helped flip blue, has doubled down on her efforts to make this extraordinary state-wide shift.

This cycle, election results are coming down to just a few votes in a few races — including AFTPA-endorsed candidates. These endorsements and GOTV efforts make a difference!

We also saw incredible efforts from our close allies Representatives Malcolm Kenyatta and Elizabeth Fiedler who both led huge GOTV operations. Rep Kenyatta relentlessly criss-crossed the state to ensure that we picked up as many seats as possible; Rep Fielder headed up the South Philly Voter Project and surpassed her goal of knocking over 30,000 doors this cycle.

And none of these successes happen without YOU. Your ongoing engagement and involvement has been absolutely instrumental.

Our election leads were extraordinary, and I am so grateful to them for their efforts. Week after week, they organized and led an operation that enabled us to be engaged in a stronger way than ever before. And our program is only going to grow from here.

Thank you, too, to our political liaisons and building representatives, who also helped take on this role, who stepped up and volunteered so much of their time to make this election a success. And thank you to every single member who was engaged in this process.

Full statement here.
Full statement here.

Gun Violence

The scourge of gun violence continues to plague our city and nation.

Jerry shared this reflection in November in the wake of the murder of DC33 member Ikeem Johnson and mass shootings in Colorado Springs and Chesapeake, VA:

As we continue our efforts to advocate for justice, I ask that you hold in your hearts those lost to gun violence. We mourn the loss of DC33 member Ikeem Johnson, murdered while on the job. We mourn for the horror that unfolded in the hate crime at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, where a gunman stole the lives of Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh and Derrick Rump. And we mourn for the victims of the devastating mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake, VA just last night, where at least six people were killed. We mourn for each and every soul taken too soon amidst the devastation of gun violence.

Efforts to Circumvent the Will of Philadelphia Voters

Read more here.

More from DA Krasner’s office:

Full release here.

Overbrook High School

Full statement here.

As students left for Thanksgiving break, four students were shot leaving Overbrook High School. While we are so grateful that all students survived, we know the trauma remains unbearable and vow to continue our fight against gun violence.

Legislative Platform

In early December, we launched our 2023 Legislative Platform. As we did in 2022, we will use this as the foundation for our advocacy work, and we are encouraging elected officials and community partners to sign on.

Platform here.

Para Program Featured in American Educator

Full article here.

The winter edition of American Educator, AFT’s quarterly magazine, which features a phenomenal article about our paraprofessional career pathways program, written by PFT Staff Representative LeShawna Coleman and teacher resident Gemayel Keyes.

Special Event in Memory of Nicolas Elizalde

Inquirer article here

What a beautiful event at Saul High School in memory of Nicolas Elizalde. Nicolas’ mom, Meredith, a PFT member was in attendance as was the Roxborough football team, many of Nicolas’ friends and family, as well as a surprise guest — Jalen Hurts. The group was treated to a delicious lunch by FoodChasers (founded by retired principals Kala and Maya Johnstone) as well as games and activities. The Inquirer rightfully described the event as “a bright spot in what has been a difficult school year for Saul and Roxborough students.”

CeaseFirePA Vigil

In honor of the 10 year anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and the 15,000 lives lost to gun violence in the years since then, CeaseFirePA hosted a poignant vigil on December 14th. Speakers at the event included Roz Pichardo (CeaseFirePA), Chante Love (EMIR Healing Center), Dennis Carradin (The Trauma Survivors Foundation), Meredith Elizalde (mother of Nicolas, and PFT member), Rev. Tonya Waller-Waddy, Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight (Mothers In Charge), Adam Garber (CeaseFirePA) and Michael Reed.

Read more about this powerful event.

At the event, Meredith Elizalde read an incredibly poignant poem she wrote in honor of her son Nicolas: “What Does the Green Bird See?”. The poem reads in part:

Does he see Saul? His agricultural high school where he felt at home? Where he made friends quickly? Where he felt seen? Where the students do amazing things each day? Does he see people buy the products made on their farm?

Does he see the tears he shed watching the Uvalde coverage? The Spanish song that he and his mother listened to on TikTok, written for the murdered children?

Does he see his already reserved 15th birthday dinner at Dave and Busters on October 8th? The lifeguard course that he was going to take as soon as he turned 15?

Does he see what a peaceful, nonviolent, innocent boy he was? How funny he was? A light to those around him.

Does he hear the shots? Almost 70 of them. Does he see his mother run up the hill to try to save him? Does he see her fear as she realizes that he is not bleeding? Does he feel his mother lift his clothes to see where the bullet struck him? Does he see that God spared him the tarnish of blood, save for a tiny drop at the entry point? Does he see her as she finds that drop of blood on her hijab hours later?

Does he see his mother, alone on the floor at Einstein as they told her that the bullet struck his heart directly and there was nothing that could’ve been done? DOA in his football uniform. Does he see the trauma surgeon get on the floor with her? Does he know that his mother already knew that he was dead? That she felt him take his last breath in the back of a cop car on the same road that they drove home on every night? Does he see that she died too but just not enough? That her entire identity collapsed in a split second?

Does he see the 1200 people standing in line to offer condolences, in the rainy dark, multiple school buses from Saul and Roxborough, a whole football team in uniform?

Read the entire beautiful work here.

Watch this brief clip of just some of the families who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence read their names and light candles in their honor. In honor of the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, the names of the victims were read aloud.

Thanking America’s Educators

AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Becky Pringle joined First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in a thank you to America’s educators event at the White House

Respect for Marriage Act

The President signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act

Looking Towards 2023

As we look towards 2023, we continue to remain focused on fighting for equity, justice, and a better tomorrow. The PFT has released our 2023 Legislative Platform rooted in this work.

Full platform here.

We wish you and yours peace, health, and happiness in the New Year.

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The PFT represents more than 13,000 hardworking educators in Philadelphia’s public schools.

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Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

The PFT represents more than 13,000 hardworking educators in Philadelphia’s public schools.