Educators, union activists, and various advocacy groups convened for Teacher Action Group’s fifth annual Education for Liberation conference and curriculum fair on May 3 at FACTS Charter School.
The day, which drew more than 150 attendees, was filled with 13 workshops that covered such topics as school discipline, multicultural identities in schools, and the power of student voice. Lois Weiner, a lifelong teachers’ union activist and educator, and author of The Future of Our Schools, delivered the keynote address, titled “Social Justice in Classrooms and Schools: Why We Must Transform Teachers’ Unions.”
Weiner urged teachers to come together and fight what she called “attacks on public education.”
Anissa Weinraub, a TAG member and English teacher at Bodine High School, agreed that public education is in danger and also called on her colleagues to join forces to deal with the crisis situation in schools.
“Teachers have to fight back, and this event allows us to come together, build connections, and strengthen relationships.”
“We’re hoping to get out the message that this is no less than an outright attack on public education and democracy. It’s an attack on our students, on communities of color, and low-income communities across Philadelphia,” she said.
Many organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, JUNTOS, the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, and the Caucus of Working Educators, were represented and distributed literature.
ACLU community organizer and Notebook board chair Harold Jordan, who attends the event every year, said the conference is an opportunity to come together and discuss big-picture issues.
“It’s a nice gathering of folks who care about … improving this community,” he said.
“They really believe that public institutions need to function for the public and for kids and families.”