April 26 — 11:37 am, 2016

An education conference focused on transformation (not innovation)

The Teacher Action Group's annual conference will address issues of racial justice in public education.

tag conference 2016 Teacher Action Group

It’s hard to mistake the implicit messages underlying current policies of school “reform” such as budget cuts, closures, and turnarounds.

Students, your school, and teachers are the problem. Your community and parents have failed. What exists is not worth investing in; it needs to be demolished to make way for the new and improved Philadelphia.  

Too often we’re fed the idea that the only way to build great schools inside a great city is to innovate.  The keepers of the paradigm of innovation focus on the new: new school operators, outside experts peddling the latest great fix in education technology, school turnarounds or closures in pursuit of a clean slate.  

For those of us who are deeply committed to the promise of public education or who have been targets of the heavy hammer of this so-called reform, this approach is degrading and disempowering.

It’s also wrong.  

Real transformation doesn’t come from throwing away what exists – as if a student, her family, her school, and the community she lives in are disposable. Real transformation recognizes and builds from the talent, wisdom, and experience that already exists in our schools and communities. It is an organic process led by those most directly affected. Real transformation requires providing more resources and support to develop, expand, and unlock collective wisdom and creative visioning.  

At a time when public officials are implementing policies that relentlessly abandon the public good in the form of shuttered schools and privatized futures, many Philadelphians say no. No, students are not numbers that must be improved in a data system.  No, teachers are not scapegoats solely responsible for underfunded schools’ struggles. No, community members are not pawns without ideas about how to improve the schools their children attend.  No, education is not a private enterprise that must be outsourced to corporate-modeled takeovers.

This year, the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia celebrates and holds up power from within. We continue to build the web of relationships among educators, students, parents, and concerned community members by gathering together to highlight the strategies and solutions already being generated and practiced in our schools and city.  From campaigns to ensure there is clean water in our schools to project-based learning that puts student inquiry at the center, and from developing a neighborhood-wide zone for healing trauma to training youth how to step up to interrupt potential gun violence, the solutions to the crises facing Philadelphia are being pursued by those most deeply affected.

Are we listening? Are we ready to transform our practices, our funding streams, and our legislative priorities to truly invest in the power from within our schools? We say yes. Join us on April 30 at TAG’s 7th annual Education for Liberation Conference as we continue and expand the conversation. The conference’s panels, workshops, tablers, and lunchtime conversations will create the space to witness, learn from and build on the brilliance that exists within our school communities. Join us to honor and recognize the work of educators and students who are learning, creating, growing, and who are pushing back to build the educational spaces all students deserve.

Anissa Weinraub, Sarah Burgess, Chris Rogers, and Charlie McGeehan are core members of Teacher Action Group Philadelphia.

TAG’s 7th annual Education for Liberation Conference
Saturday, April 30 from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
FACTS Charter School
1023 Callowhill St.

To see the list of this year’s workshops, click here.


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