Working Educators First Annual Convention: A Renewal of Spirit
Renewal of Spirit
Saturday was one of those days when I was reminded, and thankfully so, that we are not alone in this fight against the corporate reform agenda. I had the honor of attending the Annual Convention of the Caucus of Working Educators of Philadelphia.
Dr. Yohuru Williams was the keynote speaker for the conference. While the convention was held in a community church, one did not need the backdrop of a house of worship to feel the power and the truth behind Dr. Williams words as he brought life to the great words and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After the opening speech, small group discussion sessions were formed. Scheduled were the following:
More than just Health Care – The Corporate Takeover of Public Education
Lessons from Chicago – How to Reinvigorate Our Union from Below
Taking Back Our City – Communities Standing Up for Democracy and Accountability
I attended the third session, Taking Back Our City. Expecting to experience a conversation that focused on specific issues surrounding Philadelphia schools, I was enthused to realize that we would be having real conversations about what is wrong with our schools, what we envision would be right for our schools, and how the bridge could be built between the two. Real conversations were occurring that included the start of real solutions.
The Lunch Session included several tabletop discussion. The choices of these included:
Pre-Service teacher Campaign
Charter School Teacher Allies
Stories from MORE
Start your own!
Truthfully, many wonderful conversation were taking place for me to remain seated for long. Get a bunch of activists together from Philadelphia, New York, and New Jersey and you can feel the energy in the air!
The afternoon sessions included:
Are You a Social Justice Unionist? – Changing the Culture in Your School
Parent Power! – Parents and Teachers working Together
Beating Apathy – Secrets of a Successful Organizer
Beating Apathy seemed like the perfect session for me to attend as I often find myself frustrated by the amount of teachers that just want to close their classroom door and ignore the issues that our public schools are facing. Labor Notes hosted the session and I left with some great ideas for conversation starters within my school building as well as within my community.
The session ended with a wonderful exercise where we were asked to toss out words that described how we were currently feeling. As momentum built for this exercise, words like inspired, energetic, not alone, and motivated were said with increased conviction and force.
Days like this are what band us together. Meetings, in person, face-to-face and in the flesh are what fulfill our activist spirit. They are what replenishes that well of energy that is needed to continue this fight. They are what reminds us that we are not alone. More importantly, they remind us that we are human, fighting for human civil rights.
To read Aixa Rodriguez’s open letter to Dr. Williams, visit the BAT Blog .
For more information about Caucus of Working Educators visit their website.
Photos from Taking Back our City