Most of us have seen it at the bottom of correspondence from our union leaders (those of us who have unions, that is): “In solidarity…” I don’t know that we really think about those words and the importance of them, though. I especially don’t think that those of us who have been in the union from the beginning of our career have stopped to think about what it would mean if we didn’t have a union or a group with which to display our solidarity.
Yet, we don’t always stand in solidarity. Often, we divide ourselves into “regular ed. and special ed.” or “content teachers and itinerants” or “elementary and secondary.” We need to stop. We are educators. We are under attack from what seems like a million different directions, and we are losing ground to charters, corporations, education reformers, and spin machines that have millions of dollars to discount all that we say and do. If we allow the situation and the circumstances to divide us, they will conquer us.
The latest developments in Philadelphia must be a lesson to all public educators, everywhere. I don’t know that any of us truly believed that a contract could be canceled. I think some of us still believe that someone will step in and make this situation right. The problem is, there isn’t anyone standing up for the teachers, other than the union and the parents and students. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted down the proposal to give the governor the power to abolish the School Reform Commission (SRC), and they also failed to pass a measure to force the SRC to advertise meetings 48 hours in advance.
This is why our unions speak to us in terms of “solidarity.” The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers needs us. They need us to write letters and emails to the members of the Senate Committee. They need us to boost their morale through solidarity events as simple as wearing red and sharing the picture on their Facebook page. They need to know that other teachers care about what they are going through and that we know it’s not right. They need to hear from us, when they are not hearing from anyone else. They need us to sign and share the petition urging the SRC to negotiate in good faith. The Philadelphia teachers need our solidarity NOW.
To get more about the story in Philadelphia and what you can do to help, read my blog post, “Solidarity Now.” Stay up to date by “Liking” the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools Facebook page and following them on Twitter. Read the articles that share the TRUTH about the situation, like “Letters: A plea for R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” “Real Life ‘Dr. Evil’ latest to take on Philly teachers with front group,” and “Thousands join street protest before raucous SRC meeting.”
Image via Flickr by peoplesworld