Caucus of Working Educators prepares for second annual Black Lives Matter week

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Updated Feb. 6 at 2:44 p.m. to clarify PFT position.

Philadelphia will be one of several cities participating Feb. 5-10 in the National Black Lives Matter Week of Action. Teachers and organizers from more than 60 Philadelphia K-12 schools — District, charter, and private — as well as universities will take part in teaching and dialogue about racial justice.

The week is being led by the Caucus of Working Educators, a faction of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Other participating cities include Seattle, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

The week’s events will focus on such topics as black families, collective value, diversity, globalism, and empathy. In addition, there will be a push for districts across the country to end zero-tolerance discipline practices, recruit and retain more black teachers, and mandate black history and ethnic studies.

“We can’t just say black lives matter in school without actually demanding specific changes for our black and brown students,” said Shira Cohen, a lead organizer of the week.

Forty local organizations have signed on in support of Black Lives Matter Week, including Asian Americans United, Parents United for Public Education, and the Mazzoni Center.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers said it cannot endorse the week because of "National Labor Relations Board prohibitions on the use of union resources to promote the activities of individual caucuses within the union."

However, George Jackson, spokesman for the union, said the “PFT is very committed to having those conversations.”

A kick-off event will be from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, at the Maximum Level Lounge, 5118 Sansom St.

For more information on the planned events, visit