Jerry Jordan, PFT President Fights For Safe Schools, and Education Equality

It has become evident that as a country, we have a lot of work to do to dismantle systemic racism and reckon with 400 years of oppression. Black History Month isn’t just about remembering the past; it’s about taking that knowledge and doing something about it. Throughout February, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will share features of Black union leaders who work every day to break down systemic racism and build a brighter future. Unions have always known that education is a fundamental right, a tool of empowerment, and the best path to equality. We are proud to begin this series with our own PA AFL-CIO Vice President, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Local 3, Jerry T. Jordan. President Jordan is leading the fight to ensure students’ and educators’ safety, and his work has never been more important.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers represents 11,000 working people in Philadelphia’s public schools. The Philadelphia School District educates approximately 10% of Pennsylvania’s schoolchildren, including many of the most vulnerable children of color experiencing poverty. The school buildings average more than 70 years old.  

It has become incredibly clear that as a country we have a lot of work to do to dismantle systemic racism and reckon with 400 years of oppression. Black History Month isn’t just about remembering the past its about taking that knowledge and doing something about it. Throughout February, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO will share features of Black union leaders who work everyday to break down systemic racism and build a brighter future. Unions have always know that education is a fundamental right, a tool of empowerment, and the best path to equality. We are proud to begin this series with our own PA AFL-CIO Vice President, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Local 3, Jerry T. Jordan. President Jordan is leading the fight to ensure safety for students and educators, and his work has never been more important.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers represents 11,000 working people in Philadelphia’s public schools. The Philadelphia School District educates approximately 10% of Pennsylvania’s school children, including many of the most vulnerable children of color experiencing poverty. The school buildings average more that 70 years old.

“You don’t have to look any further than the facilities crisis in Philadelphia’s schools to see the effects of racism in 2021. For decades, a deeply inequitable system of education funding rooted in racism has time and again, shortchanged our young people. It should be lost on no one that in Philadelphia, where the majority of our students are Black and Brown and experiencing poverty, our students and their futures have been marginalized. Our fight for education funding is about equity and justice, and we won’t stop until all of our students have every resource they so richly deserve.”
– Jerry T. Jordan, President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

Philadelphia’s school buildings have been falling into disrepair for decades. Before COVID-19, Jerry and his union sisters and brothers of the AFT were sounding the alarm on the unsafe conditions in these schools including, asbestos, lead, mold, rodents, and inadequate ventilation, to name a few. Since the pandemic began, the transition out of classrooms has brought with it new challenges for educators, parents, and students. Not least among them has been the uncertainty and threat of being forced back into buildings that weren’t safe, to begin with. This situation would never be tolerated in a wealthier, whiter school district.

The union movement across the Commonwealth is proud to stand with President Jordan and his members. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO fully supports the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in their fight. 

Read President Jordan’s editorial published on the state of Philadelphia’s schools:

Philadelphia’s school buildings have been falling into disrepair for decades. Before COVID-19, Jerry and his union sisters and brothers of the AFT were sounding the alarm on the unsafe conditions in these schools including, asbestos, lead, mold, rodents, and inadequate ventilation, to name a few. Since the pandemic began the transition out of classrooms has brought with it new challenges for educators, parents and students. Not least among them has been the uncertainty and threat of being forced back into buildings that weren’t safe to begin with. This situation would never be tolerated in a wealthier, whiter school district.

The union movement across the Commonwealth is proud to stand with President Jordan and his members. The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO fully supports the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in their fight.

Read President Jordan’s editorial published on the state of Philadelphia’s schools:

Teachers and families deserve safe ventilation if they’re going to school during a pandemic

About President Jerry T. Jordan

Educated in Philadelphia public schools, President Jordan came from a family of public school teachers, with his grandparents, an uncle, aunts and cousins teaching in the South and in Philadelphia.

Jordan received his degree in education and Spanish from Temple University and began teaching high school Spanish and English as a Second Language in the Philadelphia school district.

Jordan recalls the pre-collective bargaining, pre-civil rights era of his youth when teachers were not treated as professionals and African American teachers were barred from teaching in white schools, in high schools or becoming principals. As a result, Jordan became active in the PFT and was elected the PFT building representative at University City High School.

In 1987, he joined the PFT as a district staff representative, representing teachers and support staff in 50 schools and school district offices. He was elected legislative representative on the PFT’s executive board and in 1989 was appointed special assistant to the PFT president and was elected general vice president by the members.

A year later, he was appointed director of the PFT staff, a position he held until June 2007, when he was elected to serve the unexpired term of the previous PFT president. He was elected to a four-year term as PFT president in February 2008.

Read More about President Jerry Jordan at AFT.

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