Democratic Mayoral candidate, and former Philadelphia public school teacher, Helen Gym was officially endorsed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers outside Heston Elementary School in West Philadelphia yesterday.
“I cannot tell you what an incredible honor it is to have earned the endorsement of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers,” said Helen Gym. “As a former public school teacher, this has been a decades long journey working side by side with PFT. My life’s mission is to make Philly’s families and kids stronger, healthier and more loved – and that means investing in schools. No one will fight harder for what our kids need and deserve.”
“I taught at Lowell Elementary School at 5th & Nedro in Olney, then one of the most overcrowded schools in the city,” continued Helen. “I was filled with hope and love for my students and their families but I taught on the 5th floor of a 100 year old building. I taught on days with 90 degree classrooms and 38 students in a class. We made the most of every minute and it was joyful. But I knew my kids deserved so much more. And that struggle lit a fire in me.”
Helen has been supported by many of the teachers. “Helen’s landslide win in our membership vote was resounding – garnering more than four times the vote as anyone. Helen is the candidate that PFT members know and trust. In a vote of thousands upon thousands of PFT members, that much was quite clear,” said Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, at yesterday’s press conference. “With the urgent need to address public safety and so many crucial issues, our members have unequivocally said Helen Gym is the person they choose to lead our city in the work ahead.”
As a City Councilmember, Helen led a bold and comprehensive agenda for Philadelphia’s schools. She stood side by side with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to end the state takeover of schools and restore nurses, counselors, social workers, clean water, and arts and music to every public school in Philadelphia. For decades, Helen has been a leading education advocate in the city who has fought back against budget cuts, school closures, and attacks on teachers.
To improve community safety, and the safety of the schools, Helen will declare a state of emergency on her first day in office and try to guarantee safe routes and from schools. Her youth agenda calls for additional employment opportunities, year round supports outside of schools, a 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. approach to programming, home and mental health and addiction services, and targeted violence interruption interventions.
PFT’s more than 13,000 members include teachers, librarians, school nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, classroom assistants, non-teaching assistants, supportive services assistants, Head Start/Comprehensive Early Learning Center and Bright Futures teachers and staff, food service managers and professional and technical employees.