Why We Are Here: Evette Jones at the PCAPS Rallly Yesterday

Evette Jones, PFT staffer and PCAPS leader, at yesterday’s rally.   Also pictured here from right to left are Rev. Larry Patrick, PA-AFT President Ted Kirsch, PFT President Jerry Jordan and State Rep. James Roebuck

PFT's Evette Jones

PFT’s Evette Jones

We are here today because 60 years ago the Supreme Court took a giant step forward in the long struggle for racial equality in our country. It struck down the separate but equal doctrine that was the legal foundation for Jim Crow schools in the South. It affirmed the principle that all children are entitled to a quality education.

We are here today because we know the promise of the Brown decision has not been kept. Both nationally and in our city we have witnessed decades of resistance to school desegregation and providing equality of opportunity for children of color.

We are here today because, under a 13 year regime of state control, we are seeing our schools reduced, in the words of Superintendent Hite, to empty shells without the resources that are essential to provide even the bare bones of an education. Our schools threaten to become the shame of the nation, as were the Jim Crow schools of the South in the years before Brown.

We are here today to make clear that we will not accept this outcome and will continue the fight to realize the promise of the Brown decision. We recognize that every gain that has been made in the fight for equality has come from the willingness of ordinary people to stand up and fight. We stand on the shoulders of the Southern freedom movement, the people who tore down the walls of segregation at Girard College, the African American students who stood up to police clubs at the Board of Education to win Black studies, and the many organizations who waged a decades long fight in the courts and in the streets to challenge separate and unequal schooling in our city. We honor those who came before us by continuing their fight.

We are here today because we know, as did Dr. Martin Luther King, that the struggle for racial equality is bound up with the fight for economic justice. The claim that education can somehow deliver the promised land without attacking poverty, without challenging the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few, is a cruel hoax.

Finally, We are here today because this is an election year and we are focused on carrying our fight to the ballot box. We will be organizing voters today and right down to November to use their power to elect people who will support education and economic justice. We need each and every one of you here today to help make this happen. Are you with us?

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Reclaiming the Promise of Brown in West Philly Today

pictures of today’s rally, march, canvas and picnic

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Funeral March for Philly Schools

Last weeks action organized by POWER and supported by PCAPS Pictures from Ralph Branch

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Budget Cuts Unfair Says 7th Grader at Greenberg Elementary

Budget Cuts

by Rincy Roy
Do you want a better education? Well that is going to be difficult because Governor Corbett took away a lot of the schools’ funding. Now we do not have a good education because of the money we lost. There are a few reasons why the governor should give the money that he took away from the school districts back to them. The schools have lost their music and art teachers as well as librarians and counselors. With the funding gone students are at a loss and they should be given what they deserve.
First of all, the governor was not fair and did not take much money from the rich school districts, but cut a lot of funds from the poor districts. The current budget is expected to take from the poor communities. Governor Corbett took away $900 million in his first year as governor. Philadelphia, Chester, and Reading have the greatest need for a high quality education because they are the poorest school districts. As a result, those schools do not have enough money to be able to even get enough textbooks for students. What is worse is that lots of students do not have a music or art teacher because schools do not have money to pay for them.
Second, most schools do not have librarian, we as students cannot go into our libraries to ask a question. We cannot go into a school library and take out a book for two reasons, one is that there is not a library and the second reason is that there is not a librarian. Since we do not have a library, students or adults do not have a quiet place to study or read.
Therefore, since there is not a counselor, people cannot go into his/her office to ask a question. In October, the Daily News reported that a third-grade child who had become homeless could not receive help because there is not a counselor to offer services and support. Also, students had a hard time applying to high school because there are not counselors that could guide them through it.
As you can see, our schools need their money back. We need our money back because our schools do not have the money to pay for counselors and librarians. Philadelphia has lost more money than any of the other districts because we are the poorest. This is unfair; Governor Corbett should return the funded money to the schools’. Go to Governor Corbett’s office and protest for the education of the children because what they learn now affects all of our futures.

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Let’s Make this Election About Education!

Video from MMP shows the breadth of education activism in Philadelphia, including the PCAPS launch of the Education Voter Pledge campaign.

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Reclaim the Promise of Brown on May 17th

Untitled 3PCAPS Member Organizations: Member organizations: ACTION United, American Federation of Teachers PA, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Fight For Philly, Boat People SOS, Jewish Labor Committee, Jobs With Justice, JUNTOS, Media Mobilizing Project, Neighborhood Networks, Occupy Philadelphia Labor Work Group, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy(PHARE), Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE, Youth United for Change

Co sponsors  of May 17th (list in formation):

Parents United

Philadelphia International Action Center

Progressive Philly Rising

Move ON Council

Teacher Action Group

Caucus of Working Educators

Tatiana Olmedo, Philly School Counselors United

Sam Mastriano, retired PFT member

Seth Kulick, Greenfield parent

Patricia Eakin, President Pennslyvania Association of StaffNurses and Allied Professionals

Warren Davis, Executive VP, AFGE Local 2006 (retired)

Irving Jones, Chair,  Philadelphia Chapter of the National Writers Union, UAW, Local 1981, AFL-CIO

Dr. Mahdi Ibin Ziyadd, Treasurer, Philadelphia Area Black Radical Congress

Elisabeth Leonard, Coordinator; Philadelphia United for Peace and Justice Delaware Valley, Network Education Committee

Jerry Mondesire, Philadelphia Chapter NAACP

Kati Sipp, Executive Director of Working Famlies Organization









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Where is Our Money?

Unknown Greenberg Elementary School

The following is one of a number of persuasive essays from students in Kathy Cohen’s 7th grade class at Greenberg Elementary.   They were submitted to the Northeast Times but the paper appears to have ignored them.   We think the students deserve recognition for their thoughtful essays on the problems facing our schools.

by Kirsten Banieh, 7th grader at Greenberg Elementary School
Millions of students in the Pennsylvania school districts are hanging by a thread. Where has their money gone? These innocent students are being apathetically stripped of their proper education. You are probably wondering why. Pennsylvania schools have been underfunded for decades leaving lacerations in the education of students. The governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, is putting taxpayers’ money towards other affairs, like building prisons, with the belief that they are more important than our education. This unjust treatment to our education is unacceptable and must be terminated.
To begin with, funding is very important for the students who do not speak English fluently or students with special needs. They need extra help because they lack simple qualities to make their opportunity of learning fulfillable. The qualities they lack force them to rely on teachers and tutors for the support they need. Hold on, there is not enough money coming in right? Then, how are all these teachers and tutors going to get paid? Because of the budget cuts, the school district had to lay off many employees and the ones who still have their job, are overburdened with work. With this much work, they do not have enough time to focus on particular students. How are these special needs students ever going to improve without the proper attention needed? Plus, they need supplies to expand their chances of learning. We are not going to get these supplies since the school district is broke and there will not be any improvement from these students. It is like asking to turn a paper clip into a printer.
In the second place, immigrants coming from other countries to Pennsylvania expecting good education get way less than hoped for. These immigrants have heard great stories of the land of opportunity but then come down to this. A sixteen-year-old Vietnamese girl who immigrated to Philadelphia from Vietnam, has been one of the greatly disappointed. The school that she attended, had little information about her and put her in the twelfth grade, while she needed more support because of her lack of fluent English. Getting ready to finish high school was challenging for her since the only bilingual teacher there had to split her time with four different schools. Because of this ordeal, she did not get her proper education. What a shame.
Furthermore, budget cuts have been taken from districts unevenly based on their wealth. According to the article “Where has our funding gone?” over a thousand dollars have been taken from each student in Philadelphia. It is pretty obvious that the school district is preparing the children of Philadelphia to have minimum wage jobs. Meanwhile, school districts in Bucks county, Delaware county, and Montgomery county, have had less than two hundred twenty dollars taken from each student. This is unfair since Philly is already suffering from underfunding. Why make it worse?
If issues deteriorate any more than they have, many families, including mine, will pack their bags and simply leave. It is ridiculous how the students in Pennsylvania are being treated and must be changed. Students with no proper help, unfair budget cuts, and disappointed immigrants, are not the answer. We are the world, we are the children, and we are the ones who are going to live in this world thirty years from now. No education equals no power. With these budget cuts, how are we going to contribute to the world and succeed in life? We, as students, and citizens of Pennsylvania should become one, and fight for our rights and education. Demonstrations, strikes, and letters are some examples of what we could do but just speak up and do something. This is not a joke; this is our future.
“Cuts that don’t heal.”- By Shayla Johnson. Found in the union rep Newsletter.
“Where has our school funding gone?”- Brianna Bailey. Found in the union Rep newsletter.
“Parents, students filed 260 complaints this week with state regarding district schools.”-Daily news.

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Rally and March for Education on May 8th

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Steel Parents Say No to Turning their school over to Charter Company

IMG_6480This was a great victory for the parents, staff and Nicetown community members who value their neighborhood school and don’t want to see it sold off to a charter company. It was also a victory for the movement against school privatization and austerity in our city. Parents voted for Steel by a better than two to one margin for Steel in spite of a relentless campaign by Mastery than included paid staff canvassing the neighborhood for weeks, the efforts of the Charter School office to prejudice the outcome, and the undeniable reality that Mastery schools are at this point in time better resourced than Philadelphia public schools.

The parents voted the way they did because they value the teachers and administration that have decades of experience and demonstrated commitment to Steel families. It also reflects the continued sentiment of working class families in favor of neighborhood public schools. Most people, if given a choice, favor investing resources in these schools and furthering democratic control of them rather than turning them over to private companies. We should be encouraged by this as one of a number of developments that indicate the tide is turning against this version of reform.

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May 17th Reclaim the Promise!

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