Helen Gym thanks Rush Choir for their moving performance. photo credit: Hillary Liandoupolus
More than a hundred people gathered in the cold at the corner of Bustleton and Cottman yesterday to demand full, fair, funding for our schools. Teachers, parents, students and community activists all were on hand. The Northeast High School band marched from the high school and performed as did the Benjamin Rush Choir, who did two inspiring pieces.
The rally was co-sponsored by PCAPS and Parents United. Organizers from the AFT and PFT helped spread the word in schools. The Home and School Council, along with Parents United reached out to area parents. Veteran Northeast area peace and justice advocates also turned out. Fight for Philly provided the sound system and the powerful voice of Fred Jones who led the chanting.
Speakers included Leianne Yancey, a Comly elementary student who gave a speech that moved and inspired the crowd. The video of an earlier presentation at her school has been seen by over a thousand people. Tonayia Coffer, a Fox Chase parent and rally organizer, Sheila Armstrong, a teacher and a member of POWER, Joan McGowan from PFT, and Rosemari Hatcher, President of the citywide Home and School Council also addressed the crowd. Helen Gym from Parent United kept things moving as MC and Ron Whitehorne from PCAPS provided some comic relief as a guitar strumming, singing, Grinch.
Rally organizers hope to build on this and develop a Northeast area network that can strengthen the fight for public education. As the flyer the group distributed to passers-by noted: “The Northeast region has a reputation for strong, neighborhood schools, but the current budget crisis threatens to unravel public education through out the city. Cuts to bi-lingual staff at schools that serve large immigrant populations and severe overcrowding at some schools are particular concerns for the Northeast.”