Central High School alumnus Philip Lindsay posted an open letter tonight on the Philadelphia Student Union website calling on students to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's visit this Friday.
"His administration has done great harm to public schools like Central throughout Pennsylvania," writes Lindsay, in a letter signed by more than 30 alumni. "You should never be ashamed to speak your mind or ask difficult questions to those in authority, especially when you feel betrayed or taken advantage of—and do not be fooled, the Governor is visiting Central to take advantage of you."
Lindsay also cites rumors that Central has threatened to discipline students if they protest Corbett's visit. Central President Timothy McKenna says that no threats were made.
"Totally false. I met with seniors yesterday and stressed the positive. I said this is a great event for our students and our school. I never told students they would be punished."
McKenna says that he is trying to set up a meeting between Corbett and a group of students. Two sources at Central cofirm that disciplinary threats have not been issued.
Parents and community members have already planned to gather at Broad and Olney at 9:45 a.m., and then march to Central for a rally.
Corbett has made deep cuts to education spending, helping to precipitate mass layoffs and a profound fiscal crisis in city public schools. Corbett suffers from low approval ratings and faces a difficult reelection campaign this November. This is his first ever documented visit to a District-run Philly public school.
Here is the letter in full:
Dear Central Students,
My name is Philip Lindsay and I am a graduate of Central High School's 268th class. I am writing to you to tell you a bit about my experiences at Central and to encourage you to speak out against the Corbett administration during the Governor's upcoming visit. His administration has done great harm to public schools like Central throughout Pennsylvania.
My time at Central was crucial to my development as a critical thinker. Teachers like Ms. Finkle ( U.S. Government and Psychology) and Ms. Hansbury (World Conflicts) taught me that by closely examining and debating our views of the world we might arrive at a richer understanding of it. I heard there were rumors that you've been threatened with having your privileges, like prom, revoked if you so little as protest the Governor's visit or embarrass him in any way. I find that very offensive. Central should be embarrassed to demand this of you. You should never be ashamed to speak your mind or ask difficult questions to those in authority, especially when you feel betrayed or taken advantage of- and do not be fooled, the Governor is visiting Central to take advantage of you.
As you know, the budget cuts hurt Central severely, just as it hurt other schools across the state. Our school was irreparably changed as programs were cut, people were fired and resources were taken away. Governor Corbett's administration is largely responsible for this. It is his responsibility to manage the finances of the state and for the last few years he has done it on the backs of students like you. Yet that same Governor now arrives at your doorstep and expects you to sit passively while he parades himself in front of the media as a "supporter" of your school. This is clearly a self-serving political move on his part, just in time for the 2014 election. Those who pretend otherwise are insulting your intelligence.
You might be hesitant to act in ways that will be scrutinized as "inappropriate" or "impolite" by some. You might also, understandably, be hesitant to lose your chance to attend prom or to go on class trips. But do not let these insecurities or inappropriate threats overshadow the opportunity you have to speak out against the Corbett administration's actions on your home turf. I urge you to do so. There have been hundreds of CHS proms and trips. But you have to opportunity to be the students who stood up for millions of young people across Pennsylvania who's voices have been silenced, and held the Governor responsible for his devastating policies and attacks on your education. Governor Corbett comes to praise the best school in the state. Are we also going to be remembered as the best at keeping quiet when it mattered the most?
Central High School Alumnus (268)
This letter has also been signed on to by Central alumni representing different graduating classes:
Amelia Field Blanda
Stacy Jebett Bullard
Cathy Peace Pagan
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