The "Fast for Safe Schools" — a protest against the layoffs of the School District's 1,200 student-safety staff (aka noontime aides) — fizzled out this summer after Gov. Tom Corbett announced the Philadelphia school rescue package that wasn't. In a press release in July, the labor group Unite Here explained "Though [the School District of Philadelphia] has not yet committed to recall the student safety staff, the fasters were confident that SDP too would soon act to prioritize safe schools."
Well, it hasn't happened yet. Philly schools are still around $270 million short of what they need to open safely and actually educate children. And now, the fasters are picking up where they left off. Unite Here says that close to 100 parents, students, staff and clergy are joining the resumed fast. They'll be setting up a camp in front of School District headquarters at 440 N. Broad St., and kick off with a rally tomorrow at 5 p.m.
It's notable that the fast, previously held in front of the Philadelphia office of Gov. Tom Corbett, is now moving to the School District, perhaps an indication of where public pressure and outrage is now being directed. The fact that Corbett was advised to exploit Philly's school-funding crisis for both union-busting advantage and political gain? Hopefully, that won't be forgotten. Corbett apparently hasn't forgotten: He reaffirmed today that he would not release $45 million in state/federal funding without teacher concessions.
Meanwhile, education activists are calling on City Council to clear the way for $50 million in additional school funding by extending a 1 percent sales-tax increase and allowing the schools to keep all that money. "“We know Council didn’t create this problem, but right now, whether they like it or not it’s up to Council to fix it,” said Donna Cooper, Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), in a statement. PCCY sent a letter to Council also signed by The Philadelphia Education Fund, Education Voters of Pennsylvania, The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, The Education Law Center, and The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, promising to keep the pressure on the state to pay its share of school funding going forward.
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