Patricia Norris hasn’t eaten today — and she won't. She and three other parents and school district employees began a hunger strike this morning to protest the 3,700 layoffs announced by the Philadelphia School District. A food-service assistant at Cayuga Elementary, where she has worked for almost three years, Norris hasn't been laid off yet but worries she could still receive a pink slip. To avoid feeling hungry, “I chew the water,” said Norris. Here’s hoping the strike, organized by United Here Local 634, will be a more effective plan of attack.
Another striker, Marcia Teagot, a food service manager, said she was still employed as of last Friday. But since the pink slips were sent out recently, she still isn’t sure whether she has kept her job
The four protestors said their purpose is to advocate for the safety of Philadelphia public schools. “I’m very concerned about the safety of my children’s schools,” said Earlene Bly, a striker and parent of three daughters who went through the Philadelphia public schools system.
The student safety staff—who will all be laid off — play a necessary role in the functioning of a school, she explained. They know “who to keep an eye on” and ensure students can focus on learning.
Mike Mullins, also a parent, said the four strikers would “try to stay at it as long as we possibly can,” and are hoping more will join them. During the food strike, they will also be camping every day in front of the governor’s Philadelphia office on Broad Street. “The leaders of the city and state are giving up on public education, period,” he said.
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