June is going to be education month at NN, with three important actions planned that will ramp up the campaign to provide a quality public education to every Philadelphia child. You’ll see the details and how you can participate later in this email, but first let’s provide a little background.
Only a few weeks ago, the people of our City won a victory in the fight for a justice system that will roll back the tide of mass incarceration that has ruined too many communities and swept away too many lives. As part of a coalition effort to win the Democratic nomination for District Attorney for Larry Krasner, Neighborhood Networks joined 215 People’s Alliance, Reclaim Philadelphia, BLOC Party and PA Student Power to knock on 60,000 doors and have over 10,000 conversations with voters about reforming our broken criminal justice system.
In our conversations, we heard over and over again that people would rather have our government spend money on education and not incarceration. It costs over $40,000 to imprison a person for one year – almost what it costs to hire a public school teacher! That is why Neighborhood Networks believes an appropriate follow-up to the Krasner campaign is to join the fight for a quality education for all of our children. Along with a D.A. truly committed to justice, we think quality education for all is the best way to stop the school to prison pipeline.
That brings us to what we’re doing this month to help achieve that objective.
STOP CLOSING NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS & RETURN SCHOOLS TO LOCAL CONTROL
The school district has closed almost 25 neighborhood schools in the past five years. Dr. Hite has stated, on numerous occasions, that he plans to close three schools a year for the next five years. That is intolerable. We must stop the closing of more neighborhood schools.
Some closed schools have been demolished, some still sit empty as eyesores. Others are in the process of being sold to out-of-state developers who want to build market-value housing in areas which lack affordable housing, areas desperate for a public school within walking distance. Closing a school tears the heart out of any neighborhood. It traumatizes the children who call it home.
At the same time, we are confronted with an appointed School Reform Commission that has been fragrantly unresponsive to demands of parents, students, and communities since it came into existence. The state must oust this unelected School Board and return the schools to local control.
Two actions are planned on Thursday, June 15 to deal with the problems posed by the SRC. They will both take place at School District HQ, 440 N Broad St, one before and one during the SRC meeting scheduled that day:
3:30 pm: Stop Closing Neighborhood Schools Rally. Remember and honor the 29 school communities shuttered and then come to the SRC Meeting @ 4 PM to testify about the impact of closed schools on the community. For more details, see the Event webpage.
4:00 pm: Abolish the SRC. Pack the SRC Meeting and testify to demand that the SRC set a timetable to dissolve. For more details, see the Event webpage.
To testify on why you want all neighborhood schools to stay open, why the SRC should end, or any other educational issue on your mind, call 215.400.4180
FAIR & FULLY FUNDED PUBLIC EDUCATION
PA has the most inequitable school funding of any state when comparing poor and wealthy districts. Rich districts get 33% more than poor districts – PA’s disparity is the worst in the nation. Although PA has a new equitable funding formula that was passed last year only new funding, or 6% of each state dollar, is apportioned through the new formula this year. Compounding this problem is the fact that minority schools get less funding than white schools in the same income level. See Racial Bias in PA School Funding video. The result is a vastly underfunded school district in Philadelphia that is more likely to deliver its students to the prison system rather than a college classroom or living wage job.
That’s why NN will join POWER and other organizations from across the state to demand what is just and right for all children in Pennsylvania – a fair and fully funded education system in every school district. We will rally at the State Capitol to call on the legislature to run all education dollars through the new formula and then march to legislative offices to drive home this point. Here are the details:
Education Apartheid Day of Action
Wednesday, June 21st @ 12 PM
PA Capitol (Rotunda), 501 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Click here for the full day’s schedule, registration, and a reservation for the bus. Let us know by return email if you are coming so you can join the Neighborhood Networks’ contingent.
Please look for the Neighborhood Networks banner and join us in supporting these actions.