January 2013

Council Calls for Caution on School Closings

Today, faith leaders, community activists, and Fight for Philly packed the first City Council session of the year to stand up for important issues affecting Philadelphians, including earned sick time, public schools and fair taxes.  Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell proposed a resolution calling on the school district to hold off on the school closure plan for a year, “so we can have a plan that makes sense and not one that doesn’t.”  Councilman Bill Greenlee also proposed a bill that would extend earned sick leave to Philadelphia’s workers.  And Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown introduced a resolution to hold Council hearings on tax breaks given to wealthy non-profits.

Of all these issues, the liveliest response was to Blackwell’s call for a moratorium on school closings.   Community members and parents  gave public statements about how massive school closings will hurt their communities.

“The school district is failing to see the bigger issue of the school closings…and that is the safety of our children” said Hanif Palmer, a Fight for Philly organizer, whose son attends Bok High School in South Philadelphia – one of the schools on the chopping block.

Numerous Council members spoke in support of the moratorium. Councilwoman Bass said “the turf wars are real” – students may be put in danger if traveling to school in a different neighborhood. There was push back from 2 Council members. One of whom was Maria Quinones-Sanchez. However, Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez did say, “all roads lead to Harrisburg” eluding to the over a billion dollars in cuts to our schools by Governor Corbett since 2010. She has long been a champion of increased funding for public schools. The resolution was approved by a 15-2 vote, and though it is non-binding, it is a critical symbolic step in the fight to save our schools.

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Philadelphia workers deserve earned sick time!

A flu outbreak is sweeping the country, and many people are getting sick every day. At least 44 states have been affected by the illness, leaving people hospitalized or even worse.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges all those who are sick or have symptoms to stay home to get better and not infect others.  But the option of staying home when you are sick is a privilege in this country – a privilege that many in the private sector work force simply don’t have.  These workers – no matter how long or how hard they work – cannot earn paid sick days to take care of themselves or a sick child.

For more than 200,000 Philadelphians, getting sick or staying home to care for a sick family member means loss of income and even the risk of losing a job.  Is this fair?  Even in these tough economic times, we can enact a practical policy that will help hardworking people hold on to their jobs, support their families and sustain local businesses. Allowing all workers to earn a limited number of paid sick days increases productivity, reduces turnover, and helps working people hold onto their jobs.  San Francisco enacted a similar sick days law just before the recession and actually gained jobs while the surrounding counties lost jobs. Do we really want restaurant workers to have to go to work sick? It is healthier and safer for all of us if they stay home until they aren’t contagious.

In Philadelphia, more than 7 out of 10 voters support earned sick days legislation that allows all workers to earn paid sick time based on the number of hours worked. Last year, a majority of City Council voted for Earned Sick Days, but the mayor vetoed the bill.  With a new, forward thinking City Council, we can over-ride the mayor’s veto and provide relieve for thousands of workers.  Philadelphia can’t afford to leave working families behind as our economy gets moving again.

Learn more about the Earned Sick Days bill below:

FAQ about the Earned Sick days by Umang Patel

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PCAPS and Fight for Philly Lobby to Save Philly Schools

On Thursday, members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) and Fight for Philly went to City Hall to tell City Council to request a moratorium on the closing of Philadelphia public schools.  Coalition members met with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell – a strong supporter of public education – to ask her to urge her peers to join the fight against school closings.

The Philadelphia School District is planning to do away with 37 public schools throughout the city!  The PCAPS coalition is pushing for a year-long ban on the closings, asking for more time before making hasty changes that will disrupt the lives of thousands of families.  A delay would also give District leaders time to secure additional funding for public schools.  PCAPS hopes to encourage Mayor Nutter and others to aggressively pursue additional revenue, which they say can be obtained through tax reform and collecting unpaid real estate taxes. PCAPS cites reports that as much as $500 million is uncollected.

According to PCAPS, here is what massive school closings will do:

Hurt our neighborhoods.  Neighborhood schools are hubs of community activity.  Closing a school increases blight and creates more problems in poor neighborhoods of color that already have more than their share.  What is the cost of blight?

Uproot children and place them at risk.  Students will be forced to travel outside their neighborhoods.  They will face greater risk of harm from traffic and age-­‐old rivalries.  What will be the cost  of this added danger?

Be NO HELP to academics.  Most of the schools that students will be moved to are not significantly different than those being closed.  The mass closing plan includes no new funds for the more crowded, receiving schools.  What is the cost of larger classes?

Save relatively little.  The $28 million we are told will be saved is less than 1% of the district budget.  New transportation costs, security costs, maintenance, conversion of buildings into grade schools, and the cost to communities of lost property value from the vacant buildings are not mentioned.  Forget savings!  What will the COST be?

Increase  Poverty.  The loss of hundreds of good jobs will drive more families into poverty.  In one of the poorest cities in the country, can we really afford to cause disruption for families by destroying good jobs?

It’s obvious that closing schools would devastate our families and their children. We need to demand the school district’s leadership find solutions that reduce the chaos in our communities and make neighborhood schools better for all.

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Fight for Philly and others travel to Harrisburg to greet Decarcerate PA members at completion of 113 mile march against new prison construction

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Monday, June 3, 2013

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

Fight for Philly and others travel to Harrisburg to greet Decarcerate PA members at completion of 113 mile march against new prison construction

Philadelphia, PA – On Monday, June 3, Fight for Philly will be traveling with activists, parents, and community members to Harrisburg to greet marchers from Decarcerate PA at the end of a 113-mile march.  Protesters will hold a rally on the steps of the state capitol at noon.  Fight for Philly members board buses at the Fight for Philly offices at 9am.

Over the past ten days, marchers walked from Philadelphia to Harrisburg,  holding community events in Haverford, Norristown, Collegeville, Pottstown, Reading, and Womelsdorf.  Marchers left Philadelphia on May 25 and arrive on the Capitol steps on June 3rd to deliver a message directly to lawmakers with hundreds of flags from people across the state showing what a true “people’s budget” would look like.  Protesters are demanding funding for education, not incarceration.  Two long-time Fight for Philly members, including a parent of Philadelphia public school students, joined the entirety of the march.

Year after year, Governor Corbett cuts funds from education, healthcare, environmental protection, and social services. Yet he continues to spend millions on locking people up. Right now, the Corbett administration is spending over $400 million to build two new prisons in Montgomery County, while 23 schools in Philadelphia will be closing next year due to funding shortages. His proposed budget for 2013 includes a $68 million increase for the Department of Corrections, even as his administration claims the prison population is going down.

The march has been endorsed by over thirty co-sponsoring organizations, including Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Jobs with Justice, the Community College of Philadelphia’s Faculty and Staff Federation and the Support Center for Returning Citizens.

For more details about the march: http://decarceratePA.info/march

WHO:

Fight for Philly, Decarcerate PA, and co-sponsors

WHAT: Rally to demand a people’s budget.  Fund education, not incarceration!
WHEN: Monday, June 3, leaving at 9:15am, rally at noon in Harrisburg
WHERE: Leaving from 846 N. Broad St., protesting on steps of Capitol building
VISUAL: Activists boarding buses, diverse crowd of protesters, colorful signs, shirts

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Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.

info@fightforphilly.org * (215) 232-3792 * http://fightforphilly.org

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