September 2013

Activists to protest corporate school reform agenda in Philadelphia

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 30, 2013

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

Activists to protest corporate school reform agenda in Philadelphia
On Monday, protesters will call attention to closed-door conference for wealthy
philanthropists featuring driving forces of privatization efforts in Philly school system

Philadelphia, PAOn Monday, activists from Fight for Philly and other groups will protest a two-day conference of wealthy foundation representatives discussing conservative, pro-market “reforms” to public schooling.  The right-wing group Philanthropy Roundtable is sponsoring the conference, “All of the Above: How Donors Can Expand a City’s Great Schools,” which is open only to “donors who make charitable grants and contributions of at least $50,000 per year.”  Philanthropy Roundtable receives funding from conservative foundations and describes itself as “committed to fostering a greater respect for donor intent and encouraging private, voluntary solutions to society’s most pressing challenges.”  Its conference in Philadelphia includes numerous speakers dedicated to school privatization, increased prevalence of charters, vouchers, and breaking teacher unions.

Presenters at the conference include Mark Gleason and others from the Philadelphia Schools Partnership (PSP), a pro-voucher group that provided funds for a notorious Boston Consulting Group study recommending school closures and privatization in Philadelphia.  PSP’s founding CEO is Michael O’Neill, a former real estate developer who now owns a mining company.  O’Neill does not appear to have any background in education. 

Other speakers include representatives from the Walton Family Foundation and PennCAN, the pro-charter group that supported a poll proposing that Gov. Tom Corbett attack the Philadelphia Teachers Union.  Also presenting is Jeremy Nowak, the former president of the William Penn Foundation, who left after that group began supporting schools closures and privatization measures.

Activists will hold signs demanding full, fair, funding for public schools and call attention to the private, corporate-backed reformers who meet behind closed doors to push for school privatization. 

Starting at 4:30, Fight for Philly will join protests of the Philanthropy Roundtable at the Union League with the Philadelphia Student Union, theAlliance For Philadelphia Public Schools, and others.

References:

http://thenotebook.org/blog/124995/behind-scenes-boston-consulting-group-has-been-driving-force-labor-negotiations-school-c

http://thenotebook.org/february-2011/113324/michael-oneill-sees-opportunity-district-downsizing

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Philanthropy_Roundtable

http://www.citypaper.net/article.php?Secret-Corbett-poll-proposing-teachers-union-attack-funded-by-PennCAN-11481

 

WHO: Fight for Philly and activists
WHAT: Protest against the corporate agenda for schools
WHEN: Monday, September 30 at 12:30pm
WHERE: Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter (19th and Erie Ave)
VISUAL: Diverse crowd, signs, chants

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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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Fight for Philly travels to Washington, DC to support low-wage workers on largest strike yet

Media Advisory

EMBARGOED UNTIL 6 AM EST ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

Fight for Philly travels to Washington, DC to support low-wage workers on largest strike yet

 

Workers taking call for living wage, voice on the job directly to president’s doorstep

Philadelphia, PA – Activists from Fight for Philly will head to Washington on Wednesday morning to join workers fighting for a good jobs nation.  Workers will march from the Freedom Plaza to the White House to ask the president to issue an executive order making sure federal taxpayer dollars create living wage jobs.

45 high-energy Philadelphia low-wage workers and activists will board a bus Wednesday morning.

Low-wage workers employed under federal contracts, concession and lease agreements will hold their largest strike yet, taking their message directly to the White House to call on President Obama to guarantee them a living wage and a voice on the job.  The strike coincides with the release of a new report from Demos (available on Wednesday) showing how the federal government could raise the pay of hundreds of thousands of these low-wage workers by capping taxpayer-subsidized contractor executive pay – a great step toward these workers achieving a living wage without additional cost to taxpayers.

The workers, joined by community members and faith leaders who are part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign, will march to the White House from Freedom Plaza, hold a prayer service led by clergy members in Lafayette Park and speak at a press conference.  The leaders of various faith based organizations have a letter asking the President to meet with the workers.  The workers and their supporters will also deliver to the White House personal letters to the President from federally contracted workers and a petition with more than 250,000 signatures calling on the President to ensure federal contractors pay a living wage. 

 

WHO: Fight for Philly
WHAT: Boarding bus to stand up for good jobs and fair wages in Washington, DC
WHEN: Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 6:30am, bus leaving at 7am
WHERE: Fight for Philly, 846 N. Broad St.
VISUAL: Signs, diverse crowd of protesters, buses

 

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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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Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools protests Eric Cantor’s charter school speech in Philadelphia Monday morning

Press Releas

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jihad Seifullah
614-390-1105, pcapscoordinator@gmail.com

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools protests Eric Cantor’s charter school speech in Philadelphia Monday morning

 

Ralliers chant “Public schools yes, austerity no” and hold signs giving Cantor an “F” in support for schools and social programs

Philadelphia, PA – Thirty activists, parents, and students with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools protested House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s visit to a Philadelphia charter school on Monday morning.  Cantor delivered a speech at the Freire Charter School calling for “school choice” that would take money from public schools and redirect it towards unproven charters.  He also called on the Department of Justice to cease a suit against New Orleans schools for a voucher program alleged to violate federal desegregation orders.

“As we see so clearly in Philadelphia, the ‘school choice’ programs favored by politicians like Cantor are victimizing public schools and the families that rely on them, particularly low-income people of color. We need regulation and reform of how charter schools are funded, not vouchers that will further drain funds from regular public schools,” said Fight for Philly Member Rosalind Applewhite, a parent of a Philadelphia public schools graduate.

Kia Hinton, a public school parent and Chair of the ACTION United Education Committee, said, “We know that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is in Philadelphia to advocate for an amendment to the No Child Left Behind law that he orchestrated. The amendment would allow a student who transfers from a public school to a charter school to take the federal dollars that go to that school with them. Federal funding, known as Title 1, is specifically targeted to public schools serving low-income families. S o Cantor’s amendment could rob poor students of much-needed funding.”

Protesters chanted “They say ‘cut backs,’ we say ‘fight back’” and “Hey hey, ho ho, austerity budgets have got to go.”  They held up signs reading “Keep public schools public,” “Flunk u,” and “F-.” 

“Eric Cantor can re-brand ‘school choice’ all he wants, but ultimately it’s the same privatization agenda that has starved PA public schools of $1 billion and funneled scarce education dollars into unaccountable charter schools,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President and PA Director of 32BJ SEIU.

In 2013, more than a half a billion dollars in federal funds will be cut from urban school districts like Philadelphia as a result of the budget sequestration that GOP extremists forced through Congress.  The House of Representatives, under Eric Cantor’s direction, just voted to slash food stamp funding by $40 billion.  Millions of people across the country would lose a vital source of food, including 140,000 Pennsylvanians, meaning more kids would come to school hungry.  The House has also voted to defund Obamacare, setting up a budget showdown that could lead to a government shutdown.

Funneling more money to unproven charter schools and away from public education is no solution to urban school woes.  Schools need more money, period. Taking money from them is part of the larger GOP agenda of austerity and slashes to crucial social programs.

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PCAPS is a coalition of students, parents, and teachers with an unwavering commitment to improving Philadelphia’s school system.  Members of the coalition include ACTION United, American Federation of Teachers PA,  Philadelphia AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, Fight For Philly, Jewish Labor Committee,  Jobs With Justice, JUNTOS, Media Mobilizing Project, Occupy Philadelphia Labor Working Group, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy(PHARE), Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE, and Youth United for Change.

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PCAPS and AFT President hold press conference to demand City Council find full funding for schools

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

September 12, 2013

Jihad Seifullah
614-390-1105, pcapscoordinator@gmail.com
Jesse Kudler
617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

PCAPS and AFT President hold press conference to demand City Council find full funding for schools

At the first meeting of City Council’s new session, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten joins Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools to bring stories of student and teacher hardship at under-funded schools

Philadelphia, PA – Outside the first City Council meeting of the new session, Thursday at 11am, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) will hold a press conference to demand City Council work to immediately find more funding for Philadelphia schools.  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten will speak, along with parents and Dennis Dorfman, a recently retired school counselor who has returned to Alternative for Middle Years Program at James Martin School volunteering to help students deal with the death of a classmate, since their school is now without a guidance counselor.

Speakers will also announce the “Full Funding Fridays” campaign to rally at local schools for full funding every Friday.  The first event will take place this week at Moffet Elementary with the The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Inside the Council meeting, PCAPS will deliver a message from students, parents, teachers, and staff working under massive budget cuts.  They will also deliver to each councilperson Back to School packages with materials for council members to join the fight for full, fair funding.  During the first week of school, reports have surfaced of inadequate school safety staff numbers, bulging classrooms, supply shortages, a dire lack of counselors, and confusion resulting from too few administrative staff, among other problems.  Teachers are working without a contract.  It is absolutely essential that City Council find more money for schools.

Philadelphia schools are in a crisis largely because of Governor Corbett’s unprecedented budget cuts to education state-wide.  This means that City Council has to step up to find new sources of funding for our schools.  Last session, City Council failed to introduce reforms to Philadelphia’s Use and Occupancy tax that would have raised taxes on large properties after the huge breaks they’ll get under AVI.  The city has also failed so far to shorten tax abatements or find other new revenue sources beyond improved collection of delinquent taxes and $50 million slated to be borrowed.

24 Philadelphia public schools have closed and thousands of people have been laid off.  The state-controlled School Reform Commission passed its “Doomsday Budget,” eliminating funding for arts, music, sports, guidance counselors, assistant principals, secretaries, non-teaching assistants, and other essential staff and programs.  Only after Superintendent Hite threatened that schools might not open in time did the mayor and City Council promise $50 million in newly-borrowed funds to provide the bare minimum to open doors on September 9.  The governor and corporate reformers like Comcast’s David Cohen want the school district to save money by forcing teachers and staff to make salary and benefit concessions.  But Philadelphia teachers are already paid 19 percent less than their counterparts in Bucks and Montgomery counties.  And large corporations like Comcast continue to benefit from the persistence of the Delaware loophole, low state business taxes, and AVI.  “Shared sacrifice” should mean that those most able pay before teachers and staff give even more.

WHO: Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) and Randi Weingarten, AFT President
WHAT: Press conference and speak-out at City Council for school funding
WHEN: Thursday, September 12, 11am
WHERE: Northeast Corner of City Hall, moving to Council chambers
VISUAL: Speakers, back to school advocacy kits in lunch bags, signs, banner, diverse crowd

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PCAPS is a coalition of students, parents, and teachers with an unwavering commitment to improving Philadelphia’s school system.  Members of the coalition include ACTION United, AFT Pennsylvania, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Fight for Philly, Jobs with Justice, Juntos, Media Mobilizing Project, Occupy Philly Labor Working Group, Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE Philadelphia, and Youth United for Change.

http://www.wearepcaps.org

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Save our schools!

1185932_665450953467905_1840610250_nOn August 22, 2000 Philadelphia students, teachers, community members, parents, and clergy flooded the city streets to demand full, fair funding for Philadelphia public Schools.

The march kicked off at Comcast Center on 17th and JFK, where parents and clergy members called on the cable giant and its Executive Vice President, David Cohen, to pay their fair share and stay out school funding negotiations. “If Comcast really wants to help, they can start by paying the millions of dollars they owe from their years of tax dodging,” said Hanif Palmer, parent and Fight for Philly member. He continued, “I have a child in the public school system and I am constantly worried about her academic future. BOK High School – my alma mater – is one of 24 public schools that are now closed.  The schools that will open in 18 days will operate on limited resources that will stretch our teachers and students to the breaking point.”

The shoulder-to-shoulder crowd surrounding Comcast Center also heard from PA State Senator Daylin Leach, who told the crowd “I am a product of the Philadelphia Public Schools. Teachers saved my life.”

The governor and corporate reformers like Comcast’s David Cohen want the school district to save money by forcing teachers and staff to make salary and benefit concessions.  But Philadelphia teachers are already paid 19 percent less than teachers in Bucks and Montgomery counties.  And large corporations like Comcast continue to benefit from the Delaware loophole, low state business taxes, and the Actual Value Initiative.  “Shared sacrifice” should mean that those most able should pay before teachers and staff give even more.  The state government has found only $2 million in new funding for Philadelphia schools this year.  The city has pledged $28 million from delinquent tax collection and is now committing $50 million more, although the mayor and Council can’t agree on the source for those funds.

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After the rousing speeches in front of the Comcast Center, education advocates marched through the pouring rain, chanting and carrying signs in support of teachers and more funding. Once the marchers made it to the school building, they were greeted by the sweet sounds of Bob Marley and clear and sunny skies. A series of school district employees, students, and union leaders gave speeches outside where the School Reform Commission was meeting.

Christa Rivers, a student at Girls High School and member of Youth United for Change told the crowd, “Now we end here at the school district to protect our teachers because they are not being supported by the district. Our teachers are being used as scapegoats for the state’s poor decisions around budget cuts. We students also deserve better. As a student in a Philadelphia public school I feel like we are being pushed under a rug and left to our own devices.”

Teddy Daniels, a long time janitor with the school district whose two young sons attend public schools, said, ““What’s happening to our schools is no accident, far from it.  This is a manufactured crisis brought on us by Governor Corbett.  Governor Corbett has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t care if Philly public schools fail.”

The President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers , Jerry Jordan, closed the rally, saying “We are out here not for ourselves, but for Philly’s children.  We will not stop fighting for them until we get full, fair funding.”

The start of the school year is days away, and our schools are still underfunded. Our mayor and city leaders have made little effort to remedy the situation. We need to keep the pressure on our elected leaders to make sure our children do not become casualties of a failed school system.

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