March 2014

PCAPS to launch education election campaign with rally and canvass

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ron Whitehorne

215-779-2672, ronw292@gmail.com

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 PCAPS to launch education election campaign with rally and canvass
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools and supporters will kick-off canvass to pledge 25,000 voters to support the education Pennsylvania’s children deserve

Saturday, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) will hold a rally to kick off an intensive seven-month campaign to make this year’s gubernatorial election a referendum on fully funded, quality schools for all children.   The coalition will announce a program to gather the signatures of 25,000 registered Philadelphia voters on a five-point pledge for candidates to fully support Philadelphia and PA education.  Saturday’s events will include a rally with State Sen. James Roebuck, Parents United Co-Founder Helen Gym, and student speakers.  Over 100 expected volunteers will then canvass Philadelphia voters.

Student speakers will represent Youth United for Change, Philadelphia Student Union, and Boat People SOS.  A parent from Action United will also address the crowd.  Following the rally, students from YUC and other PCAPS organizers will lead a canvass training session. 

Canvassers will then head into Philadelphia neighborhoods to begin gathering signatures on the education pledge.

The five-point education pledge asks voters to support candidates who:

1.       Support a fair funding formula that will distribute state dollars based on student needs and the local district’s ability to pay, not political fights.

2.       Provide more revenue for education and human services by closing corporate tax loopholes, taxing natural gas production, and cancelling prison expansion.

3.       Hold charter schools accountable and give local districts the power to monitor them,

4.       Shut down the school to prison pipeline.  Replace harsh, zero-tolerance policies that criminalize students for minor offenses with restorative justice.

5.       Abolish the School Reform Commission and return our schools to local control.

 

WHO:

Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), parents, students, canvassers, State Sen. James Roebuck, Parents United Co-founder Helen Gym, YUC, PSU, BPSOS

WHAT:

PCAPS canvass rally and kick-off

WHEN:

Saturday, March 29, 11am

WHERE:

Media Mobilizing Project, 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia

VISUAL:

Diverse crowd, speakers, pledge cards

###

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, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Fight For Philly, Jewish Labor Committee, Jobs With Justice, JUNTOS, Media Mobilizing Project, Neighborhood Networks, Occupy Philadelphia Labor Work Group, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy(PHARE), Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE, Youth United for Change.

http://www.wearepcaps.org

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The PCAPS Five-Point Education Platform

pcapsmarchThe Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) has released our five-point education platform!  See the PDF here, or read below.  We want political candidates who will support our schools!

On March 29, PCAPS will launch a campaign to make this year’s gubernatorial election about fully funded, quality schools for all children.  We’re getting 25,000 registered voters to sign a pledge to vote for candidates who are committed to the following five points:

1) An Equitable Funding Formula for Distributing State Education Dollars  Currently, funding is being driven by political calculation and poorer districts are taking a big hit.   We need a formula that allocates dollars based on what it costs to educate children.  For each district, it needs to take into account the numbers of families living in poverty, the number of English-language learners, the number of special needs students, and the capacity of the local district to pay.

2) Increase the Revenue for Public Education and Human Services Full funding requires reordering state priorities in a way that will make more revenue available for schools, health care and vital human services.  Corporations and the super rich must pay their fair shares.  We call for:

  • An End to Corporate Tax Loopholes and Subsidies.   The Delaware tax loophole, which enables 70% of the corporations that do business in Pennsylvania to avoid paying taxes, needs to be closed.
  • Enact a Fair Tax on Gas Drillers   Pennsylvania is last when it comes to taxing Marcellus shale drilling   A tax in line with what other states have passed would raise 200 million annually.
  • Stop New Prison Construction   The huge capital investment in new prisons is costly and should be ended.

3) Charter School Accountability  Unchecked, unregulated charter school expansion is creating fiscal instability in districts like Philadelphia and driving the closing of neighborhood public schools.  Legislation that would eliminate local monitoring of charters and vest all supervision in the state will further weaken districts and undermine democratic governance.   Instead we need:

  • A Level Playing Field for Charters   Restrictive admission policies that allow charters to cherry pick students need to be eliminated.   Charters that persistently under perform or mismanage public funds should be closed.   Charters should be expected to innovate and produce.
  • End the Cyber School Boondoggle.   For profit cyber charter schools are funded at the same level as brick and mortar charters even though their operating costs are significantly less, costing local districts millions.  Moreover these schools are close to the bottom in terms of academic performance.
  • Strengthen Local Control   Local districts need to be able to regulate charter school growth, monitor performance, and be able to shut down low performing in a timely fashion.

4) Schools, Not Prisons  In Philadelphia and elsewhere, we have seen the development of  a school-to-prison pipeline that substitutes mass incarceration of poor people of color  for investment in quality schools and good jobs.   Besides opposing expanded prison construction, we need to examine misguided policies in both schools and the criminal justice system that criminalize young people and deny them an opportunity for a decent future.

  • Promote community schools – schools that respond to the needs of communities by incorporating social services, service-based learning, and a real voice for parents, students and residents can better meet the needs of our children.
  • Schools need to be encouraged to develop restorative justice programs that teach individual and social responsibility as opposed to harsh, zero tolerance policies.
  • Punitive sentencing, a war on drugs that targets people of color for harsh treatment for minor offences and a policy that, by default, prosecutes all juveniles charged with felonies as adults are examples of criminal justice policies that need to be reexamined.

5) Abolish the School Reform Commission,  Return our Schools to Local Control.  State control of Philadelphia and other troubled districts denies these communities the long-recognized right to run their own schools.   We have seen how a board appointed by the Governor and, secondarily, the Mayor, caters to self-appointed civic elites and ignores parents, students, educators and the community.   Rather than providing local districts with the resources they need to make progress, the state-run district has imposed an agenda of privatization and austerity.   It’s time to repeal ACT 46, the State Take-Over law.

Join us March 29 for the kick-off, and don’t forget to vote for education candidates May 20 and November 4!

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March 18, 2014: PCAPS Charter Accountability Report and Rally Workers

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March 17, 2014: Fight for Philly Stands with Hundreds of Pittsburgh Medical Workers

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PCAPS Charter Accountability Report and Rally

caLast Friday, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS) held a charter school accountability rally at City Hall and announced the release of a new report, “RestoringThe Public Trust: Public Accountability for Pennsylvania Charter Schools.” Teachers, students, parents, and community activists called for commonsense regulation and oversight of Pennsylvania’s charter schools to make sure they are committed to properly educating students. Ralliers chanted and held signs that read “Charter schools should serve all students!” and “Fund public education.” Public school champions State Rep. James Roebuck and State Sen. Shirley Kitchen both spoke on the importance of protecting public education and keeping a watchful eye over charter schools.

Loose oversight of charter schools has allowed them to undermine traditional public schools by draining resources from neighborhood schools. Charter schools are funded with public money, but they don’t abide by the rules of the school district in which they operate. They aren’t required to admit all students, and they aren’t always transparent in their governance and budgeting.  Last year, the office of state Rep. James Roebuck released a report showing investigations or problems at 44 charter and cyber charter schools in PA.

At the rally, Fight for Philly member and charter school parent Sylana Christopher told the crowd, “Public dollars are going into these charter schools, so why are we being left in the dark about how they operate? It is our right as citizens to know what is happening with our tax dollars. The governing board of any charter school in this city should be required to be an open book to the communities they serve. The best ideas for improving schools come from the students, parents, teachers, school employees and volunteers that are in our schools every day. And speaking of these governing boards – they should be elected students, teachers, and parents! We know best!”

PCAPS released a detailed report, “RestoringThe Public Trust: Public Accountability for Pennsylvania Charter Schools” that introduces a platform to establish more accountability and oversight of charter schools operating in the Philadelphia School District.  It’s time we stop giving charters free rein with our money!

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Fight for Philly Stands with Hundreds of Pittsburgh Medical Workers

Fight for Philly members answered the call to join healthcare workers in Pittsburgh in their fight for higher wages and good jobs earlier this month. Over forty FFP members boarded a bus and traveled five hours through the wintery weather to stand in solidarity with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) employees and the entire city of Pittsburgh as they demanded good wages from UPMC, the ability form a union, and that the Medical Center contribute more to the city.

UPMC has been a major economic engine in Pittsburgh for years and is the largest non-governmental employer in Pennsylvania.   But they’ve consistently failed to do right by the citizens of the Steel City. Their non-profit status has allowed them to avoid millions of dollars in taxes while raking in over a billion dollars in revenue over the last three years.  Thousands of UPMC employees work full-time and are paid anywhere from 8% to 30% below what’s needed to make ends meet in Pittsburgh.  UPMC’s starting rate for many jobs is $10 an hour, but a unit secretary at Presbyterian with over 30 years’ experience makes only $13 an hour.upmc

Jim Staus, one of thousands of hospital workers taking a stand against UPMC said, “Everyone told me that if you wanted to get ahead go into the healthcare field, so I did and got an associates’ degree. Almost 20 years later, I’m only making $11.81 an hour and I have to rely on food stamps, heating assistance and food pantries to support my family. I came to work at UPMC because I thought there would be opportunities to move up if I worked hard, but I just feel stuck. Forming a union with my co-workers is what’s giving me hope we can make these jobs good middle-class jobs.”

The millions of dollars in taxes UPMC avoids paying could have erased the budget deficit for Pittsburgh public schools and reversed cuts to education. As the leading employer in the city, UPMC has also failed in providing family-sustaining jobs, even though they made $1.3 billion in profits in the last three years, have $4 billion in reserves, and pay 28 top executives $48.8 million a year.

Many UPMC workers rely on food stamps and even public health care to make ends meet.  Despite being considered a leading American healthcare provider, UPMC offers their employees below-par medical insurance. Many UPMC workers become indebted to the very same hospital they work for because the insurance provided is just too expensive.  Leslie Poston has worked as a medical secretary on the heart and lung transplant floor at UPMC for 10 years. Poston has amassed $15,000 in medical bills that are due to her employer. The bulk of that was for surgery with a $9,000 co-pay!

For two long days, close to 1,000 protestors packed the streets in front of UPMC’s headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh, shutting down streets and making sure the whole city knew we were there. Nurses, janitors, and other UPMC workers, along with clergy, union members, community members, and others chanted “UPMC you’re not a charity, you’re greedy!” Others hoisted signs and banners demanding UPMC allow their blue-collar workers to unionize and increase their hourly wages from $11/hr to $15/hr.  A village with tents, signs, food, and drink quickly filled the street in front of UPMC’s tower, as hundreds of people danced, chanted, rallied, and spoke.  Rapper Jasiri X performed his song “People Over Profits.”

On the final day of the rally, protestors moved from the sidewalk and street into the plaza of the UPMC headquarters. The crowd filled every inch of the plaza, waving banners that read “UPMC = Poverty Jobs” and chanting “Pittsburgh is a union town!” A group of protestors attempted to stage a sit in, but reconsidered after  Mayor Bill Peduto, who was in Washington D.C., sent word that he was cutting his time short in the nation’s capitol and returning to Pittsburgh to address issues between UPMC and workers.  The Mayor’s Chief of Staff read a statement from the Mayor asking UPMC and workers to come together and find a way for UPMC to be a good citizen of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. He then urged protesters to warm up with their families now that their message had been heard.

UPMC could single-handedly lift thousands of workers out of poverty and into the middle class. Instead, it uses its power to bully workers who want nothing more than a voice on the job. UPMC should do better by all the people and communities, and help cultivate a Pittsburgh that works for all.

Want to see more? Click here to see pictures from the rallies.

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PCAPS to rally for charter school accountability

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jesse Kudler

617-974-3684, jesse@fightforphilly.org

 

PCAPS to rally for charter school accountability
Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools and elected officials will call for commonsense regulation and oversight of Pennsylvania charter schools

Philadelphia, PA – Parents, activists, and elected officials will rally at City Hall Friday at noon in advance of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s 1pm hearing on Charter School accountability and oversight in Pennsylvania.  Ralliers will call for more oversight of Pennsylvania’s and Philadelphia’s charter schools and demand accountability for schools that spend public education dollars.  PCAPS will also release a report, “Restoring the Public Trust: Public Accountability for Pennsylvania Charter Schools,” that calls for commonsense regulation and oversight of PA charter schools to guarantee they are committed to properly educating students.

The report calls for curbs on profiteering and draining money from public schools, transparent and representative governance, rigorous oversight, and open access to a diverse student population.  The report also calls for an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, supports for excellent and experienced teachers, an end to fights for facilities with public schools, and an end to the cyberschool boondoggle.  It offers specific steps and policies in services of these goals and the best features of charters.

Read the report: http://wearepcaps.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/pcaps_publictrust_hires.pdf

Speakers will include public and charter school parents, State Rep. James Roebuck, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and a retired teacher and PFT member.  Speakers will call for commonsense regulation and oversight of charters to guarantee quality education with public money and that charters fulfil their mission to innovate and contribute to educational opportunities. Ralliers will also highlight the many allegations of fraud and abuse at Philadelphia charter schools.

WHO:

Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), parents, , State Rep. James Roebuck, State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell

WHAT:

Rally for charter school accountability and oversight

WHEN:

Friday, March 14, 2014, noon

WHERE:

Northeast corner of City Hall

VISUAL:

Diverse crowd, signs, graphics of charter school abuse

###

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, AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Fight For Philly, Jewish Labor Committee, Jobs With Justice, JUNTOS, Media Mobilizing Project, Neighborhood Networks, Occupy Philadelphia Labor Work Group, Philadelphians Allied for a Responsible Economy(PHARE), Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Home and School Council, Philadelphia Student Union, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE, Youth United for Change.

 

http://www.wearepcaps.org

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Thurs, 10:30am: Fight for Philly and airport worker to join state Sens. Leach and Stack to call for increase in state minimum wage

Advisory: Stack, Leach to Call for Wage Reform for Restaurant Workers

 

 

PHILADELPHIA –March 11, 2014 – -Against the backdrop of chain restaurants on Roosevelt Boulevard, state Sens. Daylin Leach and Mike Stack will hold a news conference Thursday to call for sweeping changes in Pennsylvania’s minimum wage laws, including adjusting the current minimum wage for inflation, and elimination of the dated and abused second-tier rate for workers who accept tips. Philadelphia International Airport wheelchair attendant John Stewart will be a featured speaking, talking about the difficulty of surviving on $5.25/hr plus tips. 

The senators will be joined by local restaurant employees, worker advocates and labor leaders.

 

Minimum Wage News Conference

Thursday, March 13, 2014

10:30 a.m.

Roosevelt Boulevard and Goodnaw Sts.

Philadelphia, PA 19115

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