Outraged against austerity, students & teachers in Philadelphia resist the machine of capitalism
May 17, 2013
Dozens to hundreds of Philadelphia students, teachers and school staff protested outside one of the city’s premiere high schools in an effort to fight proposed budget cuts to the district.
Wearing signs and handing out pamphlets to drivers, members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers lined the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts along South Broad Street Friday morning. The teachers are fighting a series of severe budget cuts proposed by the district to close a more than $300 million funding gap. The proposed cuts include ending arts and music programs, sports and cutting auxiliary staff like secretaries, librarians and counselors.
"With the austere budgets schools have received, schools will not be able to provide a high-quality education for Philadelphia’s children," said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Jordan says the teacher’s union has been discussing labor concessions with the district. However, he says a concession that results teachers taking a pay cut is a non-starter.
"The school district is asking for salary cuts for all PFT members of anywhere between 5, 10 and 13-percent," he said. "I don’t think that you’ll find employee in the school district and the PFT…who are going to tell you that they can afford to take that kind of pay cut."
The teacher protest is just the first of many demonstrations planned Friday over the funding flap.
Students from Philadelphia public schools around the city have also walked out of class and are marching on the School District of Philadelphia and Philadelphia City Hall. Similar walkouts were organized last week by students, who also marched on the same spots.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard says staff will not stop students from walking out, but says officials have asked principals remind students that leaving early will results in being marked as cutting. “Schools will follow the district’s attendance policy and will take the appropriate action which triggers at least a phone call to parents to notify them of the student’s absence, a request for a parent conference at the school, or after school detention,” he said.
Students are using Twitter to organize and document their protests. The group Philly Student Union is promoting the hashtag #walkout215 as a digital rally point during the event.