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We want local control

PCAPS Town hall
Tamara Anderson

On Thursday, August 13 at 6:30 the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools hosted a town hall meeting at Monumental Baptist Church, 4948 Locust Street in West Philadelphia. The tables were filled with parents, community advocates, and students all eager and ready to discuss and understand why and how Philadelphia needs to return to local control with a fully elected school board.

On September 11, 2014, City Council will vote on whether or not to put the local control measure on the ballot in November. This is in response to the approximately 40,000 signatures that were delivered supporting the abolishing of the SRC and returning Philadelphia to local control.

A panel was introduced by Ron Whitmore, co-chair of PCAPS, consisting of one teacher, two students, and a parent activist from Action United spoke briefly about the state not meeting their responsibility to fully fund Philadelphia schools and how this doomsday budget adversely affects individual and collective learning communities. Kia Hinton, Action United stated, “Some children don’t get to eat three times a day. Poverty has a large part to do with poor performance. Experienced teachers are necessary.” Reverend Dr. Mapson gave a historical look from 1954 to now. The education on “this side of City Avenue should be as it is on the other side.” “It is an issue of control, let the people control.”

Maureen O’Driscoll, a teacher from John B. Kelly School wants to know, “Who’s holding the SRC accountable?” “Local control is the first step.” Cassandra, a student from Girls High School stated, “If they cared, why would we have this fight in the first place?” Kenneth from Central High School, “Why prisons and not education?”

The state has failed its constitutional obligation to Philadelphia public schools and it is time to make them accountable for this continuous doomsday budget.

Democracy looks like voting against a school closing and the renewing of the contract with Teacher for America, which occurred in Pittsburgh as a result of the fully elected school board.

After the panel, the audience was asked to make a call to city council members and to leave a message letting each one know that voters do not want the SRC, they want local control to return to Philadelphia. You can continue to fill their message boxes and send tweets by going to http://philadelphiacitycouncil.net/councilmembers if you are unsure of what district you reside.

The following information is for Twitter: Kenyatta Johnson (@councilmanK), Curtis Jones (@mr4thdistrict), Darrell Clarke (@darrell_clarke), Bobby Henon (@bobbyhenon), Maria Quinones-Sanchez (@mariaqsanchez), Cindy Bass (@cmcbass), Marian Tasco (@mbtphillydem), Brian O’Neill (@oneill4NEPhilly), Ed Neilson (@repneilson), James Kenney (@jimfkenney), David Oh (@davidohphilly), William Greenlee (@billgreenlee215), Dennis O’Brien (@councilobrien), and Blondell Reynolds-Brown (@councilwomanbrb).

Harrisburg needs to hear your voice. Let them know and feel that our votes will matter in November. So please tweet, email, call, or all three to City Council members so that they can know that the residents of Philadelphia want proactive change in public education. We all want democracy to return to public education or else.