400 Parents & Students Show Love For Education
Students and parents’ voices echoed throughout the capital as people from across Pennsylvania chanted, “Whose state? Our state! Whose schools? Our schools! Whose lives? Our lives!”
On February 14th, Valentine’s Day, more than 400 students & parents from several Pennsylvania school districts held a rally for public education at the State Capitol.
They represented people from all over Pennsylvania with folks from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, and Chester.
“Fall Back in Love with Public Education” was the day’s theme. Holding heart shaped signs and wearing Valentine’s Day colors, students spoke out about the devastating effects of last year’s billion dollar cuts to education. They demanded that equitable school funding be a priority in the next state budget.
This action came a week after Gov. Corbett announced his plan for the next state budget, on February 7. He has proposed keeping education spending at about the same level it was last year, carrying over the almost $1 billion in education budget cuts.
Although the Governor’s office is working hard to present his budget proposal in a positive light, the people of Pennsylvania recognize that if the new budget follows the same suit as last year’s budget, the effects will cripple Pennsylvania.
“To our elected officials, where will our state be 20 years from now?” said Baseerah Watson, a high school senior and member of the Philadelphia Student Union. “Can you rest assured that our state will continue functioning when education is not being invested in? I can tell you that the long term effects will not be pretty.”
Many school districts in Pennsylvania are teetering on the brink of meltdown as funds are dwindling. Schools are having to cut teachers, services, and programs that enrich the lives and experiences of students.
“In Andrew Jackson School were my children attend, between 2011 and 2012, the school lost half of its teaching staff, and now there are more children in each classroom. We do not have a school nurse, or psychologist or counselors, and next year all the bilingual staff may be cut, in a school where 12 languages are spoken,” said Angelica Victoriano, a parent of two children at Andrew Jackson Elementary and a member of JUNTOS who spoke at the rally.
When students no longer have incentives to attend school and their schools, communities, and teachers are severely under-resourced what society can possibly thrive in Pennsylvania?
“Politicians claim that we don’t need music or art programs, we don’t need clubs, we don’t need extra curricular activities. Go ahead cut them from schools. Well what about the students who hate school but are passionate about music?” said Margarita Robinson, a student from Reading High School, “What happens when the program is gone and students have no initiative to come to school?”
As was stated many times at the rally “Education is a human right.” Students have the right to be educated equitably, and parents have the right to feel secure in the education of their children.
When the rally came to a close, host Shayla Johnson made sure that students’ intentions were known, “We are the students and parents of Pennsylvania. And we will continue to organize around education until we see results.”