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Back-to-Sch…What? This isn’t a school.

The 2013-14 school year begins in a few days for the students of the Philadelphia School District. But we can be certain that this school year will be a far cry from what we imagine school to be. Schools will be missing the bare essentials, like counselors and nurses. Schools will not be ready to prepare students for college or a career. And yet, this is just another year of the national assault on public education.

It wasn’t long ago when the School District hired the Boston Consulting Group (funded by the William Penn Foundation), which has “a worldwide reputation for crushing teachers’ unions and putting most public schools under charter control.” BCG’s advice was followed. Over the last two years, over $1 billion dollars has been cut from education spending in the state of Pennsylvania. Now, Pennsylvania holds the position of 8th lowest in the country with respect to education spending, spending only 35.8% of its budget on education. PCAPS (Philly Coalition Advocating for Public Schools), recently quoted in an article by Jay McClung, says, “Were it not for the deliberate underinvestment and disinvestment in Philadelphia schools by the state, the district could easily be enjoying a multibillion dollar surplus instead of a deficit.”

The unelected members of the SRC continue to push forward the agenda of Governor Corbett, Mayor Nutter and Superintendent Hite to systematically de-fund and abandon the institution of public education. They have shown us how little they care about the state of education in Philadelphia. Their agenda consists of gutting the teachers union. Their agenda includes privatizing the school district. Their agenda promotes sucking funding from public education until it can no longer function. It is clear that their agenda is not aligned with ours.

Our plan for public schools looks like a fully-funded school district in every part of Pennsylvania. Our plan has a funding formula that ensures that the students who have the least get the most support. Our plan demands that we build schools and not prisons. We believe that mega-nonprofits like UPenn and corporations like Comcast need to pay their fair share when it comes to making their home the city of Philadelphia. How can you ask teachers, counselors and other school staff to give back, when billionaires give nothing?

If there was ever a time to get involved in the fight for public education, it is now. We know that another round of school closures is coming this winter. We know that the SRC will continue to roll out their agenda to privatize the district. And because we know this, we also know that we cannot turn our backs on the fundamental institution of public education. We are calling on every citizen in the city of Philadelphia to support the students in this fight.

We are asking you, Philadelphia resident, to come to every rally that you can. We are asking you to read our updates on Facebook and Twitter, to stay informed about the attack on public education. We are asking you to join an organization, such as the Philadelphia Student Union, Youth United for Change, Action United or any other organization in the Philly Coalition Advocating for Public Schools. During the month of September, all donations made to PSU (up to $2,500) will be doubled by the Cahn Funds for Social Change. We encourage you to double your gift. Donate here.

We, the students and staff of PSU, will continue to the fight for public education. This is a call to action. We need you to do your part. No action is too small.

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