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Building Student Power Across PA!

Written by Jaileah Gibson

This fall the Philadelphia student union has been working hard around our statewide funding campaign. So we have had multiple meetings with high school students from Reading, Pennsylvania.

So on November 1, 2011 a few students from the Philadelphia student Union took a trip down to Reading High School. Most schools in Philadelphia face the same issues that the students in Reading high school face. Like violence or having unqualified teachers. But the most common issue that students face is having our schools be underfunded.

On our trip, we worked with a group of students from Project Peace on some issues that they face on a daily bases inside their schools. Project Peace is a group of students from Reading high school that organize students from their schools and community to create direct and effective ways to end violence.

The workshop we led was focused on structural violence, interpersonal violence and nonviolent power. The students in the workshop were very engaged. They were asking and answering questions. They spoke about the problems they see inside their school, and then discussed how underfunding was one of the root causes of many of these problems.

Then they started to contribute ideas about how to improve their school. Some of the ideas that were listed were: Building better relationships with legislator and allies; doing more protesting and marches to draw attention to students’ concerns; and getting parents involved.

I personally think that the workshop went well. It was powerful to see how much our Philly schools have in common with Reading schools. The students in Project Peace were very inspiring, and we were looking forward to working with them.

Our next meeting happened on Saturday November, 19. Project Peace came down to West Philadelphia to participate in another workshop called Unequal Funding, Unequal Schools. In the workshop we talked about the recent budget cuts to education and learned about how our school funding is based on property taxes in Pennsylvania.

We asked, “Should the quality of your education be based on where you live?”

Almost everyone in the workshop said “No.”

One person said, “Everyone should be able to get a good education, even if you come from a poor neighborhood.”

We came up with different ideas to address the issues. We also agreed on some next steps to build our statewide funding campaign. The workshop was very informative and we enjoyed having Project Peace in our space with us.

Check out photos from the meeting on our Facebook page and stay tuned to our blog for more updates about our Statewide School Funding Campaign!

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