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Kelli Ross’ Speech on June 14th

On Friday, June 14th, a coalition of faith leaders from POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild), parents and public high school students from the Philadelphia Student Union marched from LOVE Park to Governor Corbett’s office at 200 S. Broad Street to demand a restoration of $270M in state education funding for Districts across Pennsylvania that serve mostly low-income students.

PSU member, Kelli Ross, gave the following speech at this rally:

Hi! My name is Kelli Ross and I am a Junior at Benjamin Franklin High School. I am here with Philadelphia Student Union and all of you today because we can no longer stand to watch education be destroyed.

Today we’re here because we want funding for our schools. 24 schools were closed this past March because they told us they didn’t have enough money to fund them! But apparently those 24 schools weren’t enough. Now schools that are still open have to somehow manage to provide students with a “quality” education on a budget the district refers to as the “Doom’s day” budget. Governor Corbett has cut a billion dollars from education over the last 2 years and for months we’ve been hearing there is no money to be given to the school district. But recently, I’ve heard and you all should know, that the state has plans to build a prison that cost $400 million dollars. A budget that could easily cover the $304 million dollar shortfall that has schools all across the city making cuts to important educational aspects, such as assistant principals, guidance counselors, secretaries, lunch staff, teachers and even extracurricular activities.

This matters, because schools losing the very things that make a quality education is not right. I’ve seen too many changes made to my school already that have not been for the better. From ninth grade up until now, I see my school being left with less each year. Benjamin franklin, at one point, had a counselor for each grade, a culinary program, honors + AP classes. There was a whole staff in our student success center dedicated to assuring that we had people to go to for help with anything college related. This year, we don’t have any of that! The things I valued at my school and the people who helped me are gone and to know that next year we will have even less is sickening!

Which is why we have to demand that we get the $304 million dollars and then some! $400 million dollars given to prisons while education goes through the worst crisis we’ve ever seen says to us that they don’t care. This says to us that they care more about containing young people rather than educating us. We have to keep fighting for this because Governor Corbett hasn’t showed us he cares about students. If left up to the state, there’s no telling what education may be reduced to. This is about the future of our communities and we won’t be ignored by the governor any longer!

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