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Our School Year So Far at PSU!

It feels like the 2014-15 school year just started, but we’ve been busy so far. We wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past month.

On the first day of school this year, students entered Philadelphia school buildings that are understaffed, overcrowded and severely under-resourced, with a severe shortages of counselors, nurses, and noon-time aides. The worst part about all of this is that it barely raised an eyebrow. There’s nothing new about the lack of resources and support staff. It’s almost what we have come to expect from public schools in Philadelphia. And how could we expect anything else? The underfunding of Philadelphia’s schools has been happening for decades.

Listen to a short radio piece produced by Mahala Papadopolous for On Blast on a rally that took place on the first day of school:

Of course, we have been told for decades that public schools will never be what we need them to be in poor communities of color. However, we refuse to accept that our schools are “normal”. We know that “normal” schools are supposed to have “normal” class sizes, not overcrowded ones. We know that “normal” schools are supposed to have a counselor and nurse. We also know that “normal” schools do not have metal detectors or cops with weapons. We refuse to accept the “new normal” that has been put before us. We should all be investigating the circumstances that we are in and asking ourselves, How will this impact every young person in Philadelphia for the rest of their lives? We think about this question every day at PSU.

Students have been meeting at our office every Thursday (our new day for Citywide Meetings!) at 4pm. All high school aged youth are welcome to join us! We discuss our campaigns, strategy and other topics, such as institutional racism. If you have questions about Citywide Meetings, contact our Executive Director, Hiram Rivera.

On the first week of school, we also traveled to New Jersey to support the Newark Students Union during their boycott and action that involved blocking traffic, getting arrested, and standing up against One Newark.

Listen to a short radio piece produced by Brian Burney for On Blast on the Newark Students Union action:


PSU members, Minh and Mahala, in Newark to support the Newark Students Union.

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Cops and students face off on Broad St. in Newark. Students stood their ground and refused to leave.

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Members of the Newark Students Union were prepared to be arrested unless Cami Anderson, Newark’s Superintendent, addressed their demands.

We also participated in a week of action, organized by PCAPS (Philly Coalition Advocating for Public Schools) that culminated in a major action in front of Governor Corbett’s office in Philadelphia. We took over Broad St. and demanded a full funding formula for all schools in Pennsylvania.


Delegation of students, parents & activists going to deliver letter to Corbett’s office calling him to visit Philadelphia schools.


Students, parents, and activists take over Broad St. in Philadelphia outside of the Governor’s office.

At PSU we believe that young people have a strong analysis of their schools and communities. We develop and share that analysis through our media programs that meet every Wednesday at 4pm. If you have any questions regarding our media programs and how to get involved, contact Beth Patel.

Finally, our chapter work is kicking off at PSU! We have chapters at several Philadelphia public schools, where students meet once a week with their peers to work on school-based or citywide campaigns that member develop themselves. Our current chapter schools are Sayre, Benjamin Franklin, South Philadelphia High School, and Masterman High School. Each school meets on a different day of the week. For more information about our chapters, contact our Executive Director, Hiram Rivera.

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