Shut It Down! Governors Christie and Corbett Meet in Philly
On June 9, 2014, students, parents and teachers planned to protest Governor Corbett and Governor Christie at their joint event at the Union League. The two governors have overseen drastic cuts to public education in Philadelphia and Newark schools with disastrous consequences. Education “reform” in both cities has meant mass school closures, loss of community control and steep funding cuts that have put many students in unsafe conditions and denied them a quality education. The burden of these reforms rests disproportionately on the shoulders of youth and communities of color.
PSU students and staff arrive at the Union League.
Hundreds gathered outside of the Union League.
However, at the last minute, the crowd marched to Comcast as Corbett and Christi had moved their fundraising dinner, presumably to avoid their constituents. NBC 10’s Lu Ann Cahn reports she was told by a Union League employee that “they were notified last week the fundraiser was supposed to be here and then they got a call sometime today saying, ‘No, this was a decoy location’ and…we learned from the Corbett campaign it was all very secretive until about a half hour ago that the event has been in fact moved to the Comcast Center.” It is clear that both Governors are not accountable to the people in their state and more important, do not value the priorities of their constituents. Rather, they value the safe haven that Comcast provides them and the priorities of big business.
Students, parents, teachers and community members hear that Corbett and Christi are at the Comcast Center.
PSU and our allies march to the Comcast Center.
The tragic deaths of two young students this year in Philadelphia schools that can’t afford full-time nurses and the closure of 23 public schools demonstrate the catastrophic disinvestment in the city’s public education system. Meanwhile, in Newark, NJ, the “One Newark” district restructuring plan trumpeted by Gov. Christie will also close public schools (or hand them over to private charter operators) and excludes the public from shaping the city’s education decisions. Governors Corbett and Christie have caused devastating harm for students, parents and teachers; yet the communities they impact have no way to hold them accountable.
After we marched to Comcast, we heard from parents, students and teachers who have been at the forefront of those impacted by the drastic cuts to education funding.
Students, parents and teachers blocked traffic. Six people were cited and taken away by police.
PSU member, Hausim Talbot, spoke to hundreds in the crowd who blocked traffic outside of Comcast. His speech is printed in its entirety below:
Hi, My name is Hausim Talbot, I’m a junior at Martin Luther King High School and I’m a member of the Philadelphia Student Union.
Last week, Dr. Hite and SRC Chairman Bill Green took a strong stance and didn’t pass the school budget. They positioned themselves on the side of the community and presented themselves as being equally impacted by and frustrated by the “system”. This system is denying our schools funding. They presented themselves as being affected as the students and families who attend those very schools. However, we know they are connected to Governor Corbett because he appointed them to their positions.
In case you didn’t know, we asked Bill Green or Dr. Hite to come here and speak instead of me, but its pretty obvious they are not here. Are they too scared to lose their jobs? They said that they are standing with the people but where are they TODAY?! They don’t want to stand with us against the injustices that we students, parents, and teachers are facing.
But the Governor is here! He is here to raise money for his re-election campaign. But while he has been Governor he has cut a billion dollars from our education and instead is building new prisons while students are dying in Philadelphia because of a lack of nurses and services. At the same time, Governor Christie is doing the same thing to schools in New Jersey. Enough is Enough! I want to say to Governor Corbett, you really have some nerve to come here to help your campaign. Who in the state of Pennsylvania will vote for you when currently there are almost two dozen school districts in Pennsylvania that are in financial distress? Get ready and pack your bags. We’re done with you.
We need you to fully funding or schools instead of closing them. Our schools should have the resources students need to be successful. We need every community to have a neighborhood school so we don’t have to worry traveling far away. We deserve our right to a high-quality education! We deserve schools that are fully funded, instead of struggling.
If Bill Green or Dr. Hite had taken us up on our offer, we would want them to repeat our demands to the Governor.
We want them to say as Philadelphians that we demand full and fair funding to ensure students of having resources and excellent neighborhood schools.
We would want them to dismantle the SRC and put local control of schools back in the hands of parents and students.
We would want them to be here and demand that we have fully staffed schools with full-time nurses and counselors in each school.
Enough is enough! Governor Corbett fund our schools now!