More than 400 people gathered in the Pennsylvania’s State Capitol House last Tuesday, Feb. 14th, to collectively express their feelings on the new proposed budget that would slice state aid across the board of public education.
Students, parents, teachers, and community members from across the state filled the steps of Capitol house’s Rotunda with the message telling Governor Corbett to “Fall back in Love with Public Education”.
According to Christin Clark, an organizer from the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools (CNS), “the rally was organized by students and student organizations from around the State.”
CNS is a coalition of youth organizations in Philadelphia that “aims to end all forms of violence in school without pushing students into the criminal justice system,” according to its website.
Clark says that the organization of the event was a labor of love.
“For months there were conference calls and trainings to prepare people to play all the rolls they needed to in the event.”
The event was co-organized and sponsored by the Philadelphia Student Union and JUNTOS from Philadelphia; Teenbloc from Pittsburgh, and Project Peace from Reading.
One week before the event, Governor Corbett made his budget address. For the School District of Philadelphia, the new budget would be translated into another $23.1 millions in cut for the next fiscal year. On top of that, The District has reduced opening hours of buildings, eliminating after school and sport programs to fill the gap of $72 millions deficit on this fiscal year’s budget, almost $40 of which remain to be solved before the end of this school year.
Many other school districts in Pennsylvania face similar issue with lack of funding. Chester Upland School district went bankrupt in early January as funding requests to the state were refused. Federal court judge had to order the state to subside temporary funding to help Chester Upland stay afloat. Another hearing on this case was scheduled for February 23rd.
“Students were asking the Governor to fund districts based on need, and to prioritize education spending in the budget,” Clarks commented on the purpose of the event.
“The rally’s purpose seemed pretty simple,” said senior Rashaun Williams, who participated in the rally along with a handful of other students from Science Leadership Academy. “[It] was to get Governor Corbett to change the policies on the current budget cuts on public education”
Last December, former Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery paid a visit to SLA to discuss the budget and future of the current building. With the effect of last spring and last December cut, and the ongoing budget gap, next year’s budget seems to be more burden. However, it is remained to be seen how the new budget will unfold.