Philly students to walk out, protest at noon today
Philadelphia students, organized by the Philadelphia Student Union, Youth United for Change and other youth and adult-led groups, are walking out of their schools at noon today to protest budget cuts to the school district.
“Schools are going to be operating on a bare bones budget that would call for, basically, the removal of all programs other than police and teachers,” says Hiram Rivera, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union. “This got students really agitated so they’re taking to the streets.”
The Philadelphia Student Union and Youth United for Change will be joined by students at large, who are calling themselves the Silent Student Movement, as well as members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, which includes the local teachers’ union.
The school district of Philadelphia is currently facing a $300 million funding gap. City Council held hearings this morning regarding use and occupancy taxes to help fill that gap.
“They chose today to have their massive walk-out to protest budget cuts and to let City Council know that they’re looking to them to step up, and to state legislators to step up and fund their schools adequately,” notes Rivera. He tells us there will be a rally at the Philadelphia School District Building, then a march down Broad Street, around City Hall, and a rally at City Hall. Twenty-four schools are expected to walk out and join the walk-out. They include Mastbaum, Academy at Palumbo, Overbrook, Bartram, Ben Franklin and Frankford.
Several walkouts occurred last week by students, who marched to City Hall. Rivera tells us students organized both “online and on the ground” for the events.
In addition to the taxes being discussed in City Council today, the district has also asked for $120 million from the state Capitol; Mayor Michael Nutter recently proposed cigarette and liquor taxes which would have to be approved by both City Council and the State Legislature, to help fund the schools. He’s also noted the city will step up taxes owed to the district. The city is required to approve a budget by the end of May and the Legislature has to have one at the end of June.
Philadelphia Weekly will continue reporting on this story throughout the day. Stay tuned for an update.
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