Philadelphia School Crisis Solicits Reactions From Activists
“With Dr. Hite adding to the Philadelphia School crisis with threats of not to opening buildings if he doesn’t receive $50 million THIS FRIDAY, clergy leaders, students, community members and activists speak out.”
By Christopher “Flood the Drummer”® Norris
8.12.13: Philadelphia– (Education/Politics): Today at 2:00pm more than forty (40) congregations in the community organizing group POWER, along with Parents United For Public Education, the Philadelphia Student Union, and other clergy leaders and activists in the city of Philadelphia, will convene this afternoon at School District Headquarters (440 N Broad St) to demand answers to Superintendent Dr. William Hite’s recent announcement that Philadelphia Public Schools will not open on time due to funding shortfalls. In addition, POWER will host a citywide town hall meeting called “Tell It To The Children” tonight at 6pm at Mother Bethel A.M.E Church, located at 419 S. 6th Street
Since Thursday’s macho posturing by Dr. Hite, Mayor Nutter and Council President Clarke, countless of activists and residents alike have been speaking out against the Philadelphia School crisis, all agreeing that recent actions by officials is blatant child endangerment and borderline criminal activity.
Many I talked to were disappointed, embarrassed, shocked, but not surprised.
“My heart stopped,” explains Malissa Gamble, Founder of The Time Is Now To Make A Change. Gamble was one of many activists from the city who marched one-hundred (100) miles from Philly to Harrisburg, advocating for fair funding for the nation’s eighth largest school district.
She doesn’t rate the Nutter Administration very high on the scoreboard, giving them a four (4) out of ten (10).
“Every Mayor wants to leave a legacy, I don’t know what Nutter’s will be; but it surely won’t be the ritzy ice skating rink being built in front of City Hall; we could’ve done without it. I’m praying for a day when our leaders put education first,” says Gamble, who home schools her daughter.
Gamble is the organizer of the Returning Citizens Voter’s Movement and says that she will continue to make her population aware of their rights and make sure they vote the current leaders out in 2015.
Another Philadelphian embarrassed by the city’s leadership – or lack thereof – will also be occupying the ballot in 2015, pointing to fact that despite Millennials being Philly’s largest demographic, they’re not represented in city council in a meaningful way.
Tommy Joshua is the Chairman of the Hip Hop Party for the People, a progressive Millennial-led movement that uses the culture of hip-hop to engage young people in politics.
Joshua says “all of us are to blame” and adds “this model of democracy isn’t working; the ingredients – like citizen participation, citizen information and citizen engagement – are missing from everyday life here in Philadelphia.”
“These are not our school, we don’t control them! They’re our children, but not our schools. This is made obvious by the fact that we don’t have an elected school board. We have a superintendent, but that’s just half the picture, we need a school board not an ineffective School Reform Commission!”
To put it frank, the “millennial mobilizer” is disappointed in the cowardly leadership of city government. He says the Hip Hop Party for the People is all about using their vote to “throw the bums out!”
“I love this city! The idea of America was framed here and the revolutionaries worked and lived here. America was constantly changed by the people’s movement, from ideas whose time had come. We at the Hip Hop Party for the People believe in a revolution – which means fundamental change. The big issue here in the city is our leaders are out of touch. There are no Millennials represented in City Council and that has to change. We can’t continue to uphold the smoke and mirrors. The incompetence shown by our city officials and school leaders speak volumes to the need for tremendous change,” says Joshua.
I caught up with a former candidate for city council who ran in 2011. The Millennial mentor who plans to run again in 2015 says that he was sad when he heard Thursday’s announcement.
“It shows where our priorities are. Nothing is more than important than our children. Schools shouldn’t be an item on a budget. I’m beyond disappointed; I’m embarrassed,” says Isaiah Thomas, who was one (1) of fifteen (15) black men chosen to be apart of the inaugural (2013) class of Philly Roots Fellows.
The twenty-something said when he campaigned in 2011 most people knew this would be an issue in 2013. He says he will not only bring a national perspective – given his work with the Children’s National Defense Fund – but will add a long-term view to a city that is very short-sighted.
“We have to begin to think more long-term and move past this manufactured crisis. I understand we’re worried about this year and we should be, but what’s going to happen to the future? What’s going to happen next year? We absolutely need more responsible management!”
A young father, Thomas tells me his dad is a public school teacher and his six (6) older brothers have all gone and graduated from Philadelphia Public Schools.
Thomas is genuinely worried about the Philadelphia school crisis future of education in this city and almost feels he has no choice but step up and speak out.
“There’s a disconnection with our leaders, their priorities, and what the people need. The city needs to engage stakeholders on the city and state level to ensure we come up with a true sustainable plan; for the people by the people!”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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