In a large rally yesterday, Parents United for Public Education joined with our partners at PCAPS and PA Working Families to greet Governor Tom Corbett who was trolling for campaign dollars with Gov. Chris Christie at an event hosted by the Republican Governors Association. Originally intended for the Union League, the campaign suddenly switched locations the day of the event – surprising members of the Union League. It moved instead to the headquarters of Comcast Corporation, which has pledged to back Governor Corbett in the gubernatorial race.
It’s not the first time Corbett has run from his own constituents. In January, the governor refused to face the students and staff at Central High School, suddenly switching his appearance from his first public school visit to sequestration inside his offices at the Bellevue Hotel.
You have to wonder about the leadership of a governor who runs from the very people who live the consequences of the policies he imposes.
Yesterday, 1,000 people marched from the Union League to Comcast headquarters. We are parents, students, teachers, staff,
community leaders, and voters who are concerned about our schools and our communities under the leadership of a governor who has staked his political legacy on the purposeful de-funding of public schools statewide. The crowd included a number of people from cities in New Jersey – Newark, Patterson, and Camden – uniting with Philadelphians to decry the botched ed reform policies of their governor, Chris Christie.
Our communities are united by opposition and resistance to an ed reform agenda that isn’t locally grown or locally supported. It’s a manufactured brand of crisis management, exported and mcfranchised, brought in by lobbyists and outsiders – from One Newark to Universal Enrollment. From Cami Anderson to the disgraced School Reform Commission – 40,000 Philadelphians signed petitions to abolish the SRC. School closings. Massive layoffs. Anti-teacher bullying and rhetoric.
This is an ed reform agenda that exploits the fact that the student to counselor ratio in Philadelphia is 1200 to 1. An agenda that proclaims to deny the effects of poverty yet disregards the fact that our children, suffering from diabetes and asthma, attend schools without nurses or functioning libraries. Proponents of this agenda don’t want to talk about resources and funding. While Philadelphians contact our legislators to stop class sizes of 40+ in elementary schools, ed reformers are in Harrisburg demanding that staff get laid off to balance budgets and at the whim of revolving door principals.
This is a governor who has purposefully left $1 billion in the pocket of the largest, fastest growing and rapaciously greedy natural gas industry while leaving our children in schools which are barely fit to be called such. This is not a money problem. This is not a financial problem. This is a values problem.
Never before in our history have our elected officials been so out of touch with the people. But the people have responded in kind. Look at the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina and the rise of new teachers unions in Chicago and Milwaukee. Our colleagues in Newark this spring elected Mayor Ras Baraka – who ran on a pro-public school platform. They showed us how to convert mass action into political power. We pledge to follow in your footsteps here in Philadelphia.
Governor Corbett fled in shame in January. Well, let him be shamed then yet again. We parents will uplift and protect our children and youth. This is a fight for the heart and soul of our neighborhoods. This is our moment, and we won’t back down.