by Sonia Giebel
The hunger strikers protesting the 1,200 noontime aide layoffs have gained the support of gubernatorial candidate John Hanger. He met Friday with the four School District parents and employees who are now on their fifth day of fasting.
“I stand in solidarity with the parents and school workers who have made this commitment to safe schools in Philadelphia,” said Hanger in a statement released by UNITE HERE, a union that represents the aides.
Hanger, Pennsylvania’s former secretary of environmental protection under former Gov. Edward Rendell, hopes to be the Democratic challenger to Gov. Corbett in 2014. Taking a strong stance against failing charter schools, especially cyber charter schools, Hanger advocates the defunding of failing charters in an effort to bring more money to District schools and preserve jobs.
“Schools all over Pennsylvania are cutting staff and programs because they are forced to send precious dollars to failing charter schools and cyber-charter schools and because of Corbett’s budget cuts,” Hanger said.
In addition to shifting funding away from poor-performing charter schools, Hanger has said that he would restore the $1 billion in education funding cuts and impose a natural gas drilling tax to raise more revenue for public education.
The fasters intend to continue their strike until the District rehires the noontime aides. Helping to keep schools safe, the aides patrol school classrooms and lunchrooms in an effort to defuse conflicts. According to UNITE HERE, there were 10,000 serious incidents in Philadelphia schools last year.
Several parents from Action United have also joined the strikers in a three-day solidarity fast.