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Rallies set for Philly and 60 other cities in National Day of Action

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by Naveed Ahsan

Teachers, parents, students, and education activists will gather at 4:30 p.m. today outside Gov. Corbett’s Philadelphia office, 200 S. Broad St., as part of the National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education.

Education advocates will stage actions in more than 60 cities across the country, demanding better schools for America’s children. The day of action was planned by an alliance of teachers' unions and community groups to fight back against what they see as an unprecedented attack on the public school system.

Hundreds are expected to convene outside Corbett’s office, including members of the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), the Rev. Kevin Johnson of Bright Hope Baptist Church, and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan.

After leaving Corbett’s office, protesters will march to Loop Capital Markets, 2 Penn Center. Advocates have said that the Illinois bank has distributed bad loans that have debilitated Philadelphia’s education system and has also been a primary contributor in the privatization of public schools in Chicago.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which led the campaign, said that the national day of action is a “real collective effort between parents, teachers, and clergy members.” She said that even though lack of school funding is the primary issue in the School District of Philadelphia right now, education funding will not be the focal point for each city.

“Although school funding is the thread that binds all the issues together, many cities are taking up their own unique initiatives on Monday,” Weingarten said.

In Georgia, for instance, organizers and educators will contact their legislators on the importance of having a 180-day school calendar, Weingarten said. In Houston, union and community partners will protest calling for an end to an overreliance on tests and for fair teacher evaluations outside school board offices.

Weingarten said that in order for today’s rallies to be successful, parents and educators must not simply protest for the day, but also promote a new vision for their cities’ public education systems.

Naveed Ahsan is an intern at the Notebook.

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