Philly teachers: We won't stop until we get fair schools funding
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
More than 1,000 Philadelphia teachers, parents, students and supporters marched through a rainstorm in Center City on Thursday to protest school budget cuts and thousands of layoffs.
The peaceful crowd walked from the Comcast Center to City Hall, and eventually to the School District's headquarters, waving signs and chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Corbett has got to go!" When they arrived at their final destination, the rain finally let up. A series of School District employees, students and union leaders gave speeches outside as the School Reform Commission met inside.
Ted Kirsch, president of the American Federation of Teachers' state chapter, had a simple message: "We have one thing to say to the people inside: Shame on you!"
The School District laid off nearly 4,000 employees earlier this year. Superintendent William Hite said he will only be able to hire back about 1,600 of those workers with the money now in hand.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said that budget cuts are cheating the city's schoolchildren.
"It is a disgrace that the SRC, the governor, the mayor are allowing this to happen," he said. "We cannot stop, we will not stop, until we get full funding and a sustainable funding formula for this school district."
The PFT is currently negotiating a new contract with the District, which is asking for pay and benefit givebacks.
After the SRC meeting, Hite told reporters that he, too, is upset about the funding cuts.
All photos by Harvey Finkle