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Public ed advocates turn to video to spread their message on schools crisis

By thenotebook on Oct 4, 2013 01:50 PM

by Isaac Riddle

“If you can’t get your voice heard, then you need to find the mechanism to be heard,” said Eileen Duffey, an 18-year veteran of the School District of Philadelphia.

Duffey, a school nurse at the Academy at Palumbo, found that mechanism through Our Schools Are Not for Sale, a short documentary video that examines the current education funding crisis and the closing of 24 neighborhood schools by the School Reform Commission earlier this year.

The video was conceived by Duffey and the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, an advocacy group she helped found, and made in collaboration with the community-based Media Mobilizing Project.

“We have been unsuccessful at breaking through to the larger community about the ramifications of the privatization of our public schools,” Duffey said.  “All of us will pay a huge price if we allow this public school system to be dismantled.”

Milena Velez, of the Media Mobilizing Project, co-produced the video and conducted interviews with parents, students, and teachers.

“This year has been particularly intense for schools,” said Velez. “We wanted to tell this story of what’s happening to our schools and what the stakes are.”

Duffey and Velez have asked community members to host screenings of the documentary with their neighbors.

“I want more people to understand the problem and ask what they can do about this,” Duffey said.

The documentary interviews parents, students, and teachers who all argue that the state is underfunding the School District, while ignoring concerns from the community. 

The Media Moblizing Project intends to produce more short documentaries that highlight issues in the community.

“This is the beginning of the conversation,” said Duffey.

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Comments (33)

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on October 4, 2013 5:00 pm

Interesting special interest propaganda piece. I see a bunch of entitlement people demanding their free stuff. I particularly like the guy who thinks $300 Million isn't that much money and center city businessmen make that in a day. $300 Million would be the annual revenue, not earnings, of a small cap corporation traded on the stock exchange. Speaking of the private sector, you adjust your expenses according to your revenue, not the other way around. It's time for the SDP to do some belt tightening and live within its means. The gravy train is over. The trough is empty.

Submitted by R S Phillips (not verified) on October 4, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks for taking the time to watch, Taxpayer. And if by special interest you mean the majority of Philadelphians/Pennsylvanians/Americans, and by entitlement you mean basic human rights, and by free stuff you mean quality public education, then yeah I'd say you've hit the nail right on the head. That's exactly what we're demanding. And when you use phrases that are so grossly misleading, then I'd say you are the only one spewing propaganda here.

Also, Comcast alone is reporting "quarterly revenue of $16.3 billion, up from $15.2 billion in the same period in 2012" (http://articles.philly.com/2013-08-02/news/40966963_1_nbcuniversal-comca...). That's what I'd call a gravy train.

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on October 4, 2013 8:44 pm

Comcast is a large cap company. I said small cap. Are you suggesting Comcast owes the SDP some portion of its annual revenue? I suppose you are against the tax breaks Comcast got for headquartering in center city, even though they provided thousands of construction jobs by building that tower and tens of millions in city wage taxes from their employees.

Submitted by R S Phillips (not verified) on October 4, 2013 9:09 pm

Our public schools are responsible for educating thousands and thousands of young people every year, and these young people and those who surround them--their families, their teachers and their neighbors--make up the fabric of our society. I suppose you are against human rights, families, neighborhoods and children.

Submitted by Philly Activist (not verified) on November 30, 2013 8:49 am

Ahhhh - the construction jobs are over and while it did help to employ people where are the profits now going? They are also enjoying a 10 year tax abatement and building in a KOZ Zone. I would say it can't get much better than that. Yes, I would say Comcast shouldn't have taken the 10 year tax abatement - it does affect what the School District collects in taxes for the education of "our" children.

Wouldn't you the "Taxpayer" which we all are mind having the same benefits since it is "our" taxes who help to shore up Comcast??? Also "our" taxes paid for all of the wiring that was needed in the first place for cable and the internet.

Perhaps you work for this large cap company are so defending them.

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on October 6, 2013 3:31 pm

Yes!!!

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on October 6, 2013 3:09 pm

Our children are entitled to an adequate and efficient education according to the state constitution. It has been breached. My family has paid taxes in this city for over seventy years here in the city. We are not looking for a handout. We are looking for what is fair and right for our children. Get all of the facts before commenting. Don't just assume.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on October 4, 2013 6:49 pm

Taxpayer, Corbett cut 1 billion from education. That's part of the reason we are in this mess. The state "took over" the SDP, in spite of the dismal history of the takeover of Chester's schools. Since this takeover, they've turned a blind eye to the financial ineptitude of the people the state itself appointed to run the schools.

I too am a taxpayer. I would bet that pretty much every single person reading the Notebook is a taxpayer. We all have an interest in a robust public education program. Some of us are trying to move past the phony baloney promises of instant "reform" for less, and we do so because, for the most part, we are experienced and dedicated educators who actually know the score and have a wealth of institutional knowledge and a commitment to preserving the basis of our democracy, which is an educated populace.

There is no need to be bitter, or to worry about someone's sense of entitlements, unless you are worried about the entitlement of our corporations, which will continue to do just fine even if they are eventually required to contribute to our democratic system by paying their appropriate taxes.

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on October 4, 2013 7:58 pm

Actually, Corbett is spending more state money on the SDP than ever before. The money that was cut was the drying up of FEDERAL pass through money. I would take it up with the Feds, but they are broke, too. The SDP budget has doubled over the last ten years despite declining enrollment. That is unsustainable. That which is unsustainable will not be sustained.

Submitted by Joan Taylor on October 4, 2013 7:16 pm

Obama's not off the hook. Arne Duncan is a disgraceful appointment for Sec. of Ed. And Corbett has handed back and undertaxed corporations in one of the more shameless administrations we've had in PA.

It is a public responsibility to educate our citizenry. Tax breaks are not, in my eyes, more important than funding education.

Corporations will survive rational taxation.

Submitted by Taxpayer Too (not verified) on October 4, 2013 8:15 pm

You are a fool!!!

Submitted by Joan Taylor on October 4, 2013 8:42 pm

When one's response to an argument deteriorates into name-calling, it's a tacit admission of defeat.

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on October 4, 2013 8:22 pm

That wasn't me. That person was responding to me, not you. They are frustrated by the facts and so resort to name calling. On that we can agree.

Submitted by Geoffrey Winikur (not verified) on October 4, 2013 9:44 pm

The fact is that over 40 states fund their schools at a higher rate then PA.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 5, 2013 3:06 am

You mean a higher share of state vs local contribution.

Pa is in the middle for per pupil funding levels.

Submitted by Philly Activist (not verified) on November 30, 2013 8:08 am

Agree with Joan Taylor - when we have nothing educated to say we resort to name calling.

Taxpayer do you actually live in the City of Philadelphia?

Submitted by Ken Derstine on October 5, 2013 12:12 am

What is this phrase "FEDERAL pass through money" that the haters of a government are suddenly using? This money was called economic stimulus money in the first year of the Obama administration and the government haters were screaming at the time that this was government welfare. Now that the loss of it has caused economic crisis for the entire public education system nationally (and it is only a small part of the problem in Pennsylvania) suddenly the government haters indirectly acknowledge that the stimulus money did make a difference in the economy.

The truth is that Governor Corbett did cut $1 billion from public education in his first year in office (even as he expanded the prison budget by $700 million). Just making up sand castles in the sky to fit an ideology doesn't change the reality. Unfortunately for those who depend on people having short term memory, we now have the internet to remind us of historical truth.

http://tinyurl.com/p5t9cqe

Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on October 5, 2013 9:36 pm

Ken - Here is a link for the State Fund Stabilization Fund, which provided $53.6 billion for public education. The money ran out and everybody blamed Corbett. Corbett was left holding the bag from the Fast Eddie Spendell administrations with a $4 billion deficit. The state constitution requires a balanced budget. The economy tanked and the revenues were not there. There were increases in the amount for basic education, but not at the rates in previous years under Spendell.

In other words, we spent $10 last year. We would like to spend $12 next year, but we have enough to spend $11. We increased spending from $10 to $11, but it was a cut of $1 from $12 to $11. The $1 billion in cuts is a lie.

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/factsheet/stabilization-fund....

Submitted by Ken Derstine on October 5, 2013 10:05 pm

The state constitution also requires the Legislature to provide "the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth".

You can throw up your statistics to support your position and I can throw up my statistics to support my position and it ultimately is kind of meaningless. For the teacher on the ground they know the reality of how they must deal every day with schools being underfunded in Philadelphia. When I would go to national computer conferences and see the advantages that wealthy school districts have in support and resources any arguments about Philadelphia being overfunded become meaningless.

As to the Rendell administration, the increases in funding in those years were used by Arlene Ackerman to build up charters and Renaissance schools with her Imagine 2014 plan.

The Philadelphia public schools were taken over by the state in 2001, so any criticism about how schools have been managed since then should be directed at the state.

Submitted by Go-Eagles (not verified) on October 6, 2013 10:12 am

Ken - The school district could not manage itself back in the late 90's and early 2000's to the point with $100+ million deficits on a budget of $1.4 billion. The school budget is over $3.0+ billion. It speaks volumes with a school budget more than doubling in 12 years. We can both agree that the SRC has mismanaged the district over the past couple of years with the influx of charter schools. The SRC did save the district. SDP would have been the next Detroit Public Schools or Chicago Public Schools if it wasn't already back in 2001.

SDP is too big of a school district with 200,000+ students. Therein, lies the problem with too much bloated administration and underutilized schools leading to an inefficient operation. The suburban school districts are small enough to manage themselves.

It's clear that the city is not adequately funding the district. Blame the city fathers. Ah heck, just blame Bush, Obama or even Ray-gun.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 7, 2013 2:55 am

The haters accurately pointed out that the stimulus would be used to justify permanently higher levels of spending. Because public sector only grows in one direction, especially in a one party machine city like Philly.

And Philadelphia did exactly that. Instead of downsizing the district years ago, they maintained the district as a jobs program for the benefit of the employees. They Gave nice raises in 2009 to teachers while everyone else was suffering. Now 3 local tax increases later the gravy train done run off the rails.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 5, 2013 3:31 am

'Decades of funding cuts'. A lie in the first minute. The entire premise here is a fraud.

Per pupil spending has more than doubled since 2001 while over 1000 admin positions have been eliminated.

The PFT will always complain about needing more money. There is no level of taxes too high for them.

Submitted by Taxpayer (not verified) on October 5, 2013 8:10 am

Agreed. The special interest groups (read PFT and their welfare queen pawns) have gone from spin to deceit to outright lies. Like the attack ad commercial against Nutter that clearly states that he has cut city funding to the SDP when in fact he has increased city funding to the SDP by $155 Million per year since 2010. With a budget that is twice what it was ten years ago despite declining enrollment, the SDP does not have a funding problem. It has a spending problem.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 7, 2013 2:35 am

It's easy for them to lie to a population as uneducated as Philadelphia's. Just stick to some rhetorical talking points blaming the man behind the curtain.

If you had $1 and someone gave you another $1, you are oppressed because the man should have given you $3.

Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on October 5, 2013 7:29 pm

The parents and teachers who appear in the video defending public education are to be congratulated. They are the people who are fighting to save public education. They are not standing by while Corbett and his contributors cheat the children and try to blame it on someone else. They are not falling for the anti-union rhetoric.

The more powerful and true a message is, the more it scares some people.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on October 6, 2013 7:38 am

Right indeed. They are advocates who understand the immorality of what is happening to Philadelphia's school children and the profession of teaching and learning.

They are people who give of themselves selflessly and passionately for the best interests of children and the school community of Philadelphia and true Public education.

I have nothing but the highest respect and admiration for them. Their life long dedication to Philadelphia's children and school community is clear and obvious.

The parents and educators in that video are truly -- character people.

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:38 pm

Thank you, Rich for that encouragement. I will let others from the film know that you liked it and think highly of us. That means a lot to us in a very upsetting and trying time such as this.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 23, 2013 7:55 am

You are welcome. It is in the trying times when the true character of our leaders rises to the forefront. I am encouraged to see so many leaders like you and others emerge out of this and work so hard for the common good of public education and the school community of Philadelphia.

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on November 23, 2013 1:32 pm

It is an encouragement just to see how you, too, are a powerful leader and advocate in this fight for quality education.

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:48 pm

That's right, Lisa. Tell them!!!

Submitted by Ken Derstine on October 5, 2013 8:41 pm

This video about Philadelphia public schools is also about our national education problem.

http://tinyurl.com/nubrgb2

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:21 pm

Yes, Ken!!!

Submitted by Maureen Fratantoni (not verified) on November 22, 2013 10:22 pm

Did I mention that I love the documentary, "Our Schools Are Not For Sale." ? It went viral and it is being seen both nationally and internationally. :) Thanks be to God!!!!!!!

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