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Rally for funding equity draws busloads to Capitol

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Early on a gloomy spring morning, hundreds of Philadelphians boarded buses to Harrisburg on May 5 to take a message to state legislators that it is time for all of the state’s schools to be funded equitably and adequately.

Participating in "Philadelphia Day" of Good Schools PA’s Stand for Children campaign, a coalition of elementary and high school students, parents, teachers, advocates, and concerned citizens rallied on the steps of the Capitol building and then swarmed the legislative halls to take their message to elected officials. The event was co-organized with Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth.

Mayor John Street boarded several of the buses before their departure from Philadelphia to express gratitude for the group’s efforts. "It’s imperative that we send a message that…we’re not going to let people get away with not better funding our schools," said Street to one bus full of participants.

Speakers at the rally stressed that an investment in public education would have economic and social benefits in the future.

"Our legislature has a choice to make," said Keith Newman, a teacher at Morrison Elementary who brought 80 students with him to Philadelphia Day. "They can invest in our youth, or [they] can create more victims of crime and neglect."

Philadelphia Student Union member and Masterman High School junior Jacob Winterstein declared to the crowd, "Enough blaming students for the situation that we were forced into. Enough criminalization of students, because the real criminals are the legislators who want to mess with our future."

Rally speakers also included Mayor Street, Governor Rendell, and State Representative Babette Josephs.

Participants met with legislators to ask for support for equitable and adequate school funding and encouraged them to sign on to a Declaration of Educational Equity.

Since January, Good Schools PA’s Stand for Children has brought more than 3,000 citizens to Harrisburg to push the legislature to pass a school funding bill that will give all children in the state an opportunity for a high quality education.

Each day the legislature has been in session, different groups of citizens have attended similar rallies. Philadelphians have been present at several other Stand for Children days, including Philadelphia Student Union Day, College Students Day, Jewish Community Day, and Quaker Day.

On June 26, Philadelphians will return to Harrisburg for Good Schools’ statewide Rally for Educational Justice.

For more information, contact Good Schools PA at 215-332-2700.

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