This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Education activists have come together to make sure that the city’s educational problems are front and center in this year’s mayoral election.
A candidates’ forum on education issues, sponsored by the Cross City Campaign for School Reform is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on April 12 at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, on N. Broad and Mt. Vernon Sts.
The sponsoring groups are also surveying the mayoral candidates on what role they would play as an education leader, as well as their stances on issues such as school privatization, the state takeover, dropouts, and bilingual education.
“We need the next mayor to jump on this school reform issue,” said ACORN member Ken Jones, who highlighted teacher quality, school safety, and adequate funding as critical concerns his community organization will raise with the candidates.
At a February press conference announcing the mayoral forum, high school student activists hammered at the poor conditions at their schools and reminded the candidates that many of them are 18 and can vote.
Student William Elkins-Crosby of Youth United for Change, who attends the recently established Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School, deplored the lack of performing arts facilities and musical instruments at his school.
Challenging the mayoral candidates to address the issue of safe schools, Sayre High School senior and Philadelphia Student Union member Kenyon McGriff said, “We don’t just want to hear about more police, more security, and more restrictions for students.… Will you support student organizing for a better school climate?”
Other organizations sponsoring the April 12 forum include the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project, Education Law Center, Good Schools Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth, and Philadelphia Education Fund.
For information, call Allison Balter at the Education Law Center, 215-238-6970.