Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Rally and news conference announces upcoming march to Harrisburg to demand ‘A People’s Budget, Not a Prison Budget,’ May 14, 2013.
Info on the march, which kicks off May 25 at Love Park
Photo: Decarcerate PA
[image of rallying students, some with illegible signs in their hands, some arm in arm.]
How a few Philly high school students organized themselves into a few hundred in four days
May 9, 2013
It began, not surprisingly perhaps, with a modest online message.
About two weeks ago, school district officials had announced, once again, a serious hole in the District’s budget and had laid out, once again, severe cuts that would be implemented if a roughly $300 million hole wasn’t filled — this time invoking layoffs and cuts to programs, especially arts and extracurricular.
And as students pondered cuts to their favorite programs, the irony that last Friday would mark “Teacher Appreciation Day,” was not lost upon them.
Before news of the proposed cuts reached them, says Teyin Tseng (upper right), a member of the student council at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, “Our plan was to see how much money we had and see if we could buy flowers for every teacher.”
“But then the budget [was unveiled] — and we decided to do this.”
So, on Friday, another CAPA student, Maureen Smith (lower center), created a new Facebook page: Silenced Students March — announcing a plan by her and some of her classmates to protest the threatened cuts. She opened with something of a rallying call:
“As students we are fed up and want to be heard. Its OUR education and WE should have a say in it. TUESDAY May 7th is teachers appreciation day, we are organizing a march to 440 North Broad Street, which is the school district building. Depending on your school’s location you can choose a meeting area and then proceed to march to 440.We will all be meeting there by 4:30. There is strength in numbers.”
The response — recorded online in blow-by-blow Facebook posts — was immediate, enthusiastic, and complex as any overnight organizing effort.
Talking points were discussed; a deliberate effort to attract media and control the message was conceived.
And there was, as there is in any organizing effort, vigorous debate over tactics and message: When some students announced a planned walkout; other students objected, worried the organized disobedience would undermine their credibility as a group — a debate which continues as some students contemplate a walkout tomorrow.
A system was worked out: each school’s protest contingent should nominate a representative to contact.
“We have a huge network,” explained Tseng outside the building. “We all called each other, and we got a lot of schools to join.”
“I was contacted by Teyin over here,” said Belal Shami (lower left), “and he told me he needed my help. My role was to gather people from Franklin Learning Center and get them to the protest. … I brought roughly 35 people.”
In a stretch of years in which there has been no shortage of protests outside 440 N. Broad, yesterday nonetheless marked the first time many of these students had ever done anything of the sort. And their motivations often went beyond their personal welfare.
“People are saying, ‘You’re a Senior,’ why are you here?’ Well, I have friends that I’ve made this year in lower grades,” said Kelechi Ekwerike (upper left), for whom this protest was his first. “For their education to be cut short, truncated, I will not stand for that. And if this carries on next year, if nothing is done, they [the School District] will not hear the end of it.”
“The sense in my class is a little bit like we’re the last survivors on the Titanic,” is how Samantha Ho (upper center), a junior at Masterman High School, put it. “We survived. But I have a cousin who’s going to be first year at Masterman — I can’t really imagine that place without extracurricular activities. That’s where people connect.”
“My little brother, my sister — I don’t care about myself,” said Spencer Nguyen (lower right) from the Palumbo Academy of Art. “This is for future generations.”
About two hours after the protest had started, a small knot of these students remained outside school headquarters, huddled as they debriefed and planned for whatever comes next.
“I’m more than happy with the turnout,” acknowledged Facebook event creator Maureen Smith. “It really does speak volumes, that young people can make a difference.”
From the Philadelphia Student Union: Today, hundreds of students walked-out of school and took to the streets. We rallied at City Hall to tell City Council that we need funding for our public schools. We have had enough budget cuts. We marched down Broad St. to 440. Students are ready to fight back against budget cut backs. Get ready to see a lot more of us next time.
A study released last week by researchers at Harvard and Stanford quantified what everyone in my hometown already knew: even the most talented rural poor kids don’t go to the nation’s best colleges. The vast majority, the study found, do not even try.
For deans of admissions brainstorming what they can do to remedy this, might I suggest: anything.
By the time they’re ready to apply to colleges, most kids from families like mine — poor, rural, no college grads in sight — know of and apply to only those few universities to which they’ve incidentally been exposed[…]
If top colleges are looking for a more comprehensive tutorial in recruiting the talented rural poor, they might take a cue from one institution doing a truly stellar job: the military."
A version for tumblr that can be read without opening a new tab, since plenty of people would scroll past this story otherwise.
Five states are attempting to make big jumps ahead when it comes to sex ed in their public schools.
1. COLORADO: Lawmakers in Colorado are advancing a bill that would move the state away from its current abstinence-only curricula to include comprehensive sexual health instruction, including requiring health classes in public schools to use inclusive language about LGBT issues. As openly gay state Rep. Dominick Moreno (D) argued on the House floor, traditional sex ed programs don’t often have adequate resources to help students who are struggling with their sexuality. Republicans largely opposed the provision of the legislation that would require the state’s sex ed classes to be LGBT-inclusive, and the anti-gay Focus on the Family lobbied hard against the bill — but despite their objections, the measure was approved by the House on Friday.
2. HAWAII: The state’s House Committee on Education is currently considering a measure that would incorporate comprehensive sexual education into all of Hawaii’s public schools. The bill would require Hawaii’s public elementary, middle, intermediate, high, and alternative schools to include medically accurate sexual health instruction in their curricula. Rep. John Mizuno (D), who introduced the measure, pointed out that unintended pregnancies currently cost the state an estimated $22 million each year — and more comprehensive sex ed would be a better investment. “Comprehensive sex education will equip our young people with the knowledge and tools necessary to be conscious of their decisions when it comes to sex,” Rep. Mizuno pointed out.
3. ALABAMA: Alabama’s first openly gay legislator, state Rep. Patricia Todd (D), is doing her best to update the standards for sexual education for the teens in her state. At the beginning of the new legislative session, Todd re-introduced a measure to repeal Alabama’s 1992 abstinence-only education law, an outdated piece of legislation that requires health classes to teach students that homosexuality is illegal. Todd’s bill would put the Department of Education in charge of establishing more comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed classes — an important update, since the state legislature currently sets the standards for sex ed and has the power to turn students’ basic health instruction into a politicized battlefield.
4. ILLINOIS: The Chicago public school system is considering an overhaul of its sexual education program that would require health classes to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time. The city’s chief health officer notes that if the new policy is enacted, Chicago’s public schools would comprise the largest urban U.S. school district with a required minimum of sex ed instruction and a specific curriculum for each grade level — a move spurred partly by the fact that over half of Chicago teens are sexually active. Under the new program, students below fifth grade would learn about anatomy, healthy relationships, puberty, and HIV transmission. After fifth grade, students would receive age-appropriate, LGBT-inclusive instruction about human reproduction, healthy decision-making, bullying, and contraception.
5. NORTH DAKOTA: Republicans in North Dakota are currently advancing several attacks on women’s health, and at the beginning of this month, it looked like abortion opponents might also successfully block sex ed resources for at-risk youth. After North Dakota State University won a three-year federal grant to partner with Planned Parenthood to provide sexual health services for at-risk teenagers, anti-abortion activists threatened to derail the program simply because Planned Parenthood was participating. The school faced significant pressure to back out of the grant — but fortunately, now that the state’s Attorney General has confirmed that partnering with Planned Parenthood doesn’t actually conflict with state law, the program will be allowed to move forward. University officials are celebrating the victory, which will allow teens between 15 and 19 years old to receive the comprehensive sexual health and family planning resources they need.
And some people are pissed about it?
I follow the sex education tag for obvious reasons and lately I’ve seen a lot of controversy for this law, some people calling it inappropriate or harmful. Personally, I am hoping that someday this law becomes a world wide thing and this is why. (TW: for some talk of sexual abuse)
- It’s going to be age appropriate material. If you actually read the article, they’re not going to begin talking about STIs and how to have safer sex until 4th grade, which is great since this is around the time that puberty is going to start.
- They’re going to learn about anatomy and basic reproduction. Basically, where do babies come from and things to understand their bodies. Although I’d love for this to be able to be something that parents could teach their children… that doesn’t happen. I’ve had so many questions from young people who just started their period who were freaking out and afraid because their parents never told them about it. Starting early ends the misinformation that these kids would learn on the playground that at this age can be kind of cute and funny (unless your child kisses someone and is really upset because then they think they’re going to get pregnant) but a little older can be really dangerous.
- Teaching about healthy relationships and safety. Unfortunately a lot of kids become sexually abused. These lessons will teach them that it’s not their fault and that they can get help and that the adult or older child is doing something wrong, not them. It also will probably cover bullying and how it’s not okay to touch other children without their consent. I was touched inappropriately by another child in the 4th grade. It made me feel horrible. Luckily because I got this education from my parent (which a lot of kids don’t get) I told my mom and she told the school and they made the child stop. It’ll probably also discuss how to talk to other kids and tell them when you don’t like the treatment they are giving you.
We NEED sex education that caters to every age. Instead of one random class that teaches some overwhelming information that may be coming to little to late, it builds on top of previous lessons. We start with the very basics and give kids information that they need when they need it. This will not only bring down STI and pregnancy rates, it’ll also help kids who are being abused and bring down abuse rates among young people as they will learn what a healthy relationship is and isn’t.
States with the highest teen pregnancy rates lack adequate sex ed requirements.
i’d love to know how many of the states that require it also include information about consent, sexual violence and non-victim-blaming healthy relationship advice.
i bet not that many.
(i’d say none, but i’ve read the WA curriculum and it’s actually pretty good).
Poem written by a 15 year old Afghan girl
This poem was recorded in a NYT magazine article about female underground poetry groups in Afghanistan. An amazing article about the ways in which women are using a traditional two line poetry form to express their resistance to male oppression, their feelings about love (considered blasphemous), and their doubts about religion.
their high school principal
told me I couldn’t teach
poetry with profanity
so I asked my students,
“Raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Holocaust.”
in unison, their arms rose up like poisonous gas
then straightened out like an SS infantry
“Okay. Please put your hands down.
Now raise your hand if you’ve heard of the Rwandan genocide.”
blank stares mixed with curious ignorance
a quivering hand out of the crowd
half-way raised, like a lone survivor
struggling to stand up in Kigali
“Luz, are you sure about that?”
“That’s what I thought.”
they won’t let you hear the truth at school
if that person says “fuck”
can’t even talk about “fuck”
even though a third of your senior class
I can’t teach an 18-year-old girl in a public school
how to use a condom that will save her life
and that of the orphan she will be forced
to give to the foster care system—
“Carlos, how many 13-year-olds do you know that are HIV-positive?”
“Honestly, none. But I do visit a shelter every Monday and talk with
six 12-year-old girls with diagnosed AIDS.”
while 4th graders three blocks away give little boys blowjobs during recess
I met an 11-year-old gang member in the Bronx who carries
a semi-automatic weapon to study hall so he can make it home
and you want me to censor my language
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
your books leave out Emmett Till and Medgar Evers
call themselves “World History” and don’t mention
King Leopold or diamond mines
call themselves “Politics in the Modern World”
and don’t mention Apartheid
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
you wonder why children hide in adult bodies
lie under light-color-eyed contact lenses
learn to fetishize the size of their asses
and simultaneously hate their lips
my students thought Che Guevara was a rapper
from East Harlem
still think my Mumia t-shirt is of Bob Marley
how can literacy not include Phyllis Wheatley?
schools were built in the shadows of ghosts
filtered through incest and grinding teeth
molded under veils of extravagant ritual
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
“Roselyn, how old was she? Cuántos años tuvo tu madre cuando se murió?”
“My mother had 32 years when she died. Ella era bellísima.”
they’ve moved from sterilizing “Boriqua” women
injecting indigenous sisters with Hepatitis B,
now they just kill mothers with silent poison
stain their loyalty and love into veins and suffocate them
Ridwan’s father hung himself
in the box because he thought his son
was ashamed of him
Maureen’s mother gave her
skin lightening cream
the day before she started the 6th grade
she carves straight lines into her
beautiful brown thighs so she can remember
what it feels like to heal
“Carlos, what’s genocide?”
this right here…
The child I babysit sometimes is 5 years old. Last time I went to take care of him I noticed he has this awesome painting of the moon in his bedroom. He told me his mother’s friend painted it. After he told me the artists name, he then explained to me, “She used to be a boy but she didn’t feel good so now she just takes medicine and it helps her to be a girl. She feels better.”
It’s literally that easy to explain it to kids.
In other cases where they have denied discharge, judges have directed dance teachers to seek better-paying work in other, often unrelated fields; reproached workers for leaving higher-paying jobs for lower-paying ones, whatever the reason; and, in one case, advised the pastor of a small, financially insecure church to close it and do something more profitable with his time. Unsurprisingly, many student loan debtors desperate enough to seek relief through the courts work in public sector professions. In an extensive 2005 empirical study of undue hardship cases, Emory University law professor Rafael Pardo and Tulane University mathematician Michelle Lacey found that a disproportionate number of plaintiffs worked in education, training, and library occupations. In today’s enterprise society, becoming a teacher or a librarian just isn’t a wise investment.
- The Soul of Student Debt, Jacobin Magazine
Treating our higher educational system as a market investment, rewarding the professions that make the most money — its not only bad for Americans, its bad for American democracy. Public sector jobs that pay poorly often provide intangible benefits to a society. We need librarians and social workers and teachers. We need musicians and artists and archivists and historians. The market may have determined that their worth is less than that of bankers, doctors, businesspeople, and lawyers, but without these hard-working people, we wouldn’t have anyone teaching our young people, we wouldn’t have anyone enriching our cultural spaces, we wouldn’t have anyone to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
Not everything has an immediate monetary return on investment, but the benefit to society that these professionals provide justifies the expense of educating them.
“You should have chosen a different field, maybe you would have less trouble paying off your debt” should NEVER be an argument used to prevent debtors from receiving effective debt relief.
This is a summary of college only using two pictures; expensive as hell.
That’s my Sociology “book”. In fact what it is is a piece of paper with codes written on it to allow me to access an electronic version of a book. I was told by my professor that I could not buy any other paperback version, or use another code, so I was left with no option other than buying a piece of paper for over $200. Best part about all this is my professor wrote the books; there’s something hilariously sadistic about that. So I pretty much doled out $200 for a current edition of an online textbook that is no different than an older, paperback edition of the same book for $5; yeah, I checked. My mistake for listening to my professor.
This is why we download.
Spreading this shit like nutella because goddamn textbooks are so expensive.
not necessarily art related but as someone who couldn’t afford their textbooks this semester this is a godsend
apologist bullshit. “to be fair”—there is nothing to be “fair” about. this has been catastrophic, and could’ve been stopped by SIMPLE SHIT like raising taxes to pay for *education* instead of corporate tax breaks.
oh, and you guessed correctly, muskegon is an extremely poor area, with a large black population—i’m not positive it’s majority black, cuz it’s on the west side of the state—but it’s *definitely* got a much bigger black population than other cities on that side of the state.
and pay attention. these fuckers are not about “fixing” the financial problems. they aren’t trying to figure out how to stop corruption (which is infamous in detroit schools, with admin ‘losing’ and ‘finding’ millions of dollars here and there) or utlize creativity and forward thinking to readjust how and when and what needs to be paid for—
they are going in and PRIVATIZING. period. that is the answer. they had NO INTENTION of keeping those schools public. they had NO INTENTION of working to bring down the debt with the school board or listening to input from parents or any of that.
privatization is the answer.
only it’s not cuz look at how it’s all fucked up.
Bessie Bruington Burke (1891-1968), the first black principal of a Los Angeles public school.
According to the West Adams Heritage Association:
Her parents came from Kansas to Los Angeles by covered wagon in 1877, settling in what is now North Hollywood where Bessie was born. She graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1911 and attended college at Los Angeles State Normal School (now part of UCLA), graduating 7th in a class of 800. She earned her teaching credential in 1911. Her first teaching assignment was at Holmes Avenue school, where she was promoted to principal in 1918, the first African American principal in the Los Angeles school system. Her efforts to break the color bar were supported by the Forum, an African-American civic organization headquartered at the corner of Eighth and Wall Streets. For a number of years she was principal of the Virginia Road Elementary School at 2925 Virginia Road in West Adams. Burke served with a number of civic organizations including the YWCA, Native California Club, Wilfandel, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the NAACP… She retired in 1955 after 44 years with the Los Angeles Board of Education.
You want to arm me? Good. Then arm me with a school psychologist at my school who has time to do more than test and sit in meetings about testing.
Arm me with enough counselors so we can build skills to prevent violence, have meaningful discussions with students about their future and not merely frantically adjust student schedules like a Jenga game.
Arm me with social workers who can thoughtfully attend to a student’s and her family’s needs so I. Can. Teach.
Arm me with enough school nurses so that they are accessible to every child and can work as a team with me rather than operate their offices as de facto urgent care centers.
Arm me with more days on the calendar for teaching and learning and fewer days for standardized testing.
Arm me with class sizes that allow my colleagues and I to know both our students and their families well.
Arm my colleagues and I with the time it takes to improve together and the time it takes to give great feedback to students about their work and progress.
Until you arm me to the hilt with what it will take to meet the needs of an increasingly vulnerable student population, I respectfully request you keep your opinions on schools and our safety to yourself, NRA. Knock it off."