Every day for two weeks, parents and school staff have fasted and rallied on the steps of Governor Tom Corbett’s Philadelphia office, calling for funding that would allow the city’s school district to restore student safety staff to its lunchrooms, hallways and schoolyards.
On July 1, on the heels of a newly approved Pennsylvania budget and Governor Corbett’s support for a Philly school funding package, those who have gone without food or juice for days broke their fast on the steps of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) offices.
“Today we are celebrating an important, if incomplete, victory for our kids,” said faster Nicole Hunt, who had personally gone 8 days without food to bring attention to the dire situation facing Philadelphia schools. “The state budget does not do all that it should do for our schools, but we know that SDP can choose to prioritize student safety.”
The Fast for Safe Schools was sparked by the layoff of 1,202 student safety staff, also known as noon-time aides. The parents and school staff who fasted – and the political, religious and community leaders who supported them – were concerned that students will be in danger without these staff in the schools.
Though SDP has not yet committed to recall the student safety staff, the fasters were confident that SDP too would soon act to prioritize safe schools.
“We fully expect SDP to bring student safety staff back into our schools,” said Roberta Thomas. “If they don’t, we’ll be right back on these steps.”
Faster Juanita Jones added, “Though we have gone without food for two weeks, we feel strong. We have been overwhelmed by the support Philadelphia has shown us. We are breaking our fast today eager to work with others who care about our kids to bring lasting success to Philadelphia’s schools.”
Words of support also rolled in from many of the local elected officials, some of whom undertook their own solidarity fasts over the course of the past 15 days. Learn more at www.realfoodrealjobs.org.
“The Fasters gave me a renewed belief, that ordinary people have the power to change public opinion, they were brave with a sincere commitment to public education.”
– Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez
“This campaign raised awareness in Philadelphia, and provided a larger perspective for many people of what it requires to fully and successfully educate a child. I was pleased to play a small role as a supporter. The commitment of this band of citizens provided additional motivation as I went into budget conversations. The governor had his priorities. Other people had their priorities – liquor privatization, pensions, and the like. Making sure the Philadelphia public school system has the money to open in the fall with full staffing was my priority. It was the priority.”
-Pennsylvania Senator Anthony Hardy Williams
“I am inspired by those that fasted for School Safety. Their courage and determination motivated me to continue to fight for what was in the best interest of our children.”
– Representative Jordan Harris