For immediate release
June 17, 2013
Fasters encamp on steps of Governor's Philadelphia office; call for Commonwealth and City to act.
Philadelphia, PA – A group of Philadelphia public school parents and staff began a fast today to call attention to their demand for safe schools. The elimination of more than 1,200 student safety staff from schools across the district, including those on the federal "persistently dangerous" schools list, places Philadelphia’s students in danger. The group encamped on the steps of Governor Tom Cobertt’s Philadelphia office, where the fast will continue without food or juice until the Commonwealth and City act to prioritize school safety.
"I care about my daughter and grandson," said faster Earlene Bly, mother of a 9th grade student and grandmother of a soon-to-be 1st grader in PSD. "I am making this sacrifice to make sure they have safe schools. I am fasting to show my family and the city how serious this situation really is."
The School District of Philadelphia announced the layoff of over 3,700 employees on June 7th. Student safety staff make up the largest group slated to be cut. Employed in school hallways and lunchrooms across the district, they are often the first workers to defuse tensions, maintain order and deescalate conflicts between students. In the next two weeks, the Pennsylvania state legislature and Philadelphia City Council will decide whether to supplement school funding, which could allow student safety staff and other school employees to return in the Fall.
"I am fasting for the children," said faster Patricia Norris, a food service worker at Cayuga Elementary. "When the children won’t go to the principal, when they won’t go to their teacher, they go to the student safety staff. They give them love and knowledge. Without them, school would be a disaster waiting to happen."
"They want us to succeed, because we are the future," said Shakur Miller, 17, a Junior at Mastbaum High School. "I support the fast because our student safety staff talk to us, which is something we need to be safe and to succeed."