600 activists slam Corbett over school funding

Posted: June 11, 2014

HOLDING SIGNS with slogans including "Don't Kill Our Futures" and breaking into chants like "SOS: Save Our Schools," about 600 activists marched to the Comcast Center yesterday to protest education cuts under Gov. Corbett and the fiscal condition of the School District of Philadelphia.

"We're fired up and we're not going to take another year like this year," said Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents more than 16,000 district employees.

Corbett was in town yesterday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for a fundraiser to support the Pennsylvania governor's re-election campaign. The protesters - teachers, students and members of several activist groups - gathered about 4 p.m. outside the Union League, on Broad Street near Sansom, before marching.

During the protest, activists demanded "fair funding" for Philadelphia's public schools and slammed Corbett for issuing what they called "devastating cuts" to education since he took office.

By about 4:30 p.m., activists were spilling out into Broad Street and interrupting traffic. The protesters broke into chants such as "Hey hey, ho ho, Governor Corbett's got to go" and blew on whistles and noisemakers. Then they marched down Sansom and headed to the Comcast Center, after hearing Corbett might be there instead.

Chris Pack, Corbett's campaign communications director, said the fundraiser was always planned for the Comcast Center. In an emailed statement, Pack also said it was unfortunate that the teachers union would "perpetuate lies" about the governor's commitment to education, adding that Corbett has added $1.2 billion for schools since taking office.

Outside the building, Chanel Smith, a sophomore at Edison High School on Luzerne Street near 2nd, read from a statement calling the cuts unacceptable, and said Corbett does not care about students.

"How many lives have to be cut short?" she asked. "How many future lives have to be destroyed until they see the evil behind their plan?"

Delilah Baines Washington, 31, of South Philadelphia, who teaches English as a second language, said she was attending the protest to show support for her students. She also has a son, Salim, 6, who's a kindergartner in the district.

"Not only am I here supporting and fighting for my students, but I'm also fighting for my child, as well," she said.

Officer Tanya Little, a Philadelphia police spokeswoman, said six protesters were cited for obstructing the highway.

On Twitter: @dylan_segelbaum

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