By building a groundswell of public support on the streets of Philadelphia, we can make significant progress on funding issues directly affecting Philadelphia Public Schools.
Our street canvass will generate new grassroots contributions from a wide range of individuals, increasing ACTION United sustainability as an effective community leader and political machine.
Visibility and general awareness of ACTION United and the Public School Funding dilemma will increase because of a continued presence in the public eye.
Developing a systematic door assault can not only generate financial support but also generate political activity in strategically targeted areas.
This campaign will ultimately deepen the level of democratic participation of citizens at large, driving social change.
Can I share a story with you?
Imagine a school where there is no art, music, and sports. Imagine a school without a nurse to tend to your ills, a librarian to spark your love of reading, and a guidance counselor to help plan your academic course. For Philadelphia’s children, this is their reality. In addition to these educational inadequacies- hunger and deep poverty accompany our most vulnerable children into the classroom.
As the new Co-Executive Director of ACTION United, we are embarking on a campaign for Stronger Schools & Stronger Neighborhoods. A campaign to amplify and uplift the voices of poor and working parents and to help them share their stories in order to impact change. Stories from Parent leaders like Dawn Hawkins and Kia Hinton have highlighted the impact of schools closures on Economically-disadvantaged, Black and Latino students in the region and on a national scale (see recent feature on MSNBC).
ACTION United leaders have been at the forefront of the education issue for over the past year fighting for adequate funding and against the school closures that have devastated already struggling communities. Because of these leaders’ stories, we built a citywide coalition for public schools, saved 11 schools from the closure list, and changed the perception of what is a quality community school. These are great wins, but we have so much more work to do and we need your help.
ACTION United low-income parents invest $10/month to fight to improve their communities and access to high quality education. Unfortunately, many families can’t afford even that small investment. Will you help to uplift their voices?
By investing $20/month, approximately 70 cent a day, you can help us sponsor two members to tell their stories. Two more stories that can impact the future of 136,000 children in Philadelphia.
Become a partner with ACTION United today. Philadelphia Children are counting on you!
Quanisha M. Smith
Co-Executive Director, ACTION United
Statement by ACTION United in response to the Teachers Union President Jordan's recommendation for Union Concessions
ACTION United, Philadelphia largest community organization with over 30,000 Philadelphia member families, commends the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Union president Jerry Jordan for announcing his willingness to present to his members a recommendation of concessions to help with the huge financial crisis the district is in. This response by the President Jordan and the PFT leadership shows that the teachers continue to be willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to insure that Philadelphia school children, our members children, have access to a quality education.
ACTION United's position from the moment that the teachers were identified as a funding source, along with our city and state government, has been that the teachers should NOT be a source of school funding. In fact, our teachers are the Philadelphia School Districts' most valuable resource who are already paid 20% less than in surrounding districts and have fewer resources for their students. If anything, we need more funding going to support teachers in order to retain and continue to attract the best and the brightest to teach in schools that are some of the most challenging jobs in the country. Our members children need great teachers, and we believe efforts to extract salary and benefit concessions from them will lead to the exact opposite happening-the best teachers and anyone thinking of teaching in Philly, leaving the district for less challenging jobs with higher pay in other districts.
We continue to believe it is the responsibility of the state, which took over our district in 2001, and the city to come up with funding not just to solve this immediate crisis, but to insure that our schools are guaranteed the resources to provide every Philadelphia school child the opportunity of a great school. Our schools are getting ready to open without counselors, nurses, art and music, extra curricular activities and without enough secretaries, teachers and paraprofessionals to meet the needs of our children. We just learned last week that some second and third graders are being forced to share the same classroom and the same teacher. That’s not helping kids.
The Philadelphia teachers union is more than doing its part-now its time for our city and state governments, our business community (which has just seen huge tax breaks through AVI), and private entities like the Philadelphia School Partnership, sitting on tens of millions of dollars, to step up and do their share.
The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) insists that they are working to maximize “great school options” for all children, but their actions don't match their rhetoric. In reality, they have worked to undermine traditional public schools at every turn:
- PSP supported the closure of 24 schools
- Lobbied against increased state funding unless it was tied to cuts in teacher pay and anti-teacher policies.
- It has refused to use the millions raised to help provide support staff, counselors, and nurses needed to keep children safe
- PSP facilitates the “Great Schools Compact,” where decisions are made about our schools in closed door meetings with no input from or accountability to the people of Philadelphia
- 13 of 16 PSP board members don't even live in Philadelphia
- One of these board members, Chris Bravacos, worked with Gov. Corbett to push PA Voter ID legislation that would disenfranchise voters in Pennsylvania. He also promoted the Boston Consulting Group's blueprint to close 64 Philadelphia public schools and privatize the management of that remained open
- Another board member, Janine Yass, has lobbied extensively for school vouchers that would defund public schools and put taxpayer money into private hands
PSP's actions speak louder than their words. Today, a group of ACTION United parents, teachers, and community members marched into the office of The Philadelphia School Partnership to issue four demands:
- Use the millions of dollars raised to help close the District's budget gap and ensure every child has the needed personnel in their school
- Support a fair funding formula for public education in Pennsylvania
- Open their board meetings and Great Schools Compact meetings to the Public
- Remove Chris Bravacos from its board of directors
These four steps are no-brainers to any organization in favor of strong public schools, but PSP has refused to take them. Instead of telling teachers to take concessions that will harm the learning conditions of our students, PSP should invest in our kids and finance proven strategies that will keep ALL kids safe and provide for an enriching educational experience. No work rules the District imposes will make a difference if our kids don’t receive the resources that they need. They will not be able to staff our schools if educators lack these supports.Who does this all impact? Our children
We call on PSP to stand with the REAL partners of Philadelphia Education- the students, parents, community members, and teachers who live and work in these schools and surrounding communities. Far from being a distraction, as PSP has said, ACTION United’s actions today expose the truth about The Philadelphia School Partnership as an organization more concerned with privatizing public education for the profit of its own board members than providing a quality education to every child.
ACTION United is committed to solutions that provide high quality public education to all Philadelphia children.
During a press conference today at the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), Superintendent Dr. Hite announced that without a certification (commitment) from Mayor Nutter and City Council that he will have access to 50 million dollars, then the District will be forced to consider alternatives to opening schools on September 9th. He cites all the reasons that parents, community leaders, teachers, and school staff have proclaimed for the last year in various meetings and rallies: It’s not safe to open a school with thousands of students with only a principal, a bare minimum of teachers, and a secretary.
ACTION United parent leader Dawn Hawkins attended to hear the news and her response to the crisis is “Stop passing the buck.” (Click here to see her response) After commending Dr. Hite for standing up for students’ safety, Dawn demanded that Mayor Nutter responds immediately- “Aren't our children’s education and safety a crisis?” Dawn also questioned how City Council could go on vacation without securing educational funding when they knew this need was time sensitive.
Let’s talk about what should not be a funding source: Teachers. How dare Governor and the state legislature tie provisions for school funding to teacher concessions! How dare Dr. Hite conclude that the teachers need to sacrifice their already low pay and benefits in order for students to have enrichment activities, a rigorous curriculum, and adequately staffed schools! “Our teachers deal with enough and need to support their families. They shouldn’t have to give concessions for schools to open,” Dawn remarked.
While Dr. Hite may have finally gotten it right on safety, he didn’t get it right on who should really make the “shared sacrifice” for solving this crisis. We’ve been sacrificing the opportunities of our children and the working conditions of our teachers for years. The “shared sacrifice” for a secure source of funding revenue should come from the business community that never pays their fair share, yet dictates (ahem, David Cohen-Comcast) how our schools are funded. The “shared sacrifice” should come from Mayor Nutter and City Council not resting until Philadelphia Education has all the resources it needs to provide all Philadelphia’s children with a well-rounded education. “Shared Sacrifice” should not come from our children and their education & safety, the destruction of our most struggling communities, and our teachers and school staff’s livelihoods.
ACTION United calls on our city’s leadership to stop passing the buck, be the leaders we voted you in office to be and give the families and children of Philadelphia the commitment we need to adequately open public schools next month.
ACTION United is an organization of low and moderate income families in Pennsylvania. In Pittsburgh, we are working on a big campaign called the Clean Rivers Campaign.
The goals of the campaign are
- To educate the public about the stormwater runoff problem that we all face, and ways to solve it that would create green space for our communities and thousands of local jobs, as well.
- To build a broad base of members who will work to influence political leaders to focus their energy on making sure that the stormwater repairs that must happen in our county include lots of green infrastructure solutions before just using big tunnels and holding tanks.
- To move those members into action, develop their leadership skills, and train them to advance the campaign
So, we are hiring a few part time organizer trainees to go out in the community, door to door, and speak to residents about the Clean Rivers Campaign, and encourage them to join the organization that will win thousands of jobs for local residents and create hundreds of green spaces in our community.
Salary details: $10.00 per hour
Hours are Mon-Thu 3:00-9:00 and Friday 3:00-8:00
To apply, please email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
It's been an ACTION packed year...
It has been a year of legislative assaults and hard fought battles. And ACTION United has been in the middle of it from Southeastern PA to Pittsburgh's West End and beyond. Help us fight the good fight in 2012 by including us in your year end giving:
2011 saw a lot of fights and some important wins. Highlights include: Knocking on over 120,000 doors in Philadelphia to educate and mobilize people on the fight for good jobs; ....and so much more! end of year giving. Every dollar you give goes towards making change in your community and low and moderate income communities across the State. As a State wide organization we have the leverage we need to stand together and protect critical programs and to make change in our communities, in the state, and in the county. But we need your support. BIG plans We have big plans for 2012, and with your support we can make it happen. With your help, we plan to: Fight for good jobs and clean rivers as a founding member of the Clean Rivers Campaign in Allegheny County; Please consider becoming a sustainer. This is the best way for you to support our organization, creating long tern sustainability for us and also insuring that your support is most effective.
2011 saw a lot of fights and some important wins. Highlights include:
Knocking on over 120,000 doors in Philadelphia to educate and mobilize people on the fight for good jobs;
....and so much more!
end of year giving.
Every dollar you give goes towards making change in your community and low and moderate income communities across the State.
As a State wide organization we have the leverage we need to stand together and protect critical programs and to make change in our communities, in the state, and in the county. But we need your support.
We have big plans for 2012, and with your support we can make it happen. With your help, we plan to:
Fight for good jobs and clean rivers as a founding member of the Clean Rivers Campaign in Allegheny County;
Please consider becoming a sustainer. This is the best way for you to support our organization, creating long tern sustainability for us and also insuring that your support is most effective.
ACTION United gets locked up sitting-in for Jobs Not Cuts
Five ACTION United folks were arrested November 17th during Occupy the Bridge Action on Market Street Bridge sending the message to Congress that we need Jobs not Cuts. 1,000 strong brought traffic to a stand still as protestors took over the Market Street bridge in Center City Philadelphia. 24 activists, including the five from ACTION United, were arrested for obstructing a highway. ACTION United activists were released Friday afternoon and have no plans on stopping their protests any time soon. Here are their own words on why they took ACTION:
November 17th, 2011 was The National Day of Action; it also marked the day that I took a courageous step towards activism in America. I can personally attest to the huge job deficit in America. The lack of jobs in my own country startles me each day. It’s sad to see people that are willing to work yet can’t find or gain employment to save their lives (literally). There are soo many worldly issues that our government feels the need to be a part of, but our own homeland is under siege.
I wanted to truly represent myself as that 99% at the Market street Bridge on The National Day of Action and give a voice for something that was real. It was a humbling experience to physical sit on that bridge and join arms with soo many other people who were passionate about positive change in America. As the asphalt chilled my bottom and I chanted to the top of my lungs, I did actually have a sense of nervousness. I was nervous knowing that I was in fact giving my freedom up during this demonstration. As the news/media lights shined bright and the Philadelphia Police submerged in full force, I just knew that OUR voices were being heard (99%). The most physically and mentally draining part of this experience was definitely spending those countless hours at The Round House for the evening. Being in those holding cells made me realize even more how unjust our system is. I found it quite inhumane on the meal selection; rather lack thereof, being that cheese sandwiches and bottled were served as a three course meal. But what can you expect from a place that capitalizes off of imprisonment. The best part was reuniting with my loved ones and fellow supporters. This experience has further helped me to value the things that are important to me and to go hard on ALL my day to day actions throughout life.
On November 17, over 700 people marched from City Hall to the Market Street Bridge, where I sat down to protest the failure of our government to create good jobs and to work for the 99%. I was joined by 23 other people, including 5 ACTION United members and staff, 2 SEIU Health Care PA staff, 5 or 6 Fight for Philly members and staff, 3 Temple Students and a smattering of others, some active with Occupy Philadelphia, others just mad as hell about the failure of our elected officials to do what's right.
Our action was one of 300 taking places on bridges across the country. Our goal since late spring has been to change the conversation in this country, to turn it away from a myopic focus on the deficit and blaming all of our country's problems on unions and working families, to talking about who broke our economy in the first place and where are the Jobs? With over 1 hour of total combined, mostly Live at 5, TV coverage last Thursday, we have continued to shift the discussion to where it needs to be. ACTION United and Fight for Philly are now planning to take the fight to DC the first full week of December, where thousands from around the county, many unemployed, will demand that our elected leaders start to address the issue of jobs and restarting our economy as one that works for all of us, not just the few.
ACTION United is proud to support the Occupy America movement in our streets and across the country.
Americans are suffering because Wall Street and the richest 1% have treated the American Economy as their own personal playground instead of as a rising tide to lift all our boats.
Occupy America is a movement as diverse as we are and it represents the 99% of Americans for whom the Government and Economy should be working for. Without accountability Wall Street, Washington and many of our City Halls have ignored and neglected the 99% to cater to special interests. We need our government to focus on the real needs of the 99%-that's putting Americans to work.
We support and join the occupiers in our streets. OUR STREETS.
ACTIONS in PHILADELPHIA:
On Wednesday, October 12th we will march from Dilworth Plaza to Wells Fargo to demand they, along with the other banks responsible, return their portion of the $63 million they collectively took from our kids. Like a bully stealing lunch money Wells Fargo and other big banks sold the Philadelphia School District a bad deal and then charged them $63 million to get out of it. That's $63 million dollars lining the pockets of Wall Street while teachers are laid off and our schools struggle to survive. WE DEMAND IT BACK! ACTION DETAILS
ACTIONS IN PITTSBURGH:
Our members and friends are meeting at Freedom Corner at 9 AM, Oct. 15th, wearing royal blue and gold. We will participate in what is happening at freedom corner, then we will march down, occupy UPMC for a short while, then march to Highmark, to occupy there for a short while. Our message is that these are big corporations pretending to be non-profits. They are not putting the health needs of the people first. Then we will march to Market Square and join the Occupation! Every week, we will Occupy another Corporation that is Putting the people last and influencing our Government with their corruption and filthy dollars!
Working families have taken a beating over the last 30 years-wages have stagnated, pensions are a long forgotten memory, and benefits, like Health Care or vacation time are becoming a thing of the past. The main reason for this is the dramatic decrease in union density. Today less than 10% of private sector workers belong to a union, down from 35% 50 years ago, and the numbers continue to rop every year. Being in a union is the single best way to insure you have a living wage job with good benefits.
There are also changes that communities can fight for. ACTION United members have for the past 20 years been at the forefront of the movement to create living wage laws or increases in the minimum wage at the city, state and federal levels, with great success! Typically 75% of Americans-that means Democrats AND sme Republicans and independents, support increases in the minimum wage. The latest fight on this battleground is for Earned Sick Time. These laws require businesses to provide paid time off to workers for sickness. So far, the cities of San Francisco, Washington DC and Milwaukee have passed such a law. In Philadelphia, the Promoting healthy Families and Workplaces Act, Bill No 080474 introduced by Councilman Darryl Clark two years ago...where it has sat with no action. But within the last month, as the calls and post cards from workers and the community have started to flood into council offices, there is now movement! It probably helps as well that there is a primary this May and an unusual number of council seats are either open (4) or have real challengers.
This bill if passed will impact 210,000 workers in Philadelphia. if it passes, low wag workers-let's be clear, these jobs are primarily service jobs, held by low income, primarily African American workers will not beforced to choose between losing a day in pay or taking care of their health. This is a campagin of critical importance to our members and their communities. Call your council person, send them an e-letter by clicking here, and make time to come to the hearing on the bill, date to be announced soon!