In the days following the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s decision to obliterate the collective bargaining agreements with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers – the public sector union the represents 15,000 Philadelphia public school teachers – there has been a wave of grassroots activism that shows no signs of slowing down. The first wave of demonstrations occurred two days after the SRC’s decision when hundreds of students from the Science Leadership Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) staged a one day student strike.
Later on that evening, Philadelphia public school parent, long-time anti-poverty activist, and the 2012 Green Party Vice Presidential nominee Cheri Honkala and 40 other parents, students and teachers from Moffet Elementary School staged a sit-in in the lobby of the Bellevue, which is the office building that hosts Tom Corbett’s center city office. According to the Philadelphia Metro, the forty demonstrators tried to take the elevator to Governor Corbett’s office, but building staff turned off the elevators so the students, teachers and parents would not be able to get to Corbett’s office. When they tried to take the stairs to Corbett’s office, they were met with locked doors. At that point, the demonstrators staged a sit-in and when Honkala tried to push herself through the police line to conduct a “citizens arrest” of Tom Corbett, she was arrested by Philadelphia police.
During the students’ strike, SLA and CAPA students used the #StudentsForTeachers hashtag to help spread their message on Facebook and Twitter. Soon after that, graduates from the Philadelphia school system, school district parents, educators from the region and around the country started using the #SolidairtyWithTeachers hashtag to show personal support for Philadelphia School District Teachers.
The show of support for Philadelphia school teachers goes on, and next Thursday students, parents, teachers and community organizations are planning a large demonstration at the next School Reform Commission meeting. It appears that this wave of activism that is using traditional and non-traditional methods will continue to grow and we will be here covering it.
Here are examples of #SolidarityWithTeachers: