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September 2012, Week 3

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Wed, 19 Sep 2012 23:03:04 -0400
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Andre Dunbar's Journey for Justice 

By Anthony Cody
September 19, 2012
Education Week Teacher
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/09/andre_dunbars_journey_for_just.html

Guest post by Andre Dunbar, Philadelphia Student Union
http://home.phillystudentunion.org/

My name is Andre Dunbar. I am a senior at William L.
Sayre High School in Philadelphia, and I am a student
organizer with the Philadelphia Student Union.

The Philadelphia Student Union is fighting back against
school closures and the transformation plans we are
seeing in Philadelphia and nationally. As students we
don't want to see what other cities are seeing now--
closures that that are hurting their communities. These
closures destroy our education. c psu on steps.jpg

Governor Corbett's cuts to education leave my district
with less money, which leads the district to say that
they cannot afford to keeps our schools open. But at
the same time that Governor Corbett is cutting school
funding, he is spending more money on prisons. This
shows us his perception of us as students and where he
expects us to end up in our future. Not investing in
neighborhood schools like my school--Sayre High
School--is setting us up to fail.

There is a plan in Philadelphia to close 40 schools by
the year of 2013 and 64 by 2017. This plan to close our
schools will affect students in Philadelphia physically
and emotionally. We will see more dropouts and fewer
graduates because of the lack of resources we have in
our schools. More students will believe that they can't
excel in high school because their school doesn't have
the resources they need to graduate.

At the Philadelphia Student Union, we talk with
students from New York City and Boston as well, because
this is bigger than just Philadelphia. In New York City
they have closed 144 schools in ten years. But that
hasn't made a difference in student outcomes. Still,
only 13% of Black and Latino students are college
ready. These school closings are targeting students of
color and they are hurting our education.stop the plan
src.jpg

On Thursday morning, my colleagues and I will be
getting on a bus to Washington, DC. This bus is part of
a caravan called Journey For Justice. Eleven cities,
including New York, Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, and
Detroit will join us on our bus caravan to Washington,
DC.

We will be meeting at the offices of the District of
Columbia Public Schools. DCPS closed 23 schools in 2008
alone. From there, we are marching to the offices of
the U.S. Department of Education.

We are going to Washington, D.C., because this problem
is bigger than Philadelphia--it's a national problem.
Setting schools up to fail is a national problem.
Cutting funding from the schools that need it the most
is a national problem. School closings that target our
communities are a national problem. So we are going to
the source.

If the Department of Education stops pushing for school
closings and invests in public education, more students
will graduate. More students will be excited to go to
school and get the education they deserve. We demand a
better education so we can have a brighter future. This
is why the students from the 11 cities making up the
Journey for Justice bus caravan are demanding a
moratorium on all closings, turnarounds, and phase-
outs. We demand that the community be engaged in all
school transformation processes. And we demand a
meeting with president Obama. He has been listening to
the wrong people when it comes to education policy. We
need him to listen to the students and Save Our
Schools!

The Journey for Justice 2012 "Funeral Procession"
(march with coffins), and rally at the U.S. Department
of Education in Washington, D.C. will take place
tomorrow, Thursday, September 20, 2012. Assemble at
D.C. Public Schools Offices, 1200 First Street, NE at
11 a.m. Arrive at U.S. DOE, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW at
12:30 PM after march/procession. For more information,
contact Jitu Brown at [log in to unmask]

Photos used by permission of the Philadelphia Student
Union. Photo #1: Andre Dunbar (front row in denim vest)
and students from across Pennsylvania sit on the steps
of the PA state capitol following a student-organized
rally for fair, equitable school funding. Feb 14, 2012.

Photo #2: Students gather outside the School Reform
Commission meeting to protest the plan to close 64
schools and increase privatization in the Philadelphia
School District. May 31, 2012.

Andre Dunbar's photo and words appear with parental
permission.

___________________________________________

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