Since 2011, historic state budget cuts totaling $2.3 BILLION have devastated Pennsylvania schools. Our children have lost 20,000 of their teachers, along with art, music, world languages, library, athletics, full day Kindergarten, transportation, field trips, textbooks, tutoring, and so much more. The de-funding of public education has gone hand in hand with a national “corporate-style-reform” movement that promotes privatization, high-stakes-testing, and mass school closures – all disproportionately affecting our poorest students and communities of color.
The good news is that people across the state – middle class and working class, black and white, Republican and Democratic, young and old – are coming together and fighting back. Be a part of the remarkable education justice movement in Southwest Pennsylvania fighting for great public schools for all our children. We are all volunteer parents, students, teachers, and community members. On this site, you will find space for conversation and civil debate as we ask questions and seek answers together. We are a movement, not an organization, and we may not all agree on everything, all the time: but together we are committed to keeping the focus on students and equity, evidence-based arguments, and saving public education as a public good.
- State budgets must provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable public funding for public education. Everyone must pay their fair share.
- Education reform should address long-standing racial and class-based inequities. These include resource distribution, the disproportionate impact of school closures on communities of color, and inequitable disciplinary procedures that feed the school-to-prison pipeline.
- The public owns public education. We therefore oppose privatization (such as vouchers and tax credit programs), centralization of power, and mass school closures.
- Education justice depends on civil discourse, public debate, and the intentional inclusion of minority and historically excluded groups in decision making.
- Public policies must empower authentic parent engagement and protect student confidentiality.
- We can win when we work together with our grassroots colleagues here, across the state, and around the nation. Collaboration is essential and students are crucial leaders.
We are making a difference:
- Hosted the national launch (attended by 1,000 people) of education historian Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
- Pushed back poorly formed charter “reform” legislation in 2013 that would have harmed public school districts.
- Co-founded a new coalition, Great Public School (GPS) Pittsburgh, to find ways to work together towards great schools for all Pittsburgh children.
- Raised significant questions and hosted conversations about the impact of Teach for America (TFA) and school closures on our students and communities.
- Saved $100 million from being cut in the 2012-13 state education budget, preserving early childhood and Kindergarten programs.
- Prevented voucher legislation that would have sent public money to private schools.
- Nixed a bill that tried to remove control from local, democratically elected school boards.
- Sparked a “Manchester Miracle,” filling empty school library shelves with thousands of books while calling attention to persistent equity issues.
- Prompted a national conversation that went viral about the negative and inequitable impacts of high-stakes-testing on students and schools.
- Exposed the money trail leading from ultra-wealthy, out-of-state donors to political campaigns here in Southwest PA.
- Hosted rallies, town hall meetings, candlelight vigils, mock-bake sales, call-your-legislator days, youth advocacy events, film showings, letter writing parties, trips to Harrisburg, press conferences, meetings with legislators, petition drives, teach-ins, an Operatic Rally, and a Rolling Rally showcasing communities impacted by school closures.
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