This Week in Education Organizing - November 10, 2017

Chicago Coalition Demands Redirection of $95 Million Planned for Police Training Facility

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is proposing spending $95 million to build a training facility for the city’s police and fire forces.  The proposal has been rolled out quietly over the last several months, without public hearings or a lot of information about the proposal.  Now, a coalition has come together to demand the redirection of those funds into Chicago’s most marginalized schools and communities.

Chicago spends $1.5 billion already on policing.  According to the NO COP ACADEMY coalition, that’s 300% of what is spent on the city’s departments of public health, family and support services, transportation and planning and development together.  The coalition notes that the Mayor is touting the new police and fire academy as a boon for the surrounding community. But just four years ago, he closed 50 schools, including six in the same community where the new academy is now being planned. “The message is clear,” says the coalition’s statement. “Rahm supports schools and resources for cops, but not for Black and Brown kids.”  

The NO COP ACADEMY coalition is now endorsed by over 40 organizations, including the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Action Now and others.  This week, they turned out in force, along with public school supporter Chance the Rapper, for the final vote of the City Council on the project.  For more information, see the coalition’s website.

Philadelphia Says #SRCYaLater!!

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), Our Schools, Our Communities (OSOC) and other groups are celebrating victory next week, when they expect the state-controlled School Reform Commission (SRC) to vote to dissolve itself, clearing the way for a return to local control in the City of Brotherly Love.

The victory is real, but community and labor organizations acknowledge that the return to local control will not be without challenges.

“State control of local districts has never been successful in improving public schools,” said Jerry Jordan, President of the PFT, which has been active in opposing the SRC since the state took over the district in 2001. “Our public schools are stronger when parents, educators, elected officials and community leaders work together to improve education. We have a great opportunity to correct the failures of the past 17 years.”

The #SRCYaLater rally will be held on Thursday, November 16th at 4:00pm on the front steps of 440 N. Broad Street. After the rally, participants will move inside to the SRC meeting, to be there for the historic vote.

 Community Schools Progress Report – Research for Action

In 2016, newly-elected Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made a commitment to fulfill a campaign promise to create community schools in the city’s struggling school district.  The first cohort of nine community schools was launched that summer.  Each of the schools has a full-time coordinator, whose job it is to work with the community to identify the school’s most pressing needs, and to work with a range of service providers to amass those services and supports within the school.

How’s it going?  This week, Research for Action, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Education released a progress report.

The report will be useful, not just to Philadelphians wondering how to improve on the city’s implementation efforts, but to anyone in any city, engaged in efforts to bring sustainable community schools to their district.  The report, only 16 pages long, identifies dozens of implementation strategies and steps, and identifies where the nine Philadelphia schools (and the overall program administration) are in terms of meeting them.  Research for Action’s Community Schools Progress Report is well worth checking out!

 Opt-In to Receive the Education Organizer’s Weekly Message!

Calling all education organizers!  In partnership with the People’s Action Institute, AROS is announcing a new weekly update for education organizers. 

The “Education Organizers Weekly Message,” by journalist Jeff Bryant, will include important updates from the week’s federal K-12 education news, along with tips for framing the education narrative, highlights from local organizing work and actions you can take on the issue.

The Weekly Message is different from “This Week in Education Organizing,” in that, rather than reporting specifically on local fights and organizing work, the Weekly Message looks more at landscape issues—trends in policy, elections and federal developments—and presents larger framing suggestions about how we talk about or identify these trends in our own cities.

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