Philadelphia – Fast for Safe Schools

“In the beginning of June the School District of Philadelphia mailed over 3000 layoff notices. Out of that, 1,202 were for Student Safety Staff (members of Local 634), who are an essential part of the schools. This layoff was district-wide, and with this decision the schools would be completely unsafe for the children and the few remaining staff members.

On June 11, 2013, I was asked by the leaders of Local 634 to be a part of a drastic move to change the course of the projected plans of the school district for the upcoming school year. The move was to fast and pray for two weeks eating no food and drinking only water and resting in the basement of a church. It was not a hard decision for me to make because it was for the children and I wanted to do whatever it took to make a change.

Through the mighty action of the fast, the layoffs and current unsafe school situation went from only being a passing conversation among workers and family members perhaps, to gaining nationwide and international recognition. Most of all, the Governor changed his course of action from giving nearing nothing to fill the 330 million dollar deficit, to finding 140 million dollars and the recognition that there will be a new priority set for the Philadelphia school system in the future. The 140 million dollars is not enough to satisfy the current budget needs, however it is a start in the right direction to educate our children rather than to prepare them for failure and life of incarceration.”

– Marcia Teagle, School Cafeteria Worker, UNITE HERE Local 634 Member

New Haven Summer Organizers Sarah, Latoya, Eshe, and Mark went to Philadelphia with a delegation of local union and community leaders to join the Fast for Safe Schools. New Haven Summer Organizers Max and Gabe (not pictured) joined the fasters’ support team and stayed in Philadelphia for the duration.

 

“Spending time with the fasters in Philly further affirmed for me what organizing always seems to be teaching us: that our connections to each other, to some higher purpose, even to God—when channeled right—can be powerful enough to get even the strongest governments and companies to bend, and acknowledge that the people are a powerful force they must answer to in some way.”

– Eshe, Summer Organizer, New Haven