PFT Head Blasts Cantor’s Visit

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WHILE House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke at Freire Charter School in Rittenhouse Square in support of charter-school movement, Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools demonstrated behind it, charging Cantor plans to defund public schools across nation.

WHILE House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke at Freire Charter School in Rittenhouse Square in support of charter-school movement, Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools demonstrated behind it, charging Cantor plans to defund public schools across nation.

Calling the visit of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Freire Charter School here another move to defund public school education, PFT President Jerry Jordan said, “It’s the third week of school in Philadelphia, and most schools still do not have a full-time counselor, school nurse or librarian.

“Even our largest schools only have one secretary handling all school business and student records; many schools are still waiting for textbooks and other classroom materials; and other programs and services have been drastically reduced or eliminated due to Gov. Tom Corbett’s cuts to education.

“As we deal with the worst fiscal crisis the district has ever seen, we simply do not have the time to entertain any more political opportunists in our city. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is here to play politics, plain and simple.

“From advancing legislation to cut food stamp benefits away from our neediest children and their families, to his efforts to pull resources from neighborhood public schools and pour more resources into charter schools, Cantor is no friend to Philadelphia’s public schools or the many needy children they serve.

“Public education in Philadelphia is under siege from the likes of Eric Cantor. We should spend less time indulging this politician’s photo opportunities and more time listening to the parents, teachers and students who are invested in Philadelphia’s public schools.”

Thirty activists and parents with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools protested House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s visit to a Philadelphia charter school Monday morning. Cantor delivered a speech at the Freire Charter School calling for “school choice” that would take money from public schools and redirect it towards unproven charters. He also called on the Department of Justice to cease a suit against New Orleans schools for a voucher program alleged to violate federal desegregation orders.

“As we see so clearly in Philadelphia, the ‘school choice’ programs favored by politicians like Cantor are victimizing public schools and the families that rely on them, particularly low-income people of color. We need regulation and reform of how charter schools are funded, not vouchers that will further drain funds from regular public schools,” said Fight for Philly Member Rosalind Applewhite, a parent of a Philadelphia public schools graduate.

Kia Hinton, a public school parent and Chair of the ACTION United Education Committee, said, “We know that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is in Philadelphia to advocate for an amendment to the No Child Left Behind law that he orchestrated. The amendment would allow a student who transfers from a public school to a charter school to take the federal dollars that go to that school with them. Federal funding, known as Title 1, is specifically targeted to public schools serving low-income families. So Cantor’s amendment could rob poor students of much-needed funding.”

“We wish that Rep. Cantor could understand the problems facing so many families in this low wage, low employment economy. Instead of demanding cuts, he should find ways to help people and also stimulate the economy,” said John Dodds, Director, Philadelphia Unemployment Project.

“Eric Cantor can re-brand ‘school choice’ all he wants, but ultimately it’s the same privatization agenda that has starved PA public schools of $1 billion and funneled scarce education dollars into unaccountable charter schools,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President and PA Director of 32BJ SEIU.

In 2013, more than a half a billion dollars in federal funds will be cut from urban school districts like Philadelphia as a result of the budget sequestration that GOP extremists forced through Congress.

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