An invitation to Philadelphia’s April 12th Mock Bake Sale for Public Education
By Rebecca Poyourow, Public School Parent
Question #1: When is a bake sale not a bake sale?
Answer: When it is a protest against $1 billion in cuts to public schools--and when it is an event at which no cookies will actually be sold.
Question #2: When is Philadelphia’s “Mock Bake Sale for Public Education”?
Answer: Thursday, April 12th
Part 1: 2:00 p.m. group lobbying visit and “cookie delivery” to members of City Council in City Hall (meet up on the north side of City Hall at 2:00).
Part II: 4:00 p.m. rally with state legislators, which will take place on the north side of City Hall.
Question #3: What can I bring?
Answer: Yourself, friends and family, cookies, and signs.
Question #4: Why a Philadelphia “Mock Bake Sale for Public Education”?
I don’t know about you, but I consider myself to be a pretty good baker. When there’s an event or a bake sale at my children’s school, I’ll plan to bake something after work even if it keeps me up until 11:00 at night. And I know I’m not alone. Many moms and dads answer the call when it comes to their kids’ schools. We will bake and volunteer and fundraise in lots of ways out of love and support for our kids and their schools.
But this year has been a doozy. While a bake sale is fine tool to raise money for a class trip or art-club supplies, you cannot base a state education system on bake sales, which is precisely what last year’s state education budget and this year’s proposed budget attempt to do. After last year’s cut of $900 million from schools across Pennsylvania, which translated into roughly $300 million in cuts in state funding for Philadelphia, we have all been swamped trying to fill the gaping hole where the foundation sustaining our children’s educations used to be. Now Governor Corbett is proposing that another $100 million be cut from basic education funding next year ($21 million of which would come from Philadelphia), bringing the losses to $1 billion statewide.
All Philadelphians know what we’ve had to grapple with across the city including layoffs of teachers, aides, nurses, and other staff who provide instruction and a safe learning environment for our kids. These cuts have led to overcrowded classrooms and unsafe school environments. We’ve seen supply budgets zeroed out. We’ve seen what happens when special needs and gifted students do not receive the services they need--and how that strains classroom dynamics in addition to shortchanging individual kids. We’ve seen the contraction of the curriculum even further as music, art, and language instruction are put on the chopping block.
Parent advocates, teachers, students, and staff have all tried to respond to this crisis in many ways. We have advocated for the Philadelphia School District to be more prudent with the funds it has, and we have protested strongly when it has not. Our efforts to hold the district accountable will certainly continue. We have also worked hard to donate our time, energy, and what money we can to our individual schools. I know at my kids’ school alone, parents have put in over 1,000 volunteer hours this year. Across our city and state, parents, grandparents, and community members have tutored, volunteered in overcrowded classrooms, run after-school clubs, and monitored lunches, pick-up, and drop-off times. We have raised money to hire essential staff laid-off due to cuts, we have cleaned school yards, we have paid for books, we have donated reams of paper, and other basic supplies, and, yes, we have held bake sales. Such volunteer efforts are valuable and beautiful, and parents are proud of them and will keep them up, but they cannot make up the difference when we are talking about the systemic underfunding of our children’s schools.
The Philadelphia Mock Bake Sale for Public Education has been planned by a coalition of parents from public schools all across the city. There are similar bake sales being held across the state this week by parents in Pittsburgh, Shippensburg, Harrisburg, and other communities. Our message is that there are just not enough cookies in Pennsylvania! We need to be loud and clear and let our elected officials at City Hall and in Harrisburg know that funding the education of our children is a crucial public good that must be a central budgetary priority.
Please join us on Thursday, April 12th!
For more information on the Philadelphia Bake Sale, go to: http://www.facebook.com/events/256742904417848/