Yoga or City Hall?
By Christine Carlson on May 2, 2014 12:26 PM
Serene, mind-and-body nourishment or headache-inducing dysfunction? Yoga or City Hall?
Every Monday morning, I adjust my work hours so I can attend a weekly yoga class. So when the School District of Philadelphia sent out a call this week for public education supporters to be at City Hall on Monday morning, while Superintendent William Hite and School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green plead to City Council for more money, I had to think about whether I wanted to endure yet another dog-and-pony show at City Hall.
At first, yoga was winning out. Going to Council meetings is a chore, to say the least. Anyone who has ever testified before Council knows the routine: We show up on time and wait up to an hour for the meeting to start as council members saunter in. We watch them talk on their cell phones. We’re made to feel insignificant as these same people get up and leave one by one after the “important” people have testified first. It's no wonder that we start to think that Council is going to do what it wants, regardless of who shows up and what they have to say.
How did I become so jaded? Perhaps it’s battle fatigue. The thought of gearing up once again to fight for yet another mediocre budget is mentally exhausting. Perhaps that’s Council’s tactic: Tire them and you’ll retire them. They’ve got the political machine on their side – that’s what really matters, right?
Wrong. We need to keep active and we need to expand our ranks. The tide is turning as more and more people realize that what is happening to our public schools is unacceptable. Just look at the millennial generation, the legal community, the neighborhood civic associations, and middle class families who choose to send their children to public school. Others are now speaking up and demanding adequate funding for our public schools.
Public schools are only successful when the entire community is invested in them. This is why suburban schools are so well-funded. This is why we hear so much about the success of public schools in Finland, where all schools are public schools.
If we want equity in our school system, everyone, not just public school parents, must understand the importance of public schools in the fabric of our communities. Without them, our city will unravel.
I’m not willing to let that happen without at least one more fight. So, on Monday, you’ll find me at City Hall. I’ll be the one trying to focus deep, calm breathing while assuming the yoga-warrior stance. Besides, it may be fun to watch former Councilman Green be subject to the indignity of testifying before City Council. I wonder if they will get up and walk out when he starts to talk?
On Monday, May 5th, the Superintendent & SRC Chairman will go before City Council to request funding for the Fiscal Year 2014-2015. This funding is needed and necessary in order for our schools to operate. We are asking for your support and to spread the word to your constituents and show support for our children and support Public Education on Monday, May 5th at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall in City Council Chambers. We want our parents and other stakeholders to stand united for all of our children. I have attached a sheet that outlines what our "Ask" is and the message for this request. We are asking everyone to bring their signs, their passion and determination as we show our elected officials that we want what our children deserve and that's additional and sustainable funding for our schools. I hope you will all come out in large numbers on Monday. Please spread the word.
Christine Carlson is a public school parent and the founder of the Greater Center City Neighborhood Schools Coalition.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.