Students in Philadelphia strike back after the School Reform Commission canceled labor contract with teacher’s union.
My name hasn’t appeared on a roll book from the School District of Philadelphia in over a decade. But when I was a student at Barratt Middle School, Overbrook and University City High School, I had access to what I perceived to be steady programming and functional musical instruments.
And though I wasn’t aware of the icky politics that governed and misguided my education, as I grew older I began to comprehend that my academic experience was just okay; not great, nor good, and damn sure not amazing.
When I was a student, I wanted so much more than the raggedy textbooks, green and brown hot dogs and space lunches, value brand instruments and sh*t-for-brain substitutes that I was given. But now, as an adult, I just wish today’s generation received the “just okay” experience I had, instead of this current brand of bare-bones” education governed by last minute leaders who lead to doomsday.
If I were a Philadelphia public school student today, I’d be wishing for a just okay experience, but I’d be doing it from the street. With drumsticks in my hand, I’d join Cy, a junior at CAPA who co-organized the strike, and the rest of the student body in singing original protest songs created to show solidarity with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Cy, who claims that the student musicians in the instrumental program have to bring their own gear because the school can’t afford new equipment, said the SRC’s action were shady, unfair and immoral.
“We don’t approve and we stand in solidarity with our teachers,” he added.
If I were a Philadelphia public school student today, I’d be drumming for justice with organizers Nikki, Leo and the student body from Science Leadership Academy, who outside their school were marching back and forth to the beat of the talking drum, which yelled the foul words unspoken.
“The system right now needs to be changed, it needs to be more democracy when it comes to decisions made about schools, especially because of the way the SRC handled the teacher’s contract,” said Nikki.
“If no progress is made we’re prepared to do this again,” said Leo.
If I were a Philadelphia public school student, I’d strike, too. But not just because of the shady way the teachers were handled, but because I was wishing for a just okay experience, knowing I deserve something amazing.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photos courtesy of C. Norris