After the 2008 financial crisis, our government responded by making severe funding cuts to our public education funding while giving tax breaks to the wealthy. We have felt the aftermath of this austerity measure ever since– our schools are overextended, understaffed, and long overdue for repairs.

Philadelphia’s public schools already have unsafe conditions due to exposure to lead and asbestos. Any cleaning of our local schools due to coronavirus must include remediation of our classrooms’ existing toxic conditions.

We must also safeguard against any widening of learning gaps because of economic inequality. This means ensuring that all children are given adequate resources and attention for continued learning.

Lastly, public higher education and technical schools have also been devastated by the coronavirus outbreak. Any safety net must be extended to their faculty, workers, and students.

CLEAN OUR TOXIC SCHOOLS AND PAY WORKERS HAZARD PAY: Any school cleaning for coronavirus should also include funding for lead and asbestos remediation. Staff dedicated to cleaning these sites should be given hazard pay compensation for their bravery in exposing themselves to unsafe conditions.

MORATORIUM ON CHARTER EXPANSION: State funding must be directed towards our ailing public schools. Siphoning off more funding for charter schools will result in less collective resources for our School District to tackle this crisis head on, so we are calling for an indefinite moratorium on charter school expansion.

EQUITABLE CONTINUED LEARNING FOR OUR CHILDREN: Children must have as uninterrupted of an education experience as possible. Laptops and internet access should be given to every student in need to facilitate their participation in virtual lessons. Any additional learning resources should be distributed evenly, with attention given to students with disabilities, students in poverty, students of color, and students facing homelessness

EXTENDING WORKER PROTECTIONS TO HIGHER EDUCATION: We are encouraged by the legislation introduced that guarantees pay and benefits coverage for anyone employed by the Philadelphia School District. We demand the same protections for our public higher education institutions and technical schools.

FORGIVE STUDENT LOAN DEBT: To fully recover from this economic crisis, we need a clean slate. All student loan debt should be forgiven without penalty. No one should choose between paying off debt and buying groceries.